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What is a personal brand – and tips to build yours

Before you can apply, you'll need more than just a resume and cover letter to showcase yourself. You need to develop a personal brand.

What is a personal brand – and tips to build yours

Congratulations — you just graduated from college and you're ready to conquer the working world. But before you can begin your conquest, you'll need more than just a resume and cover letter to showcase yourself and demonstrate your competence to potential employers. You need to develop a personal brand.

What does that mean, you ask?

According to a Forbes article: "Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to those whom you are serving. This doesn't mean self-promotion — that you should be creating awareness for your brand by showcasing your achievements and success stories. Managing your personal brand requires you to be a great role model, mentor, and/or a voice that others can depend upon."

Why should that matter to you?

According to CareerBuilder's 2015 social media recruitment study, the number of employers taking to the web to research applicants has steadily risen over the past few years — from 39 per cent of employers in 2013 to 43 per cent last year to 52 per cent in 2015. That means potential employers already have access to information about you at their fingertips. It's up to you to ensure you're making a strong first impression when they look you up.

That's why you need these simple and practical tips to help you build and maintain your personal brand.

1. Identify and define your brand. You may think you have to start creating your personal brand from the ground up, but the truth is you already have one that's floating out there in cyberspace. Do a Google search or set up Google alerts for your name and see what turns up — there may be posts, pictures and more that you may not have realised were public. While you may not have total control over what's out there, you can adjust your privacy settings and take charge of what you voluntarily put out there for the world — and employers — to see.

2. Make sure your brand is authentic. Whatever your personal brand is, make sure it's reflective of who you are. This is your chance to show off your personality and skill sets and to set the tone for how you want to portray yourself. And even though you'll want to keep it professional, don't be afraid to add your own voice and show off your personality instead of sounding like a robot.

3. Make sure your brand is consistent. While there may be some inherent differences in how you blog versus how you tweet versus what you post on LinkedIn, it should still have a consistent tone or voice.

4. Create channels of communication. Whether it's a blog or website or various social media channels, explore ways that you can communicate with your audience and create a positive digital footprint that will round out your portfolio. If you're one of those people who thinks: "But my life is so boring; what will I write about?" consider starting out by curating content for a while before moving on to the more arduous task of creating original content. For example, if you're about to start looking for a job in marketing, start following various marketing experts and companies on social media and share their articles with a note that says something like: "Here's an interesting blog I found on content marketing. I think it's especially useful to help guide your business-to-business content strategy, so give it a read."

5. Think before you post/tweet/retweet/share/upload. Sometimes we don't think of the ramifications of the information we put out there. For example, if you've had a bad day at your internship or received a bad grade in one of your classes, it might be tempting to vent on social media. While venting in a public forum may made you feel better in the short-term, remember that it could come back to haunt you at any time. A good rule of thumb would be to ask yourself: "Does this reflect who I am, and would I be comfortable with potential employers seeing this?" If you have any doubts about it, it's safest to just vent in person or via text.