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Why personal brand is now on the interview checklist

Up until a few years ago, personal brand wasn't even a thing. Well it was, but it was just called your personality. We've just made it cooler and way more complicated.

Today, employers are actively looking at your personal brand though. In the same way we used to check your Instagram for any dodgy indications that you were too much of a party animal, or your views were too extreme, hiring managers are now scouting out whether you have a strong online presence and influence professionally.

How to use your personal brand to get a job

Here are my quick tips on establishing an authentic personal brand. These tips are useful at any stage of your career, and especially when you are actively job hunting.

Catherine Warrilow founder of travel brand strategy agency The Plot

1. Ask your network what makes you stand out

Many years ago I surveyed 30 people in my network including colleagues I'd worked with and for, people I'd hired, my wider business network, as well as my kids and a few friends.

I asked three simple questions. What am I good at, how am I different and what am I known for. What came out was great but a real surprise. I had no idea really what my USPs were. People said I was straight talking for the benefit of progress - that I cared more about the outcome than my ego, and that I was good at bringing the right people together, making interesting things happen, and generous with time to share my ideas.

So do the same, ask people your own three questions and understand what really makes your personality stand out.

2. Don't buy a pair of statement glasses

I admit it, having defining features like glasses, bright hair or quirky dress sense does make you stand out - and even makes you memorable. For a few years, I had the brightest pillar box red hair ever. But people will also remember if you were arrogant, unprepared or winging it. If you always wear a bowler hat to work, I love that for you, but don't think you can coast off your appearance when it comes to personal brand, there's got to be substance below the surface.

3. Be consistently you

I certainly remember in my early career, trying to fit into different situations based on what I thought I needed to be. This zapped my confidence, made me timid and nervous, and likely nobody noticed I was even in the room. If they didn't they would have sensed my unease and the forced nature of my approach.

You are incredible. Be yourself all of the time. Show up, engage, work hard to build relationships and conversation, and always do it the way that comes most naturally to you.

Someone told me not so long ago that I'm Marmite, and that's fine - because it's a self-screening process. Not everyone will appreciate my honesty, my momentum or my style, and that's a good thing.

4. Always give more

Many people in business are scared to share - to talk about what they're doing and how they're doing it through fear of being ripped off, copied, or even mocked. Don't be. Someone once told me that the most valuable asset you'll ever have are your ideas - don't take them with you to the grave, give them away, share them, talk about them. People are instantly drawn to people who share their passions with energy and colour - and people who give you suggestions for your business. People may want to take your ideas and not take you, and that's fine, don't stress about it. Be known as someone who is open, honest, sharing and always brimming with new news. It will pay dividends.

4. Create content with purpose

Loads of people absolutely hate being on camera and that's fine. If it's not your thing then don't force yourself to create video content. There are so many other options, but make sure you create content with purpose. Your opinion, your predictions, your ideas. White papers, LinkedIn posts, TikTok how-tos, podcast interviews. Try different things for a minimum of a few months and see what feels right for you. If any interviewer or an agency can easily find content that you've created, it is far more powerful than a CV, and sharing your views positions you as a credible thought leader. The long game here is to boost your visibility online and create a following - making you more visible to employers and prospects.

5. Don't be scared to sell yourself

Whether you're applying for employed roles or building your own business, don't be scared to tell people exactly what you're good at, what you're looking for and what value you bring to the party. Be really literal. Post on LinkedIn saying 'this is what I do, how I do it and who for'. Then, close with a clear call to action - this is what I want. It's not bullish to do that, make it easy for people to connect you with others.

6. Find your one thing

There are loads of good books, resources and tools out there that help you to refine your personal and professional purpose. Of course you have Simon Sinek's Start With Why, and one of my favourites, Gary Keller's The One Thing. Also, check out the Ikigai model as well. Whatever you do, explore what is at the core of what makes you happy personally and perofessionally, and align your employability with that. Make sure you are actually going after the things you love, creating content on those topics and talking to people about those passions.

7. Create a leave behind

This one works especially well if you are in marketing, brand, PR, comms, content, retail, events, hospitality, travel, leisure or customer service. Actually, anything creative. Create a leave behind, whether that's for prospects, employers or agencies. Something that really reflects your personal brand and what you do. I have a few favourites - a lint roller with a 'fed up of fluff' one liner, a message in a bottle, and an egg timer...happy to tell you more, just message me.

Ultimately, have fun. What makes you unique is incredible, if you don't already - learn to love yourself a bit more, and enjoy letting people get to know the real you. If you have questions, I love reading your comments. Have fun.

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