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Personal brand for graduates and early career job seekers

Billie Eilish has a personal brand. She’s a rebel who appears to not care. Who dresses how she likes and doesn’t tow the studio-line […]

Oprah has a personal brand. She’s a compassionate, respectful and well researched interviewer.

Personal brand is a term that sounds ego-driven. It’s not.

What’s your brand?

What! I’m not famous. I don’t have a personal brand. Um…yes you do.

Your personal brand is how you present yourself, how you behave, your values, how generous you are, how professional you are, how you spend your free time – sport, community, music, gaming. And your online presence. Hmmm. Google your name. What do your social media accounts look like? What would a hiring manager think if they were to scroll through? Did you know that 2 in 3 hiring managers do!

So, the things you post about. Your tone of your language. How often you post. The photos you post. Yep. To a hiring manager, that’s your personal brand!

You see, employers spend time, energy and money creating their brands, and they don’t want some employee’s bad personal brand damaging theirs.

Curate your personal brand

If you’re up for the challenge, you need to curate a personal brand that removes the friction from an employer making the decision to hire you. Scourge your social media dodgy-bits (inappropriate posts, photos and people you follow) from the face of the earth, and create a new, tiny brand-you that’ll make you just famous enough to put you on the radar of a potential employer and give a hiring manager the confidence to hire you.

Align yourself with an employer’s brand

Pick an online home to document your personal brand. For most graduates this will be LinkedIn. This is where people will find out more about you.

Fill in your profile. To get something up quickly, add the stuff you already have in your resume, and your best cover letter.

Then improve it. Look around for good LinkedIn profiles to use as inspiration. People one step ahead of you are best – where you’d like to be in a couple of years time. Learn from what their profile looks like, what they post, how often they post, and how they interact. Look for skill gaps (skills they have that you don’t), and fill them in by doing online training – even YouTube.

Get involved with Q&A on LinkedIn, and on sites like stack exchange, Quora and Reddit. Ask and answer questions. This is the building of the generous, helpful, knowledgeable, participant facet of your personal brand.

Link all your profiles to each other. Who knows, maybe you’ll come to the attention of an employer. Stranger things have happened.

Join your industry association and participate. Many have student membership rates. Add your membership status to your LinkedIn profile.


Now when a hiring manager googles your name they’ll get your new personal brand – someone with a balanced online presence who participates in industry relevant forums.

Here’s a thought. Imagine you’re a hiring manager. Who would you feel more comfortable employing? Google’s old you, or Google’s new you?

Good luck.

See also Dear graduate. Networking is not a dirty word!

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