In today's tough job market, it's essential to make yourself as marketable as possible. Even as the economy begins to recover, unemployment rates are resting at more than 9 percent nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics - meaning that more than 14.6 million people are on the prowl for a limited number of jobs nationwide.
This ever-growing pool of job seekers, a downturned economy and the endless amounts of information available online mean 21st-century job hunters must work harder to stand out in the marketplace. In the age of information, employers are able to gather data on a job candidate with a simple click of a mouse - which means that now more than ever, it's essential for jobseekers to take control of their online presence by building their own personal brand.
Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding, LLC and author of the international bestselling "Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future," has made a career out of teaching new jobseekers and established professionals alike how to leverage the power of online media for personal empowerment and career success. "Before beginning a job search or a career, it's important to understand the importance of discovering your personal brand," says Schawbel. "You need to identify your unique talents, what you're passionate about, and the type of expertise you need to develop in order to reach your long-term goals."
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Schawbel offers three pieces of advice on how to start creating your own personal brand.
- First things first: Find your niche - an industry or field you wish to become the go-to expert in — and become extremely knowledgeable in this field. Before you begin marketing yourself, make sure to develop the relevant professional skills. An advanced degree can give you an edge too. Schawbel works with several universities, one of which is DeVry University. They offer degree programs in high-growth industries such as accounting, information security and health information technology.
- Once you have the right education, market your professional skills - and take control of your online perception. Brand yourself before someone else does it for you. By establishing your own website or blog, and claiming your name on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you will have power over how people perceive you online. If you don't start controlling your online perceptions, then you will be judged solely based on popular opinion.
- Network. Put yourself out there and be consistent in your messaging. Using your credentials, knowledge and education, build relationships with both the niche media that covers your industry and with your industry peers. Seek out mentors within your field and don't be afraid to ask for endorsements from them once you've proven yourself.
Carrie Rubin, dean of career services at DeVry University, offers another way that you can begin your personal branding process - with the help of your university's career services department. "DeVry University is a school that truly understands and appreciates the importance of personal branding. We help our students and alumni get a head start on their personal branding process, both through our career-focused degree programs and top-notch career services offerings," says Rubin. "Some of the tactics we encourage our past and present students to implement include joining all social media networks available, becoming members of organizations that are affiliated with their disciplines or majors and attending networking events or conferences where they can promote themselves in a positive way, both online and offline."
Want more information on how to kick-start your job search? Visit personalbrandingblog.com for additional insight from Schawbel.