Through my years of staffing, I have met with hundreds of designers, marketing professionals, writers and more. While meeting with different candidates, I always relay the importance of selling oneself beyond the resume.
Employers are looking for more than just the highlight reel that is a jobseeker’s CV/resume. They want to see tangible evidence of the work. That being said, this obviously doesn’t go for every position. However, for those jobs where it does apply, the work presentation goes beyond just throwing your samples on a site and calling it a day.
Many hiring managers take into account HOW the work is displayed. If someone is an “Award-Winning Graphic Designer” but their website is out of date and the work is not presented in a visually pleasing way, it could mean the end of the line for you. I’ve seen hiring managers put that person in the “no pile” given their online presentation does not measure up to who they are on paper.
If you’re in the creative space, building a personal brand is important. So, what does that mean exactly? Here are four tips on how to build your personal brand.
1. Build your online presence
Before moving to staffing I was in the marketing world. I remember going into interviews and being asked if I had any samples of work I had done… I froze. I could work my way through any and all questions asked of me with confidence. But while in my previous roles I did not think to collect my work samples into a digital portfolio. This hindered my chances of being selected for a role given there was no tangible evidence of the work I had executed or the writing I had done for numerous campaigns. Obviously, check with your employers along the way to ensure it is not proprietary and that you can share the work. But if approved, be sure to save your work!
Online presence isn’t just a personal website. We’re talking LinkedIn. Be active on LinkedIn and be sure to provide a little insight as to what you have done in each position listed. I’m not talking, “And on my 275th day of working there, I did…” Rather, highlight typical day-to-day responsibilities or any notable accomplishments that could catch a prospective employer’s eye.
2. Pick samples that showcase your versatility
Many creatives specialize in more than one area. Whether you’re a graphic designer who designs for both print and digital mediums or a marketing professional who executes both social media strategies and full scale 360 marketing campaigns, your samples should showcase your range. Many employers are looking for someone who can “wear multiple hats.” Be sure your online presence shows that.
3. Make it visually appealing
There is nothing worse than meeting with someone who looks great on paper, but when you log onto their website, it’s stuck in the 90s or not organized at all. Think of your website as an extension of your work. If your website looks like you threw it together and lacks organization and a clean aesthetic, what makes an employer think you are actually serious about the job search? I have had countless hiring managers say a candidate’s experience is great, but the poor execution of the website was ultimately a turn off and therefore, they did not proceed with interviewing. Be sure not to disqualify yourself before you even start the race.
4. Let your personality show through
Whether it be on your website or LinkedIn, let your personality shine through…within reason of course! A LinkedIn presence where a candidate is posting actively in their own tone of voice not only gains traction for your page but also shows potential employers a bit of who you are beyond the resume. I am very active on LinkedIn and always post in a manner that stays true to who I am. Same goes for your website. Keep it professional but do not shy away from letting that personality shine through the screen.
Hopefully you take away at least one good tip from the above. Though it is a candidate’s market currently, it is important to find ways to set yourself apart from the pool of applications hiring managers review! And if you need help with your job search, please reach out to us. We’d love to help!
About the author
Cooper Kearns serves as an Executive Creative Recruiter for Synergis. In her role, she specializes in placing candidates in digital marketing and social media jobs; visual, interaction and product design positions; art and creative direction; and content and copy roles. She believes that creative recruiters are born “match makers,” being able to sense the potential chemistry between candidate and client. Cooper earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gettysburg College. In her spare time, she enjoys hitting the gym, hiking with friends and hanging out with her 2-year-old Goldendoodle, Arlie!