As a candidate, how can you effectively set yourself apart from the competition during the hiring process? In vying for a particular job that requires a certain degree of knowledge, there will most likely be an overlap in education, experience, hard skills and even some soft skills among applicants. To set yourself apart from the rest, you must create a winning personal brand.
The importance of your personal brand
In today’s job market, recruiters and hiring managers are constantly updating their strategies to make the most use of their time and resources. With an infinite amount of personal data accessible to them with just the click of a button, it’s no wonder that so many hiring managers are now expanding the vetting process to include a look at the applicant’s personal brand, which includes a candidates digital footprint on social media networks.
According to Science Magazine, this glance into all of these networks can pull up the good, the bad and the ugly – and it’s no minor piece of the puzzle: Your personal brand can play a big role in your candidacy. Results from the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study indicated that 39 percent of hiring managers consider questionable online behavior or content to be the top thing they look for. Another 19 percent of companies also report that offensive social or political views are analyzed.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should wipe your digital footprint away completely. Your personal brand consists of all that you create, promote and accomplish. Being aware, intentional and in control of your personal brand during the hiring process is essential for a successful career:
1. It’s what sets you apart
Use your online personal brand as a place to showcase current work, special engagements and portfolio samples. The Study also found that 27 percent of respondents say active engagement in professional or trade associations throughout a candidate’s social media presence, is No. 2 on their list of what they look for. Don’t be afraid to post about your accomplishments and achievements. Your engagement with industry associations could be what sets you apart from other applicants.
As Fast Company explained, you are your brand: While a resume and cover letter can only list the facts, your online presence and personal brand paint the full picture. Skills and experience are important, but recruiters want to go beyond that. They want to know how you will fit with company culture, who you really are when you’re not in the cubicle and what really matters to you. Let your personal brand shine and give yourself the chance to stand out.
2. It creates a network
According to Inc., active job seekers that build their brand and garner an industry following on social media networks, have an advantage over those that don’t. Not only will you gain connections to like-minded people and organizations, but recruiters will be drawn to your branding as well. Today, hiring managers are actively using social media sites as a tool for recruiting.
According to results from the MRINetwork Study, though many employers casually review candidate social media profiles, 18 percent are now formalizing the process. Another 17 percent of employers say they’re considering doing so in the future. When you have a personal brand with a strong following, you will stand out from other candidates. Moreover, networks are actually another form of references – so use connections and endorsements to your advantage.
3. It helps you get hired
At the end of the day, as a job seeker, you just want to be hired. The best scenario is one where you are approached about a job, rather than you actively searching for a new opportunity. As Entrepreneur explained, an attractive and powerful personal brand can actually bring the opportunity to you. When you have something to offer in a very public, social space, you will be noticed. You will have professionals, clients and organizations reaching out to recruit you.
By building an effective, attractive and compelling brand, you put yourself above the competition in the hiring process.