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The Future of Personal Branding: 5 Predictions

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Personal branding was originally conceived in 1997, which tells you that it’s not a fad.

Despite the mainstream adoption of social media globally, the basic principles of personal branding still apply. You have to define your brand, position yourself in the marketplace, and constantly reinvent your brand over time. You have to figure out what makes you special and then communicate that to the right people, who are interested in your story and message.

Social network profiles, and blogs, have made it easier to build a brand because you’re investing your time instead of thousands of dollars. In today’s competitive landscape, just having a presence isn’t enough. You have to maintain it for the rest of your existence and be committed to your career and business objectives.

I’ve been following the personal branding movement for over four years and have identified several trends that you need to become aware of if you want to remain competitive. Each trend will have a dramatic impact on your life moving forward and the sooner you build your brand, and take advantage of new technologies, the more prepared you will be for a successful future!

1. LinkedIn will replace resumes and job boards

About a week ago, I predicted the end of resumes and job boards in Forbes and the recruiting world retaliated. Although, you will still see job boards for time to come, the real pathway to employment is through the connections that we all share. Companies such as BranchOut.com and LinkedIn.com have put a “social graph” over our job search, which allows us to tap into the people we already know to get job referrals. Networking is clearly the key to getting the best jobs in the world, and applying through job boards isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Traditional resumes as we know them don’t fit into the new workplace paradigm. Forget the Microsoft Word resume and start building your online presence so that recruiters can find you and place you. Soon companies won’t even ask for your resume; they will ask for a single URL that should point them to a reason why they should hire you.

2. Your personal and professional lives will converge

Did you know that 96 percent of Americans under 50 are on Facebook? Facebook connects the world and even when we leave our laptop or desktop computers, we login through our mobile phones. Forty-six million Americans check their social networking sites multiple times each day. When you live online, your actions can affect the way people around you treat you, in and out of the workplace. Everything you publish, and whatever is published about you and can haunt your career for time to come. Rep. Anthony Weiner found this out the hard way. He, like many other politicians, celebrities and regular people, learned what you say online is in the public domain and can be used against you to ruin your reputation.

3. The recruitment process will have a mandatory online presence background check

A 2010 study by Jobvite  reported that approximately 80 percent of companies plan to use social networks in the background check process. Eventually, all companies will use the Internet to verify candidates and it will be as common as a drug test. If you aren’t found online, it will show that you aren’t as valuable to employers as other candidates. My advice is to build a website and manage your reputation before other people do it for you.

4. Online influence will be a determining factor of whether you get a job

A decade or so ago, if you had the right hard skills, you would be almost guaranteed a job. Then, when the market became more competitive, companies started looking for soft skills, including presentation, writing, organization and leadership. This way, companies could recruit the individuals who would be the best fit to the organization. Today, you need to have hard skills, soft skills and online influence. You might be hired based on the number of Twitter followers you have or if Lady Gaga retweets you. Individuals who have the largest and most influential networks bring more to a company – they bring an audience of potential buyers.

5. Relevancy will become our greatest challenge

It’s becoming a great challenge to keep up with the latest information and technology that’s pertinent to your career. I see relevancy becoming even more important but very challenging because our brains can’t process the sheer amount of information out there. I skim through eight hundred blog posts each day and that number isn’t going to decrease anytime soon. You need to know what’s going on in your marketplace and react to it. Consumers are expecting more from businesses and if you aren’t current then you’re irrelevant to the marketplace, which means that you will eventually go out of business or get laid off.
Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, a full-service personal branding agency. Dan is the author of “Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future,” the founder of the Personal Branding Blog, and publisher of Personal Branding Magazine.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://twitter.com/amandaabella Amanda Abella

    I think you are on to something there! I know a few people (including myself) that have been hired because of their online projects.

    • http://twitter.com/DanSchawbel Dan Schawbel

      Amanda, thanks for reading!

  • Scott Schumann DDS

    There will be the ‘nay sayers’ who will try to hold on to traditional networking, but as we continue toward a global economy and the fluid job market as well as the advent of virtual jobs, then the people who do not heed your advise will find themselves wonderfully equipped for a world that has passed them by kind of like the dinosaurs.

  • Peter Urey

    Just forwarded this post to my teenage kids – so true – give it a few years and the job search will demand a sample of DNA before we reach the design your baby for a top job stage in about fifty years time – scary stuff ahead.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with all of the above … which makes me wonder why people still think they can get away with posting inappropriate comments, photos, videos, etc. and no one will find out!

  • http://www.citycv.co.uk James

    One of my clients is a resume writer. One of the niches that she is targetting is LinkedIn profiles – another client who is MD of his company has taken the decision not to have a Facebook account as he doesn’t want any of his staff to know what he gets up to in private… scary stuff indeed

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  • http://cruisesurfingz.com roy | cruisesurfingz.com

    I’ve been using my LinkedIn url as my resume for the past 4 years. It’s not the future, it’s current.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lesley-Mitler/1609152714 Lesley Mitler

    I work with young job seekers and I am amazed that so many of them don’t understand the importance and relevance of the LinkedIn profile. They still think that the resume is more important. Most of them simply register on LinkedIn with their name, education and some basic information and leave the profile incomplete. And, many of them only have a handful of connections, no recommendations and no understanding of how to fully exploit the many possibilities that LinkedIn offers to the job seeker. I totally agree with your point that this will replace job boards because it is much more targeted and efficient.

    • Peebles

      This may stem from teachers and career counselors who have not adapted their methods to reflect new technology and trends. Similarly, new grad nurses are shocked to learn they may have trouble finding jobs in this sluggish economy. They have not received tips on writing a resume or interview coaching, because the nursing shortage instilled the idea that they would be inundated with job offers.

      • Protectingmyprofile

        As a new grad nurse (may 2011) and not employed, I agree with your theory. There is not enough guidance for nursing students on how to get a job. There was a time when students were placed in a job before graduation. Not today. I am on my second career, and have marketable skills that will be usefull as an RN. I have been spending lots of time trying to get the right info on my resume. If I ever get it right, I may have to go back to my graphic designing roots and help new RN’s write their resumes!

  • Chasdall

    What is the best way to learn about how to “exploit the many possibilities LinkedIn offers”

  • Anony Mouse

    I’d argue that regardless of expectations, those who choose to stand out from the crowd will use whatever means necessary to get the job and the rest of the sheep will bob gently along in the larger ocean that is Linkedin, etc. Keep in mind that although companies would *like* to do all this research, I’m sure it costs a pretty penny and they will reserve this cost and effort for their most sensitive positions. Bill Clinton taught us that it’s ok to do it, just don’t inhale, so what was and is shocking on Facebook now may simply be accepted as common, private rituals by individuals with the right to lead their personal lives any way they choose, as long as they are 100% committed to their job during their day.

    I am more worried about children learning to speak, think and write clearly more than I am about their personal lives.

  • http://www.odower.com Andy O’Dower

    Couldn’t agree more Dan.

    I just posted a job for a social media intern at a major Chicago university. I received two Word documents (file names generic, like Resume3.doc)…if your “specialty” is social media, that means the web. That means websites, blogs…anything showing that you practice what you preach. Granted that it might not be as needed for accountants, but in 2 years if I can’t find my accountant online either, that means he probably prefers to be under the radar….why?

    The early adopters stand out. The latecomers look apathetic or stupid. The tools are out there. We built http://beyondcredentials.com for college students and grads to stand out. Hope we’re helping (and we’re improving our tools too!).

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  • http://twitter.com/HRuncovered HR Uncovered

    > Forget the Microsoft Word resume…

    But not yet. I think the “ding, dong, the witch is dead” celebrations are a ways off. Right now, a resume is still a very crucial part of the job search process. LinkedIn (and social media) are also critical, but not replacements.

    Many companies are not able to keep pace with the changing job search landscape – if you want to lead them into the future, you need to meet them at their level. What are you going to tell someone who asks for your resume? “No. They are so 2010. Here’s my URL.” Maybe someday, but not now.

    The Resume Is Not Dead: http://bit.ly/mmO24S

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.villano Jeremy Villano

      It really depends on the jobs you’re applying for. I work in the digital space, and I haven’t actually given my resume out to anyone in… 2 years? That was 3 jobs ago…

  • http://thedeathofthecopier.blogspot.com/ GregWalters

    Wow – LinkedIn replaces the resume. Interesting. What is more interesting is how easily the subject of the ‘power shift’ is ignored or unseen.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nilyma Nilyma Roy

    Job seekers with little work to do and I understand that they are not surprised by LinkedIn profile, not the importance and relevance. They still think it is more important to resume. Most of them have only their name, LinkedIn, education, and incomplete, but some basic information about the registration and profile.

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  • You

    ‘You might be hired based on the number of Twitter followers you have or if Lady Gaga retweets you.’ Wut?