2014 Personal Branding Trends

Personal branding expert William Arruda catalogues the trends impacting branding each year, and his 2014 predictions have just been iStock_000025752931XSmallpublished. If Arruda is right, this year will be a “year of personal branding evolution – not revolution.”

Prediction #1: While millions of employers restrict employee access to social networking sites on the job, Arruda sees more and more organizations awakening to the reality that “employees need social media to do their job because every employee is a brand ambassador.” Social media is an ever-increasing part of the hiring landscape and the marketing roadmap and more employees than ever are expected to be competent.

Executive Career Search Insight #1: I would add that 2014 will see more executives recognizing the need for competence in social media both in their leadership roles and their career searches. I’m seeing an increase in the number of executives who realize the importance of their active engagement in social media such as LinkedIn, for example.

Prediction #2: “If you don’t have social media skills, your brand will wither up. Period. Social media is no longer simply a lighthearted, youth-oriented way to differentiate yourself. Adopted by virtually every demographic segment, social media is now perhaps the most powerful tool in your competitors’ suite of marketing tactics.”

Executive Career Search Insight #2: Amen! While Arruda is addressing the workplace here, his comments also aptly describe the importance of social media competence in the job search process. If 2 equally experienced and credentialed executives are vying for the same leadership role, and one excels at social media while the other ignores it, which do you think will get the job? If you job search competition is social media savvy, you must be, too.

Prediction #3: In our increasingly online world, we often search online first for needed information. Arruda notes, “This is a trend that will gain momentum. It means you need to be vigilant about building and managing your online brand because it now delivers your first impression.”

Executive Career Search Insight #3: This is one of the most basic yet critical reasons for investing in a professionally written LinkedIn profile. Without one, the first impression of your candidacy may well be weak with ineffective branding, poorly articulated achievements, and vague positioning, all of which will limit the efficacy of your career search.

Prediction #4: Arruda sees video continuing to dominate personal branding in 2014. Whether using it to “send thank you notes to clients, create introductions to prospects, or feed weekly “go-team” messages to geographically dispersed staff”, video will continue to fuel remote work.

Executive Career Search Insight #4: More and more executives are finding it necessary to communicate with recruiters and potential employers via video. Doesn’t it make sense to polish your media skills well before you face such an opportunity? Doesn’t it also make sense to leverage your communications strengths on behalf of your brand?

Prediction #5: “LinkedIn … is quickly becoming the hub of your online identity.”  He goes on to state that “Your LinkedIn profile often shows up first in a Google search, so it’s likely the first place people visit to learn about you.”

Executive Career Search Insight #5: I second Arruda’s comments and can testify to the ranking power of a LinkedIn profile on Google. The job seeker that ignores this will pay a hefty price in their search and will lose out on career opportunities needlessly.

Prediction #6: Personal branding will continue to go mobile in 2014, says Arruda. The ever-growing spate of mobile apps means more and more branding will be disseminated and shared via mobile devices.

Executive Career Search Insight #6: This trend is active in job search, too, with career-related documents, media, and communications moving to mobile apps. I don’t think mobile will replace desktop communications anytime soon, but the trend toward mobile is overwhelmingly clear.

Prediction #7: “With the volume of media messages skyrocketing, being on top of what is happening in your area of expertise – being able to find the right content, comment on it and share it with your brand community – will be an even more valuable skill than penning thought-leadership content yourself. Distilling volumes into valuable nuggets while providing your commentary will make you more valuable and your brand more visible.”

Executive Career Search Insight #7: This ability to curate content rather than create it (or in addition to the ability to create it?) is a key skill in social media marketing for job seekers, and one that enables executives to promote their brands overtly or covertly, as needed, throughout all phases of their careers.

Prediction #8: Arruda sees philanthropic giving and cause-driven charitable support as emerging brand opportunities.

“In branding, it’s important to know your values and connect them with what you do and how you do it. Your values, and the causes you support, are facets of your brand.”

Executive Career Search Insight #8: If you support causes you’re passionate about, consider letting that show in your career communications tools. Depending on the cause – and the consequences – you may benefit from revealing your passions in your resumes, cover letters, or social media profiles. If you do so, though, make sure you do so strategically in a way that aligns with your career search goals and targets.

If you’re not already looking for ways to deepen your awareness of your brand and leverage it in your career search and communications tools, 2014 is the year to begin. Don’t get left behind – your career will pay a high price.