Work Your Personal Brand for Job Search Success

Once developed, a personal branding statement should be incorporated into resumes, cover letters, and email signature lines as well as throughout social media. While it doesn’t have to be constantly repeated word for word-in fact, it shouldn’t be-that personal branding statement should nevertheless inform and inspire one’s online persona.

Your personal brand statement for job search should not be long. Five to 10 words tops will get the job done (e.g., “I’m the top dog trainer in Toledo.”) It’s all about unique positioning, so you’ll want to consider words such as “top” and “best” or “first” or “friendliest.” If you’ve garnered more awards and recognition than others in your company, now’s the time to say so with “award-winning” and “most recognized leader in Hoboken.”

One important note you must consider as you are going through this exercise: Avoid hype. Be authentic.

Visibility is important, but be professional, too. Leave consistent, recognizable digital footprints on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo and other online properties that reflect a polished image.

Hiring managers and recruiters use social networking sites to source and investigate candidates. A forgotten blog, a Twitter account with only a couple of posts, or a LinkedIn profile that isn’t 100% complete will leave a poor impression. A professional homepage and online resume/portfolio-complete with a “first name, last name”.com domain name-is the perfect place to display a personal brand.

Job seekers whose vanity URLs are already taken can try adding a middle name, “PhD” or a similar distinguishing word. Then reserve that as a username across various social networking sites using NameChk.com; the days of getting away with “Andy12345” are over.

Since personal branding is about standing out from the crowd, creating a video resume or a mock video “interview” might be a smart decision, too. Sites like CareerBuilder and Vault are now offering video resume hosting. Keep it brief, professional and not gimmicky. But be warned: unlike a traditional resume, a video resume can go viral, damaging one’s personal brand. So think it through before you step in front of the camera.

Good personal branding radiates success. People like to work with competent, accomplished, even powerful individuals. But overt self-promotion is a career killer, as are narcissism and selfishness.

Ironically, personal branding might more accurately be described as “interpersonal branding.” Nurture your network to take advantage of word of mouth; focus on what you uniquely can offer others. Leaving a tidbit of practical advice on a comment thread makes a much better impression than a self-aggrandizing “personal statement” squeezed into an excessively long “look at me!” post.

Likewise, employers don’t care about a job seeker’s “objectives.” They want to know what you can do for them. Why not use that valuable resume real estate for a personal branding statement instead, one that focuses on what you will bring to the organization, not what you want to get out of it?

Personal branding is an ongoing project. So is the reputation management that goes along with it. Since most web searchers never look past the first page of Google results, job seekers need to “own” those top 10 results for their name.

That’s why taking control of one’s identity on Facebook and other popular sites is so important-it’s a way to “push down” negative references to the relative obscurity of page two or three of Google or other search engines. Companies like PeoplePond and QAlias can also help manage this sort of “personal SEO.”

Other firms, like Defend My Name and ReputationDefender help remove unflattering personal comments and online “smear campaigns” altogether. The payoff in personal branding is creating a powerful online reputation that aligns with who you are and demonstrates your distinct positioning–a positioning that any company would be foolish to let slip away. Such is the power of personal branding.