Self-branding: Building Marketability!

How do you create your own personal brand? Keith Lai from Taylor’s Education group talks to Joanna Mary on the key principles that graduates should follow to build a good brand for themselves.
Joanna Mary
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What is self-branding? 

It is how you portray yourself. It is how you market yourself. It is how others remember you. 

As aptly described by Keith Lai, Strategic Recruiter for Taylor’s Education Group, ‘self-branding allows others to associate you with the appropriate adjectives, ie, intelligent, larger-than-life, well read, etc. In other words, your self-brand becomes your reputation.’ 

How you carry yourself when you walk into an interview is important as first impressions always counts. From your handshake to the way you answer the questions and complete the tasks give, Keith pointed out that each step carves your ‘brand’ in the mind of the interviewer. Through your actions, recruiters can immediately gauge if you are serious about the position and if you are a good fit to their present team. 

Are you beginning to see the importance of marketing yourself correctly but you have no clue what to do next? Here is a summary of a few points to keep in mind when creating a brand for yourself.

#Take time 

A good brand is not built overnight. Think of some of your favourite brands; Coca Cola, Guess, Nike, etc. It took these companies time, money, lots of planning and ideation before they created household names for themselves. The very same principles apply to you as well – branding takes time and effort!
Keith suggested that as an individual, you need to reflect on your aims and goals: ‘What defines you as an individual?’, ‘What makes you perform your best?’ People often have varying personalities: some are extroverts, quick thinkers on their feet and excellent team players; others, maybe not so much. You need first understand which end of the spectrum you stand in, and then, cleverly position yourself to showcase your best abilities. 

#Remain relevant 

The different roles you take on come together to create an image which portrays your brand.

Many students fail to see the importance of building their credentials outside of the classroom. Instead of remaining solely focused on your grades, you need to also be involved in extra-curricular activities. For example, if you hold a leadership role in a student body or perhaps you have participated in an inter-college business competition, it would be safe to assume that you have some exposure to the working environment, and you potentially have built up on your communication, research or leadership skills. 

The different roles you take on come together to create an image which portrays your brand. Students who go above and beyond their call of duty stand out from the rest, and they are the ones who get hired. If you dream of working for top employers, start thinking like you are already working for them. Go into an interview sounding intelligent – read on the latest industry trends and equip yourself with market knowledge – this will help you make an irresistible impression!

#Consistency counts 

Based on his experience in recruitment, Keith shared that the tenets of good branding hinge on reliability and truthfulness. You need to be consistent in the picture that you paint of yourself, ie, what you say during an interview must also be reflected on your résumé. In addition, you must also be careful of how you present yourself. Do not use the term ‘love volunteering’ when you have had only ONE experience under your belt – it does not justify the use of the word ‘love’, and it comes across as you selling yourself too high (which can be a turn off for some recruiters). 

Forget about big talks and over impressions, instead, let your experiences do the talking while you focus on showcasing your talents and skills. The most important is to head to the interview prepared to answer any questions thrown at you. You must be able to explain about the long gaps in-between jobs, or on why you decided to take an interim year off. Throughout the interview, the assessor will be trying to gauge how reliable are you as a person, and by confidently addressing these questions (or any other) will paint you in a positive light.

#Social savvy 

Give those selfies and food picture uploads a break, but instead, use social media as a job-hunting tool. The face of communication has changed since the rise of social media and employers are keeping their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts updated to stay relevant and to reach out to the right crowd. 
‘Social media, in a way, has made job search easier as employers can now directly target the candidates they prefer,’ said Keith. He went on to explain that in Malaysia, there is plenty of room for online growth as the market is still in the early stages and companies are beginning to invest more on these platforms which is beneficial to both job seekers and recruiters, citing the Taylor’s Career Page as an example of the type of online tools available. 

On the other hand, Keith cautioned against those who ‘spam apply’ to jobs without taking the time to understand what is required of the position. Simply applying for a position does nothing to showcase that you are the best fit for the job, and without that element, recruiters will quickly lose interest in your application. Instead of being ‘click-happy’, Keith advised graduates to read and carefully understand the position, apply only if the job interests you, and tailor your application to showcase how your skills match what the employer wants. 

Still need help? 

You can get additional help and expert advice:

  • at your university’s career centre
  • through visiting career fairs
  • by attending career related workshops
  • from your mentor, family, friends or relatives
  • by directly engaging employers and gaining feedback.