Personal Branding

Your brand is what other people say of you when you are not in the room

Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Why build a personal brand?

You get to know yourself better

  • While working on developing your personal brand, you are forced to look deep inside and ask yourself what your interests, skills and values are. In doing so, you become more self-aware and can start focusing on areas which you want to be known for.

 

​You become more memorable to others

  • While you can only use words to describe your attributes in your university application, a website or blog can bring your qualities to life. A website or blog is not just evidence of a long-standing passion e.g. artwork, photography etc, it can showcase your unique style and values. Blogging or twittering can be evidence of your strong communication skills and display how passionate you are about certain societal issues.

  • Personal branding allows you to stand out from the rest. Your future employer or university admissions officers are likely to remember you better if you have a unique personal brand.

It helps you in your university applications

It helps you get hired

  • 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. It is wise to maintain a  positive online presence.

  • Also, with the advent of the gig economy, building a personal brand becomes fundamental. In the gig economy, a strong personal brand is the only thing that individuals can take with them between jobs. An individual can take control of and actively build their brand, so that even if they suffer setbacks in their career, their personal brand can survive. 

Your online presence becomes a positive one, by intention

  • While many universities may not look at your digital profile yet, a negative online image (if googled) will severely damage your university entry chances. Hence it is better to intentionally create a positive online presence rather than to leave it to chance.

                 

You start to build up your network

  • As you build your online presence, you will make new connections and build up your reputation. A survey showed that 85% of people are finding their job through networking. You will be silly not to start building a large network while in university!

  • Through networking, you can meet many mentors whom can give you advice and help you through your career.

 
How to build a strong personal brand

Like it or not, you are already building your personal brand through the clothes you wear, the way you talk and the attitude you display to people around you. So it is much better to intentionally start building a brand that will benefit you in the long term.

It is not too early to start

  • As soon as you get your A level results, you would be applying to university. By then, if you have already developed a strong personal brand, being able to impress the university admissions officers will be literally peanuts. So starting to think about your personal brand while you are still in JC will put you ahead of the race!

What is your ikigai?

  • In order to have a strong personal brand, you need to figure out who you are, what your values are and what motivates you. In other words, you need to know your ikigai.  Find out more here.

What do you want to be known for?

  • What are you applying for? Engineering or Social Sciences? Both university courses are polar opposites and require very different skillsets. Your personal brand is how other people perceive you and it should match the course that you are applying for.

  • Your online profile and resume should be customised with your potential university course or your future employer in mind.

Talk to seniors and professionals

  • An informational interview is an informal conversation you can have with someone who is in an area of interest to you. It is an effective research tool and you can get insider knowledge on how to land your first job or enter your dream university. It is not a job interview, and the objective is not to find job openings. Neither can your seniors help you enter the university course.

  • Find out more about Informational Interviews here.

 

You are a millenial, go online!

  • There is no better way to showcase your strengths and unique talents than through an online profile. The two main ways adopted by many millenials nowadays is either Linkedin or a website/blog.

  • For most professionals, Linkedin is the ideal platform for online profiles. Find out more here.

  • For freelancers who need to showcase a portfolio, a website/blog would be a good platform. But this may involve more work as you need to maintain the website and work on increasing the visibility of your website.

  • Social media like Facebook and Twitter are also good platforms to showcase your personal brand.

  • It is better to maintain a professional online presence than to be googled and have embarrassing photos of your younger self being surfaced out. These embarrassing photos may end up being the reason why you were not selected as a scholar in your university application.

Be consistent and be mindful

  • Your personal brand is not solely your Linkedin profile or your personal statement in your university application. It is also what you wear, how you interact and what you say to people. 

  • So in order to develop a strong personal brand, you will need to ensure that you are consistent in every aspect of your actions and behaviour.

  • The most common mistake made by many people is to  think that you could separate your personal life from your professional life. This is clearly not what employers think, as seen in many high-profile cases where a disgraceful online act done by a person e.g. exhibition of racism, could result in termination of employment.

  • So it is best to be mindful that social media like Instagram or Twitter is not a place for you to vent your frustrations, especially towards your university or employer.

 
Linkedin and why it is important

Linkedin is a professional social networking platform which hosts more than 600 million professional profiles, which means nearly an unlimited supply of network connections and job opportunities. From seeking a new job to maintaining your personal brand, LinkedIn is an important part of being a full-fledged professional in any industry these days.

It is a great place to look for jobs

  • Research has shown that 87% of recruiters are using LinkedIn to source for candidates. Not only will recruiters reach out to you via Linkedin, you could also proactively reach out to them. 

  • You can also research the organisations that you are applying for and understand what kind of candidates they are looking for.

It is a great place to maintain your personal brand

  • Not only can you put a photo of yourself, you could write a summary statement and put in your past experiences. But do note that Linkedin is not a replacement for your resume.

  • Linkedin is also a place where you could read successful people's profiles and learn resume writing tips from their profiles!

Your linkedin profile can be googled

  • It is much preferred to have a professional online profile pop up on Google rather than embarrassing photos of your youth. 

You can network through Linkedin

  • The broader your network, the higher you would rank in search results when potential employers actively recruit via Linkedin.

For more information,

 
Linkedin for university and scholarship applications

As a student, you may find difficulty populating your Linkedin profile adequately. But nonetheless,  it is a start and during your university days, you can keep adding on and tweaking your profile.​ By the time you graduate, you will have a well-developed profile with a broad network of connections.

Use an appropriate photo

  • Make sure the picture is recent and looks like you, make up your face takes up around 60% of it (long-distance shots don’t stand out), wear what you would like to wear to work, and smile with your eyes! Read more here.

Write a compelling headline and summary

Include your experiences

  • When you include an experience, please write briefly about what you did and what skills you learnt during your experience. If not, listing the experience is as good as redundant

  • Linkedin allows you to add media links to your experiences. Do make full use of this feature and add links to videos and photos of your experience. 

  • For a JC student, experiences you can include are

    • Internships​ and work attachments

    • Workshops and seminars

    • CCA achievements, especially those that you organised

    • Academic achievements e.g. H3, Olympiads, research attachments

    • Volunteering experience

    • Hobbies and interests (only if relevant)

Network with the right people

  • You could start reaching out to alumni of NYJC and making contact with them. Request for an informational interview to learn more about university life.

Examples of Linkedin profiles of NYJC alumni

Lim Jian Hong, Hoang-Anh Vu, Edwina Zhao, Kong Qi Herng, Ho Zhuang Xian, Thao Nguyen

For more information,

 
Resumes and CVs

No matter how widely used Linkedin is, it still cannot replace a traditional resume. Most companies will still request for a resume and you should put extra effort into doing up a good one.​​ Do NOT ask employers to view your Linkedin profile in replacement of the resume!

You will likely need to submit a resume if you are applying for internships or part-time jobs after graduating from JC. Some universities also require you to submit a resume.

 
Some tips for your resume

Use a professional email address

  • Do not use your school-generated email or your personal email. You do not wish to create negative first impressions due to an inappropriate-sounding email address.

  • Create a professional email specially for university applications.

  • Example of a professional email address will be "Your name / initials" followed by a well-known email provider e.g. gmail

Include details that cannot be found on your Linkedin profile

  • If you are applying for an MNC, you should include details like your nationality and your country code together with your mobile number.

  • Include links to your Linkedin profile and personal website if any.

It is alright to have a one-page resume

  • You are a student with relatively little experiences. It is understandable if your resume is short. You do NOT have to fill up two pages with irrelevant experiences.

  • Font type and font size should be clear and readable e.g. Arial, font size 12  

Focus on customising your resume with the organisation in mind

  • A recent study conducted shows that the average recruiter takes a look at a resume for no longer than six seconds and will only look for any longer period of time if the six-second glance was worth it. So what you choose to include at the top of the page is of utmost importance.

  • Write a compelling resume objective which summarises your key strengths and how you can contribute to the organisation that you are applying for. Your objective sets the stage for the experiences that you choose to include in your resume.

Example:

Hard-working student (L1R5 : 6, 90 rank points for Prelims) who is driven and can meet strict deadlines. Seeking to apply my critical thinking and analytical skills to the internship at your law firm. 

Be concise and focus on impact and skills demonstrated

  • Focus on experiences most relevant for the organisation that you are applying for and outline your responsibilities in a concise manner

  • Always include numbers, the key impact you made and skills you demonstrated

  • Example

Instead of writing, “Responsible for taking inventory and ordering supplies for CCA,” a Quarter Master should write, “Developed new inventory process, increased efficiency of stock-taking and reduced costs of supplies by 15%”

Include a list of relevant skills

  • Skills can be hard skills or soft skills. Research your organisation and focus on the most relevant skills.

Always check for grammar and typo

  • Any grammatical error or typo is a reflection of the kind of person you are. Remember the 6 second rule!

 

Get someone to comment on your resume

  • You may approach your teachers to look through your resume.

  • Mr Lee Liang Lin and Ms Celine Leow from the ECG Committee are also available to vet your resume.

Read up more:

 

When should one write a cover letter?

A cover letter is a letter to the hiring manager that accompanies the resume as part of your job application. It is submitted either as the first page of your resume or included as an accompanying attachment.You should always write a cover letter unless it is specifically stated that you should not submit one.

 

You can read up more on cover letters here: