Your Personal Branding – why putting people off can be a good thing

Personal Branding is one of the most effective ways to distinguish yourself from the job-seeking crowd, advice about it is in abundance on the Internet. The problem is, much of it is simply unusable for the majority of us at the beginnings of our careers.

personal branding

The first in a 2-part series, Douglas Ackerman looks at personal branding from the perspective of the job-seeker rather than the employer.

The vast majority of advice over-complicates the process, requiring job seekers to imagine what a broad range of employers are looking for. You’ve never been an employer, so how should you know?

The fact is that personal branding is quite simple. It’s all about representing yourself in the best light to impress a particular target market – your next employer.

Here’s a practical way to develop your new Personal Brand, which debunks a lot of misinformed advice out there.

Narrow your targets

Instead of aiming to appeal to the broadest possible audience, we should instead try to be very niche. By this, I mean we accept the fact that we aren’t suited to every company or every potential boss, but would be excellent employees for some.

Your Personal Brand will be an accurate and striking representation of yourself, aimed to grab the attention of like-minded companies and employers, and put-off those you wouldn’t want to work for anyway.

Why would I want to put people off?

Think about it, what regular brand do you know of which has absolute global appeal? Can’t think of any? That’s because there are different types of people out there and it would be impossible for one company to meet all of everyone’s needs.

Coca Cola is drunk by a lot of people, but not absolutely everyone, which is why there are other drinks available to meet those other tastes.

The same applies to your application and brand. This works better for us because it’s designed to only attract offers from those companies we actually would have an interest in working for.

When I decided to find employment within the startup industry, I tore up my old Word CV, WordPress website and Linkedin Profile and created a whole set of matching materials designed to grab the attention of employers excited by what I could do for their company.

It took a little while to set up, but the result was an intense 2 weeks of job hunting in which I had interviews every day and a whole load of praise about my applications.

So how do I know what my target market is?

Ask yourself: ‘What kind of company and boss do I want to work for?’

Surely the only answer is: ‘One that accepts me for who I am, motivates me and enables me to progress.’

The next step is to define exactly what goals you want to achieve through your next employment.

Is it utilizing design skills? Copywriting talents? Are you a social media fanatic? Or a coding genius? The more honest you are, the more likely you will receive enthusiastic responses from your applications.

Your personal brand should reflect who you are, what you’ve done and, most importantly, what you can do for them.


Next week I’ll take a closer look at what we should be including in our personal brands, and provide steps in how to put together our branded applications.


Douglas Ackerman is the co-founder of Starticulate, a communications service for startups

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Natasha Hodgson is the Content and Community Manager over at Enternships. She loves writing about inspiring things, and Nicolas Cage. Luckily, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

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