Much has been written about the critical nature of managing your personal brand. For your career it is the tangible tools such as your resume and cover letters, it is also your social media presence and your professional reputation. Do the various components of your brand change and evolve as your career does? Absolutely!
Early in your career, your resume contains a much heavier focus on your education and the skills you have developed in your internships or early career positions. As your career evolves, the focus increases on your specific career accomplishments – what results you achieved in a specific role, how the company benefitted from having you there in that role and the skills you can transfer to a new role. The more recent and relevant positions have the most bullet points and early career positions are just noted.
Your Cover Letter
As an early career job seeker your focus is more aspirational. You certainly address your relevant experience and education but you are seeking the experience you desire to advance your career. Later in your career, you are more focused on your career accomplishments, your functional and/or industry knowledge and the transferrable skills you bring to the new opportunity.
While LinkedIn is critical throughout your career, the focus changes as your career grows. Early in your career, you are focused on building contacts in companies on your target list and people in jobs you aspire to hold one day. Recruiters may actually find you on LinkedIn for opportunities within their company. You can learn a lot from those contacts. Later in your career, you are still networking but you are often sought out as the mentor for younger professionals who aspire to work in your field. You can also leverage contacts to share best practices. Your profile should become richer as well. You will likely have professional association involvement to add, presentations at conferences, industry awards and recognition, etc to further establish your credibility in your field. If you have a blog or press coverage you should include those links as well. The profile gives you an opportunity to showcase the bigger picture of your career and can also reflect any volunteer work or board activity.
Your Social Media Presence
Students and young professionals are very present on social media and need to ensure that it is professionally representing their brand. Employers are turned off by the wrong type of photos or content. Keeping professional and personal separate can be a critical lesson. As careers evolve, the social media presence often varies by role with marketing types being much more active and visible than their colleagues in finance roles.
Your Growing Body of Work
As your career evolves, you are also building a portfolio of your work. Maybe it is presentation at an industry conference, a publication, press coverage, speaking engagements, sample materials or projects, etc. Post appropriate links to your LinkedIn profile if the information is not confidential. Have samples of work you can bring to an interview to have available. Early in their career applicants will often use a paper from school for a writing sample but the experienced professional has multiple real-life resources to draw upon.
As Experience Grows So Do Expectations
When employers are recruiting for entry level positions, they realize the candidates have little or no work experience and expect them to be less polished with the process as well. With more experienced candidates, the employers’ expectations increase significantly. Not only do they expect quantified results, a flawless resume, a well-written customized cover letter, they also expect to see involvement in professional associations, volunteer work, etc. Be sure your resume and LinkedIn profiles reflect these other critical professional experiences.
Resumes and LinkedIn profiles should be living documents – updated continuously as your career progresses. Keeping your information current and relevant can help the right employers find you. Your professional brand grows and changes as your career advances so be sure to properly reflect that growth in all your career collateral.