In today’s complicated and unpredictable job market, putting together a resume and cover letter isn’t enough to land any job that is beyond the very basic unskilled work we tend to do when we’re studying.

To get ahead, you need to distinguish yourself from the competition, and one way I’ve noticed that helps is to develop a strong personal brand.

So, what exactly is personal branding?

In the most simple language, it is how you present yourself to others. People remember you because of your unique mish-mash of skills, experience, personality, and values.

And this whole personal branding thing is much more important now than ever before in today’s very digitally-oriented era.

Applying this personal branding thing to getting a job, at the very least, allows you to stand out in a crowded job market.

With so many people applying for the same jobs, standing out from the crowd is essential. A colourful and bright resume will do that in the wrong way. After all, employers are so risk-averse right now that they would prefer to leave the position vacant for longer than put the wrong person in the role.

Your personal brand can help you highlight your unique skills, work and study experience, and even your personality traits, making you a more appealing person to work with.

Personal branding also assists you in establishing credibility and authority in your industry. You can establish yourself as an expert in your field by regularly sharing your knowledge on social media (particularly LinkedIn), through blog posts, and even as videos on TikTok, YouTube and other platforms. Even when you’re young, being a thought leader does more than make you stand out. It makes you very attractive to businesses that want the best.

Next, personal branding assists you in developing a network of contacts. You can connect with others who share your interests and values by sharing your personal brand online. This may result in new job opportunities, collaborations, and mentoring relationships. People tend to follow those who stand out from the crowd and show themselves to have a different and impacting voice.

But that’s only the beginning. Personal branding also allows you to highlight your personality and values. Employers are looking for candidates with technical skills and experience who fit their company culture and values. That’s a given. But you can then go further by showcasing your personality, values, and work ethic. You do this by what you post on social media and through the examples you give of your personal brand work during your interviews.

It’s worth noting that personal branding also has this habit of keeping you in the minds of potential employers. It makes you “sticky!”

You stay top of mind with employers when you’re memorable. Boring candidates are never remembered. Those with stories to tell and a point of view stand out well after the interview.

From here, it makes sense that personal branding helps inspire you to develop a robust online presence. After all, what is more obvious a place to showcase who you are and what you’re about than being present on digital platforms?

Having a strong online presence in today’s digital age is not just an advantage. It’s table stakes. It’s expected.

Before inviting you to an interview, potential employers will probably conduct an online search for you. That means it’s more important than ever to make sure that your online presence is honest, matches what they read about you in your cover letter and showcases the best bits of who you are.

But this isn’t all just for those looking for a job at the start of their career.

If you’re looking at a change, personal branding can assist you in pivoting your established career towards something new.

If you want to change industries or job roles, your personal brand can help you do it. You can position yourself as a strong candidate for your desired job by highlighting your transferrable skills and experience from your previous work – but also showing in a very visual way, your interest in the new sector or role that you’re aiming towards.

Just match your posts and portfolio to what this new direction would expect to see, and you’re on your way to a whole new direction.

The bottom line is that personal branding is happening regardless of your willingness to participate in it these days.

You can differentiate yourself from the competition, gain credibility and authority, establish a network of connections, showcase your personality and values, stay top of mind with potential employers, establish a strong online presence, and pivot your career by developing a solid personal brand.

Or you could ignore it all and blame the economy. It’s up to you.

The ball’s in your court. It’s time to begin developing your personal brand and watch as it leads to new opportunities in your career.