Enhancing Employability through Personal Branding

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Singapore’s Finance Minister, mentioned in a Straits Times article (“Lack of quality jobs is a major challenge globally” ST 01/08/2012) that governments the world over are facing a crisis in creating quality jobs for their citizens.  Quality jobs are not just jobs that pay well; they are also jobs that are appropriate for the aptitudes of the workers.  Hence, they are jobs that will challenge the intellect and skillsets of the workers, and thus able to offer the workers opportunity to progress upwards.  With a shortfall of quality jobs, and ever-increasing numbers of highly skilled and qualified workers, how can one vie for that preferred job?

Personal Branding and Employability

Personal Branding

When you buy shoes or clothes, are there particular brands that you would go for?  What comes to your mind when you see brands like Hush Puppies or G2000?   Branding is about creating a form of identification for some feelings, experiences, or expectations.  Branding enables something or someone to stand out among similar others.  While many people must have been familiar with branding of products, personal branding is probably less recognised.  While skills and knowledge are highly valued in our economy, how well a person is able to brand himself or herself will increasingly distinguish him or her from the crowd.  However, personal branding is not just about how presentable someone is; it is the total image that he or she is able to present to evoke some form of feeling or experience that matters.  Hence, personal branding is about harmonising and enhance the three A’s of a person: –

  • Aptitude,
  • Attitude, and
  • Appearance.

Aptitude – a person must have tangible skills, abilities, and knowledge before personal branding can be possible.  What personal branding does is to identify, qualify and quantify the aptitude, and articulate the qualities well enough to give form to the substance.  It is noteworthy that although the substance might be the same, the articulation is not static and might have to be tweaked to reflect the form suitable for the setting.  That is why it is a common flaw for job-seekers to use a standard resume when applying for different job positions.

Attitude – this is the hidden image of personal branding.  While articulating aptitude is an art, attitude, on the other hand, speaks for itself.  How a person responds to a situation or event, especially involving another being, reflects his or her feelings, as well as mental and emotional orientation towards that event.  The branding disposition that one attempts to portray has to be consistent with his or her attitudes.  Hence, a person who is applying for the position of human resource manager might attempt to project a friendly and caring image during the interview.  However, his or her lack of patience and outburst of temper with the janitor, who was a little slow in cleaning the toilet and therefore delayed his interview, might jeopardise the very branding image that he or she is trying to portray.

Appearance – this is the most conspicuous, and often over-rated, part of personal branding.  While US humourist and novelist Mark Twain argued that “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society”, I think few would refute me when I say Mahatma Gandhi, with his self-spun loincloth, portrayed a much stronger persona than any statesmen wearing the formal three-piece suit of the western fashion.  Having said that, we cannot deny that a well-groomed person will undoubtedly create a better first impression than one who is nonchalant about his or her appearance.  Hence, it is very beneficial to have an appropriately well-taken photograph of yourself included in your resume.

Online Personal Branding

With the advent of social media and pervasiveness of the internet, personal branding has become very challenging for many people.  As branding is very contextual in nature, portraying and maintaining a consistent personal brand across personal and public spaces, or family and corporate spaces, has become all the more crucial.  One has to be mindful of one’s digital footprints when it comes to online personal branding, as images or written statements might be misinterpreted when taken out of context.  While there are various online social media tools that people use for different purposes, it is advisable to ensure that the branding proposition is consistent and suitable.

Personal Branding and Employability

As in all cases, branding adds tangible value to a product. Similarly, personal branding can add value to a job-seeker.  The employability of a person is the value that an organisation attributes to that person.  Hence, the stronger the personal branding, the higher the valuation, the higher the employability of a job-seeker!




Anderson Tan

Anderson Tan | Director, biipmi Pte Ltd

Anderson is passionate about Lifelong Learning for lifelong employability. He believes it pays to invest in gaining, retaining and regaining employment through marketing innovations. Hence biipmi. Anderson has a distinction in M.Arts in Lifelong Learning from Institute of Education, M.Eng and 1st Class Hon. Degree from NUS. He is a career coach, an adult educator, and an entrepreneur.

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