Why exactly is personal branding important?
Personal branding is a concept that gets thrown around a lot. Too often the term is associated with specialists. They simply dare to present themselves as experts. But seeing yourself as a brand is just as important for young professionals who still have to prove themselves on the labour market. Moreover, by showing that you are (pro)actively working on your career, you might just already stand out from the crowd. Developing a strong personal brand will help you build your professional career. In the following article, we will explain why this statement is true.
Employer branding by companies
There is a shift going on in the labour market. Until recently – and now still – employers mostly recruited ad hoc, meaning when there was a job opening. So, the moment there was a need, the search for a solution started. You can understand that this ad hoc strategy easily leads to high time pressure and uncertainties when it comes to a smooth transition. Still, this approach is understandable since classic recruitment communication, such as print media and online job boards, is quite expensive.
With the rise of social networks, a cheaper channel through which companies can continuously communicate with the intended audience originated. Together with this evolution, the principles of marketing more and more seeped into recruitment communication. Marketing not only applies to promoting products and services, but also to the promotion of the employer brand.
Companies therefore adopt a long-term vision and create a positive image as an employer to arm themselves in the 'war for talent', to attract and retain talent. Basically, employer branding has always existed, but its value has grown tremendously since the rise of social media. Employees and job seekers indeed let themselves guide by how a company is represented on the internet and the way the company (openly) communicates on social media. The more a company is perceived as an attractive employer, the greater the chance a job seeker will apply for a job opening and the stronger the appreciation of a current employee for his employer. More than ever, professionals select themselves which companies they want to work for. What do you think those cute Facebook pages with pictures of company parties, flash mobs, Post-it wars and Hawaiian shirt days are meant for?
Personal branding is considering yourself a brand
The same rules apply to personal branding. If you, as a young professional, start your job hunt the moment you need one, you might be too late and have to settle for less than you desired. Also as a professional you’ll have to adopt a long-term strategy to continuously build your network and personal brand.
A major misconception is that personal branding is about selling yourself by changing the image you present depending on the situation you’re in. On the contrary, personal branding is about a clear and consistent profiling, just like a marketer creates a distinctive profile for a brand to position it in the market. Remember that marketing is more than setting up advertising campaigns. Advertising, in a narrow sense, is making promotion for a product to sell it. It can result in an attractive video commercial, which might go viral on social media, but will easily be forgotten in no time. Marketing, in a broader sense, is about translating the unique identity of the product to the market, which includes market research, and has to be seen in a long-term perspective. Likewise for personal branding or personal "marketing".
Personal branding is about a certain awareness. When, in a professional context, you consider yourself a brand, you can determine in a more conscious and purposeful way how to present yourself on the labour market. Only by presenting yourself in a consistent way, others will know what you can mean to them and what they can expect from you.
So the key is to identify your unique and distinctive qualities, your interests and professional goals and to find out how you can achieve these goals. Choose your market, position yourself and always be authentic and true to yourself. Only a few brands succeed in playing in the top league on different markets.
Become entrepreneur of your career
Social media are the perfect platforms to build your personal brand and network. Each presence, every interaction counts. So take on a proactive attitude and keep your goals in mind. The stronger your personal brand, the greater your market value and the more career opportunities will cross your way. Dare to show ambition and stand out. Opportunities are not only to be seized, but also to be created. In the job market of tomorrow competencies such as initiative, creativity and courage are becoming more important. These qualities combined form the competency of entrepreneurship, the ability to come up with new ideas and to make them happen. You and your own career are the perfect case to show your entrepreneurial skills. Are you able to position yourself as a young professional on the talent market? Can you trigger and inspire others in order to build an audience? Do you succeed in building relationships with people who can help you to achieve your goals? Consider yourself a brand and become entrepreneur of your career!