There’s no question that companies can build their products and services into brands of sizes that eclipse understanding (hello, Pepsi, Burger King, World Wildlife Fund), but can a person? The good news is, yes! You’re going to have to work hard to brand yourself, but you can do it, and there’s help available!
Branding Yourself Takes Work
It’s never been more important to brand yourself when it comes to standing out from the crowd when applying for jobs.
The publishing world calls the flood of submissions it gets – unasked – from writers who want their books published “the slush pile.” The same can be said for the hundreds or even thousands of applicants who apply for a single job opening.
It is essential to brand yourself on your job application and resume so you can rise above the slush.
There’s a lot you can do before it even gets to the job application stage.
How about making yourself look great so prospective employers can contact you? You could be found on an employment website based on your skill set.
The biggest of those websites is LinkedIn, and to be an active member, you need a top-notch LinkedIn profile.
You may be thinking, “This is about work and jobs. It’s not supposed to be all fancy and braggy.” Well, you need to adjust your thinking so you can get that job. Here are some things you should know:
- As of March 2017, there were 2 billion profiles on LinkedIn. No, not even one percent of them are going to be going after the jobs you are. But a fraction of one percent? That’s a lot of people you beat out to even get that first phone interview.
- Your profile is a picture. It needs to be much more than buzz words burped out onto a screen in list or bullet format. Paint the readers a beautiful image of who you are so they can picture how well you’ll fit into their workplace.
- Use an “I” voice and make sure to hype your strengths!
Brand Yourself with a Great Picture
We’ve all heard the cliche about the person who was at the front of the line for a job and then the prospective company’s human resources person unearthed pictures of binge drinking, animal cruelty, extreme politicism, and other embarrassing and potentially illegal things on the applicant’s social media.
You know how that ended up, right?
Don’t be that person! In fact, when you brand yourself and then continuously polish your brand, you’re on the right path to avoid these costly and impactful mistakes.
Some tips to help you get the picture:
- You do, actually, need a picture that shows you facing the camera, with a professional outfit or one that would be (no pun intended) well-suited for your prospective workplace. Think of hair and makeup touchups, where applicable, too.
- The picture needs to be a headshot with a neutral background, and you should be smiling.
- Have the image saved in a variety of sizes. Each website may have slightly different regulations on the size and format of photos you can upload, such as a 125-pixel by 125-pixel square .jpg for a headshot in one place and or something laxer such as “up to four inches wide by six inches high, under 1 megabyte, in either a .jpg or .png format.”
- If you’re having a professional headshot taken, the photographer can usually give you a couple of sizes from the same image.
You are purposely branding yourself here, so every single thing you post online is going to be part of that package. Once it goes online, it’s part of your brand. There’s no picking and choosing.
Branded Daters May Get More Dates
Think the online dating world is an exception to the world of branding?
Having a brand on a dating site could even be more important than the one you present to the professional/working world.
In our swipe-happy culture, you get maybe a tenth of a second before someone goes left. What can do you do in a tenth of a second?
Not much, but if you’ve branded your online dating profile, you’re in control.
It’s similar to the suggestions we encourage our clients to do with their work images (clear photos, smiling photos, well-groomed photos), but with some twists:
- Show that personality! We’re not saying to put an image of you standing at a Caligula-style bacchanal with your friends passed out as your first profile picture. But anything that shows who you are and what you love is game. Hint: Now’s the time for those cats and waterfalls!
- We do encourage people to include full-body shots. Yes, prospective daters want to see what you look like from head to toe. How you look may not be necessarily part of your brand or what you care most about, but guess what? Other people care.
- Photoshop and 20-year old pictures are so… 20 years ago! You cannot make this error anymore, it’s just unacceptable. Though we can bet your friends still to this day share stories of showing up to an online date with someone 15 years older, 40 pounds heavier, or with 80% less hair than the photos in the profile.
It’s Not Bragging, It’s Branding!
Our culture has been taught to avoid being accused of bragging, but branding yourself has nothing to do with having a big head. In fact, you’re towards a goal – a new job, an active dating life, more friends.
One of the first steps people take after they’ve decided to build their brand is to get those photos, but it can be a daunting task. You could ask your friend’s kid’s uncle’s best friend from high school who “likes to click around with his cell phone camera.”
Or you could go pro.
In one professional session, you may be able to get different branded looks, including professional work-related headshots as well as dating profile pictures. You bring the accessories and outfits and the photographer will have the equipment to do the rest.
The photographer can also help you get the output types and file sizes you need (like those size and graphic requirements to post your photos online).
Start here to find a photographer to help you in your quest to be the best you can be.