Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Personal Branding

What is personal branding?

Essentially personal branding is how you present yourself to the world, both online and in person. Think of personal branding as marketing yourself. Your brand includes who you are as a person, what you have to offer employers and where you see yourself in the future.

Personal branding helps feature your uniqueness. Many students – especially Liberal Arts students – may be interested in many of the same things as you, so what is it about your background, perspectives and passion that makes you different? How do you stand out from the crowd? Have you ever heard of value proposition? It’s how companies feature a service, mission or innovation to distinguish their brand from other brands in the marketplace. Personal branding helps you do likewise.

Why do I need to think about my brand as a college student?

As a college student, you may be surprised to learn how important personal branding is in your job and internship search. Even if you have no intention of going into a career in sales or marketing, it’s important to understand that you’ll always be marketing yourself. Life’s a pitch. When thinking of your brand in concrete terms, it’s important that your resume, cover letter and interview stories present a consistent theme.

Understanding your brand helps you network with people in your chosen industry. It increases your odds of ending up in a position that aligns with your passion. Personal branding helps you apply what you learned in college to the workplace and helps you articulate what you have to offer an employer. In a nutshell, personal branding makes you a more competitive applicant.

Isn’t it too early to start thinking about my brand?

Not at all. You actually already have a brand, or reputation. Your former employers, professors, and fellow members in student organizations already have a perception of you based on how you’ve performed in class, on the job and in a volunteer capacity. When thinking about your brand it may be helpful to start by asking others how you’re perceived. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn you already have a reputation for getting the job done. Or, you may realize you have some work to do to repair your brand! Although you may not know exactly where you want to be in ten years, now is the time to start thinking about how you can add value to an organization and how you’ve done so in the past. Start with what you know so far. For example, maybe you know you want to help people in some capacity.

Where would I use my personal brand?

Have you ever struggled to answer that pesky “Tell me about yourself” interview question? Are you stumped when writing your LinkedIn summary? Do you have your own website, blog or portfolio? These are perfect opportunities to highlight your personal brand. Personal branding is particularly important for liberal arts majors. Have you ever felt frazzled when someone asks you, “What are you going to do with that major?” Developing a personal branding statement can help you confidently answer this question.

What are typical branding mistakes?

The most common mistake is inconsistency. Consistency is key so that others know what to expect from you. Everything from your LinkedIn profile picture, student organizations you join, volunteer work you do and the stories you tell during interviews should have a coherent theme.

Don’t forget to Google yourself and be on the lookout for your own digital dirt. Most employers will Google you before deciding to bring you in for an interview. Keep the keg stand pictures off of social media and remember to lock down your profile. See our social media guide for details.

Questions to ask yourself to figure out your brand.

  • What’s something that’s consistently been important to you? Leadership? Entrepreneurship? Volunteer work? Social justice?
  • What do you want other people to think about you?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What are five words used to describe you?
  • What’s something you do better than most people?
  • What makes you unique?
  • What would your ideal career look like in ten years?

Next steps to strengthen and polish your personal brand.

  • Google yourself. You may find something you put online years ago that doesn’t reflect your personal brand and could be detrimental to your job search. Tip: If you find that someone has the same name as you and has a terrible track record, consider using your middle initial on your application materials, LinkedIn profile, and other materials to differentiate yourself from them.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn can be used as your professional social media platform for employers, coworkers and recruiters to learn more about you and your experiences. Create a professional summary on LinkedIn so your personal brand and personality can shine. See our LinkedIn page for tips! 
  • Incorporate your personal brand into your own website and public social media profiles. Make sure all of your pictures and posts on your personal social media sites are professional and that you have your privacy settings turned on. Employers are learning more about you through your social media channels, so ensure what they see reflects your personal brand. 
  • Take a professional headshot and use it for your online presence! Our office offers free headshots for your professional needs, including your LinkedIn profile! Drop by our office during normal business hours dressed in professional clothing and we can take your picture.
  • Incorporate your personal brand in your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch is your opportunity to tell recruiters a little bit about yourself and your experiences. Leaving recruiters with a strong sense of your personal brand will help them remember you when they are considering applicants.
  • Create a 1-2 sentence brand statement that you can remember and keep on hand with you in case you may need it. Check out this article for further details on how to craft your personal brand statement and check out this article for the 7 rules for an effective personal brand statement. After reading these articles, look at your unique values and key attributes and you should be able to develop a brand statement, answering these three questions: 1.) What value you provide? 2.) How you do it uniquely? 3.) For whom?
  • As you are crafting and polishing your personal brand, keep the Oscar Wilde quote in mind, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

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    University of Texas at Austin
    FAC 18
    2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200
    Austin, Texas 78712-1508