Have you thought about your personal brand in a while? If not, it’s time to dust it off, give it a good look and make it shine for the year ahead. After all, your personal brand is at the very heart of how you market yourself, whether it’s within your own company or with prospective employers. It needs to reflect where you are now—so you can get where you want to be in the future.
“It’s important to keep your personal brand current so you’re continually in a position to be sought after for opportunities that relate to what you are interested in,” says Cathy Francois, assistant director of career programming in UMUC’s Career Services office. “Day-to-day you might be doing great things, but if you’re not keeping up with promoting it on LinkedIn or social media, then no one will know.”
Have a heart-to-heart—with yourself
To get started, it’s important to do some soul searching. Start by taking inventory of your professional goals. Ask yourself if they’ve changed since the last time you’ve thought about them. Are you pursuing a promotion? Are you interested in shifting gears and diving into a new field or industry?
“You want to always have your end goal in mind so that your brand is purposeful and intentional, whether it’s over the short or long term,” notes Francois.
Sometimes changes in our personal lives impact our professional pursuits, as well. For instance, if you’ve recently had a child or if you are caring for an elderly relative, you may want a career that offers flexibility.
By confirming what your professional goals and personal priorities are, you can present yourself to the world in a way that honors them—and gets you the career you want.
Audit your personal brand touchpoints
Once you’re clear on what you’d like to accomplish and what’s important to you, its time to take a closer look at how you’re representing yourself to your boss, your colleagues, your peers and prospective employers.
First, make a list of the ways you are communicating who you are to those around you. Everything you do and say communicates something about you to the world. This includes your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your website, your email signature and your voicemail greeting.
“You want to make sure there is consistency, and that consistency also helps promote your authenticity,” asserts Francois. “If you are showing one thing on your resume and another on LinkedIn, if there’s a conflict then it may diminish your credibility.”
Beyond your online and paper presences, it’s also a good idea to take an honest look at what your appearance says about you. Does your work wardrobe convey your professionalism? If you have your eye on the corner office but come to work dressed more for a Saturday afternoon at the ball game, it’s time to make a change.
Update your personal brand—and watch your career take off
Now it’s time to present a personal brand that delivers. Take care when crafting the language you use on your resume and LinkedIn profile, and carry this over to your other outside-facing communications. This means your job-hunting tools should convey the same words, tone and aspirations as your interpersonal interactions, such as the elevator pitch you give a new contact at a networking event.
In the end, when done right, your personal brand will help others see the best of what you have to offer as a professional.
“Your personal brand is almost synonymous with having a great reputation,” insists Francois. “It puts you in a position where you’re more likely to be sought after versus being on other end where you have to always have to look for opportunities.”