In a business world that is working its way to digitize all communications, the language services industry experiences new demands, which leads to unexpected job opportunities. In this article, we will share some quick and easy ways to start building your personal brand online and catch the eye of the recruiters.
Your career is your business and, like any other business, it needs a brand. So let’s start with the basics. Personal branding is the practice of promoting a person’s career with marketing strategies, similar to the ones used when promoting companies and other organizations. The term “branding” refers to the efforts put into creating a brand, which is a symbolic construction (usually embodied in a name and an image) designed to identify a product or service to their potential or real consumers. When speaking of personal branding, the “product” is your professional skills and expertise, and the challenge is to build a promise to recruiters and future employers around what makes you unique and desirable above anybody else.
Start by asking yourself what makes you the professional that you currently are. This means finding the more salient aspects of your professional profile but also thinking about what makes you different from others with a similar background. Is it a job experience in a highly unusual area? Maybe it is a specific knowledge that is common in other industries, but when looking inside the translation and localization field, does it become rare? What we are searching for here is what marketers call Unique Selling Proposition or USP: a trait that is unique and special about you, and that will make you stand out from the competition (i.e. , other colleagues).
But it doesn’t end with that. The second key in personal branding is nourishing and developing your personal brand through time. When you gain more experience and knowledge and become more appealing to recruiters, your brand should be developed to reflect that. So it is not enough to focus on who you are and what you have been doing. You also have to create a vision, a desirable future path to follow when developing your career. Your experience will help you tell the story of who you are, but the vision will tell the story of who you want to be and how you want to be perceived.
The mere idea of carrying out an ongoing process of creating, developing, and maintaining a personal branding strategy can be daunting. You need to make yourself visible to the world, but also have an updated and refined set of skills that puts you above the competition. In addition to that, you need to get to know your professional community to find out about new job opportunities. It seems a lot, but fortunately, today there are plenty of online resources that can help with that. Let’s take a look at three actionable steps you can take today to start promoting your personal brand.
#1 Build a portfolio
Your brand helps you stand out from everybody else. But in order to do that, people need to find you, and today, the first place to look is Google. Social media sites like Facebook or Instagram are okay for friends and family, and LinkedIn and job searching platforms can be an acceptable first move to start in the professional world. But when trying to build something unique and inviting, the extremely structured layout of these platforms usually falls short. An easy solution to present your professional profile in a highly personalized way is to build a portfolio.
The key is to show, not to tell. While a resume or CV is a perfect way to list and summarize your career path, there’s nothing more compelling than a portfolio. A portfolio acts as a portable showcase of your work experience and skills and allows you to show the results of your work in real-life scenarios. You can include samples, screenshots, and links of your work and even develop brief case-studies of your more fruitful contribution to big projects.
If you are just starting, try getting involved with some volunteering work. You can do that by collaborating with non-profit organizations or even helping friends and neighbors with some business projects. And if you are interested in multimedia localization, there are plenty of organizations asking for subtitling volunteers.
Once you have selected the materials you want to include in your portfolio, you just have to choose your building tool. There are many online platforms in which you can build your portfolio for free. If it is your first time working with web design, we recommend that you start on sites that are specially designed for portfolio-building, such as Clippings.me or Journo. If you feel confident with your design skills and want to get creative, you also could try with general web-design pages, like Squarespace or Wix.
#2 Networking (yes, online too!)
If you are not very familiar with the term, networking refers to in-person or digital gatherings of professionals aimed at sharing information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interests, usually in an informal or more relaxed setting than a work meeting. But that’s not all. As J. Kelly Hoey, author of Build Your Dream Network, points out, “networking is not a singular activity, it is every interaction throughout your day, both online and offline. Your email signature line, the article you share on LinkedIn and the person you choose to sit next to at lunch are all part of the mix.”
One of the benefits of networking is visibility. In essence, you get to meet new colleagues and leading professionals in your industry, which can take you to new job opportunities and partnerships for starting new projects. And giving people the chance to know you and listen to your ideas and perspectives is a great way to boost your personal brand and stand out. Another advantage of networking is staying current in the latest trends in the industry. And, in an ever-changing business market, being the first to know what is happening, and especially where, is a major competitive advantage for job seeking.
In the olden days, the only opportunity to build your network was to wait until some event in your industry came up and, if it was far away, to make arrangements for travel. Today, the digital landscape offers an unimaginable amount of opportunities that are only a click away and, to take real advantage of it, it is critical to choose wisely. Next time you get an invitation or see an announcement on social media about an event, ask yourself: how is this event related to my personal brand? What is the purpose or the goal that I want to achieve by attending to this event? Who will be participating, and what kind of relationship do I want to establish with these people? By defining key aspects of your networking strategy, you will be narrowing your action field, but you will also be making it more meaningful and efficient.
#3 Diversify your learning path
In times of technological revolution, the world becomes a grand village, and any business is a global business. This opens new opportunities for companies seeking to reach new targets in distant markets, but it also faces them with the threat of new competitors in what, in past days, used to be secured regions. This dynamic and uncertain landscape calls for business models that are highly innovative, and leading companies know that the key to a creative and responsive work environment is diversifying talent.
In a scenario in which companies are building multidisciplinary teams, picking up some uncommon but valuable skills can be a smart move.
After all, you don’t want to fit in; you want to stand out. And the key to that is finding a balance between an in-depth knowledge in a very specific field and a mix of skills in other related areas. It is what the experts call a T-shape profile: the vertical branch of the T represents deep knowledge and skills in one particular area, and the horizontal branch represents a broad area of supporting interconnected skills and knowledge.
A T-shaped professional is highly valued given the combination of the benefits of specialization and generalization. The specialization comes with in-depth knowledge and expertise, and the generalization provides a broad worldview and empathy to communicate effectively and to work together with experts from different fields.
If you are a translator and usually work with marketing materials, you could try to expand your knowledge to SEO practices or creative writing. If you are fully proficient in CAT tools, you could dig into the science behind artificial intelligence, or try some coding. If you aspire to a team-leading position, you could explore project management, negotiation techniques, or take some business classes.
Today, the online learning industry is on the rise, and the possibilities are endless. While for many professionals this is a solution, others can struggle when studying alone or without direct tutor guidance. If you are looking for a place to start picking up some new skills online, a course in an e-learning platform can give you a taste of how you perform in a flexible and virtual educational program. You can try, for example, Coursera, Skillshare, Khan Academy, or Edx. Every one of these sites has free options with seasoned teachers who, in many cases, are also highly-trained professionals.
Your career is your brand. Define what makes you unique and valuable above anybody else in the market and find ways to make it visible, so your peers and potential employers get to know your profile and achievements. To do that in an easy and inexpensive way, take advantage of the many tools and platforms available online. You can build an online portfolio to show your work in real-life scenarios and extend the power of your branding efforts by expanding your network in online events. Also, you can explore the flexibility of online learning programs to refine your skills, but also diversify them. Developing a background with a balance of specialty and general knowledge will put you on the radar of many world-leading companies that are seeking innovative and high-potential talent.