By: Celinne Da Costa
Many of us grew up applying for jobs by sending a 1-2 page word document summarizing our education, job history, and most notable professional achievements. I can’t recall how many resumes I’ve shot down the black hole of the Internet, hoping that a potential employer would skim over my carefully curated bullet points and deem me good enough to hire based on whether my achievements matched whatever it was they were looking for.
This is changing, though, and quickly. The rise of entrepreneurship is making resumes increasingly less relevant, and the millennial workforce’s demand for more purpose-driven companies is pushing employers to hire candidates who–in addition to looking good on paper–contribute positively to company culture and are enjoyable to work with. A piece of paper is no longer enough to contain this generation’s deep-seated need to connect and create.
That is why your personal brand is becoming increasingly more important in today’s marketplace. It is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.
A strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals. People will always be drawn to that level of authenticity. For example, if two people show up for an interview with the exact same skillset and profile, who is going to win? The one that you like, know, and trust.
Here’s why creating a strong personal brand will get you farther in your career than a resume ever will:
People connect with dynamic content.
We live in a world where the average person’s attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. You have about eight seconds to get someone to notice you and connect with them before they’re off to do something else.
People nowadays want to be entertained. They also have preferred ways of consuming content and engaging. Having a strong personal brand is a huge advantage in a cluttered online space because it allows you to reveal a much more dynamic spectrum of who you are, utilizing different kinds of mediums (videos, photography, text, etc.) to connect with your audience in the way that works best for their learning and communication style.
You become so much more than a piece of paper: in the eyes of your audience, you’re now a living, breathing human being who–in addition to possessing a certain skillset–has interests, passions, and other talents. Now that’s worth paying attention to. The more captivating your brand becomes, the more people will be drawn to it: which translates to more influence, impact, and the right people and opportunities finding you even when you’re not looking.
By creating a dynamic and well-rounded personal brand, you can showcase how you will get the job done while also cultivating a deeper sense of connection and affinity before even meeting a prospective employer or client.
Actions speak louder than words.
The online world is overflooded with “experts” telling you what to do, how to do it, and why you should work with them. There’s a lot of talk, talk, talk, but to truly set yourself apart from the crowd, you need to show people your expertise… not just tell them about it.
Leverage your channels for this. For example, on LinkedIn you can highlight your professional expertise and case studies; on Facebook you can actively participate in different groups (networking, collaborating, sharing advice—basically putting yourself out there and building a presence); on Instagram you can show how you embody your core values through your lifestyle; on Twitter you can share valuable articles and information, and so on.
Pull out and curate the parts of you that you’d like to a potential client, employer, or ideal audience to experience first-hand. All the content you create should be tied under one vision, so make sure you invest the time and energy upfront to get clear on your brand story so that your overall brand remains cohesive across your channels.
You’ll know you’re doing this right if you meet someone in real life who’s familiar with your personal brand online and they say something like, “you’re just like how you are online.” Show (don’t tell) your audience your personality and capabilities, all the while staying true and aligned to who you are as a human being.
Communicating a clear vision attracts the right opportunities.
The most powerful connections are borne out of a shared vision. Wrap your personal brand around a bigger vision, that is, a clear idea of what you stand for and what impact you wish to create through your work. To stand out in a sea of sameness, use your brand to put a stake in the ground and tell people “this is where I stand.” If that polarizes people, great. It means they are paying attention.
For example, my personal brand is built around the vision to empower visionary leaders to create and share powerful stories that uplevel their life and business. Thus, all my content–regardless of where it’s housed– funnels people back to that vision.
Your vision will help you stay true to yourself and what you love, while also attracting the people you want to work with. Your brand is what will make a potential employer or client think, “oh, my god…there’s no one else I can hire, I need this person.”
While there may be many people who have a similar resume as you, your personal brand cuts through the noise and sets you apart from the crowd. You move from a place of “there are literally hundreds of people who can do the same work as me,” to “I am the only person who can do this work in this way.” Once you get clear on your vision and why you can do what you do better than anyone else, you will become unstoppable.
Your competitive edge will no longer be just your skillset, achievements, and past work experience, but rather who you are as a person and how you’re able to leverage your talent, wrap it in a vision that is uniquely yours, and emotionally connect with those who encounter you.