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Personal Branding: an introduction

Published: Wednesday 27th April 2016


A male dressed up in a suit to impress

Is it just the latest buzzword to use when you’re touching up your CV with a snappy personal statement?

Personal branding is so much deeper than a superficial blurb and underpins far bigger decisions like “why am I applying for this job?” and “who am I?”

Define yourself

1. It starts with some deep introspective reflection into who you are, what your strengths are, and what you want to do. Have you ever asked yourself why you are here, why you chose your job, and tried to build a career around that?
2. 360 degree feedback can let you know how others perceive your biggest strengths and your best work. And hopefully, this matches loosely what you thought and what you enjoy. Ask your colleagues, friends, acquaintances about your biggest strengths. Linked In can be a great place for recommendations, so encourage these with colleagues, bosses, and clients and see how and why they valued you. The answers might surprise you.

So, how can you clean-sweep your personal brand based on this clearer image of yourself?

Start online

    • Google yourself and see what others would read about you. If there’s anything that isn’t consistent, see if it can be changed or removed.
    • Linked In. Your write up should clearly communicate who you are and what you’re about. Regularly post external articles or publish your own highlighting your knowledge and unique take on your industry. You might have a great personal brand, but people won’t start talking about it and seeing it until you do.
    • Facebook and other social networks. Sign out of your account and see what the public can see. Needless to say there will be certain types of photos and posts that shouldn’t be there. If you wouldn’t say/do/wear it at work, don’t publicly post it on facebook. You can change your privacy settings accordingly so that only your friends can see the pictures, be aware of adding colleagues as friends. If your work is more creative and visual, explore appropriate channels like Instagram and Youtube to highlight your work and what you do.
    • Personal website or blog. This is a great way to build your profile and establish some thought leadership. If you want to present yourself as an expert in a field and have something to say about it, this is a great way to start. Basic website templates can be free or very cheap and are a professional way to publish and own your story.


The real world

The self-reflection into what your strengths are and what you enjoy, combined with the external feedback should help paint the picture of who you really are. The key is to stay true to this; you are now more self-aware of what those strengths are so you can develop them and ‘sell’ them in your career.

Matt, in our marketing team here at Zoek, started developing his personal brand a few years ago:

“It’s one of the most powerful exercises I’ve done. For my own internal reflection, I read a book called ‘What colour is your parachute?’ Later I emailed people that knew me well – some I worked with, friends and family. I had 53 responses on a survey of five questions to build up a clear view of my impact on others.”

“This reassured me of my strengths and so I can be clear and comfortable in promoting them, and also seek to build my career around developing them. I believe the prerequisite to any change or deliberate growth is self-awareness and that we are running blind with out.”

“To do it properly you have to look in the mirror really deeply and think about who you are, why you’re here and where you want to be. And I think sometimes people have just drifted or found themselves in jobs or careers, but they could be so much more deliberate and have a bigger impact on the world than this.”

Once you know your personal brand, download Zoek free on iOS and Android to help match you with your dream job.

More info

Read more about Matt’s personal branding journey.
See the best-selling career book What colour is your parachute?

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