This piece is part of the new series, New Pro? No Problem: The PRSA New Professionals Guide to Success.
Before I finished my graduate degree, my final project included building an online portfolio, refreshing my resume and updating critical social media platforms like LinkedIn. It was the perfect opportunity for me to consider all the work I had done but also the professional growth I experienced. It was an opportunity to refresh my personal brand.
If you haven’t already established a personal brand, start by answering questions like: What are your favorite brands and why? How would you describe yourself to others? What are some of your interests or areas of expertise? You can also check out a couple of my favorite personal branding articles from the Institute for Public Relations: The Five R’s and Seven Steps.
Ultimately, your personal brand is all about finding and marrying your authentic personal and professional voice. Jeff Bezos, CEO of a little company called Amazon, said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Building a personal brand is not an instance where you can set it and forget it. It should be regularly reviewed, updated and maintained. Over the holiday break, take time to reflect and prepare for the new year by evaluating where you currently showcase your personal brand. Make sure these are up to date, accurate and showcase who you are personally and professionally. Here are a few places to start:
Your resume is like a first impression—it needs to make an immediate impact. Don’t just copy and paste your job description. Tell a story about what you accomplished by adding real results to your experience section. Make the right experience shine by pushing your most recent work to the top of the page. Highlight what makes you unique by adding relevant awards and extracurricular activities if you have room.
Take a moment to Google yourself. Your top results likely include your social media profiles. Employers can get a better idea of who you are through these profiles and I can guarantee they are looking at them so don’t forget to review these as part of your personal branding process.
- LinkedIn: Make sure you have an updated headline and description, a recent professional photo and an accurate list of work experience at the very least. If you want to fully develop your profile, add bullet points to your experience, list awards and accomplishments, fill in your education and collect endorsements on your skills.
- Twitter: While LinkedIn is primarily professional, Twitter can fall between personal and professional. It’s a great platform to find and share industry news and add your commentary. It can also be an opportunity to share your interests with others. For example, if you’re a movie buff, post your thoughts on the most recent blockbuster hit or Oscar-nominated flick.
- Instagram: It may feel like a primarily personal platform because of its focus on visual expression. However, don’t hesitate to share professional milestones here as well.
- Facebook: Even if you don’t post on Facebook frequently it’s important to keep your profile tidy. Make sure your information is up to date and consider combing through your photos to ensure they are appropriate.
Website or Online Portfolio
With access to a variety of website building tools like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace, it’s easier now more than ever to create your own online space. Showcase your work and your personality by building your own website. A website can supplement your resume by providing more in-depth information on your experience and housing work samples. You can also share contact information and link to your social platforms. A personal website can become a hub for you and your personal brand. Looking for an example? Check mine out!
Bonus: Try Something New in 2019
What is one other way you can show off your personal brand? Make it a New Year’s resolution to consider a new platform where you can show off what makes you, you. Maybe that is launching a YouTube channel, starting a podcast or writing a blog. Whatever it is, be prepared to maintain it.
Emma Finkbeiner is a native Yooper and alumna of Northern Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism. She also recently received her master’s degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. She is currently the PRSSA liaison for the PRSA New Professionals Section and a member of Champions for PRSSA. She does sports marketing in Chicago.