“Ugh, I am so annoyed. I literally just dropped below 500 million connections on LinkedIn! My personal brand is devastated!”
“OMG, Kim, take a chill pill! Why do you even need that many connections?”
“Khloe, you troll, stop being so sus! The more LinkedIn connections you have, the more potential employers notice you! Bible!”
“Okurrr, if you say so. But, like, what kind of job are you even looking for?”
“Duh, I’m gonna run for president against Kanye!”
In the hunt for a dream job or internship, you don’t have to be as famous as a Kardashian, or even look like one. (Thanks to Instagram filters, not even the Kardashians look like the Kardashians.) But there’s one lesson you can definitely learn from the world’s most notorious family: the importance of building your personal brand.
A personal brand doesn’t mean you have to start selling shoes like Nike, making movies like Disney, or whatever the Kardashians do like the Kardashians.
Your personal brand is more about how you package and present yourself to an audience. And in this case, the audience are potential employers, hiring managers, and the robots they use to find people (not in a “Terminator” way … I’ll explain later.)
Think about it like this: How are you going to stand out from the thousands of other online job seekers? That winning smile in your profile photo can only take you so far — unless you’re an aspiring toothpaste model.
But where do you start in building your personal brand? You don’t need a logo, an advertising budget or a slogan (although I have one: “Perfectly adequate since 1980.”) I’ve culled together some excellent steps to take from our own Super Purposes team and other experts.
Building a personal brand can be challenging … but also tasty!
Before you can build your personal brand, you need to dig deep and really understand what it is you want out of a career or internship, and what it is you’re bringing to the table. Like, an actual table. If the job is a party, are you contributing a liter of off-brand soda nobody drinks? Or are you rocking some chips and homemade guac like a champion.
Whatever you decide on, though, remember to keep it consistent across all your social media, and be honest. Employers are usually pretty good at sniffing out exaggerations, like “I learned Python at 3” or “I single-handedly developed the Covid-19 vaccine.” By all means, sell yourself, but don’t say anything you can’t back up during an interview.
Which would you rather watch: A philosophical debate about Rene Descartes and the nature of reality, or “The Matrix”? Both are roughly about the same thing, but to my knowledge Descartes never dodged bullets. My point being that everyone prefers a good story to a dry recitation of facts.
One of the most powerful tools in your personal-brand utility belt is your LinkedIn summary. These days almost every job recruiter looking for candidates is leaning hard on social media, especially LinkedIn. Your summary is where they go to learn your personal story.
Go ahead and brag about yourself in your summary, says Super Purposes queen bee Super Julie Braun. Instead of just explaining your work and education history, get a little personal! What got you interested in your career path or field of study?
“I’ve always wanted to work in customer service, because when I was four I got lost in the mall and the help desk lady rescued me.”
“I got into accounting because my grandpa would do Sudoku puzzles with me before he died.”
Who’s chopping those onions? Your stories are so good, you’ve got me tearing up.
Your summary is also the perfect place to sprinkle in a little SEO. No, not Stupid Elected Officials — Search Engine Optimization! If you use Google or Bing (LOL, “if you use Bing”) then you know how to use keywords to find the most exact match for whatever you’re searching for. LinkedIn functions much the same way, only YOU want to be that exact match!
Think of keywords that directly relate to the career or field you want to grow into, and pepper those babies into your summary. Remember those robots I was telling you about? Employers use automated tools to probe and prod (ouch!) every inch of LinkedIn, looking for keywords that fit the company’s needs. If you don’t have these keywords strategically dotted throughout your summary, you may be left on the sideline.
So I guess those robots actually are like the Terminator. They’ve just altered the catchphrase to “I’ll be back … when you add keywords to your summary!”
OK, those keywords brought some real live human eyeballs to your profile — what else can you do to impress? No, seriously — what can you do? Because another super important step in building your personal brand is telling the world just what the heck you’re capable of!
On LinkedIn, this is accomplished in the Skills & Endorsements section. There you can:
Before you know it, you’re the motherflipping CEO of Panera Bread!
Did you know that 85% of job openings are filled because of networking? That’s roughly the same number you’d get if you asked people “Do you think Baby Yoda is cute?” (In that case, the other 15% are just wrong.)
These days, professionals network almost completely online, and mostly in the form of LinkedIn connections. You can connect with friends and family, of course, and former co-workers (maybe not Jarrod — he always took so long on bathroom breaks.) But a good strategy for building your personal brand is to find people you don’t know but are in your chosen industry, and request to connect with them! You’d be surprised how many will say yes.
The more connections you have, the higher you’ll appear in search results. (Because just like in high school, popularity is everything.) The magic number to hit is 500 — once you reach that, you really start getting noticed. It’s like flashing a platinum card, driving a Tesla, or blowing your nose with $50 bills. You’ve reached the upper echelon, baby, and you’re going to flaunt it!
After you surpass 500 LinkedIn connections, you gain more credibility, appear in more searches, and your posts have more impact in front of an expanded audience. That doesn’t mean using LinkedIn to publish your “Bridgerton” fanfic, of course. Stay on message and build your brand.
Following these steps and learning more from the Super Purposes team is a great way to start building your personal brand, attracting an audience, and finding that job. So just do it!
Oh, and have a super day!