When I think about the word “branding,” it conjures up an image in my mind of a mark or tattoo that implies ownership, as in branding cattle. I also associate it with company slogans or branding of products, such as Ford's “Drive One!” or Budweiser's “The King of Beers.” For many, the decision to buy a product is because we've bought into the concept created by branding and our perception is that if we buy that product, we know what we can expect to receive in return. Personal branding isn't that much different if you think about it. Having a brand means communicating what makes you unique and like product branding it has been around for a long time.

If there is one thing you can do to improve your chances of getting a job, it would be to develop your own brand statement. Your brand statement may come down to as little as three words. To figure out your brand, you need to take a serious look at your existence, your values, passions and strengths. Self-reflection can be an uncomfortable process, but it should help you to build the confidence you need to create and sell your brand. Joshua Waldman, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, wrote, “Personal branding is the culmination of your actions; it's an image that marks you as a brand. It is you, the entire package, outside and inside, in the sense that you're unique and distinguishable from others ... Personal branding has a lot to do with the emotion someone feels when he or she thinks about you (something you can't control) but is rooted in self-reflection and integrity (something you can control by regulating your behavior on and offline and by presenting yourself conscientiously).”

Social media has become the impetus for so many things, including personal branding. Nowadays everyone has an online reputation, whether you want one or not; better to take ownership of your reputation and brand yourself before someone else does.

Personal branding isn't just about you making yourself look good online. It is more about being who you say you are and your ability to communicate that message effectively and consistently. When people meet us, they make impressions based on our in-person brand — the way we act, talk, dress and who we think we are. Online brand elements are used to show people who don't know us in person who we really are. Our online brand presence is perceived by the way we act online, the way we talk online (and how often) and the way we present ourselves. Our online presence needs to be consistent so that no matter where someone looks for you, you will always appear in the same light.

Changing your online image, your style of messaging, your look, etc. will differentiate you from other potential job candidates and will show how you are unique or different and what you stand for. That way if an employer takes a chance on you based on what your brand represents to them, they will know exactly what they can expect to receive in return.

Need assistance with your job search or writing a resume and covering letter? Drop by the Career Services office in D1063. The Career Services staff are available to assist you on an individual basis. Visit the office in D1063 to arrange an appointment with the consultant responsible for your program or call 519-452- 4294. To access job listings for Fanshawe students and graduates, visit www.fanshaweonline.ca or www.fanshawec.ca/careerservices. Follow us on Facebook facebook.com/FanshaweCS, Twitter @FanshaweCS and Pinterest pinterest.com/FanshaweCS.