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A Necessary Evil: Personal Branding for Career-Minded Introverts

Personal Branding fixed

Gone are the days when career development simply consisted of visiting the Career Services Center at your university and taking an assessment to figure out what type of work you are best suited for.  Selling yourself in today’s job market has evolved far beyond that to include a variety of factors that, if neglected, can put job seekers at a disadvantage when it comes to finding meaningful and lucrative employment opportunities. Those factors are at the foundation of the construction of a personal brand.

You’re likely as tired of hearing the term “personal branding” as I am.  And if you’re an introvert, the idea of carefully crafting an image to present to the outside world may reek of inauthenticity or a forced adoption of a more accepted extroverted persona in order to find career success.  It’s something we hate and something we resent, but is also likely to be something that will pay dividends for us in the long run.

Building a brand is continuous.  Long before you craft that resume, set up that interview, and well after you’ve secured employment, you need to be working toward strengthening and expanding it.  You also need to be open to stretching yourself beyond your personal comfort zone as you develop yourself in this way.

Below are 3 things introverts need to consider when building their personal brands, and why ignoring them is likely negatively impacting your professional reputation.

  1. You come off as standoffish.

While introverts aren’t necessarily socially anxious by definition, many of us prefer to keep to ourselves and keep social interaction and engagement to a minimum.  When we do engage with others, we prefer it to be on our terms and in small doses.  Because of this, we are more often than not seen as rude, bitchy, or standoffish.  It doesn’t help that when in the work environment, most of us would rather lock ourselves in our offices during our lunch breaks than dine in the breakroom and risk having to interact with others when all we really want is a safe space to recharge.

Most times employers do not know who among their staff has an introverted temperament, and neither do your co-workers.  How we are seen by others is of chief importance to our personal brands and no one wants to be seen as “that rude chick from Accounting upstairs.”

What you can do:

At the very least, let your employer know that you are an introvert and that means there will be times during the day when you’ll need some solitude in order to be your best.  It’s important to communicate with your supervisor about the conditions you need to perform optimally, but then you need to follow through.  Being known as someone who can get the job done is definitely a boon to how you’re regarded.

  1. You Aren’t Comfortable Singing Your Own Praises.

Introverts are not known for being an attention-seeking group, and behaviors that smack of  a “look at me” attitude are a real turn off for us. But there’s a difference between touting one’s professional successes and posting a million selfies on Instagram.  Successful personal branding opens up doors to opportunity, but those doors will remain closed to you if people don’t know how awesome you really are at what you do.  How will future employers know you saved your current company half a million dollars in the 3rd quarter by switching to recycled paper if you don’t tell them?

What you can do:

If you’ve been hesitant to toot your own horn in the past, it’s time to get over that fear.  Sit down and think long and hard about the successes you’ve had at your present gig and at any previous jobs.  Consider how you’ve directly increased the company’s profits or saved them money.  Think about how you would express this in an interview so it can just roll off your tongue.  Be sure to include it on your resume and even consider adding that information to your LinkedIn profile.

  1. You never had professional pictures done, and the photos you do have make you look like an amateur.

As mentioned in the previous example, introverts are less likely to seek the spotlight than their extroverted counterparts.  However, it is in the spotlight where many opportunities reside and these opportunities very often require professional photos and image management.  You use photos everywhere:  on business cards, across social media, and on your personal website.  As unfair as it sounds, how you present yourself visually greatly impacts how others view you and not having professional photos can make you look like an amateur.  Plenty of photos on social media look like they were taken with the best of intentions, but you’ll feel a lot more confident as you interact on the various social media platforms if you present yourself in the best possible light.

What you can do:

Seek out a professional experienced in photographing people in your industry or the industry you aim to enter.  Find out if he or she provides a makeup artist and/ or stylist for your shoot or get help putting together your own outfits and looks.  Be mindful of what you wish to portray in these photos and discuss this with the photographer.  You’ll likely be nervous if this is your first time.  Be sure to express this to him or her, but don’t worry as everyone usually warms up after awhile.   Have fun, and afterward be sure to upload these pics to all your accounts across social media to present your new, more professional image.

Taking charge of your professional narrative puts the control over how you are portrayed in the job marketplace back in your hands.  Uncomfortable as it might be for most introverts to have the focus be on them, anticipating this attention and preparing well for it may afford you opportunities to earn the resources necessary to fund a future more aligned with your specific needs.

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