Building a Personal Brand Identity

By John Link

Moving through a rigorous degree program can be exhausting, but the return on investment is well worth it. As you travel through your program, it’s important to think about the skills, unique qualifications, and areas of expertise you have acquired through your educational and co-curricular experiences. Creatively marketing yourself in a professional setting can assist with communicating your personal brand identity to employers. Follow these tips for building a unified personal brand identity.

  1. Assess your tools. Your career tools are the publishable documents, both physical and online, that communicate your knowledge and skills. Make updates to your resume, cover letter, and references, as these documents are the center of your brand identity. A clear goal should be communicated, not inferred, in each resume/cover letter you use for employment. First impressions are important – make sure your documents are representing the professional identity you want communicated.
  2. Identify opportunities. You may spend a lot of time focusing on your studies, working or other lengthy commitments. When looking to update or expand your personal brand identity (when time permits), think about your “google resume”, or what’s floating out there on the web when one tries to find you online. Think about getting on LinkedIn (if you’re not) to build a complete profile. Drop in a professional photo (one that can be used across all social media accounts), customize your headline and share updates with your audience. While you’re making updates, remove any photos or posts from your social media account(s) that are not consistent with your brand identity, and adjust account settings so that others need permission to “tag you” in photos and posts. Again, first impressions are important!
  3. Build new relationships. Networking shouldn’t feel icky. If it has, you’ve been doing it wrong. Networking is building and sustaining relationships with likeminded professionals. The value of a strong networking connection could bring employment leads, leadership roles and more. Create a self-branding message to use when introducing yourself to new contacts – you’ll likely feel confident about your upgraded networking style.

Whether you’re upgrading your application materials for future employment or making updates to your LinkedIn profile, improving your personal brand identity takes time. Reflect on your personal brand and how it may be perceived by your audience. The energy it takes to build a unified career branding identity will be rewarded in time.


John Link is the Assistant Director in the Webster University Career Planning & Development Center.