A Personal Branding Strategy to Stand Out From The Crowd

The traditional job-hunting approach advocated by human resources pundits (make a one-page résumé, don’t talk about personal stuff, make your experience look “broad” to appeal to many different industries, etc.) is basically flawed: by making your résumé look “standard”, and by rounding off the edges to try to be all things to all people, you are basically commoditizing yourself and making it more difficult for you to stand out from the crowd.

Posting a standard résumé on a job clearinghouse site such as monster.com will only put you on a pile with millions of other people trying to get the same thing using the same ineffective strategy. I suggest that you concentrate instead in building your personal brand online using all the tools at your disposal, the most important of which are a blog and your different social media profiles.

Here’s how I recommend that you start:

  1. Register your name as a URL:

Unless your name is very original, it is most likely taken. If you get lucky and it’s still available, register a combination of your first name and last name with a .com extension: for example,johnsmith.com (from now on I will use johnsmith.com as a proxy for your name).

If it is already taken, throw in your middle initial (johntsmith.com),use a hyphen (john-smith.com) or register the .org version (johnsmith.org). You can register your name online for less than $10/year by going to an accredited domain registrar (I use Godaddy for all my domains).

Once you register your name, create a branded email address, like john@johnsmith.com and start using it immediately.

  1. Set up your personal site:

Start by creating a very simple home page (update: or use a service like Nombray to do it for you), perhaps showing a good picture of you and a few links to four or five main sections, like:

  1. Your Blog (this is a must, and the cornerstone of your personal brand online).
  2. About Me (a summary of your background, skills, talents, goals, areas of interest, hobbies, etc. You can post a link to your résumé in this section.)
  3. Contact Me (brief paragraph indicating how to contact you).
  4. My Social Media Profiles (links to your profiles in sites like Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Stumbleupon, Flickr, etc.).
  5. Multimedia (videos of presentations you have made, interviews you have given, etc.).

Another popular option is to set your personal blog as your home page, and link to your other sections from a menu or from links on your sidebar (if you chose this option, please follow our suggestions on paragraph 3, below).

  1. Create a special URL for your blog:

Host your blog in its own sub-directory or folder (johnsmith.com/blog) or in its own sub-domain(blog.johnsmith.com). It is generally easier to follow the sub-directory route (less technical details). If you want your blog to pop up automatically when somebody types johnsmith.com, linkjohnsmith.com to johnsmith.com/blog through a 301 redirect.

The reason I’m asking you to go through the trouble of doing this is as opposed to just publishing your blog at johnsmith.com is because one day, as your brand grows, you may want to use your home page to showcase the different dimensions of your personal brand (your different products or the different ways your value is “packaged”).

Moving your blog to johnsmith.com/blog at this late stage may cause different URL problems, and will confuse users and search engines. It is better to give your blog its own sub-domain or sub-directory from day one. (Matt Cutts, one of Google’s most outspoken authorities, advocates hosting your blog in its own sub-directory, citing some additional search engine benefits).

  1. Make your blog personal:

As you write about your professional areas of interest, don’t be afraid to voice your personal opinions on the topics you cover. Your blog shouldn’t be only factual, but it should reflect your own “editorial review” of the topics that shape your area of expertise.

This is the stuff that will make you truly different to your competitors. Coming across as a real person in this low trust world can be your bestcompetitive advantage.What do you think? Do you have any other tips? Please leave us your comments.

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