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How to Create a Winning Personal Brand

With the unemployment rate below 4 percent for the first time in nearly two decades and joblessness among managerial-related professionals below 2 percent, it's safe to say the current job market is candidate-driven. Given the pace at which companies are hiring -- more than 750,000 new jobs so far this year -- there's reason for optimism.


That's not to suggest companies are hiring simply anyone, however. They're looking for the type of people who are experienced and have a solid track record - both professionally and educationally. For example, over the last 5 - 10 years, approximately 33 percent of employers have raised their education-related criteria, hiring individuals with four-year or graduate degrees for positions that previously didn't have specific academic requirements, according to a CareerBuilder survey. In a more recent poll commissioned by the same online job search engine, an estimated 70 percent of employers utilize social media to get a better picture of potential hires.

The 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study found that when employers evaluate candidates’ social media profiles, they tend to focus most on behavior or content that might be considered suspicious or questionable. Twenty-seven percent said they looked for signs of a candidate’s involvement in professional trade associations and 19 percent kept an eye out for political posts that could be construed as offensive or disrespectful. 

In short, employers seek as much information as possible about potential hires, so they can uncover each candidate’s personal brand. 

Brand portrayal is mutual - both hiring managers and those on the employment hunt want to put on their best face. The interview process serves as an effective medium for learning. Indeed, according the MRINetwork Study, 64 percent of candidates agree the interview process enables them to understand a fair amount to a lot about a potential workplace's culture. Seventy-six percent of employers express the same sentiment. 

So how do you create a brand of your own? As with anything worthwhile, it's not something that happens overnight. Yet, through self-discipline and self-reflection, you can create a brand you can be proud of that will be in demand. 

Examine your strengths

Everybody has a talent, something that may not necessarily come naturally, but can be executed or performed with considerable ease. As Inc. magazine explains, when you know what you're good at - which, ideally, is also something you enjoy doing - you can make the commitment to exploit those talents so that they're more refined. In so doing, with effort and practice, you can hone those skills so that they help you to become noticed, either because you do them better than anyone else or have something to offer that others may lack. 

Seek to serve

The phrase "personal brand" sure seems like something that's about you and you alone. However, as Entrepreneur magazine advises, be careful not to make this common mistake. According to the source, personal branding should be about other people, specifically what you can do for other people. This starts by looking for opportunities in which to be of service to them and their needs. The business periodical recommends examining the areas of your workplace where you can be of the most value and then applying your skills in a manner that addresses the end goal. Ideally, your way of getting the work done is one that's more effective or makes you distinctive.

Be uniquely you 

While it's important to understand your coworkers' needs and your employer's desires, this can frequently result in adopting behaviors or work processes that mirror those of others. Instead, The Balance Small Business suggests finding your own way of doing things and utilizing your inherent uniqueness "to attract the jobs and clientele that you desire." 

The beauty of brand building is that it’s not carved in stone. Like clay, it can be molded and shaped over time. In doing so, you can develop a brand that's distinctive, yet worthy of emulating.

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