It’s indisputable that Coronavirus has changed the way that all of us are approaching the world of work, and this is not limited to our day-to-day operations; the way that we all connect and develop a personal brand has also dramatically shifted.
Whereas before we would network face-to-face, allowing us to choose which circles and organisations we wanted to associate ourselves with and introduce ourselves to, or research and identify which companies we would like to interview with. Now, the vast majority of us are limited to relying on building this brand using online tools and platforms. With the world of work having changed so dramatically, in this article we have put together our top tips for creating and conveying your personal brand through both your CV and during interview – whether that be virtual or face-to-face.
Firstly, what do we mean by ‘personal brand’? This is the process of consciously creating a ‘persona’ which will be publically perceived. Put simply, it is the process of self-identifying and highlighting what makes you unique as an individual to others – or, in the world of recruitment – what will make you stand out from the crowd as a job applicant to potential employers. We all have a personal brand. Think of it as your own personal logo or advert.
If you have never thought about your own personal brand before, this can be a daunting process, but a bit of well-timed reflection and introspection is a great way to begin, and will absolutely help you prepare for the recruitment process as a whole. The best place to start is by considering what areas of work you particularly enjoy or excel at? What kind of working / team environments are most suited to you, or perhaps what projects or aspects of work excite you? What do you want to highlight to others on your CV and in interview, and what kind of impression do you want to show them as a prospective employee?
Secondly, before venturing down the various recruitment avenues available to you, social media is a great place to start building your personal brand. Whilst the tone and content you use or disclose on every platform will likely differ, you should always be mindful of the general audience on each site respectively. For example, LinkedIn is the most corporate and business-like social media site, and as such the one most likely to be utilised by businesses and prospective employers. Use your profile to reiterate and complement the skills and experience you will highlight on your CV, identify any groups which you would like to connect with and lastly, if you are looking to secure a role within a particular industry then ensure any sector-relevant information is clearly visible here.
In order to catch the attention of a Recruiter or Hiring Manager during the initial or early recruitment stages then your CV will undoubtedly be your most useful tool, especially as it is the perfect opportunity to explain your story and motivations, highlight your achievements and outline your aspirations.
Beyond the basics of CV formatting and etiquette, the key ways to convey your ‘personal brand’ in relation to a particular vacancy will crucially be to review and tailor your CV for each application accordingly: ensuring that it demonstrates or references the unique strengths, experiences and key skills that the job requires, and where possible try to mirror or echo the language used in the job description as this will help identify the synergies between the role and your experience. It’s worth remembering that your CV is the only opportunity you have during these early application stages to convey your unique qualities and strengths, so injecting some flair and personality will really help.
Try to keep personal statements to a few sentences and be as engaging and creative as possible, whilst remembering that they should only provide a synopsis of your core skills and attributes as an applicant. Think you are a “team player with the ability to work on your own initiative”? Whist that may be true, as seasoned recruiters we see that statement dozens of times a day. It doesn’t tell us anything about YOU. Really try to use your personal statement to talk about your unique skills and personality attributes.
If you successfully pass the CV screening stage and are invited to attend an interview, this will then be the perfect opportunity to really focus on your strengths and what you can bring to a role as an individual.
It goes without saying that preparation will be the key to success. Most competency-based interviews will typically follow the same kind of format: a brief introduction from both parties, followed by extended questions looking for tangible evidence of how your experience to-date matches the competencies listed on the job description – typically these will be focussed on personal skills (such as organisation, communication, teamwork etc) or specific tasks which will be performed regularly as part of the position – and then lastly closing statements and the opportunity for you to ask questions to the interviewer.
Whilst the competency-questions are your greatest chance to really drill into detail how your working history connects with the job at hand, you can use this opportunity to mention any additional research or preparation you may have done which will set you apart from other interviewees; maybe you have read a recent blog or thought piece on the company or sector which interested you, or perhaps you have completed a particular project which links particularly well to the role and your suitability to it – as such reinforcing your personal brand.
There can be no doubt that building a personal brand in a virtual world is daunting, and it will take time to hone your brand or persona, but with these simple steps you will be well on your way to ensuring you stand out from the crowd this year!