While recruiting itself can be a tedious and draining process from polishing your resume to absolute perfection to practicing those interviewing skills and elevator pitches, the real work when it comes to building your long-term career actually started already! The things you say, your beliefs and opinions, your everyday actions, and your social media presence are all contributing to something called your personal brand.
How can we best explain this? With some help from Wikipedia, personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual, group, or organization. It's all about how you market yourself and/or your company as a brand.
What you do every single day is feeding into peoples' perception of you, which is something to be taken seriously when it comes to career advancement. For most of us out there, whether we are working in the corporate world or not, growing and progressing in our careers is one of the top personal goals we have for ourselves. After all, no one wants to be an analyst for the next 40 years, right? If you read up on the career histories of those Fortune 500 CEO's or maybe were even a few of the lucky ones who had a chance to hear them speak in-person, you will notice that though luck and "natural intelligence" played a role in their success stories, it is their 20+ years of commitment and dedication to their roles that put them in the positions that they are in today... 20+ years of making specific and at times, calculated decisions that separated them from the rest of the pack. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and consistency when it comes to developing a personal brand, but the best part is that you have already started building it.
A few important questions to ask yourself:
- How are people going to remember you?
- What are you going to do in order for them to remember you that way?
Personal branding sounds more like a buzz-phrase than anything, so we thought it would be useful to break it down and talk about some of the things we are working on ourselves when developing our own personal brand!
1. Consistency and Commitment: When it comes to marketing yourself and selling this "image" you want others to have of you, physical appearance and identity (name, company, etc.) are definitely things you want to have uniform across all of your platforms. Physical presentation should be consistent online and in-person since it helps to lessen confusion and doubt about your image. This is particularly helpful when it comes to managing social media, like using a current profile picture. In addition, keep your own name or brand's name consistent, which is extremely important since this is one of the key identifiers of who you are. We love using Aimee Song, creator of Song of Style, as an example of someone who has a very strong personal brand that happens to be a genius play on her own name. Her many social media posts, open opinions on fashion blogging critics, and of course, fabulous style has always been consistent and growing for many years. Her consistency and commitment to blogging is highly commendable, given her domination of Instagram and the new fashion world, and can we just say, #Goals. The last part of this segment is about knowing and clearly conveying your areas of specialty or expertise, which is particularly helpful when it comes to marketing to potential clients and employers. You want people to associate you as a valuable asset, and remaining consistent on this through your elevator pitch, resume, conversations, and social media posts will help solidify their perception of you.
2. Be Reliable: This is one of the easier and more controllable ways to get noticed when it comes to developing your personal brand. You always want to be someone who gets to work early, is never late for meetings, and most importantly, does not leave the office until the job is done. Essentially, we are paid to get the work finished, and as harsh as it sounds, our personal worth to the company is only as much as we can offer them. So even if it means staying late a couple of nights out of the week or eating lunch at the desk, prove your worth to your team and show them that you are not somebody who can easily be replaced. Show them that you can be relied on when things get a little too stressful; that not only do you have the technical capability to handle it, but are also willing and dedicated to the role.
3. Go the extra mile: Aside from doing your regularly appointed duties, volunteer yourself for a few "extracurricular activities" to put your name out if you have the available bandwidth. People may not always remember the many little things you do, but they always remember the bigger picture and how you helped them out in a time of need or out of kindness. Always over-deliver and exceed expectations.
4. What lights you up? People are very keen on associating peoples' images to their values and passions. The most important thing here is to care and to show that you care through your actions and words. It's very easy to tell the difference between someone who talks about something that excites them or does something that lights their fire, and that passion makes us believe and subscribe to their personal platform. Also, this would be a good point to bring up that not everyone knows where their strengths lie, so when in doubt, ask a friend for a different and unique perspective.
5. Connect and stay connected: Networking is probably one of the most encouraged and talked about things that our education and society has embedded in our brains. As much as it can be shoved down our throats, it absolutely is one of the most critical parts of working in any career and industry. Your ability to capitalize your personal brand lies within the web of connections that you make, so 1)Be Confident 2)Reach out 3)Follow up. Throughout this, you want to make genuine connections with people both online and in-person. Have them know what you are all about, and also give back by offering help, advice, or being a person that will listen and ask questions of interests. We can't stress this enough since we have been networking and getting to know so many people as new hires. It pays off. Give something to people that they will remember you by, and make sure you stay plugged-in to maintain those relationships.
6. Be Fearless: One piece of advice that we have heard consistently from successful senior managers and partners all across the board is that when an opportunity presents itself, no matter how daunting or unfamiliar the tasks might be, sometimes it is best to just close your eyes and take the plunge. To grow both personally and professionally, you have to put yourself in uncharted waters and at times, uncomfortable situations to allow yourself to develop the skills and experiences necessary for career advancement. In terms of branding, you want to be thought of as the employee who is willing to put themselves out there, willing to risk their cushy, comfortable position, and someone who is even willing to fail to try something new. Remember, where there is risk, there usually lies reward, so never say no when an opportunity comes knocking at your door!
Let's take a moment and go back to the questions we asked earlier:
How are people going to remember you? What are you going to do in order for them to remember you that way? Focusing on some of the areas we mentioned above will most definitely help you build that personal brand and craft your image. After all, this brand you create is something that will carry with you throughout life. People always grow and change, and it's perfectly okay for your brand to evolve with you.
Our South Street Seaport Lookbook, featuring a new Corporate Classics ensemble.
Jess: People like to say business in the front, and party in the back, but why not party on the bottom with some fun floral pants for work? I admit, when I bought these on sale at Zara this year, I thought it would really only be appropriate for casual days around town since the print was so bold and summery. But after playing around with some pieces in my closet, I found a way to make it a preppy and classy ensemble with the addition of a wrap blouse, cotton blazer, and a pearl necklace. Seriously, print and solids is a secret weapon duo when it comes to quickly styling an outfit, and when in doubt, stick to neutrals!
Mel: Now that temperatures have been steadily dropping within the past 2 weeks, (of course, these last 3 days have been exceptionally hot here in NYC) it was finally time to break out the wool Maddie pants from J-crew I had stocked up last winter. Seriously, I was like a squirrel stashing the nuts for the winter..except in my case, it was wool work pants. I bought these pants after seeing Jean from Extra Petite rocking them for several years now and since I finally joined the workforce full-time, it was the perfect excuse to buy several pairs myself. For someone who is thin and petite, I often struggle with finding bottoms that aren't drowning my frame. These Maddie pants are the textbook definition of perfection - hugging all the right places while still being professional enough to wear to work. Since this outfit is one of my more "boyish" silhouettes, I maintained the romantic color palette of this look by pairing an oxblood mock turtleneck to go along with the mauve bottoms and draped a blazer over my shoulders since I did have a meeting that day. A dainty necklace and some tasseled earrings were all the accessories I needed before heading out the door!
Jess: Top - H&M (blue), Blazer - Zara, Pants - Zara (sold out) (similar), Shoes - Madden Girl, Pearl necklace - Forever 21 (set)
Mel: Top - Zara, Blazer - H&M (similar), Pants - Jcrew , Shoes - Lucky Brand.