What makes you, you? Defining your personal brand

Tips to identify and build your brand — and examples of others who have done it — so you can ace that next job interview or advance your career.

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Chances are you know someone who gets a ton of likes on her biking-adventure posts, constantly gives advice to her friends on different exercise programs, and writes a blog devoted to showing how to eat well. Whether she knows it or not, she’s doing a great job building her personal brand for her future career as a nutritionist. Which might make you wonder, how can you do the same?

What is a personal brand?

A personal brand is the culmination of who you are and how you show up in the world. It’s your job title, your LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch, your Instagram feed, your resume, even what you choose to wear to interviews and how you spend your free time. The tools you’re using to create your image and the way you stand out from the crowd are your personal brand, and a strong one can help you find job opportunities, network better, and achieve recognition in your industry.

How do you identify your brand?

Your personal brand is your authentic self. By identifying your brand and developing messaging around it, you can build self-confidence and establish your reputation and credibility — even if you’re just beginning your career. But before you even think about your personal brand, you have to define your core values:

  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What are you interested in learning more about?
  • What comes easy to you? What are your natural abilities?

By answering those questions, you can develop consistent messaging to leverage in different scenarios — like in a job interview, on your LinkedIn profile, or even making small talk at a neighborhood barbecue.

For instance, if you started a dorm-wide recycling program during your junior year of college, you could use this as just one example of your concern for the environment and your ability to rally your peers. Not only is this experience great for shaping your resume, but it also provides talking points for interviews.

How do you communicate your brand?

So now that you have your brand, how do you showcase it? Choose outlets that make the most sense for you and your chosen field. If you’re interested in video, build a strong YouTube channel. A blog would be a good medium to display your expert writing skills. Then, promote your posts and videos on your social accounts, and also include your account handles on your resume — being sure to keep your branding consistent across all accounts. Once you’ve built your brand, you’ll have all the material you need to ace that next job interview or networking event.

Personal branding in action

It never hurts to take a cue from others.

Take Jackie Gebel: In college, she struggled deciding on a major, let alone what career to pursue. She finally landed on hospitality management, just because she loved the cooking classes. And eventually her passions — food, cooking, and social media — led her to turn a simple blog for friends into something much bigger. Learn more about Jackie’s journey of developing her brand, and then view more recent grads who are figuring out their brand, and their career passions.