In an increasingly competitive job market, standing out from the crowd is essential to secure that dream career. However, with an average of 50 applicants per job how can you go beyond a simple CV and use your online presence to make yourself stand out?

shutterstock_158459390No longer is it enough to simply present yourself in a CV. Professionals need a new and creative way to stand out from the crowd, to create their own brand and be in control of their digital identity.

As our lives become more digital, more employers are looking online for potential candidates. The invention of professional networking sites has made this more accessible for businesses and recruiters. However, for those looking to kick start or project their careers forward, they should look at these online profiles as their personal online brands and there are a number of ways they can maintain their brands.

Understand your personal brand

To be able to develop your online brand, you first need to understand what that brand is. You need to focus on what differentiates you. What strengths do you possess? What motivates you? Why do these qualities make you unique and authentic?

To develop a truly genuine brand you need to have an initial passion and drive towards the career/role you want to succeed in. You need to focus on what stimulates your passion, how can that drive you in your career? What excites you? What do you want everyone to know?

Show your value, passion and authenticity

There are many ways to prove your value and worth to an employer. Many people to downplay their previous achievements because they don’t want to be seen as showing off.  You should be proud and share these,  they can make you stand out from the crowd. Once you have thought about what your value is, you then need to think how you can show this to those around you.

To drive a personal brand you need to drive content that represents your passion, authenticity and value together as one.

The best place to start is by thinking of platforms that you can use to present your brand to the online community, do you have a Blog or Twitter Account? Do you have Projects or a Portfolio?

What is your hook

A hook is something that should attract attention or serve as an enticement. How do you make people want to know more about you? When forming a personal brand, these elements need to be captured when creating your hook. As attention spans are short, your hook needs to be sharp, engaging and leave people wanting to learn more about you.

Show your personality

To drive a unique personal brand, you need to be able to express your personality. This can be done by creating the right tone of voice and keep it consistent. Once you have figured out the right tone of voice that reflects your personality, it is time to create content that incorporates this voice to make sure your brand is recognised as personal to you.

Creating a brand is similar to writing a story, a boring story won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can. Therefore when forming a personal brand, the ability to convey a professional, yet personal feel is key.

Personal detail that can be included can range from certain achievements, extra curricular activities to what you do for fun.

Test driving your brand

Once you feel you have finished creating a representable and unique personal brand, the next step is to have your trusted colleagues, mentors, friends and family to provide feedback and input. When they provide feedback on your brand, it is crucial to ask them if the tone is reflective of yourself?

It is paramount to receive honest opinions and true feedback on your brand as this will only help in the long run and strengthen your brand in areas you didn’t think needed it.

Maintaining your brand

Once you’ve spent a few weeks developing your personal brand, thinking of ways that you can stand out and have received valuable feedback from those around you. What’s next? One of the keys to having your own brand is to maintain it so it doesn’t become stale or out of date.

Keeping a flow of fresh content is fundamental in keeping your brand alive and engaging. The last thing you want to do is fall into the trap of trying to rehash the same old information or, even worse, completely ignoring the brand you’ve worked so hard to develop.

Just because you have “launched” your brand to the public, doesn’t mean you can’t refine and polish as you go along. You may think of new ways you stand out or what makes you different. It’s important your brand continues growing and evolving with you.

By Safwan Hak, founder of 9Sharp