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Written by Misty PathuisMisty Pathuis

Brand yourself for success: How to build your personal brand and land your dream job

11 min read
Brand yourself for success: How to build your personal brand and land your dream job
Artwork by:Aleksandra Zabnina
Ever wondered how Marie Kondo took the world by storm? How Oprah turns everything she touches into gold? How Steve Jobs became a household name for pioneering tech? Well, here is a little secret: it’s their personal brand.

At the mere mention of their name, you know who the person is and where their expertise lies. Marie Kondo is a humble, Japanese woman that helps us find joy in minimalism. Steve Jobs’ innovative spirit has revolutionized the design and tech industry, so what about you? How do you find your personal brand, and how can it help you to land your dream job? 

Let’s dive in and find out how you can unleash your inner Maria Kondo or Steve Jobs. 

In this blog, we’ll explore

  • What a personal brand is
  • How you can find your personal brand
  • How you leverage your personal brand to land your dream job

What is a personal brand?

First, let's clarify what personal branding is. Essentially, your personal brand is how you market yourself to the world. It's the image you project to others. It showcases your unique skills, values, personality, motivation, goals, and mindset. In short: your personal brand is who you are (both professionally and personally). Personal branding thus helps professionals differentiate themselves in a competitive market.

So what are the 4 hallmarks of a great personal brand?

  1. Authentic. Your personal brand helps people to get to know the ‘real you’. It authentically communicates your genuine interests and strengths, while also openly discussing important career lessons you’ve learned along the way. Overly romanticized portrayal of yourself will hurt you in the long run.
  2. Personal. Your brand should be drawn from personal experiences and accomplishments.
  3. Credible. Your personal brand should show you are trustworthy and a great source of knowledge and experience. This can be done through recommendations, references, your actions, credentials and / or accomplishments.
  4. Connective. By sharing your unique story, values and expertise, you will resonate with like-minded individuals and foster a deeper connection, which helps you stay top-of-mind in a competitive landscape.
Expert tip

People mistakenly think personal branding is blatant self-promotion, when in fact it’s the opposite. A great personal brand establishes a genuine connection and answers the tough questions: who are you, and how do you add value? 

Your personal brand however doesn’t have to be set in stone, as we all evolve over time, your personal brand can grow with you. Remember, to keep actively cultivating your brand story as you gain new experience, skills and knowledge.

How do you find your personal brand?

As the saying goes, “Brand yourself before others do”

While it may seem obvious to some, finding your personal brand isn’t easy. As it requires true self-reflection. Without deep soul-searching, a personal brand will feel empty, hollow, or disingenuous. Your brand must thus be built on a genuine foundation. Otherwise, you’ll be drained in the long run - focusing energy on being someone you’re not can be a depleting experience. 

Step 1. Examine your personal and professional qualities

Start by asking yourself some direct questions: 

  • What do you feel genuinely passionate about?
  • What real-life experiences have brought you to this point in your career?
  • What stories have shaped your professional choices?
  • What are your biggest accomplishments?
  • What career lessons have you learned along the way?
  • What hobbies and interests drive you currently? How could it translate to your work?
  • What life or career lessons would you like to share with others?
  • What core value is crucial to your being?
  • Which principles are non-negotiables to you?
  • What obstacles did you have to overcome?
  • What characteristics do you love about yourself?
  • What personal traits need a little more work?
  • How does your personality help you achieve your goals?
  • In what situations do you shine the brightest?
  • In what situations do people usually ask for your help?
  • When do you feel the most confident?
  • When people praise you, what do they usually praise you for?
  • What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

No need to answer all, but answer those questions that jump out at you. Those are the questions to hone in on, as those questions are likely to be your strongest assets.

When answering these questions, go deep. 

If you love science, what about it, makes your heart skip a beat? Does it appeal to your desire for discovery, intellectual challenges, and problem-solving? Or do you simply have a profound appreciation of the natural world? How has your background helped you evolve your scientific abilities? And what have you achieved so far? Do people compliment you on your ability to solve complex problems or natural curiosity? 

If you love IT, what excites you about it? Do you enjoy building new solutions in a team? Or do you love managing current systems on your own?  How do your personal traits align with the company you want to work for? Explore these questions in depth. Get into the nitty-gritty detail. 

Truth is, finding your personal brand boils down to getting to know yourself. So if this starts to feel like a therapy session, good! You’re on the right track. Let’s uncover: the great, the good, and the elements that need a little work (we’re only human, after all). Only by asking tough questions and by being honest with yourself, can you discover your personal brand. 

Expert tip

Try and stay away from negative thoughts - don’t let them limit you in your self-discovery. The most important thing is to be authentic and genuinely you - and then back it up with evidence. 

Step 2. Back it up with evidence

The problem is, most applicants will simply say they are ‘passionate’ or ‘experts’, but have no evidence to back it up. In most cases, you can look credible by either drawing from previous accomplishments or references: 

  • “As a personal stylist with a deep passion for artistic self-expression, I am driven by a desire to help people feel confident and empowered through their clothing choices. Throughout my career, I have collaborated with a wide range of influencers and celebrities, and won Best Stylist at Fashion Week.”

But when you have no experience, evidence can also be personal or anecdotal: 

  • “From a young age, I devoured books on biology and spent countless hours observing bugs crawling in our garden. My natural curiosity, attention to detail, and passion for discovery make me a valuable asset to your team.”

Make sure you tell your story in a way that fosters a connection, as it will help you distinguish yourself from the pool of candidates. Bonus points: if you can find a deeper connection to the company you’re applying to. 

How to leverage your personal brand to land your dream job?

Now that you’ve found your personal brand, it’s time to put it to good use. 

The first step is to leverage your personal brand.  - not with a sleazy car salesman approach: ‘hire me, because I need money”, but from a place of influence: ‘I share the same core values as your company’ or ‘I share the same passion’. If done right, this should feel like a natural match.

The truth is, all companies are built by people. So if you know who you are at your core, you can attract companies that share the same values. So, think deeply: What common goals are you working on? What emotional connection can you make with the company? What company or environment would you thrive in? How does your personality match your dream job? And how do you represent yourself in the best light possible? 

Are you a creative spirit, or extremely nerdy? Do you love to share knock-knock jokes? Don’t hide it, flaunt it! Use your unique quirks to your advantage. There is a place for all - even on the work floor. 

Tell them how you’re bringing positivity to the work floor with your typical knock-knock jokes. How your inner geek keeps you up to date with the latest tech, and how your ‘OCD’ tendencies make you a very detail oriented product manager. Whatever makes you unique, own it! Share how your personality traits or skills could add value to your dream job. 

That’s how you can set yourself apart from a sea of applicants.

Let your personal brand shine in your application

Without a clear value proposition, it’s difficult to influence decision-makers positively. So, how do you show your personal brand?

  • Pepper your resume and cover letter with your personality
  • Upgrade your LinkedIn profile to align with your personal brand
  • Spruce up your Social media
  • Showcase your professional skills and accomplishments
  • Align your fonts and colors with your values and personal brand

Imagine, you are a lawyer who dreams of working at The Nature Conservancy where a job just opened up. Of course, you can say you share the same mission and passion to protect the planet’s natural resources, but your words need to match your actions. If, for example, your Facebook profile pic shows you proudly holding a shotgun in one hand and a deer’s lifeless body in the other, chances are that your application will directly end up in the ‘no’ pile.  So, remove that outdated profile picture and be mindful of your online presence.

Picture this: you are an IT specialist who wants to land a dream job at Apple. What color resume would work better? A dark-blue resume with a stylish font or neon orange resume with a Comic Sans font? If you’re branding yourself as an IT trust-worthy specialist, your resume should reflect your personal brand. Using a dark-blue color to communicate calm and trustworthiness. So ditch the neon orange resume, it will likely take the focus away from your accomplishments and credentials. 

Key takeaways

So, there you have it! Don't be afraid to let your unique personality shine through, just like Steve Jobs and Marie Kondo did. Remember, your personal brand is what sets you apart from everyone else, so go ahead and show the world what makes you fabulous!

  • Discover your key strengths and personal traits
  • Define how they add value in the workplace
  • Find evidence to back up your claims
  • Flaunt your unique abilities and experiences online and in your resume
  • Keep actively cultivating your brand story as you gain new experience, skills and knowledge
  • Attract the right opportunities
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