Personal branding helps you identify and communicate your unique strengths to differentiate yourself from your peers and stand out in a competitive job market. Furthermore, creating and managing your brand ensures you stay focused on your individual goals to become the kind of person you want to be and achieve the specific things you want to achieve. Without this vision for yourself, it’s very easy to take classes and engage in work experiences and other activities that aren’t aligned with your goals. Rather than becoming a well-rounded jack-of-all-trades, success comes from identifying your "X" factor, your unique selling point that makes you indispensable, and continuing to build upon that.
Personal branding is an ongoing, lifelong process that starts as early as your first year at Rutgers, whether you want it to or not. You already begin making impressions on your professors and fellow students from your first day, so you might as well approach this strategically rather than reflexively. If you create a brand now and allow people to see it, it will transform the way people in your network view you. Creating a personal brand makes it more likely that your peers, professors, employers, and anyone else will associate you with positive qualities.
And this process does not have to be overwhelming! Successful branding involves just three steps:
Identify your brand attributes:
Identify what makes you different from your peers and competitors. Even if you haven’t chosen a career goal, you can still work on your personal brand. As a student, do you want to be known as the student who is always on time for class, the student who always asks good questions to encourage deeper discussion of a topic, or the teammate every other student wants to have in their group because you carry your weight during a project?
Can you answer the following questions:
- What are your strengths?
- What do you value most?
- What are you passionate about?
- What makes you unique?
Taking a career assessment like Traitify can provide you some insight into your unique strengths. After taking Traitify, view the Trait, and Personality reports to begin answering some of these questions.
Develop and communicate your brand:
Now that you have a better sense of your brand attributes, it’s time to communicate them! Creating a personal brand statement is one way to start this process. Distill your identified attributes into a memorable statement, only one or two sentences long, that clearly expresses what value you provide, how you do it uniquely, and whom you do it for. Your personal brand statement is your compass to keep you on target so you are delivering a consistent message when interacting with every person you meet.
Furthermore, is this consistency seen across different modes of communication: in person, on your resume, online, etc.?
Update and manage your brand:
As you participate in new experiences, you will learn more about yourself (your strengths, interests, values, etc.) and can refine your brand over time, even years into your career.
Double-check your online presence! You will always be Googled by people you connect with, such as recruiters. Make sure you have no embarrassing or unprofessional posts or photos of you online. Privatize your personal social media accounts. On your public professional social media accounts, ensure that your information is up-to-date and that there is positive information for people to find. You don’t want to simply hide negative things; you want people to find positive, impressive information about you, such as links to the project you’ve worked on and other samples of your work.
Your personal brand is a genuine portrayal of what makes you uniquely you. Your opinions, views, values, and passions; the clothes you wear; the photos you share online; the way you carry yourself, walk around campus, and introduce yourself. All of these things communicate the essence of who you are. We live in a world where first impressions make a difference, so developing a powerful and memorable personal brand can truly enhance your career advancement.