It’s that time of the year when students are finishing off their studies and thinking about approaching design studios for work. I shudder when I think about that part of my life. My unrealistic expectations, the low salary offers and all those emails that lay in my inbox without a response.
Looking back, it’s clear what I was lacking. Without differentiating myself from the 50 other people applying for a role, how was I to stand out from the pack with the cut-through required to get noticed? Isn’t this what we’re all up against, and not just at the beginning, but throughout our career.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not taking the time to sit down and really think about who you are. You need to spell out in plain English the skills and competencies you can offer and give a potential employer a glimpse of your personality in a way that will leave a unique and memorable impression.
We live in an age that celebrates personal branding. We quietly indulge in responses across all our social media networks, become absorbed in who’s been looking at our profile on LinkedIn, liking our selfies on Instagram and starring our jokes on Twitter. Measuring your social influence through sites such as Klout only gives us yet more information to indulge in our sense of self.
The concept of ‘personal branding’ suggests that success comes from great packaging. And this may partly be true. This packaging includes our qualities, our working styles and may also include interests, knowledge, even appearance. All this leads to an indelible impression that is unique to you. But other things become important too such as consistency and credibility. There’s no point creating perceptions in an interview that you can’t deliver as true in the job. This is as harmful as being a one job wonder without consistent delivery on the next. Don’t forget humour, too, which in most studios is a cultural asset.
So how and where do we build our personal brand? These days I am genuinely surprised if I can’t find something (or someone) on the internet. Whether it’s through a simple search or a social network. There are sites that specialise in personal branding and the fundamental yet unspoken premise supporting all social media platforms, is narcissism. It’s there for the taking, but beware. Building a professional identity online requires a considered approach because of its open access, and frequent management of your personal information is imperative.
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Thumbnail image: Franco Marino Cagnina, from The Noun Project.