Personal Branding in the Modern World

I was recently asked to comment on what my personal top tips would be for success in “marketing oneself” for job searching.   As seemingly with all things in the modern world, having a social media profile is absolutely key - very specifically for professionals, LinkedIn is an absolute must. As a hiring manager, the second I receive the name of a potential candidate from a recruitment partner, as well as scanning the traditional paper/pdf resume I will always instantly search for a LinkedIn profile.  

So what is it that I am personally looking for on a LinkedIn profile when I seek out a candidate?  

1. Is there a photo of the person?

There are a surprising number of things a picture tells me - firstly, is the person confident enough in themselves to use a picture at all?!  Or do they choose to hide behind the generic grey icon?  Are they smiling in the picture?  If I’m hiring (for example) a salesperson, I’m likely wanting a friendly “people-person” but if the person cannot even find one photo of themselves smiling, I may wonder how likely they are to actually be friendly in person! Are they doing something interesting in the photo?! Whilst I’m not a fan of ‘Facebook-worthy’ crazy upside-down roller-coaster selfies, if someone is depicting an obviously personal pursuit - dog walking, fishing, motor racing etc. anything like this may give you an insight into the character!  

2. How many connections does a person have?

A small number of connections (e.g. double figures only as opposed to hundreds) indicates someone may be less active on the professional scene. A high number of connections is indicative of someone who is actively engaging in the professional world (although no guarantee of course)  

3. Work history

Although a resume itself will outline a detailed work history, LinkedIn has a very nice user-friendly dashboard view which makes it easy to quickly ascertain someone’s work history - have they worked for lots of different companies? How long do they tend to spend in each role? Have they jumped industries as well as companies? Are there gaps in the person’s employment?  On the other hand, is there evidence of "internal promotions" within the same employment (which is always a very good sign of a strong candidate) 


Another vastly underused feature on LinkedIn is the 'Recommendations' section. This section facilitates a person’s contacts to be able to give them personal recommendations almost akin to a traditional reference letter. I must say I pay particular attention to what a recommendation states as these write-ups can give extremely powerful insights into the real character of a person. They are completely open-ended without pre-set templates meaning that whatever is chosen to be written about a person is utterly authentic


Another key section for me is 'Accomplishments'.  If there is one thing, I would unequivocally recommend with either CV/Resume writing or LinkedIn profile building, it's to always make your profile ‘achievements-focused’. There are too many resume’s and LinkedIn profiles which ‘waste’ content space in extensively outlining a person’s duties and job description as opposed to highly what the person achieved in a role. Very specifically for this audience of ex-pats who may have been out of work for some time, I as a hiring manager would personally be far more interested in understanding what concrete achievements a candidate generated when they were working rather than a sterile run down of their job description.  This is because achievements are typically the culmination of hard work, effort and focus and these are things which last the test of time.

To summarise, as a commercial leader, I myself will only actively engage with LinkedIn when searching for potential candidates if I have a vacancy to fill. However, recruitment specialists - and even clients and contacts of yours will do this far more regularly, so having a dynamic, current and engaging LinkedIn profile which gives a really good insight into ‘the professional you’ I would say, is an absolute must.  Think about how you want to present 'the very best you' and work to build this into your profile  

Sahil Syed is commercial leader who has been active in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices industry for the last 22 years. He is also author of ‘Pharmaceutical Sales for Phools’ The Beginners Guide for Medical Sales Representatives.

Thank you for Sahil for sharing these great tips and advice.

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Photo by Greg Bulla on Unsplash

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