Personal Branding in the Digital Age Header

“Hey Victor! This is so-and-so… I found you on your website…”

– a common email excerpt

I’m not famous, I swear.

I’ve never been on TV. I have a small following on social media. I’m just a normal person like you. Pinky swear.

It’s strange. A few years ago, I made two small choices that have now helped me:

  • Receive 2-3 job offers per week
  • Receive 1-2 emails per week through my personal website about freelance projects
  • Rank on the first page on Google when you search “chicago freelance web designer”

… just to name a few things.

These two choices have helped build my personal brand and have made an unexpected impact on my life.


2 Steps to Personal Branding for Remote Work

The two things I did was to (1) create a LinkedIn profile and (2) build a personal website.

As someone looking to get into remote work or freelancing, these are the two key items you need in order to get yourself noticed.

In this post, I describe the current state of the job market and the role of personal branding in the digital age. I show you why a LinkedIn and personal website are so important when it comes to applying for jobs.

In the next two posts in this series, I will take you through the process of creating both and show you the strategies I use to market myself on these platforms. Here are the links to the next posts in this series:

So let’s get started!

Bonus: Flood your inbox with job offers using my top-secret personal branding strategies. My eBook "Personal Branding for Remote Work" contains 6 value-packed chapters revealing the steps I took to get 2-3 job offers per week, 3-4 inquiries for freelance projects, and help me rank #1 on Google for my name.

Why You Should Care About Your Personal Brand

Personal branding is your online presence or the digital impression you give off. Think about how you feel when you interact with brands and companies. How do they make you feel when you are on their website? When you read about them? When you see what they post on social media? Or when you interact with their products?

A personal brand is the same thing but applied to people. It’s how other people perceive you through the content they interact with.

Personal branding is becoming increasingly important for people regardless of their aspirations. Your brand is an opportunity for you to develop your voice. Whether it’s to get a job, or to champion a cause… there’s an infinite set of possibilities and it’s up to you how you want to play your cards.

The important thing is to get started… yesterday.

As a remote worker or freelancer-in-training, your work is going to be done online. So you will need a digital profile that blows people away and communicates your value.


It’s a Tough Job Market Out There

Let’s be real. The labor market has been tough since the financial crisis in 2008.

The real unemployment rate in the United States as of May 2015, which includes workers who have given up on finding jobs or workers who can only find part-time jobs, is around 10.5%.

Unemployed Picture

Photo © 2011 J. Ronald Lee

There are not enough jobs to go around, but how can you make sure that you stick out of the crowded labor market and get noticed?

The answer is Personal Branding.

Think of yourself as a salesman. Instead of selling a product, you are selling yourself. And when it comes to many similar products, the best-marketed one tends to win.

With the emergence of the internet and the ability for individuals to have an online presence, personal branding has become an important tool for job-seekers.

To start, let’s first examine how companies search for candidates. Then we’ll look into ways that you can brand yourself to your advantage.


Social Media Defines Us

We live in the digital age, where more and more is happening online. The verbs to “Google”, “Facebook”, “Snapchat”, “Tweet”, “Instagram”,  stem from the proliferation of the internet and social media.

You’ll find social media being the main focus even at a sports game. 

Social media has been ingrained into our daily lives. In 2014, the Pew Research Center found that 74% of online adults use at least one social networking website. Furthermore, they found in 2015 that 52% of online adults use two or more social media sites. The full breakdown of social media website usage can be seen in the graph below.


Recruiters are Using Social Media Too

Recruiters are also catching up to the social media craze. In a 2014 Jobvite survey, 93% of recruiters reported that they review a candidate’s social media profile before making a decision.

But where does social media fit into the hiring process? First of all, we need to take a step back. Consider this:

There were 3.6 million job openings at the end of 2012. Yet, only 80% of the available jobs were advertised (Source: Forbes).

What’s going on here?

Wait, why would companies choose not to advertise job openings?


Leveraging Existing Employee’s Social Networks

The reason is that employers prefer employee referrals to find job candidates. This way they can reduce the number of candidates they need to screen. In addition:

  • 74% of recruiters surveyed said the best-quality candidates come from employee referrals (Source: Recruiting Trends)
  • Time-to-hire is 55% faster for employee-referred candidates than for those who connected via a career site (Source: Jobvite).
  • Employee-referred hires tend to remain longer, with 46% staying at their job for three or more years.


With referrals, employers remove the need to advertise their job openings to the public. So where does social media come into play?

With the emergence of social media, employers now have the ability to target individuals who are part of an employee’s network. 

This is where professional social networks like LinkedIn become incredibly powerful. They allow you to have a credible, professional presence online and allows recruiters to easily:

  • Search for candidates with matching skill sets
  • Find more information about the candidate
  • Directly communicate with the candidate


So having a stacked LinkedIn profile is all you need, right?


Drawbacks of Social Networks

While LinkedIn remains a must have, there are still limitations. Despite the recent enhancements on the website, users still have to work within its rigid structures.

As a result, your LinkedIn profile, while providing professional credentials, can be dry and impersonal.


In contrast, a personal website is a fully customizable platform that showcases your personal brand.


Recruiters Like Personal Websites

Few people have personal websites. So the ability you display in owning your own web real estate can impress potential employers.

Domain.ME, a provider of the “.me” domain extension, conducted a survey in January 2015 of 300 HR professionals and found the following:

  • One-third of respondents agreed that a personal website provides an advantage for job seekers.
  • Half the respondents believe a personal website helps to humanize a candidate.
  • Four in 10 recruiters are more inclined to contact the candidate with a personal website when considering two candidates with seemingly equal qualifications.


Personal Websites Do a Better Job of Showcasing You

Personal websites allow you to show, not tell. Every aspect of your website from the design, language, and content is an opportunity for convey something about yourself.

It also helps you support the things you may have in your resume. For example, instead of writing “built a company blog following of 15,000 engaged readers,” you can include a link on your personal site directly to the blog.

Personal Websites Allow You to Project Your Voice Through Blogging

Nowadays, many personal websites also include a blog. Blogging is by far the best way for you to showcase your voice and to get noticed. Blogs give you an opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your field, whatever that may be. 

A well-written blog demonstrates that you are smart, confident, and not afraid to put your thoughts out there. A trait that can separate you from the crowd.


The Ingredients to Success

With the information we have, we know that a LinkedIn profile and a personal website are essential in the current labor market.

In the following two posts, I go through each of these items and teach you how to put them together for maximum effect. Read them here:


Further Reading & References


My eBook "Personal Branding for Remote Work: The 4-Step Guide to Building a Personal Brand That Lands You Your Dream Job" walks you through 4+ strategies to create the perfect professional profile for remote work. Get it for free by clicking the image below!