August 21, 2020
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“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” 

This popular quote from Jeff Bezos, founder, CEO, and president of Amazon, accurately describes the importance of having a strong personal brand. The Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) at the Fox School of Business recently hosted a webinar titled “Creating a Powerful Personal Brand” that allowed students to learn how to create a personal brand that would attract potential employers. 

CSPD provides students with in-depth knowledge of what employers are looking for in potential hires and prepares students for the ever-changing business world. The key highlights of the webinar were the importance of having a personal brand, the dos and don’ts of personal branding, and how students can manage their brand across social media platforms. 

Sarah Yaskowski, assistant director of CSPD, discusses what personal branding is not and how students can use it to their advantage. “Personal branding is not the company they are working for or exaggerating their skillset, but providing evidence such as a website or portfolio to prove that they have the skills needed to succeed in their career,” she says. 

Personal branding is more than what students wear during a job interview. The resume and cover letter, experiences with others and online presence, alongside physical appearance, create a powerful personal brand that is key for a successful career. 

According to the Manifest 2020 Recruitment Survey, 79% of HR professionals have denied a job candidate due to inappropriate content on social media. The four critical steps to managing an online presence for students are

  • Assess their digital identity,
  • Clean up sites that are in their control,
  • Build their identity on high traffic sites and 
  • Maintain it.

Cleaning up sites that students are in control of and building an identity on high traffic sites are two of the essential steps of creating a powerful personal brand that has the ability to evolve. Removing personal information from data brokers and aggregators, deleting inappropriate content across social media platforms, switching off facial recognition on Facebook and completing a privacy check will serve as a springboard into proper social media etiquette.

Valerie Kelmansky, a senior marketing major, participated in the personal branding webinar to stay professionally engaged during remote learning. “It inspired me to start thinking about my purpose and start a conversation with others to guide me in that process,” says Kelmansky. “Although my brand will constantly be evolving, I see it being a permanent tool in positioning myself to future employers and guiding me in decision making.” 

Building an identity on high traffic sites is another integral part of growing professional networks and connections. The CSPD team suggests keeping an updated LinkedIn profile and creating a personal website that acts as a portfolio for future employers. This is essential for students highlighting how they can utilize their creativity in a business setting.

My Lam, a junior international business major, saw the personal branding webinar as an opportunity to properly network with faculty, students, and other business professionals. “I’m very active on LinkedIn. As a business student, that’s the main platform I use to network with potential employers and business professionals,” says Lam. “Knowing how to present my best self on this platform was essential for me to better my networking skills, both on and offline.” 

Personal branding is more than just being marketable on social media platforms and in person, but creating and sharing meaningful content that shows what students support and believe in as they go along their professional journey.

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