One of the most common assumptions that people make – and that we find ourselves refuting day in and day out as recruiters – is the assumption that personal branding and networking are tasks you only need to focus on when you're looking for a job.
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Our lives are busy and only getting busier between work, family, and all the myriad forms of entertainment competing for our attention. It's no surprise, then, that people treat personal branding and networking as in-between-jobs activities. With so little time on our hands, of course we only think about gussying up our resumes and LinkedIn profiles when we're looking to make career moves or changing circumstances launch us on the job hunt again.
The fact is, it's harder to accomplish solid personal branding when you're in between jobs. While we wouldn't suggest that personal branding or networking were more important than work or family, we do think it's easy to make continuously building your professional online presence a small part of your social media ritual. (Plus, it's more productive than checking Facebook yet again today.) It's easier to find a job when you've put in the legwork and built your brand beforehand.
Furthermore, having a solid personal brand on LinkedIn and other professional networks pays dividends even if you're the furthest thing from an active candidate! A solid personal brand will help your career in a number of ways that have nothing to do with looking for a job.
LinkedIn Profiles Are Still the Most Valuable Personal Branding Tools for Most Professionals
LinkedIn faces some declining user engagement numbers, which is part of why many are hoping Microsoft will help right the ship following its relatively recent acquisition of the company. However, the network is still incredibly valuable, regardless of the challenges it faces
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Many people recognize that they should have a LinkedIn profile. Unfortunately, most of them make a bare-bones attempt and leave their profile almost empty for months, thinking that they've checked off that box. But as we've written about quite a bit, those skeletal profiles can actually hurt your personal brand far more than they can help it.
Here are just a few reasons why you should think about building out your LinkedIn profile even if you aren't looking for a job just yet:
Stakeholders in your current job are checking your profile. You're visible to vendors, negotiation partners, and coworkers in other departments. A strong personal brand only helps your reputation within your current role.
Your supervisors or higher-ups will take a look at your online presence when it comes to promotions. A LinkedIn profile with 15 connections, no picture, and no education or work history might send the message that you're not as committed to advancement in your career as you could be – especially in customer-facing fields.
If you have a great LinkedIn profile, you'll show up in searches more often. We always bring this up in the context of hearing from recruiters, but put that aside for a moment. A great LinkedIn profile also means you're also more visible for networking and business development opportunities, possible speaking engagements, and other kinds of activities that will boost your career.
A solid LinkedIn profile gives you stronger "personal SEO." When someone Googles you, the first thing they'll see is a strong picture of who you are professionally.
We understand that not everyone knows how to boost their personal brand or build out their LinkedIn profile. If you're finding it particularly difficult, consider reaching out to a consultant or career coach who can help.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Argentus blog.
Bronwen Hann is a seasoned recruiter with 35 years of experience in the industry. She founded and currently runs Argentus Supply Chain Recruiting.