As a Financial Services Recruitment Consultant, I’ve witnessed first hand how having a poor brand in the market can become a hindrance when looking for a new role. The key to personal branding is consistency and any actions taken to develop this should remain uniform across both private and professional platforms.
In recent years, personal branding has become a dominant aspect of a candidate’s full profile to work in conjunction with a CV. Times are changing, and the Financial Services industry is as fast-paced and demanding as ever. Not only should a candidate have the qualifications and skill set to perform the role, but it is also imperative that they can conduct themselves in a professional manner both physically and verbally.
The growth of social media has created the need for managing an online identity as individuals have the desire to portray themselves in a certain way. The primary incentive for developing a personal brand is to distinguish yourself from those you are up against in the job market. Think about who you are and what your values are, this will assist you in understanding what you would like to be known for and what makes you different.
Everyone has different opinions on what a personal brand is and it can be interpreted to have different meanings by different people. The key here isn’t the opinions of others, but the consistency of your actions. The definition which I believe best summarises this is, “Your personal brand is a perception held in others minds, and it has evolved through their interactions with you, through repeated contacts between you and another person”. This is crucial to understanding how to best develop your profile; it isn’t something which you can develop over night, yet something which evolves over time through consistent personal marketing.
When looking to develop your personal brand, there are 4 main elements to consider. By assessing the below, you will be in a position to create, build and elevate your own brand. It is important to know who your target market is when planning on ways to develop your profile in the market. You should think about the type of people you wish to attract, for example; if you work in the benefits market, there is little point focusing your brand around Financial Services in general. Be sure to attend sector specific networking events and seminars to improve your profile amongst like-minded professionals in the same sector. Share relevant articles across social media platforms; distribute appropriate material about changes and updates in the market to your connections and remain consistent at all times; this will assist in developing a strong and reliable brand, whilst delivering a consistent message to your network.
Investing time in discovering yourself is critical to understanding what you stand for. It is crucial to appreciate your values, personal mission and unique qualities. You could start by asking yourself “What do I want to be known for?” There are no right or wrong answers as it is relative to what you want to achieve as a candidate.
Once you realise what you stand for, it’s important to know the reason why you stand out. Think about how you want to be different and what you can do to make yourself unique. Imagine yourself in an interview situation; you are down to the final two and you are up against a candidate with the same skill set as you. The deciding factor will be the candidate who can demonstrate a well executed personal brand; from the way you dress, your behaviour, your networking connections, events you attend and groups you follow, this all contributes.
Once you have established what makes you distinctive, you must consider how you can combine everything which has been created and make people aware that your brand exists. You can communicate this through various channels: client meetings, professional networking events and seminars, writing articles or blogs, and connecting via other virtual and physical networks.
You can spend a lot of time of creating, developing and marketing a personal brand, so it is vital that the time you spend doing so, is measured and evaluated. Have you thought about the different ways you could do this? Testimonials, recommendations, endorsements, comments on blogs and satisfaction surveys are all effective ways to evaluate whether what you are doing is having a positive impact on your brand.
Employers like to buy from “trusted” brands, so will favor those that they believe in and trust; a brand which represents value is invaluable.
For job-seekers, this is encouraging a change in the way that candidates can apply for new roles. The market is seeing a shift away from the standard submission of just a CV as part of the application process to instead providing potential employers with access to a variety of platforms. This is likely to include a CV to accompany a well managed LinkedIn profile, blogs or articles written by the candidate and any other sources of information which the candidate sees fit.
Not only this but it is important to consider that any action you take will be contributing to your brand. Something as small as sending an email, writing a Linkedin update or leaving a voicemail can affect your profile. I once came across a quote “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” This goes back to the idea of anything you do, however small will have an impact on someone. If you send an email which isn’t positioned in the best light, leave a voicemail in the wrong tone, or update on Linkedin in an unprofessional manner, people won’t remember what you said but will remember the way your actions made them feel when they opened that email, listened to that voicemail or read your Linkedin update.
All of these aspects combined, if positioned correctly can give candidates a stronger profile and increased opportunity to be recognised by potential new employers.
Think about your brand; what could you do to make it stronger?