Personal branding is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. With the rise of the internet and social media, our individual presences or ‘digital footprints’ are out there in the public eye ready for interpretation. Whilst we may be happy with the way that we are portraying ourselves online, there’s every likelihood an employer or a potential employer may have a very different take on it.

Your personal brand isn’t simply your online presence, it’s the way you present all aspects of your profile from which others may form an opinion or a profile of you. The impression that is given may be the difference between securing a meeting or an interview that could change your life.

With this in mind, the ADLIB team have put their heads together to collate some of the finest moments we’ve witnessed over the years and what can be considered when it comes to how people may perceive you without even meeting you.

Here are some real world experiences directly from the ADLIB team:

1. Personal email address

Fail: Using an email address that is completely irrelevant to you and your brand – or even worse something pretty inappropriate. Obviously we’re unable to publish specifics, but the words fluffy, foxy, princess and big man are prime examples.

Win: The simpler the better – go for your name! Even better, add your own website domain.


2. Written communication

Fail: The man who declared on his CV that he was an expert at ‘Pubic Speaking’

Win: Don’t rely on spell check to highlight any typos and grammatical errors on something that will demonstrate your attention to detail (or lack thereof!).


3. Phone manner during a telephone interview

Fail: We’ve had clients telling us that during phone interviews, candidates have seemed disengaged and disinterested, which left them questioning whether the candidate even wants the job where, describing the very same call, the candidate has explained that the job sounds perfect and they really hope they get a face-to-face interview.

Win: Without the aid of body language you really have to engage someone on a phone interview, show your personality and sound interested. A telephone interview may feel less important than a face to face, but getting the right approach is vital.


4. Social media profile photos

Fail: Using a photo that misrepresents you in any way could give off the wrong impression. Take, for example, the candidate’s picture we found with him rolling a ‘dubious’ looking cigarette and the eyes of a female acquaintance peeking out from the duvet behind him!

Win: Keep it semi-professional and make sure you’re representing yourself in the best light. – Even if you set your personal Facebook account to private, nosey future employees will have access to the profile picture that you chose.


5. Social media communications

Fail: Having a Twitter feed that is 100% full of unprofessional and unrelated content, if you’re hoping to use this as a networking tool. This is worse still if you are applying for a role in the digital sector.

Win: Although we’d advise against keeping everything too corporate, there does need to be some industry relevance to your social presence (if you’re going to use it as a professional tool). Too many football, booze or what you had for tea last night related tweets won’t necessarily add credibility. Talk about industry relevant articles/news and mix it up with stuff you’re passionate about. Have personality though!


6. CV

Fail: Too much information on your CV. It’s a very easy trap to fall into, thinking people want to see as much info as possible about your past jobs.

Win: Remember that recruiters and employers typically receive a very high volume of applications. That’s why creating a lengthy CV is never recommended. Always make it clear, to the point and shout about achievements. You should explain your education, key (and relevant!) skills, and work experience – these three areas cover exactly what your potential employer wants to know. Avoid wordy descriptions and most importantly, avoid repetitions. Make it snappy, to the point, unique and memorable. The same applies to cover notes.


7. Appearance at job interview

shutterstock_93810034Fail: It may sound cliché – but first impressions count. Even before you’ve opened your mouth, the gravy stain on your crumpled shirt is making an impression of its own.

Win: Regardless of whether a culture is dress down or suited, you need to impress and present yourself appropriately from the outset.


8. First impressions at interview

Fail: Arriving late for an interview, looking very flustered and out of breath simply is not going to cut it these days. Especially if there is no apology or explanation.

Win: Where possible, arrive 5 minutes early for an interview. If you are running late, call ahead and apologise, and apologise again in person as soon as you arrive. They need to see how you’d manage yourself if you were running late for a client meeting if you were working there. Offer a confident handshake, with eye contact on arrival too.


9. Communication and energy during interviews

Fail: Sadly, we regularly hear feedback outlining that someone gave bad eye contact, had negative body language, hadn’t researched the company and could give no compelling reasons as to why they wanted to join this company.

Win: Do your homework. Don’t be afraid to express how keen you are on the opportunity, and prepare some well thought out questions. Engage with your body language, chose your words carefully and listen.

This is your one shot to demonstrate that this company needs to hire you. Open body language, a lot of eye contact, big open smiles, listening, coming across attentive but not uptight – this is what you need to be aspiring to. It’s a hard balance to strike, but just make sure that you’re able to get your personality through whilst remaining professional, open and fun to work with. Ask questions, talk passionately, and engage with whoever you’re meeting.


10. Job interview supporting documents

Fail: Do not take a copy & paste approach to a covering note. Enthusiastically expressing a desire to work for a particular client or hiring manager whilst dropping in the wrong name through clumsy copying and pasting is a huge faux pas.

Win: Always proof your communications! The extra time spent checking and double checking could mean the difference between your dream job and a nightmare situation.


11. First day at work impression

Fail: We have heard of people turning up late, dressed inappropriately and generally not being prepared to start their new role on Day 1. It will take a long time to overcome these negative first impressions.

Win: Make sure you’ve done all required preparation and any extra reading/research you have done will always go down well. Get up early and make sure you’re dressed appropriately (check dress code beforehand) and have a good breakfast. Leave earlier than usual, if you’ve not done your new route to work in rush hour it could take longer and you want to be there in plenty of time before you officially start. Be friendly, positive and engaged with your new team.

First impressions last so you need to make sure you’re making a good one. If you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask and remember to do your research on the company, looking at relevant news and social media.


12. Networking event impression

Fail: Networking can be massively beneficial to build your personal brand – but not if you’re sitting in the corner avoiding eye contact or if you’ve not brought any business cards or suchlike to handout.

Win: Research to see who will be there. Engage, be open and take the plunge with starting conversations rather than holding back or hiding. Take cards to hand out if appropriate and ask for cards or LinkedIn details of people you meet to help you remember who you’ve met, names can easily be forgotten. Follow up afterwards to maintain relationships you think are valuable.

ADLIB will be hosting TechSPARK’s upcoming Techie Brekkie on the topic of “Personal Branding – are you what you share?” We hope to see you there – you can sign up here.