We’ve all read about the importance of creating a personal brand for yourself when you’re searching for jobs. But what’s the best way to pull off a personal brand that’s cohesive, professional, and – most importantly – true to yourself? GoodCall interviewed Paul D’Arcy, Senior Vice President at the popular career site Indeed, and asked him how job applicants can make sure their personal brand is well-developed and well-received by prospective employers:
GoodCall: What do you think are the most important things a job seeker can do to define their personal brand in their application materials and social platforms?
Paul D’Arcy: As someone who interviews candidates almost every day, I understand the power of a strong personal brand. When I sit down to interview, I want to understand who the person is, what they are passionate about, and how the role they are interviewing for fits with the journey they are on. I am always impressed by candidates that can tell a clear story about who they are and what they are looking to accomplish in their career.
Here is the most important thing: A great personal brand starts with passion. Your brand needs to start with the fire that is inside you: it needs to be true to who you are and what you believe. Start with what is important to you in your life and career and build a plan that looks forward to where you want to be. To define your brand, figure out the simplest way to tell the story of what you are looking for, what you can contribute, and how your experience fits into this journey.
GoodCall: What are the biggest mistakes applicants are making in defining their personal brand?
D’Arcy: I think there are two mistakes that people make. The first is trying to be all things to all people and continually tweaking their brand for every audience. It comes across as disingenuous and hurts in the end. If you start with what is true to you, your passion and purpose, it may not resonate with every company or culture, but when it does the fit will be right.
The second is making your brand – your career story – too complex and nuanced. It really helps to keep the message very simple and to link all of your goals and experience back to this core message of what is important and what makes you a unique candidate.
GoodCall: If an applicant has a past career experience that does not really fit in with their overall personal messaging, how can they still include it in their resume (and LinkedIn) without muddying the waters of their personal brand?
D’Arcy: The first thing that I check for during an interview is to make sure that there are no hidden gaps. When I find that people have hidden jobs or experience, I ask a ton of questions to get to the bottom of why the resume is not accurate. I think it’s very important to include all of your work experience.
As today’s job seekers switch jobs more often than ever, it’s not uncommon to have a job on your resume that doesn’t fit with where you want to go. If role doesn’t perfectly fit with your passion or journey, include it on your resume and highlight any elements that do fit with your journey. In an interview, explain what you learned from the experience or how it shaped your journey. Sometimes the best way to figure out what you love is to do something that you hate – it’s okay to have jobs that didn’t build your experience if you can clearly explain what you learned from them and how they have shaped you in a positive way.
GoodCall: How often should job applicants reinvent their personal brand?
D’Arcy: If you are inventing or reinventing your brand, I think you are doing it wrong. The key is discovering and explaining who you are, what you are passionate about, and how you can contribute to a particular organization. If this changes as you evolve and learn and grow and change, then that is great. If you are inventing a brand that you think people will like but that isn’t true to who you are, it will be very difficult to find a role that will be the right fit.
Paul J. D’Arcy is a Senior Vice President at Indeed, the #1 global search engine for jobs. A member of Indeed’s senior leadership team, Paul is an experienced technology industry leader and digital marketing entrepreneur. His areas of expertise include workforce trends, demand generation, digital marketing, and leveraging data to drive revenue. Paul has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CIO, and the Huffington Post. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and holds an MBA from Harvard University. He lives in Austin, Texas.