Brand Yourself: Why It Works
You are special. You have unique gifts, talents, and qualities to offer the world. You know this, your family and friends know this – but does the world? This is the question you need to ask yourself, because when you enter the job market after graduating from university or college you will be a small fish in a big pond, and there are a lot of fish in that pond!
In today’s knowledge-driven society, most people have a post-secondary education. In fact, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, “in 2011 about 53% of Canadians aged 15 and over had trade certificates, college diplomas, and university degrees – an increase of 20 percentage points since 1990.” In other words, educational attainment will no longer set you apart from the crowd or give you a huge advantage over your competition.
What’s the solution to this conundrum? Brand yourself! Whether you realize this or not, others are always branding you in their minds according to the image you project (consciously or unconsciously). According to the Business Insider, “human brains are wired to do this as a ‘short cut’ to make sense of the world. Without short cuts life would be confusing, complicated, and in some cases dangerous.” Your brain does you a favour by simplifying the world as much as possible.
Indeed, the Boss Ladies report that it takes less than 30 seconds for an individual to form a lasting impression of you, and a whopping “20 further experiences with a person to change a negative first impression [someone has of you].” In addition, since employers receive, on average, between 75 and 105 applications for every job opening, they spend only 15-30 seconds reviewing each application – so they make almost a snap decision of whether you’re fit for the position or not. But don’t get stressed out about these statistics or feel defeated. You can take control of your “brand” and how others perceive you, and knowing this is the first step to creating the image you want to project.
Tom Peters coined the term “Personal Brand” in his book called The Brand Called You. Your personal brand is your reputation and the public perception of who you are: your personality, values, and skills. People will decide whether they like you, trust you, and feel comfortable around you based on this judgement of who you are, regardless of who you really are as a person deep down inside. In fact, this snap judgement is very superficial. Your job is to make sure that the image you project to the world is authentic and relates to whom you really are.
An authentic personal brand is a strong brand. You must take the time to get to know yourself on a deep level – who you are, what are your likes and dislikes, what are your values, etc. — so that you project a strong and consistent brand to the outside world. A strong brand is a powerful tool and will help you to stand out in the minds of others in a positive way. You can feel at ease and confident that the image you’re projecting on a daily basis is the image you want others to see.
So, “always look put together,” says Divine Caroline. “You never know who you’ll meet at the grocery store.”