Why Developing Your Personal Brand Starts in College

Strong personal branding is a must-have for graduates whose resumes are a little light on workplace experience.

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Strong personal branding is a must-have for graduates whose resumes are a little light on workplace experience.

When Nicki Minaj feuds with someone on Twitter or live television, like Miley Cyrus or Iggy Azalea, no one thinks twice about it, because that’s such a Nicki thing to do. The reason no one bats an eye when Nicki disses someone is because she has created a brand for herself, a brand that enables calling people out to be “her” thing. Her music, social media and personal interactions all tell one thing for sure: Nicki will not hesitate when it comes to calling someone out.

Branding yourself well enough that people can look at something you produced and know it was you is something all college students should begin working on now rather than later. Creating a personal brand makes it possible for your professors, peers, employers and anyone else to recognize you.

Developing Your Personal Brand Starts in College
Image via E!Online

If you create a brand now and allow current and future networks to see it, it will transform the way people in your circles view you. When job-searching, you may ask your professors or peers to be a reference, and you want them to be able to do so through the brand you created.

Alice Gaulden, the internship coordinator for the Reynolds School of Journalism (RSJ) at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), is constantly helping students create a personal brand to increase their chances of being hired.

“The more a student can define and exhibit a personal brand, the more their resumes and job applications will resonate with employers looking for stellar performance,” Gaulden says. “People want to do business with those they know, like and trust, including hiring employees. A prospective employee with a strong brand can share that cultural fit, without even interviewing.”

When creating a resume with the intention of selling yourself as a worker to an employer, it’s always important to brand yourself as the potential employee you are, and the one they are looking for. This was something you often didn’t do until you were looking for a job, but with the current online tools for finding jobs and employees, it’s important to start branding yourself now with both resumes and an online presence.

Social media has become a daily occurrence in personal and professional life, so making sure your brand can be seen across all sources of media is important. When a potential employer checks your LinkedIn, which leads them to your portfolio or professional website, you want them to recognize your brand on all formats.

Your brand should also be easily recognized on personal social media, like Twitter and Facebook, because let’s face it, it’s the internet, and nothing is personal. Future employers are just as likely to google your name as you are to google your Saturday night Tinder date.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn or an online portfolio, get one. As the world shifts to being online, so does the way employers look for potential employees. Having a social media presence not only makes it easier for companies who are hiring to find you, but it also showcases you more than a regular resume would. It allows you to project the kind of worker you are, show your brand and set you apart from the crowd.

Katherine Hepworth, a graphic design professor for the RSJ at UNR, also stresses the need to brand yourself to her design students. She finds the importance of branding yourself to serve to express accuracy, trust and disambiguation. “Potential employers and colleagues need fast, reliable access to accurate information about who you are and what you stand for, and branding yourself online helps them find that accurate information,” Hepworth says. “Branding yourself online also builds trust in you as a person. When the message about you is visually consistent, professional and oriented toward your desired industry, potential employers are more likely to perceive you as ‘like them,’ ‘fitting in’ and consequently are likely to place trust in you and take a chance on you.”

Hepworth tells her students that by branding yourself while still in school, it gives you a chance to be known the way you want to be rather than for the wrong reasons. “Unfortunately, people are unknowingly mistaken for criminals and other disreputable people, solely because there isn’t any reliable information about them online,” she says. “For example, the brother of the person who committed the Sandy Hook shooting crime was accused of committing the crime for about eight hours. If the brother had some clear online branding that he is twenty-four-year-old engineer, this mistake would have been easily avoided,” she says.

Knowing who you are and how you want to showcase yourself is the first step of branding yourself. The next step is making sure your brand is out there where people can find it. The internet is not just a place for you to connect with friends and family; It’s also where you can connect with professional networks. Branding yourself is not just for your online existence, but can greatly enhance your professional, face-to-face presence.

Your brand should not only be something you put on your website or business cards, but it should also be something you project when meeting with people. Your network of professors, peers, colleagues and friends should be able to describe you the same way your brand describes you. Start branding yourself now, as a student. Showcase yourself in a consistent way that tells the world not only who you are, but what you can do.

In today’s world, it’s all about what people can see. Can they see that you’re organized from your business card? Can they see that you’re creative from the way you design your website, and can they tell you’re timely by how often you post or respond to those who contact you? By beginning the process of branding yourself now, you can control the way future employers, and everyone else, will see you. Showcase all the best parts of yourself.

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