There are certain things you absolutely know you need in order to be successful in your job hunt. A polished up resume, for example, or a perfectly-crafted cover letter.
But then there are those other elements—those things that aren't necessarily as tangible, but are still equally as important for impressing hiring managers and landing your next job. Your personal brand is one thing that falls under this umbrella.
Major eye roll, right? Personal branding seems like nothing more than a buzzword. Plus, you don't consider yourself a handbag or a sports car—so, how exactly does a brand apply to you and your own search for a new gig?
Think of your personal brand as a synonym for your reputation. It's your story and your overall messaging about who you are as a professional—including your skills, your strengths, your passions, and your experiences.
When woven throughout things like your online footprint, your elevator pitch, and your career documents, your personal brand gives the hiring manager (not to mention other members of your network!) a more holistic impression of all that you bring to the table.
Sounds impressive. But, beyond that, how can developing and maintaining your own strong personal brand improve your job hunt?
Here's what you need to know.
Your personal brand gives hiring managers what they're looking for.
Let's say you just applied for a role that you know you're the perfect fit for. After receiving your resume and application, what's one of the first things that hiring manager is going to do? You guessed it—he or she is going to do a quick Internet search and see what comes up.
In today's digital-obsessed and constantly-connected society, much of your personal brand exists online in the form of your social media profiles, your personal website (if you have one), and any other online content that exists about you.
First things first, the hiring manager needs to be able to find something about you during his or her search. In fact, more than one-third of employers say they are less likely to interview candidates if they can't find information about them online.
Additionally, you want the information that they find there to be positive—meaning no provocative social media photos or curse-filled Tweets about your political standing.
By maintaining a positive and professional online presence, you'll not only meet the requirements of what hiring managers are looking for during that internet search—you'll also impress them with the results.
Your personal brand fills in the gaps.
You can only fit so much within the 12-point font and bullet points of your resume. You already know what a challenge it is to try to tell a cohesive career story within the confines of that structured document.
This is another area where your personal brand can be a huge help. It fills in the gaps and empowers the employer to get a deeper and more well-rounded understanding of your background, your interests, and your expertise.
For example, maybe you didn't have room for all of your volunteer work on your resume. But, one visit to your LinkedIn profile would showcase your involvement with various animal rescue organizations in your area—a cause that the employer may also feel strongly about. Or, maybe it wasn't relevant to mention that coding boot camp you participated in on your resume, but you still showcase it on your personal website.
That's all information that gives the hiring manager a better grasp of who you are and, as a result, elevates your candidacy.
Your personal brand builds your network.
You know that actively networking can be a huge benefit to you during your job search. But, that doesn't mean it's always easy and natural to do.
Here's the good news: A strong personal brand will make it that much easier to build up your web of professional connections.
Why? When you actively promote your own brand and who you are—much like a company promotes its latest products—you draw attention to yourself and your competencies. That increased attention leads to people asking questions and making connections with you.
By putting the work in to get your own personal brand out there, you'll have more potential contacts approaching you—rather than you needing to always make the first introduction.
Your personal brand makes you more memorable.
There is so much that your personal brand is able to say about you. But, above all else, it answers one big question that hiring managers are eager to know: what makes you unique?
What seemingly insignificant skills, irrelevant experiences, or pieces of your background make you different from the other candidates in that resume pile? What about you grips that hiring manager's attention and convinces her or him that you're worthy of an interview—or even an offer?
Nothing can tell this story the way your personal brand can. And, when one of the biggest hurdles you need to overcome in your job search is standing out from the competition, your personal brand will quite literally be your not-so-secret weapon when it comes to acing your hunt for a new job.
Even though the idea of a "personal brand" may seem intangible, your brand can be a major asset to you—whether you're currently job searching or not and there are concrete things you can do to develop your brand.
Take some steps to clean up your online presence, knock the cobwebs off your LinkedIn profile, and make sure that every element you put out there is sending the right message about who you are as a professional. Do that, and you're sure to increase your likelihood of landing an interview—and maybe even the job!
NOTE: This article was originally written by Kat Boogaard and published by ZipRecruiter. It has been republished with permission.