Students are changing the path to networking and finding jobs. With so many students graduating each year from post-secondary institutions, there is now a stronger demand than ever to differentiate as an individual and showcase what makes an education and skillset more desirable than the competition.
Students now face the same struggle that companies have when they face the task of marketing themselves to their consumers. So how do companies handle this?
Companies create brands. Companies can differentiate by identifying based on look, as Skype does, or by logo as the PGA Tour does. Companies produce brand guidelines that pertain to aspects of their brand with one goal in mind: try to get target markets to identify with the brand and buy the brand product.
Students that adopt the branding philosophy to their personal networking and marketing while in school can help their brand be identifiable to their target market (employers).
The principles to building your personal brand are all the same as they pertain to multinational corporations. In building a personal brand, here are some questions to ask:
- Who am I?
- What am I about?
- What do I love?
- What do others say about me?
The answers to those questions can be used to create the start of a personal brand.
Here are a few statistics on how online personal branding is becoming more important for students coming out of school to attract offers from employers:
- Consistency is key. It takes five to seven impressions for someone to remember a brand. Keeping your personal brand consistent is what will keep your message fresh in the minds of potential employers.
- Seventy-five percent of HR departments are required to search job applicants online.
- Seventy percent of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals have rejected candidates based on information they found online.
Some of the most important reasons why having awareness of how to maintain a brand is important for companies looking for students coming out of school are:
- Reputation damage is the number one risk concern for business executives around the world, and 88 percent say they are explicitly focusing on reputation risk as a key business challenge.
- Of all executives, 87 percent rate reputation risk as more important or much more important than other strategic risks their companies are facing.
- Of respondents who experienced a reputation risk event, 41 percent say loss of revenue was the biggest impact.
Some further potential reasons why online personal branding is important are as follows:
- Of all Internet users, 65 percent see online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies. That’s a higher level of trust than any other online or offline source.
- Fifty-three percent of decision makers have eliminated a vendor from consideration based on information they did or did not find about an employee online.
As streamlined and as efficient an online recruitment process may seem to students, with the number of students graduating each year, the traditional application streams when looking for employment are becoming more crowded every few months, and a more unconventional path to seeking employment is becoming less of an unnecessary asset and more of a requirement.
The end goal of personal branding is to start a personal dialogue with companies that you want to eventually work for. By branding your message and engaging companies in dialogue, a personal connection will keep students top-of-mind for companies when hiring time comes.
Lukas Pesa is a researcher of millennial and corporate trends as they pertain to generational relations in the workforce. A business researcher and commentator, Lukas has a background in communications as well as branding. Lukas enjoys being able to consult with companies and groups on how to create more effective communication strategies to create better productivity.