Let’s be honest: “personal branding” has become a business buzz word, and applying it to your career sounds like a shameless self-promotion campaign. As a creative professional who values your integrity, that’s probably the last thing you want to get involved in.
But you’d be making a mistake. Personal branding in the job search, from entry level to executive, is essential to showcasing the value you can bring to the table. It’s actively building a reputation and representation of the work you can deliver and the experience you can leverage in order to achieve success within – and for – an organization.
Why is this so important? Because if you’re actively job searching, your personal brand supersedes your resume. And if you’re not actively looking but would be interested in potential opportunities, well, those opportunities are more likely to present themselves if your personal brand is already well established.
So as a creative professional, how do you establish a personal brand without feeling like you’re selling out?
Step One: Define Your Personal Brand
Essentially, your personal brand is built upon your identity. Some people won’t have to think twice about this; they are wholly and passionately themselves in all scenarios and on all platforms, both professionally- and personally-speaking. But that’s a rare few. Fortunately, you don’t have to be highly extraverted to showcase your brand, but confidence in what you do and why you do it is a must. If you’re unsure where to start, ask yourself questions like the following. Your answers should come easily and should become the meat of your elevator pitch (another overused but essential buzzword).
- What do you want to be known for?
- Where is your area of expertise?
- What are you passionate about?
- What are your career goals?
- What are your professional values?
Step Two: Keep an Updated Website or Online Portfolio
For creative professionals, much of your reputation depends upon the quality of your past work. Whether you’re a graphic designer, copyeditor, or brand manager, tangible examples of your previous projects are golden opportunities to give depth and credibility to your resume.
Provide a link on your resume to your website, and be sure to keep that website regularly maintained and updated. Essentially, it should be an online hub of your work, showcasing snapshots of your projects (anonymized as necessary to protect the confidentiality of previous employers or clients). Make sure it’s connected to appropriate social networks, and include any outbound links to other places your work might be available.
Clearly, this step is going to take some work. That’s why it’s vital to start thinking about your personal brand well before you’re ever in the market for a new job. It’s rarely the type of thing you can whip up with any credibility or quality the day before you start sending out resumes.
Step Three: Good Old Fashioned Networking
Yet another business buzzword, but one we stand by. Networking is more than just making small talk at trade shows and industry conferences. From the virtual world of social media to the everyday opportunities for real life interaction, genuine networking is about getting to know people, both in- and outside your industry.
Building mutually-beneficial relationships is key to establishing your reputation. Find out how you can help out others, whether it’s a simple but powerful introduction or a few hours assisting with a project that would benefit from your talent. When people know you are reliable and genuine, they are more likely to lend a hand, make an introduction, and open a door right when you need it. They’re also more likely to think of you off the top of their head when someone else asks if they know of anyone in your field for a new project or job opening.
Personal Branding for Creatives: The Final Conclusion
So does personal branding work? At the end of the day, it depends on the effort you put into it. If you genuinely want to make a name for yourself, establish credibility, and increase your opportunities, then your personal brand is vital. In the marketing, advertising, digital and creative fields, reputation is your lifeline. It’s what separates you from the masses.
At KORE1, we work with creative professionals to leverage their experience and talent to find an opportunity that is the perfect fit. Let us know how we can help you out today. For a complimentary consultation and tips regarding your creative personal brand, reach out to Kelly McMahon.