Are you fresh out of college, eager to put your skills to work? Well, I've got some bad news for you. Finding a decent job on the labour market is more difficult than corporate sycophants have let you believe. Behind all the talk of meritocracy, equal opportunities, and free enterprise lies a reality governed by one thing - appearances. In order to blend in with the corporate crowd, you will have to wear a costume. The 'technical' term for this is branding. A brand is your avatar in the world business. It is the basis of all your interactions with other players in the economy. So how does one create a personal brand? That's what we're here to teach you.
For all their talk of progress, expansion, and innovation, companies are kind of slow on the uptake when it comes to social media. Imagine, most employers still think that someone’s social media profile is a faithful representation of who they ‘really’ are, and not just a random mishmash of stuff the person found interesting online. So while you and I know that your Facebook profile doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, we still have to pretend that there is a method to the madness for the benefit of clueless employers. In terms of practical advice, this means that you should tidy up your profiles on networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn to make it look like you’re a serious, rational individual that has what it takes to be a serious™ employee.
If there is one thing that employers like more than making money, it’s hearing others praise their business acumen. The question is, how you can leverage this fact to strengthen your personal brand? It’s simple really. All you have to do is pretend you’re as enthusiastic about your potential employer’s business venture as they are. So for instance, if you are looking for a job in the car industry, you should make it very clear that your whole life revolves around cars, especially those produced by your employer of choice. Describe yourself as a car aficionado on social media, post car-related content, and be sure to talk about how that one ride you took as a kid changed your outlook on the car industry.
Confidence is the name of the game in the business world. How could you get away with causing massive environmental damage, unravelling the fabric of society, and impoverishing billions unless you were confident that what you’re doing is right and proper? If you were to display even a fraction of this kind of unwavering confidence in your personal brand, you will be well ahead of people that still express doubt about their abilities. Obviously, your confidence doesn’t have to be based on anything real. A ‘fake it till you make it’ approach will work perfectly. Well for the most part. Remember, the goal is to present yourself as a reliable, independent worker, so your corporate overlords can point you to your assignments, and forget about you.
The quickest way to an employer’s cold, dead heart is a small rectangular piece of cardboard. Go figure. Business cards have been around for ages, and for some reason, they are still one of the most widely used branding tools in the corporate world. This famous scene from American Psycho perfectly encapsulates the matter. Joking aside, the main advantage of using business cards for branding is that they’re cheap to produce and easy to distribute. Think of them as mini-advertisements for your person. You should also be ready to hand them out at every occasion, from formal gatherings to house parties. You never know when you’ll come across someone who just happens to know about a job opening at a company.
Personally, I find this to be the most annoying aspect of branding. It is also one of the most important ones (I blame this on the harsh and unforgiving laws of karma, thanks, Buddha). Why is networking so important for branding you ask? Because branding is all about convincing people that you are so and so, and the more people you convince, the stronger your brand will be. But since you can’t realistically talk to everyone, you have to rely on your network of contacts to spread the word. Your family is the logical starting point – ma’ and pa’ would like nothing better than to boast about their business-savvy offspring. Friends come next, followed by acquaintances.
Creating a personal brand is more of a hassle than it is actually hard. It is simply a part of the game we all have to play under capitalism. Unfortunately, most colleges don't actually teach you any of this, so you have to rely on online articles to bring you up to speed. I hope this article has at least given you a couple of clues about what's involved in the branding game, and which moves you should make to come out on top. If nothing, I hope it was at least good enough for a chuckle or two.
Rebecca is a translator by day and a traveler mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag - and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft .
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