Career Advice

How to Build a Killer Personal Brand to Achieve Your Career Goals

If you’re serious about landing a job, you simply must pay attention to your personal brand. What’s that, you ask? Well, nowadays you can’t just send in a resume and expect to get summoned for an interview. No siree. There’s so much more that goes into it now.

The internet has changed everything. These days an employer will evaluate you from multiple angles: according to your resume, sure, but also physically and virtually too. Your personal brand encompasses all of this and more. Think of it as your professional reputation or the image you present to potential employers.

It might sound like a lot, but if you’re diligent, you can improve each of these areas and impress anyone who wants to know more about you. So if you’ve been working on your resume in the hopes of getting hired somewhere amazing, that’s great, but now it’s time to level up – and we’re here to help.

So what’re you waiting for? Let’s get this party started!

Creating Your Personal Brand to Get Hired

How to Build a Personal Brand Checklist

No matter where you are in your job search, it’s critical to establish a personal brand that showcases all you have to offer to a potential employer. We realize this might sound intimidating. But don’t worry! This checklist lists all the steps you should take to define and construct your personal brand. We break everything down to make it nice and easy for you. So, go ahead, don’t let us stop you – it’s time to get started!


1. Pinpoint Your Strengths and Abilities

A great place to start is to brainstorm and identify all the skills, experience, education, and qualities you have to offer a potential employer. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Make a list of your best qualities

Spend some time thinking about your strengths and personality traits. Are you analytical? Detail-oriented? Organized? A strong leader? Note these attributes and ask friends, family, and colleagues for their opinions too. Chances are good you innately know at least some of what you bring to the table.

  • Consider past jobs and internships

Which roles have you liked and disliked throughout your career so far, and why? Carrying out this thought exercise will shed light on what kinds of jobs make you happy and what job duties you enjoy performing. Having this knowledge will help you shape your personal brand – so you showcase the right skills and abilities to land a job that truly makes you happy.

  • Look over old performance reviews

An easy way to discover what others appreciate about you is to read through old performance assessments. Maybe your last manager noted that you’re very personable and an excellent communicator, for example. Take this information and run with it as you develop your personal brand.


2. Identify Your Career Goals

Next on the agenda is to establish your professional goals. Don’t skip this step! Without an objective or two in mind, your personal brand risks being all over the place. Knowing what your end goal is, however, will enable you to build a brand in full support of it, which can be very powerful indeed.

  • What jobs have you liked? Disliked?

If you used to work in retail and utterly hated the long hours, physical exhaustion, and disgruntled customers, don’t create a personal brand that emphasizes this skillset and experience. Instead, focus on the good job experiences you’ve had in the past and think about how you can incorporate more of those positives into your future.

  • Where do you want to be in five years?

Contemplate your future. Where do you want to end up? For instance, if you want to begin growing your family soon, maybe you’ll want to target jobs that offer more flexibility and/or a remote option rather than one that requires long in-person hours and a lengthy commute.

  • Do you want to switch industries?

It’s important to ask yourself if you want to climb the ladder in the career path you’ve already chosen or if you’re looking to change industries altogether. Either option is fine! But being aware of your preference is key so you can create a personal brand that will meet that goal.


3. Build a Powerful Resume

A huge part of your personal brand is the single sheet of paper that outlines your relevant experience, education, and skillset – yup, your resume. The nice thing about it is that you can spend all the time you want perfecting it. Since your resume plays such an essential role in your professional image, make sure to get it right. Here are some tips:

  • Gather together all your information

You might have forgotten all about that industry award you won five years ago – but it should be included on your resume. How about the other accomplishments, wins, certifications, degrees, and volunteer work you’ve achieved, earned, and performed? Gather all this information, including your work experience and any professional memberships you belong to, before you start writing your resume.

  • Tailor your resume to your target job

It’s incredibly important that you tailor the language in your resume to the job you’re trying to get. This will help you beat ATS (applicant tracking system) barriers, in addition to impressing the person viewing your resume. Include the keywords and phrases that you see repeatedly mentioned in the target job ad.

  • Produce an updated cover letter

When we talk about a cover letter, in many cases this ends up being the email that accompanies your resume when you apply for a job. This note will likely represent the first impression you make so ensure it’s clear, concise, and explains why you’re the ideal fit for the role.


4. Control Your Online Presence

Another significant component in establishing an impactful personal brand is your online presence. It should accurately reflect you and your professional goals. Let’s talk about how to ensure that.

  • Google yourself and review the results

First, research your name online and check out what comes up and in what order. Remember that recruiters and HR folks are going to conduct the exact same search after looking at your resume. It’s essential to know in advance what they’re going to see.

  • Push down unfavorable listings

If any negative results pull up (images from a personal social media account of you drinking alcohol, for instance), take action to push them lower in the search results. How? By creating new legitimate accounts that will rank higher. Some examples: an online portfolio, a new LinkedIn account, a blog, or a professional bio, etc.

  • Categorize your social media accounts

Most people have more than one social media account. Make a list of yours and decide if they are “personal” or “professional.” Moreover, decide which ones you want to be a part of your professional brand. Then move on to the tip below:

  • Adjust your security settings

Those social media accounts that won’t contribute to your professional brand because they are personal in nature – change their settings to private. This will help prevent images and posts that aren’t necessarily appropriate for an employer to see from showing up in your search results.

  • Change usernames on personal accounts

Finally, it can be helpful to change the names on your personal social media accounts to something different from what appears on your resume (like your first and middle name or a nickname). This way when someone searches your full name for professional reasons, your personal accounts will be less apt to show up in the search results.

  • Create a LinkedIn profile

If you don’t already have one, it’s imperative that you create a LinkedIn profile and set it up for success. This means using a professional profile photo, shortening and customizing your profile URL, adding lots of skills and work samples to your page, building up your network, and asking colleagues for recommendations. Nearly every employer will check out your LinkedIn profile before moving forward with you so don’t disregard this!


5. Develop a Professional Pitch

After you’ve audited and adjusted your online presence, it’s time to come up with a 30-second elevator pitch. This way if someone approaches you at an event, online, or – yes, even in an elevator, you’ll be prepared to explain who you are professionally and what you have to offer an employer.

  • Figure out what you bring to the table

To start, list all your skills, qualities, education, and experience. Then drill down to the most important and relevant ones and determine how you can convey them in an interesting way.

  • Watch the length of your pitch

We’re not talking about a 30-minute dissertation here. Keep your pitch to around 15 to 45 seconds or so. You need something informative and succinct that carries a punch.

  • Practice saying your pitch out loud

Practice saying your pitch so it flows and you appear confident and natural. Consider saying it in front of a mirror so you can better gauge how you look or in front of friends who can give you feedback.


6. Assess Your Physical Appearance

Although it sounds superficial, the truth is that how you look during an interview matters. As you shape your personal brand, put some thought into your appearance. See below for some practical tips.

  • Modernize your outfit choice

Coming across as outdated is one surefire way to avoid getting the job. While there’s no need to be trendy, it is a good idea to buy a new interview outfit that is modern and professional.

  • Consider the company’s culture

When in doubt, it’s generally smart to err on the side of dressing more formally than too casually for a job interview. Research the company’s culture beforehand as this can impact how you decide to dress.


7. Practice Making a Great First Impression

Finally, it’s crucial to make a great first impression on the interviewer. After all, this is your one chance to really impress them! So, beyond wearing appropriate and current clothing, also follow these suggestions:

  • Arrive to the interview on time

Don’t be late! In fact, it’s best to plan to arrive early so you can find a parking spot and take a few deep breaths before putting your game face on. If you rush in all harried, the interviewer is going to assume that’s how you always conduct yourself. They might also feel disrespected because you’ve wasted their time – not good!

  • Pay attention to your nonverbals

Sit up straight, act interested and engaged, make good eye contact, and don’t fidget. Remember that all these little details add up and matter a lot! If your nonverbal communication doesn’t line up with your words, the interviewer might outright dismiss you as a winning candidate.

  • Research the company in advance

Being well-informed about the company will give you an edge over other candidates. Do your due diligence so you can speak knowledgeably about the company and the role.

  • Act natural and confident

While almost everyone is nervous during an interview, try your best to come across as confident and natural. This will show the interviewer that you’re capable of handling pressure and proud of all you have to offer.

Creating Your Personal Brand to Get Hired

So there you have it: a handy little checklist that outlines exactly how to build an effective personal brand. From identifying your strengths and goals to creating a strong resume, online presence, and pitch, there are a lot of different elements that need to be whipped into shape. But you can do it and the result will be well worth all the time and effort. Just envision your dream employer checking into your personal brand and deciding they can’t wait to hire you!