Personal branding was originally conceived in 1997, which tells you that it’s not a fad.
Despite the mainstream adoption of social media globally, the basic principles of personal branding still apply. You have to define your brand, position yourself in the marketplace, and constantly reinvent your brand over time. You have to figure out what makes you special and then communicate that to the right people, who are interested in your story and message.
Social network profiles, and blogs, have made it easier to build a brand because you’re investing your time instead of thousands of dollars. In today’s competitive landscape, just having a presence isn’t enough. You have to maintain it for the rest of your existence and be committed to your career and business objectives.
I’ve been following the personal branding movement for over four years and have identified several trends that you need to become aware of if you want to remain competitive. Each trend will have a dramatic impact on your life moving forward and the sooner you build your brand, and take advantage of new technologies, the more prepared you will be for a successful future!
1. LinkedIn will replace resumes and job boards
About a week ago, I predicted the end of resumes and job boards in Forbes and the recruiting world retaliated. Although, you will still see job boards for time to come, the real pathway to employment is through the connections that we all share. Companies such as BranchOut.com and LinkedIn.com have put a “social graph” over our job search, which allows us to tap into the people we already know to get job referrals. Networking is clearly the key to getting the best jobs in the world, and applying through job boards isn’t going to get you anywhere.
Traditional resumes as we know them don’t fit into the new workplace paradigm. Forget the Microsoft Word resume and start building your online presence so that recruiters can find you and place you. Soon companies won’t even ask for your resume; they will ask for a single URL that should point them to a reason why they should hire you.
2. Your personal and professional lives will converge
Did you know that 96 percent of Americans under 50 are on Facebook? Facebook connects the world and even when we leave our laptop or desktop computers, we login through our mobile phones. Forty-six million Americans check their social networking sites multiple times each day. When you live online, your actions can affect the way people around you treat you, in and out of the workplace. Everything you publish, and whatever is published about you and can haunt your career for time to come. Rep. Anthony Weiner found this out the hard way. He, like many other politicians, celebrities and regular people, learned what you say online is in the public domain and can be used against you to ruin your reputation.
3. The recruitment process will have a mandatory online presence background check
A 2010 study by Jobvite reported that approximately 80 percent of companies plan to use social networks in the background check process. Eventually, all companies will use the Internet to verify candidates and it will be as common as a drug test. If you aren’t found online, it will show that you aren’t as valuable to employers as other candidates. My advice is to build a website and manage your reputation before other people do it for you.
4. Online influence will be a determining factor of whether you get a job
A decade or so ago, if you had the right hard skills, you would be almost guaranteed a job. Then, when the market became more competitive, companies started looking for soft skills, including presentation, writing, organization and leadership. This way, companies could recruit the individuals who would be the best fit to the organization. Today, you need to have hard skills, soft skills and online influence. You might be hired based on the number of Twitter followers you have or if Lady Gaga retweets you. Individuals who have the largest and most influential networks bring more to a company – they bring an audience of potential buyers.
5. Relevancy will become our greatest challenge
It’s becoming a great challenge to keep up with the latest information and technology that’s pertinent to your career. I see relevancy becoming even more important but very challenging because our brains can’t process the sheer amount of information out there. I skim through eight hundred blog posts each day and that number isn’t going to decrease anytime soon. You need to know what’s going on in your marketplace and react to it. Consumers are expecting more from businesses and if you aren’t current then you’re irrelevant to the marketplace, which means that you will eventually go out of business or get laid off.
Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of “Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future,” the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine.