Brand building sounds like a task for an ad agency or a company like Kellogg’s. It’s not something most of us think about on a daily basis. Yet we make countless decisions every day that influence how others perceive us. By lending some attention to these opportunities to manage that perception, you can build your brand and make a better impression on connections and potential employers.
Start by thinking about how you view yourself and how you want to be viewed. If an acquaintance were describing you to his friends, what would he say? Then think about what you want to be known for. Take some time and write it down! Once you’ve determined how you want to be perceived, you can build your brand to be better aligned. These simple steps can improve the brand you communicate when looking for a job:
Dress for success. Sure, you may be just running to the store for a package of paper towels and some dog food, but put on some proper pants, and comb your hair while you’re at it. You never know when you’ll run into a former colleague or the person you interviewed with on Monday. Dress for where you want to be, which is working in a place where other people are wearing pants.
Attend to accessories. Your accoutrements tell a story! Is your coat covered in dog hair? Are objects spilling out of your handbag? Did you spill something on your keyboard? Are your shoes polished? Is your business card crumpled? Think about the adjectives someone would use when describing your presence. Aim for polished and put together rather than scattered and messy.
Be conscious of body language. You can truly build your brand with a smile. Maintain a positive expression, and soon you’ll be known as a positive person. Lean in, and you’ve added “attentive” to your brand description. Make good eye contact, and soon your brand could include “confident” and “sincere.”
Watch your web presence. Many times before employers ever see you in person, they’ve decided what kind of person you must be based on your online behavior. Take care to post and share items that build the brand you’re striving for. Look back at the last few months’ worth of your Facebook profile—what are you saying by your selections and statements?
Follow through. If you say you’ll be there by 5, show up by 5. Meet deadlines—even if they’re just personal. Answer text messages, write thank you notes, respond to emails within 24 hours. You’ll add descriptors such as “reliable,” “conscientious” and “diligent” to your brand.
Investigate the industry. How do people in the type of job you’re seeking brand themselves? How do the places you want to work brand themselves? It’s far easier for a potential employer to see you as a good fit if your personal brand reflects the values and qualities expressed by his or her organization or colleagues.
Discover your difference. Aligning yourself with best practices for job seekers and with those already employed in your field helps eliminate obstacles. But don’t erase what makes you distinct. Think about how you can stand out from the crowd in a good way…and embrace it!
It’s worth it to spend some time becoming aware of the things you communicate about yourself without even realizing it. If you think you might have some blind spots, talk to us at Merrfeld—we can offer you a fresh perspective. Don’t let sloppy socks or a verbal tic stand in the way of your next great career opportunity. Build your brand and put your best (creative? precise? clean? quirky? quick?) foot forward!