Top Skills for Public Relations Students Pt. 3: Personal Branding

Personal branding is critical if you want a job in public relations. Ultimately, it does not matter how skilled you are if you are unable to communicate that convincingly to a potential employer. By developing your personal brand now, you can prepare for the job market.
In order to stand out in the field of public relations, you must distinguish yourself from the competition. As Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of the Start, states, “Niche thyself.” This applies to businesses, but also to you. Find out what you’re better at than anyone else. Find out what makes you unique. Use that to create your niche and outperform your competitors.

Tell your story
Public relations professionals use countless different strategies and tactics in their work, but PR is fundamentally about storytelling. In personal branding, you get to tell your own story. All the principles about branding for businesses also apply to your personal brand. What’s your brand identity? Target audience? Unique selling point? Write these down and refer back to them as you craft your personal brand. These elements should all work together to create a compelling narrative.

Creating your resume and cover letter
Your resume is a key aspect of your personal brand. Often, this single sheet of paper is the only part of your story a potential employer will ever read. According to a study by TheLadders, recruiters only spend six seconds looking at a resume. If you only have six seconds to convince them to buy into your brand, how can you best communicate your story in a few bullet points? Be selective and highlight what makes you truly unique.
Your cover letter should be your resume in narrative form. Turn bullet points into paragraphs and weave your personal brand into the plot. While these two documents differ in format, both tell the same story.

Personal branding on social media
The digital age offers a huge opportunity to build your brand on social media. According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, 92% of employers use social media in the hiring process. This is both a risk and an opportunity. The risk lies in a potential employer finding something unprofessional on your profile. Here’s a good rule of thumb – if you would not want an employer or your mom to see it, don’t post it.
However, there is also great opportunity in social media. Social media is a great avenue to showcase your personality. Keep it professional, but be yourself. Show potential employers that you’re a person by being relatable. On platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can be more personal, but LinkedIn has a strict standard of professionalism.

LinkedIn is a lengthier and more personable version of your resume. Because you aren’t limited by a page count, use it to your full advantage. Use the biography section and write something compelling about who you are. Fill out every section and include as many details as possible, using concrete skills and quantifiable numbers. This is your chance to sell your brand online.

• Keep it current. The length of your resume limits what you can include, but LinkedIn offers no excuse for missing or outdated information. Make sure that everything on your profile is up-to-date and completely accurate.
• Use a professional photo. According to LinkedIn, people that have a professional photo are 14 times more likely to have their profiles viewed. Invest in a professional headshot – it’s worth it.
• Be consistent. You are telling your story on a social media platform, but make sure your story stays the same. At the end of the day, you need to have a consistent message that tells employers why they should hire you.
Your personal brand will always be a work in progress, because humans are always a work in progress. However, the most important part of building your brand is being confident in your skills. Believe in your own brand and start convincing employers to believe in it too.

Posted in Personal Branding, Self Improvement.

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