The demand for personal branding is increasing faster than I can type this post. Many of the reasons why you should build your personal brand have been discussed on this blog, including global competition, online presence management, and the need to stand out. The global population, from India to Malaysia, has been buzzing about the topic, yet it has become less of a buzz word and more “common speech.” Our brands are going to be seen everywhere that people are searching, forcing us to manage and monitor them daily.
1. Generations are colliding online
Facebook started out as a hang out place for college students, but now we’re seeing older generations adopt social networking. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. This means that communication between age groups is occurring more and more each day, and your audience is changing rapidly. Entire families are interacting online and 70% of parents friend their kids. You have to be aware of your audience and the content you’re publishing because if they don’t match, it can have a negative effect on your personal brand.
2. You online reputation can make or break you
Your brand is on the line, wherever your name and face is seen. Clients, managers and other professional stakeholders in your life have access to what you post publicly on the net. You can even lose your job over blog comments or attacks from people that already have a negative view on your reputation. For instance, Madhu Yarlagadda was hired by Skype as the new Chief Development Officer, and after a TechCrunch blog post, people came out of the woodwork to expose Madhu. Skype replaced him after a month of employment. You’ve all heard stories of people losing their jobs, their apartments, and their boyfriends/girlfriends because of information and pictures uncovered online. We all need to use more common sense!
3. Employers are reviewing your online personal brand (except Germany)
Almost every website on the planet has a search engine component to it and employers are using them to find more information about you. It’s getting to the point, where some countries (like Germany) are banning employers use of social networks as background checks. There are race and sex issues all the time, but as a culture, we won’t change. The information you provide online is public, unless you’ve used privacy settings. 53% of hiring managers are using social networks to find out more about you, states CareerBuilder. Make sure your personal brand is consistent and up-to-date.
4. Perception (how we present ourselves) is king
It’s the little things that count, whether you’re in an interview, or interacting with people online. A CareerBuilder survey states that 67% of hiring managers say that failure to make eye contact would make them less likely to hire a job candidate and 38% said lack of smile. People will judge you on small things that make a big difference. By being professional, using good eye contact, shaking someone’s hand, having good posture, and using appropriate images online, you will be more successful when communicating with others.
5. Stay relevant or stay unemployed
You need to be relevant to be desirable in the marketplace. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 60% of all new jobs in the twenty-first century will require skills that only 20% of current employees possess. You need a sense for what skills are important in your industry, and which ones might be significant in the future. By keeping yourself relevant, you’re keeping yourself employed. For instance, if you’re in the marketing world, you can’t avoid online advertising, and mobile applications.
6. Job searching has been replaced by “people searching”
If you apply for a job through a job board, you will be disappointed. In The New York Post, there was an article about one woman who applied for 1,056 jobs since being laid off, and only a handful of the 1,056 resumes she mailed out resulted in even an initial interview. Instead of wasting your precious time applying for jobs using job boards, that lead to nowhere, conduct a people search. Use the web to locate people who work at companies, and positions, that you’re interested in and then network with them constantly. For some great networking advice, read this resource by Inc. Magazine.
As you progress in your career, networking becomes more important because it’s almost 100% a hidden job market when you’re an executive job seeker. Only 22% of positions paying $200,000 or more are being posted on job boards. Your best bet is to focus on building an enormous Rolodex throughout your career, giving value to them, and then asking for help when you need it.
7. You have to stand out, to get noticed, and uncover opportunities
People are starting to go to extreme lengths to stand out in this crowded world. 64% of young women say that they would release a sex tape to get ahead. I wouldn’t recommend this approach, of course, but there are a lot of things you can do to build your personal brand and get attention. For instance, creating a video resume of yourself and sending it to a hiring manager is one way to get through the noise. Also, having a blog that depicts your human voice is a great addition to a stale resume that employers don’t trust anyways.
8. You have to specialize
You need to be known for something and don’t try to be everything to everyone. Being a generalist will help you adapt to new jobs because the market changes all the time, but specializing will make you more desirable to hiring managers. In fact, 71% of hiring managers are looking to fill “specialized positions” while 61% of job seekers considered themselves to have “broad skill sets”. Companies are looking to hire experts in their fields to solve real business problems. Become an expert in an in-demand field and you will have leverage over the recruitment process, make more money, and securing a stable position.
9. The competition is relentless
The competition we’re facing online is getting tougher by the day. There are 75 million people on LinkedIn, 150 million blogs, 500 million people on Facebook, and 200 million people on Twitter. With the amount of noise/content available now, you have to work harder, faster, and smarter to get your name out there. People who have known brands in their industry will flourish because people already know, like and trust them. Everyone else has to put in the effort to build a brand that can compete.
The economy has created a tough job market for most individuals, especially inexperienced college graduates. There are currently 2 million unemployed college graduates, and companies are hiring 22% fewer graduates. Our country is becoming more educated with about 40% of Americans having college degrees. Although, having a college degree isn’t a requirement for success (ask Bill Gates), it’s extremely important for building a foundation for future success for most people. Non-entrepreneurs should obtain an MBA in order to attain management positions within companies.
10. Interpersonal skills are becoming more valuable
A brand requires a personality if it’s going to be distinctive. Your personal brand needs to be personable and attract positive attention. Organizations are starting to place a higher value on interpersonal skills (communication, teamwork, organization) and cultural fit, instead of technical skills and experience. Technical skills and experience are easily replaceable in most fields, but it’s harder to replace people who fit perfectly in your organization and work well with your current employees. A new survey by Right Management shows that 31% of companies feel that organizational culture and motivation fit is important, while only 12% are for technical skills, and 11% are for relevant experience.