A Reflection on Personal Branding

With graduation season being upon us, it seems that every other article is telling young professionals the top “to do’s” to get a job whether that is: a new head shot, professional wardrobe, resume overhaul, or a career coach. Last week, an article in Forbes gave a list of 8 things college students need to invest in order to get hired.

  • A Professional Head Shot
  • A Stellar LinkedIn Profile
  • A 3D Brand Bio
  • Professional Attire
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Quality Stationery
  • Video Bio
  • Career Coach

When we get down to it, these articles are telling college graduates to build their personal brand. They say you must do this (make a 3D brand bio) and you must have that (career coach).  But what does personal branding really come down to?

As an undergraduate student, it is overwhelming for me to read the 8 things I must do to get hired. Looking at the list, it is hard to imagine that I really need to a career coach or a video bio in order to grab a company’s attention. In fact, I do not think I need any of those. What I’ve learned is that all I need is to show my personal brand.

What is YOUR personal brand?

You hear the above question a lot and I honestly don’t know how many people can truly answer it, because their judgment is clouded by what everyone says their brand should look like. Think about it…if we all follow the same tips, employers are going to see hundreds of “personal brands” that are exactly the same. Applicants may all have the perfect head shot, the right resume, and the same rehearsed answers that they read online. So what is going to set you apart for the competition? The answer is you.

Might sound strange, right? I mean you are probably thinking yes I know my personal brand is me. But it is more than just you; it is your authentic self. When you start to build your personal brand, it is not about you conforming your look to fit in to your field or job. Yes, your attire is a factor and makes an impression on others, but at the same time your personal brand should represent you. It should set you apart and show your individuality – something that our millennial generation understands. Thanks to my time at IWL, I have learned that Brand You means taking advantage of the strengths, quirks and differences that make you who you are! If that means you are a person who relies on humor, the find a way to incorporate your humor. That might mean your bio is different than the traditional one your professors required you to prepare. If you are someone who is creative and techy, your resume may be a website page or an interactive video.

Personal branding is a self-discovery process. It is finding out what makes you special. We all are different human beings, so show how you are unique. It is the little things mentioned above that are going to set you a part. After all, you never know what may resonate with someone you are about to interview with.

In an interview I had last year my interviewer and I spent the first 30 minutes talking about Butler Basketball, which had nothing to do with the position I was interviewing for, but I was able to connect with him on a shared interest. It was my personal passion for Butler that helped bring out my brand and my personality, which ultimately helped me land the position.Don’t be afraid to share information about yourself that goes beyond the office. Be your true self; be authentic and see what happens. Do not mold your personal brand to the brand you think others want to see, mold it to how you want it to be seen.

If you don’t manage your brand, someone else will. Learn more about IWL’s Brand You.

Contributed by: Grace Herron 

Grace is the Marketing Intern for Integrating Woman Leaders, Inc. Her personal brand tagline: a life enthusiast who looks to reinvent herself one opportunity at a time. Grace’s favorite quote: “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” You can find her on LinkedIn.