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5 steps for a budding professional to build and grow a personal brand

Today, every human is a brand that tells a story and stands for a particular offering. This brings the challenge of getting lost in the clutter. Know how to distinguish yourself and be recognized for the values and skillsets, you, bring to the table.
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For every budding professional, the idea of getting into the corporate environment, reaps myriad questions. For most of us, it is challenging and sometimes renders us with choices, we aren't clear about. To be honest, at times, we are even cornered by the pressure. In such a scenario, it becomes empirical to follow what Harvey Specter from Suits said:

When you are backed against the wall, break the goddamn thing down.

It is always easy to "break the goddamn thing down", when the internal strengths are identified. And, as Mark Ecko, an American fashion designer, had rightly said,

You too are a brand. Whether you like it or not.

Thus, to secure a job it is important to know what your personal brand stands for and how you'd like it to be perceived. It is a powerful tool as it helps in:

  • Focusing on your strengths and understanding your uniqueness, and,
  • Cultivating the right and desired perception.

This article, talks about how to create that desired brand image which you would like the recruiters to be aware about. It is based on the learning I have garnered by attending multiple sessions, having interactions with HRs and being involved in the recruitment process from both sides of the table.

The following 5 ways are steps that would assist budding professionals across disciplines:

STEP 1: CV, LinkedIn and a Personal Resume Website

The first step to creating and thereafter growing a personal brand is by making the target audience aware of the brand. This is one of the most difficult steps as it demands breaking from the clutter to get noticed. Therefore, the following pointers can be of great help in terms of personal branding.

Pointers for an amazing CV

  • Essential information to be added: Career Summary, Academic Information, Work Experience, Languages Known, Certifications, Positions of Responsibilities, and Achievements.
  • A Career Summary should be crisp and precise, delving into the realistic short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. It should be in sync with what the prior academic background suggests in regards to the future course of action.
  • The Work Experience is the critical section of the CV. It can be a deal maker or a deal breaker. The first thing to remember while curating this section, should be that only the most important points should be added. Secondly, use verbs like implementing, conducting, leading, et cetera. Thirdly, always try to add the actual figures. For example, if a particular marketing campaign which was led by you, saw a growth of 17.87% of growth, then mention it in a similar fashion. Fourthly, always get written recommendations from the immediate reporting senior in the organisation and add it at the bottom of this section.
  • Many find the Languages known section to be useless, but this section helps in job applications where the recruiting organisation has bases in other countries as well. Thus, knowing the language of the locations it has its offices in, gives an added advantage across disciplines.

Pointers on the importance of LinkedIn and its effective usage

Creation isn't the task. Maintenance is.

The perks of LinkedIn for students, professionals, et cetera, are done and overdone. This space is about how to maintain and grow your LinkedIn. These are the few things that can be done:

  • Personalize the URL of your profile. A lot of opportunities today, require you to submit your LinkedIn profile link. A personalized link helps avoid an amateur image.
  • After that, request your previous employers to drop a recommendation. Make sure to request for a recommendation that expresses the brand image you'd like to cement. For example, if you'd like to convey yourself to be someone who religiously abides by the deadlines, ask your ex-employer to focus on that aspect in the recommendation.
  • Ask your peers and ex-fellow employees to endorse your skills.
  • Make sure that your "Headline" is precise and highlights things in a descending order, keeping in mind the audience that is being targeted. For example: if you wish to secure a Graphic Designing role in a multinational organisation and you are also an MBA. Mention "Graphic Designer" and then "MBA".
  • Update your "About" and "Experience" section judiciously. It should highlight points that establish the job profile you aspire for or the brand image you wish to communicate.
  • Thereafter, connect with your peers and industry experts.
  • Share and write articles that is relevant to your domain.

Pointers on a Personal Resume Website

This is a relatively new concept and has perks that cannot go unnoticed, especially when talking about breaking from the clutter to get the brand noticed. It is so, for the following reasons:

  • A personal website assists in keeping everything at one place. It can consists of your blog articles, CV, recommendations, et cetera.
  • It makes searchability easier from the recruiter's perspective.
  • It has the potential of giving you a competitive advantage.
  • It gives the freedom of showcasing your portfolio and your achievements in a creative manner.

At one point, it could have been burning a hole in the pocket to have a personal website as it included costs of buying a domain name and then the hosting. Post that, coding skills would also be required. However, now, websites are providing websites with templates and editing softwares that are easy to use. The cost is also quite minimal.

STEP 2: Take up online courses

Courses like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Marketing, Graphic Designing, Content Writing, Marketing Analytics, et cetera are some of the courses which have great potential in the forthcoming times. Taking up courses with a potential in the future doesn't just add value to the profile but leaves an impact in terms of industry readiness of your brand.

STEP 3: Write Content

To establish a personal brand, you have to market your content. This is required because the kind of content you write, speaks volumes about the personality you hone and the hobbies you garner. Thus, any type of information that you put out into the the world, that communicates a message, is content marketing and that is a tool to the way people perceive your brand.

To write content which meets the above agenda, the following questions need to be answered:

  • What is your vision?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are your goals?

These questions shall help you in carefully understanding your agenda, thereafter, identifying your target audience (on the basis of where can you find the people who would help you achieve your vision, their pain points and other demographic details), and the goals(which are basically your mission statements that shall assist in reaching the vision).

After this, make sure that the content should be the following:

  • It should be evergreen, unless it focuses on a matter which is piping hot and should focus on providing a solution.
  • Your content strategy should be a fine balance between quantity and quality.
  • Add your personality to the piece. In other words, add your opinions, this helps in establishing a connection with the audience. This point is really essential, because, adding your own opinion makes the content authentic, and,
Authenticity is the name of the game now.

STEP 4: Take part in Case study competitions

This point needs no elucidation in regards to the perks it holds. As Carlos Slim has rightly said,

Competition makes you better, always, always makes you better, even if the competitor wins.

Case studies exposes you to competitions and both analytical and critical thinking. It teaches the art of paying attention to details, reading between the lines and strategic thinking.

Along with all the perks, it definitely adds substance to your CV and establishes a brand name that wasn't like tick fangs stuck in skin but more towards an eagle soaring high with the purpose of freedom to gain knowledge and exploration of knowledge beyond the books.

A piece of advice:

In the beginning it might look a little scary, but, with the spirit of Ned Stark from the Game of Thrones, remember that:

The only time a man can be brave is when he is afraid.

STEP 5: Subscribe to online business news providers for current affairs and other online video channels for garnering knowledge to strike conversations on mutual interest

Imagine entering an interview and the first question they ask is, "Tell me something that is not on your CV?".

This a make or break question and instead of getting perplexed, a simple strategy to glide through it, is by focusing on a hobby which is either productive or informative. This can be easily done by following news of domains from your interest arena and following channels on Youtube which serve the purpose or watching shows on OTT platforms like Discovery Plus.

The above mentioned steps are more like investments made into your romantic relationships. If you have to make it work in the long run, then you have to remember that,

Nobody said it would be easy. But, always remember that it would be worth it.