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Is personal branding a fad or the key to career success?

It’s the start of a new year and most of us are already failing on our resolutions. But should personal branding be the one you keep in 2019?

When Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, insisted in 2017 that people “don’t have a brand”, it undermined everything that we’ve heard from business leaders — that personal branding was the key to career success. 

As one of the world’s most powerful and influential leaders, her voice matters, and it has led many to question whether personal branding really has value in the working economy. It may be one of the most popular work trends of the past five years, but is it finally fizzling towards a fad?

Most respected publications believe that it isn’t the case. Forbes state that it is “critical to career success”, whilst Entrepenaur claim that it is “non-neogtiable.”

To understand whether you should worry about personal branding in 2019, we’re going to investigate where personal branding comes from, what it really means for your career, and whether you should place any focus on your personal brand this year. Read on to find out more…

The history of personal branding

Whilst personal branding strategy is a concept that has entered the mainstream through your LinkedIn feed, it’s actually been around as a concept for quite some time. In 1997, The Fast Company published an article called “The Brand Called You.” In it, it claimed that everyone, whether you’re a PA or a receptionist, needed to craft their personal brand in the same way that a top-level CEO or a Instagram celebrity would.

Since then, nearly all of us have been trying to craft the best version of ourselves, particularly online. From in-depth LinkedIn profiles to harvesting hundreds of Twitter followers, we’re all trying to sell our greatest talents. And why shouldn’t you? The more you achieve, the more you should shout about it surely?

Personal branding has become especially important for contractors and those working on a temporary or freelance basis. If you enjoy the flexibility of such work, it’s important that a prospective employer can see just how good you are at your job, simply through a quick scan of your social profiles. Especially as, according to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70 per cent of employers check social media before hiring a candidate. Maybe personal branding is important after all?

The reasons why you should create a strong personal brand

You’ve just met someone at a party. You caught their name and want to find out more information about who they are, but you had to leave the party early so didn’t get a chance to talk. What’s the first thing you do? For most of us, we check their Instagram or Facebook.

The same is true of employers. It’s out natural instinct to gather as much information as possible about a person, especially if we plan on spending more time with them. And as a hiring manager, that’s certainly something that has to be considered. 

If you have a strong LinkedIn profile, with hundreds of quality connections and commendations, post regular content updates, and engage with like-minded professionals in comments sections, you’re visibility and credibility increases massively. 

Take a recent survey by a Jobvite survey of recruiters, which found that 95 per cent of recruiters viewed a competitive personal brand as a differentiator for attracting the best candidates in the modern working economy.

If both employers and recruiters are looking to your personal brand before considering you for a role, we need to seriously think about our personal brand in 2019. For Cheryl Sandberg, a highly paid, highly respected author, and COO of one of the world’s biggest brands, it may not be important. But for the rest of us, we need to understand that to get ahead, personal branding, whether we like it or not, is vital for our ongoing career development and success.

A personal brand is not just for 2019, it’s for life

Building a strong personal brand takes time. You can’t do it overnight. But whilst the thought of engaging online to a far greater degree than you do now can sound daunting, taking small steps can not only help now but builds towards something more significant in the future. 

Whether you’re deleting your controversial tweets, removing embarrassing Instagram posts or engaging on LinkedIn, these steps will all contribute to presenting the best version of yourself to future employers. It can also help to build new audiences and connections, which could be the key to your next career move. 

Of course, this takes sustained effort. But if you truly want to live up to your potential, advance your career, and ultimately earn more money, you need to be consistently aware of how you are seen online. This isn’t just about picking the best image for your profile picture. It’s in everything you write, post or engage with.

We’re at the start of a new year. If there’s one thing that you should be considering improving on for 2019, it should be your personal brand. Show what you can bring to the table and you might just find there’s a queue of prospective employers clambering to hire your talent for their business.

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