In 2015, I started my blog. What began as more or less an online diary turned into a way for me to not only help others but also provide an income for my family. 

I spent a lot of time researching best practices, like how to drive traffic to the blog, ways to monetize content, and identifying content gaps within my niche. A few years later, I was able to use the experience I gained to build a personal brand to find a job doing what I was already doing – blogging, emailing, social media, planning, etc. 

I talk to a lot of people who are looking for roles in social media and content marketing and how to get started in those careers. 

What is a personal brand?

Essentially, a personal brand is your online reputation that, hopefully, follows you into the workplace. It’s a way for job seekers to tell their stories while also setting the stage for where they’re going (or aspire to go) in their careers.

A personal brand goes beyond a resume to provide a more complete picture of who you are personally and professionally.

Understand, and stick to, your reason for building a personal brand. 

As you’re building your brand, it’s important to understand – and stick to – your “why.”

If you’re reading this, that’s most likely because you’re searching for your next job. This will help anchor you when you decide to spend time doing the rest of the things on this list, like updating your LinkedIn profile, engaging and networking with other professionals online, and potentially growing your social media presence.

Remember, building a personal brand doesn’t mean becoming insta-famous. It simply helps an employer get a holistic view of you, your experience, and your career goals. 

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers used social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. So, while you don’t need thousands of followers to build a personal brand, having an online presence is important.

Build your portfolio

A personal brand can’t exist in a vacuum – you need the experience to back it up. While you may have an impressive profile or website, what matters most to employers is whether or not you have a track record of doing the job well. 

You may not have experience in growing a company’s brand, but, if you can show that you’re able to be thoughtful and strategic when it comes to your brand and the growth that came from your hard work, you’ll be able to prove to employers that you can potentially do the same thing for their company.

Pick your industry or product wisely

When I was interviewing for my role at a seed-stage HR-tech startup (Scouted!), I was asked the question, “So why would you want to create content for us?” And it was honestly an easy question to answer. Unlike many people, I’ve enjoyed the job search process and tend to come at it from a competitive and fun standpoint. It’s an industry that I like and could see myself writing a lot about. That, and I felt that Scouted’s brand voice was similar to the one I naturally wrote in so replicating their tone and voice would be easy.

All that to say, when joining a content team, it’s important to make sure you like the subject matter and can see yourself writing, editing, or designing a lot of content around it. 

Update your LinkedIn profile

First things first, it’s important to have your LinkedIn profile updated. Think of it as an online resume where you’re able to quantify your past work experience and speak to your unique skill set. Here, you’ll also be able to make a note about the type of roles you’re searching for. 

Of course, if you’re still employed, you’re probably not going to share all over the internet that you’re on the job search. Either way, simply keeping your profile up to date will probably not tip off any colleagues as this is a good practice to be in no matter your employment status.

Connect with those who work in roles/industries/companies that you aspire to work in.

Once your LinkedIn profile is up to date, now it’s the time to connect with others. 

Instead of going on a connecting spree, try connecting with those at companies that inspire you or that you may want to work for someday, those who likely can hire your role or the industry you’d like to enter into.

The key here is being intentional with your connections. Also try drafting up a short, one or two-sentence note simply saying hello and why you’d like to connect.

Engage – and be helpful!

Now, once you’ve made a few connections, your feed will probably be filling up with posts written or shared by your growing network. Without going overboard, spend some time each day scrolling through your feed and commenting thoughtful or helpful comments on a few posts. This serves as a way to get your face and name in front of new eyes, provides value to your connections and their followers, and helps to establish you as an authority in the topic or industry in which you choose to engage.

Complete your Scouted Virtual Interview

It’s not every day that a job search platform allows you to tell your story in a way that goes beyond what you’re able to put on a resume. Have you overcome a tough hardship? Worked through school? Are you re-entering the workforce?

The Scouted Virtual interview allows you to communicate what you wish employers knew about you and what makes you stand out from the rest. Let your talents, personality, and potential do the talking!

Understand your strengths and weaknesses

What’s important to note is that claiming to be a “thought leader” or one with exponential success, who is consequently also on the job hunt may not be the best strategy.

Instead, it’s best to understand exactly what you bring to the table. What are a few things that you truly shine at? And what aspects of a role are struggles for you, or maybe even better left for someone else entirely?

Once you have this in your mind, it’ll be much easier to engage with others and establish yourself as an authority in areas where you truly have strengths, as well as seek advice from those who could complement your strengths.