On the Floor
In the early years of career-development, finding yourself in the midst of a dismal job market can be a bit of a fish-out-of-water experience (welcome to a phase that has ever-so fondly been dubbed "the quarter-life crisis"). Although a well-crafted resume and a professional-looking LinkedIn profile are both good places to begin, the question still arises - HOW do I stand out from the crowd?
About a year and a half ago, I started working on my own portfolio and stumbled upon one of the coolest creative resumes I’ve ever seen. This designer from France had completed an entire self-promotional campaign in the form of a printed resume package - complete with a personalized wax seal stamp, business cards, and a portfolio of previous work - all compiled into one tidy little black folder. Even though it's been well over a year since I first came across his resume, I still haven’t forgotten it. So there it is. That is the power of creating a good personal brand - people remember you.
In the creative industry, much of how you present yourself to potential employees is achieved through a portfolio, either in print or online. But branding yourself doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive or complicated operation. Here are a few tips on creating a creative resume, a memorable portfolio, and the importance of developing your own personal brand:
- Figure out who you are and how to showcase it
Knowing your strengths and professional identity is important when determining how to best showcase your skill set. Once you recognize these elements, the rest should come fairly easy.
For instance, Brian Moose’s vintage “resume” package that he sent to Pixar is a great example of personal branding as it relates to his intended career goal. I’m doubtful that I could personally create an application that meets his level of expertise, but regardless - I’d hire him.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, this hand-sewn resume showcases the applicant’s sewing skills and her affinity for handmade goods. It’s the little personal touches like this that make your brand memorable and sincere ... and just generally cool looking!
Currently, infographic-resumes are a widespread trend in the design industry. Browsing through the “infographic resumes” or “personal branding” projects on sites such as www.behance.net can also be helpful when looking for inspiration.
No matter what direction you choose to take when branding yourself, it is important to be honest and be consistent throughout the entire process. After all, your employer is hiring you for you – might as well create an honest presentation of yourself from the get-go.
2. Create an online presence
If you haven’t already, create a LinkedIn profile and get yourself a Twitter account. These two social networks have been extremely beneficial in my own personal experience with career growth – I can’t recommend them enough to fellow recent graduates looking to jumpstart their careers.
Create a web presence that relates to your personal brand, your identity, and your professional skill set. If you’re a web or graphic designer looking to grow in the design industry - here’s your time to shine.
But again, no matter what your field - this doesn’t necessarily need to be an expensive or overly time consuming task. Simply creating a blog via WordPress or Blogspot and using one of their customizable templates will suffice.
3. Visually unite all channels
Creating a unified theme is a great way to connect all of your professional channels across multiple platforms. A colour scheme and consistent messaging can help with this. Also using “business-appropriate” photos for your networking avatar is helpful in elevating your sense of professionalism. A unified theme helps to create a recognizable brand, and a familiar identity across your portfolio, online presence and your various social networks.
4. Consistently refresh and edit
Refreshing and editing your branded image is important in staying up-to-date in your industry. The first few years of your career brings with it a truckload of new skills and interests, keep refreshing your web presence and physical resume/portfolio when applying for new jobs.
If you’re still having trouble finding your creative direction when it comes to your own personal branding project, there’s nothing a Google search can’t help with. Try browsing “design portfolios” or “creative resumes” online to spark some inspiration. Opportunity isn’t always knocking at your front door, but employing strategies like personal branding when building your resume and portfolio can certainly help to kickstart your professional career- so have fun with it!