This post originally appeared on The Professor Is Out. It has been updated and modified.
It’s tough to stand out as the world produces an increasing number of PhDs. It is becoming increasingly important to develop any competitive advantage you can. A PhD and several publications does not guarantee you’ll even get hired, never mind land your dream job. In such a competitive job market, a PhD and publications often won’t even get you an interview.
The secret to standing out during your job search is to impress the search committee with the unique and authentic you – in person, on paper and online! Otherwise known as your personal brand. Everyone has a brand, but not many PhDs define and develop their personal brand. If you don’t develop your own personal brand, others will do it for you often making guesses based on partial information. Proactively developing your personal brand allows you to take control of the direction of your career by controlling how you are perceived in the marketplace. Ultimately a personal brand helps PhDs get hired.
A personal brand also opens you up to a wide range of career and employment opportunities. It allows you to develop a name for yourself that can lead to guest speaking, consulting, online course creation, coaching and/or freelancing. A personal brand also increases your ability to enter industry as a PhD.
What is a personal brand?
Personal branding is the ongoing process of creating an image in the mind of others about you. It’s the impression you leave on others. Your personal brand is the unique combination of images, experiences and abilities that make you, you.
One of the key benefits of developing a personal brand is the ability to differentiate yourself from those around you. It’s what will make you stand out from the rest and leave a lasting impression on those looking to hire you. As the world produces an increasing number of PhDs it is becoming increasingly important to develop any competitive advantage you can.
How do you develop your personal brand?
The thought of creating a personal brand makes many people feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed but the reality is that your brand already exists whether or not you actively take control of it. By not actively moulding your brand you are missing out and letting others control your image. There are 4 steps to taking control of your personal brand image.
Define yourself and your personal brand. Personal branding is rooted in authenticity. That means you need to know yourself before you can start building your brand. So the first place to start is defining yourself and what you want your personal brand to be.
Assess your current image. Your image exists both online and offline. Offline includes assessing the way to dress, what you converse about, and who you associate with. The two main areas to assess online are your social media presence and search engine results.
3. Clean up
Clean up any content that doesn’t fit your desired image. Social media profiles are the easiest quick fix to clean up your image. Making personal accounts private and changing profile pictures take a few minutes. Taking down old blog posts is also a quick clean up. Other areas of clean up such as clothing and personal associations will take longer and be harder but overall this is the quickest step of developing your personal brand.
Build a brand presence that reflects your brand and expertise. Now for the part that will require a long term investment and will take time to develop. Building your brand presence will and should take months and years to strengthen. So if you are in your early years of being a PhD student then you are ahead of the game. Start developing your personal brand today so that it is strong by the time you graduate. Already finished or ABD? No worries, the second best time to take control of your personal brand is today! While it does take time, don’t forget that your brand already exists. Starting to actively cultivate your brand even with a few weeks or months before you want to start searching for jobs will still be beneficial. You can develop your personal brand during or after graduate school.
Need help to develop your personal brand?
I have developed an online self-paced course specifically designed to help PhDs design and leverage their personal brand. If you are interested check out the course here.
Not ready/able to invest in your personal brand journey but want to keep up to date with new posts and content from The Leveraged PhD? Join The Leveraged PhD Insiders and get updates and exclusive content straight to your email.