In the career world, and in particular at Emerson career services, we’re focused a lot on making sure you’re putting your best self out there to potential employers. As a grad student, I’m sure your professional image is filed away in your mind as a future “project” to work on when you’re on the job hunt. Maybe you’re trying to shift your professional identity, and you’re anxious about how you’re going to be perceived after a big career change. Maybe you’ve only been in the working world for a short while, and you’re wondering what a “personal brand” actually is. Is it your Facebook profile? It is the LinkedIn profile you’ve been hearing about? Is it whether or not you can do well in an interview or if a former co-worker has great things to say about you?
Well, simply put (or not, depending on how you look at it), it’s all of the above.
There’s a buzzword going around these days that’s having its fifteen minutes of fame: “authenticity.” Authenticity is about being true to who you are and what you want, including your interests, your skills at and what energizes you in life. Advice pieces, some of which were written by members of our team, will tell you it’s about the real you, and not something so perfected and airbrushed that it doesn’t feel real.
This should include how you present your personal brand.
The Many Aspects of YOU
Now of course you’re not going to document and overshare every single aspect of your life, but it’s important to remember that your brand should give people a true sense of who you are. Your personal brand is:
A reflection your values: The industry and company cultures you respect, the professional community your surround yourself with.
Your personal style: In fields like the arts and communication in particular, employers aren’t looking for suits and ties and stiff smiles. Yes, look your best, but rock the colors and pieces that look best on you. Use images that show you in some of your favorite spots, and where you’re genuinely happy.
Your projects and Interests: Writing, films, books you’re currently reading, thought leaders you follow, and the list goes on. This gives people a peek into what gets you up in the morning.
Why You Do What You Do: I love asking students what brought them to Emerson. Employers will want to know why you want to work for them. Bosses, colleagues, etc. will want to know why you’re invested in your chosen industry.
Consistent: Platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (and trust me, employers are looking at all of them and not just LinkedIn) while they’re different in look and feel, shouldn’t have profiles so drastically different that employers will wonder if:
- You’re trying to appeal to too many audiences.
- You’re too scattered.
- You’re hiding something.
Let’s Get Real
People, and that includes career counselors, want to get to know the real you. We will remind you often to use discrection, but keep these things in mind when developing your personal brand.
It’s also about who you are in person.
- How you work with people
- Your ability to communicate and support others
- Your level of professionalism
It’s not about perfection.
Have you ever watched a presentation or performance that was over rehearsed? It’s not fun is it? The same goes for your online presence. While the phrase “online persona” is often used, be careful with not taking that too far by crafting a persona so carefully that it feels fake. Remember the balance between showing your professional and your human sides.
Have questions about this ever evolving topic? I’d love to hear from you! Stay tuned for upcoming events and pieces and branding!
About the Author
Jessica Chance is a career counselor at Emerson College Career Services where she provides services to graduate students and alumni. Along with being an alumna herself, she enjoys connecting with fellow Emersonians for career planning and special events, and supporting fellow actors and writers in the local arts scene. She received her BFA from Emerson in Acting and Writing and her MA in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University.