Building your personal brand: a graduate’s guide
What do people think when they hear your name? In the same way that companies pay attention to how they appear to the public, you should think about how you present yourself, your work and your interests to other people – together this is your personal brand.
In the marketing sector a strong personal brand could even help you get a job. While it's not absolutely necessary, there are a couple of simple things that you can do in your applications to help put forward the best possible image of yourself to recruiters.
Make sure your name is remembered
Your name is the first thing employers will notice. It will be in the header of your CV, your address on your covering letter, and in the ‘from’ bar on emails. There are a couple of rules to pay attention to:
- Keep it consistent. A brand name needs to stick. Use the same name for emails, letters or signatures.
- Keep it real. Inventing a brand might sound fun, but using your real name will be much more effective. On online services such as Skype (and on social media, if you're using it for job hunting purposes), it's worth using a real photo of yourself instead of an avatar.
- Build on clean foundations. While social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter can help you get jobs, it might be smart to separate business and personal networks by using different accounts.
Think about style and tone
You don’t have to be a graphic design master, but a smart image can help. Design includes everything from font and layout to colour and paper.
- Keep it consistent. Use the same font for your CV, your covering letter and your email, your follow up letter, and your business card.
- Keep it simple. A functional, smart logo or design can help link all of your output, while the same style of writing throughout your networks and documents can help tie all of your work together.
- Tried and tested. Some fonts and even some colours do not translate between operating systems. Stick to black, Arial and Times New Roman. You can get creative in other ways. Keep in mind that employers will often print of CVs in black and white, so make sure that you don't waste time on a design that will be illegible as a physical copy.
Adapt your look
In the world of marketing, you have to look sharp at all stages of recruitment. Don’t underestimate the value of your degree, but a good image shows attention to detail. You can find out more about what to wear (and, perhaps more importantly, what not to wear) at interviews by reading our advice on how you can 'dress for success'.
- Keep it consistent! You don’t have to wear the same suit to every stage of the process, but you should at least be recognisable at the second meeting. Avoid dyeing your hair or getting a new set of piercings until after you’re hired.
- Have a signature. Signatures are a useful trick to help you stick in an employer’s mind. This could be a signature colour, an item or a shape. If you’re going to do this, make sure it links everything they’re going to see, and try not to have too many.
- Tailor it to the audience. It could be the difference between a skinny tie for a modern company and a fat tie for a conservative one. The little touches will reassure employers that you are the right person.
Tell recruiters about yourself
Your personal brand goes beyond appearances – it’s as much about what you do and what you believe as it is about how you look.
- Have clear goals. It’s a good idea to talk about your career ambitions in your covering letters or application forms – focus on how the employer you are applying to can help you achieve these goals. Having clear and consistent goals can help to solidify your brand for recruiters. You can also do this through a ‘personal statement’ on your CV, but before you start writing, make sure to have a read of our article weighing up the pros and cons of personal statements.
- Show off your work. The best way for recruiters to get a sense of your work and your marketing interests is through a portfolio. Consider including links to relevant blogs and social media accounts where you can show off examples of projects you’ve worked on. These could include articles you’ve written, websites you’ve designed or social media campaigns you’ve run (such as promoting an event for a university society). Click here for more pointers on how to promote your work online.
- Don’t neglect your further interests. The extracurricular activities that you choose to include in your application can also to help paint a complete picture of you – including your interests, the type of work that you want to do and which activities motivate you. Find out more about what to include in the further interests section of your CV here.
Branding alone won’t get you a job
Simply tidying yourself up and staying consistent is not a graduate skill. If you want a graduate job you’re going to have to do more to earn it. Nevertheless, having a complete ‘brand’ can help you stick out in an employer’s memory, or catch their eye. A few extra minutes spent tidying up your layout or combing your hair on the big morning can make or break that first impression.