Selling yourself: The art of personal branding

If you’re selling yourself to an audience, looking for a job, attracting social media likes and followers, representing your company or attracting new business, you will require a personal brand strategy.

The Shish-Kebab Theory

As a business it’s important to review every touch-point you have with your customers, with communication points taking many forms, including websites, social media channels, billboards or business cards.

Think of these touch-points as a shish-kebab, with all the different parts held together by a skewer, representing a consistent tone of voice.

In this digital world, there are a vast number of ways you can project yourself to the world, you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, you write blogs and post items online. These are the tasty items of your personal shish-kebab and so it’s important to question whether they are all skewered by a consistent, professional brand?

Email address

Today, most job applications are sent via email, making it the first thing prospective employers see from you. It has also been found that most hiring managers claim to not to even look at an application attached to a novelty email address.

The lesson here is to always use a professional email address when job seeking, learn from big brands and be consistent and professional.

CV and cover letter

A smart CV is like a smart advertising campaign and so should be created with four questions in mind:

  1. Who is your target audience? Do your research and find our what hiring managers want to see. Your application will never be relevant if you don’t know your target audience intimately and tailor it to them. If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no-one.
  2. What is your USP? What unique skills or life experiences do you bring to the company? At the heart of every advertising campaign is the product’s USP, it tells the audience why they should buy this product over others. This is the same as your application, why should a company buy into you over all the other applicants. Most managers are looking to hire experts but the majority position themselves as generalists.
  3. What do you want your audience to feel? It’s not enough anymore to merely list your credentials and experience, you want the reader to feel completely intrigued by your application. This means that not only is the language you choose important, but the tone you strike too.
  4. What is the call-to-action? Every good ad asks for the sale “call us for details”, “go to our website”, “visit our store”, for example. Therefore, in your application tell the company you want the job and suggest a next step.

Social Media behaviour

With 90% of employers screening applicants online, it is important to make sure your social channels are in check and that they truly reflect the version of yourself you want them too. You may think it’s easier to just not be on social media, so you can’t say anything wrong, but employers see being absent from social media as a red flag.

In the world of marketing, brands maintain a consistent image across many different mediums. The same can be said for your social footprint, while the formats may change, the tone, the content and the imagery should remain professional – back to the Shish-Kebab Theory.

Employers see Facebook as an unfiltered look at you, so make use of your privacy settings by separating your personal life from your business life, but most importantly just be mindful of your content.

Tend to your brand everyday

Selling yourself may be the most important campaign you ever undertake. Differentiate yourself firstly, the best brands are the most clearly defined ones. Decide on the kind of identity you want to project and be smart about what you post, while too much filtering can feel inauthentic, be willing to stand behind what you post in an interview. When in doubt, use restraint and remember to take care of your shish-kebab.