In the presently uncertain job market, how job seekers show up digitally and visually increasingly matters across all industries and not just in marketing.
Experts say that 2023 is the year of the personal brand re-birth for job seekers who are looking to stand out in today’s fiercely competitive job market. While personal branding has been around for decades, continued layoffs today have boosted its importance as people look for ways to stand out. In the past, people have spent hours and hours applying for jobs only for it to feel like their application has been sent to a black hole.
“There’s so much acknowledgement of that now,” said Jessica Hernandez, president of Great Resumes Fast. “There is this interest in ‘how do I get around that?’ and ‘how do I avoid that?’ Personal branding is the answer. Being your own marketer and proactive in your search and making your own things happen is the way to take control so it’s not apply, wait, get ghosted, repeat.”
What does personal branding entail
The first part of personal branding is the language you use to describe yourself. Hernandez recommends that job seekers are very specific on their resume, capturing the ‘how’ you get things done, rather than the ‘what’ you get done.
“You’re identifying what it is you’re really good at and how you do what you’re really good at,” said Hernandez. “That is what brands you compared to another candidate with similar qualities.”
But personal branding goes beyond words written or said. It also includes visual branding, which Hernandez says is equally important.
“You want to be consistent across all avenues wherever you show up, including your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter and so on,” said Hernandez. “You’re incorporating that visual element into every outward facing part of your job search and marketing materials.”
Pre-pandemic, someone’s first impression might be when they show up for an interview in person. Today, the focus is on how you show up digitally, which includes social feeds too.
“It is now table stakes to manage your digital profile, but those who take it a step further and use visual content to their advantage will be ahead of the competition,” said Zach Kitschke, CMO of visual communications platform Canva. “Every touchpoint counts when trying to land a dream role, so it’s crucial for an applicant’s effort to be eye-catching — be it resumes, portfolios, professional websites or presentations.”
He says the more personality you can showcase, the more important it will have in terms of standing out. If you don’t know where to start, Kitschke recommends observing the people you admire on LinkedIn and see how they position themselves, what they talk about and how they leverage the platform. Besides that, he suggests leaning into the visual side of your persona, which might be done by choosing a color palette that represents you to use across all your channels, for example.
“Showcasing yourself and your work visually will always add more color and context to who you are, far more than text based communication,” said Kitschke. “It’s definitely a balance, but that extra effort won’t go unnoticed.”
Lisa Rangel, CEO of Chameleon Resumes, says that personal branding is your reputation, or what people know you as or come to you for.
“You have the ability to morph it and change it, not by what you write, but by what you do everyday,” said Rangel. “Then you capture it on a resume or on LinkedIn.”
Focusing on personal branding can help people take control of their job search instead of getting caught up in waiting around for responses. However, that might be more difficult for people who aren’t used to advocating for themselves because that’s what it is at the root.
“Be strategic and selectively put yourself out there,” said Rangel. “There are ways of doing it within your comfort zone, but don’t limit yourself. If you don’t advocate for yourself, no one else will.”
Rangel says everyone has a bit of a marketer in them, whether they realize it or not. She suggests that job seekers find that within themselves and lean on it to help them throughout the process. “It’s a life skill that we haven’t been applying to career advancement,” she said.
“Becoming your own marketer, you’re going about your job search in a way that is going to help you stand out from all the other applicants,” said Hernandez.