A brand (personal or corporate) is quite simply how you distinguish yourself from another.
You can delve as far into the detail as you want, but if you’re differentiating from someone else, that’s a brand. There are some people that argue recruitment companies’ brand is merely a logo.
Every recruitment company has a brand.
But if the business has only put thought into their snazzy logo, they’re quite a long way from control over that brand. They still have a brand. Because people have an opinion on their business.
Whether that opinion is formed because of the employees, the owners, their methods, their logo, their office. It doesn’t matter.
The macro ‘image’ of that business is their brand.
The same can be said for individuals.
Whether you’re ‘trying’ to promote a personal brand or not, you are. In everything you do. And there’s a lot more to it than your LinkedIn photo.
Billions of pounds are spent every year on making sure companies’ brands are on point. Is it applicable to the target audience? Is it reaching them in the right way? Does it represent the company?
Due to the fact a brand is what people think of you, it can be rather difficult to manage. It’s also rarely created by just one campaign. Despite the fact it can be ruined or maligned by just one.
A personal brand for a Recruiter is a much more controllable element and is now ever increasingly influenced by social media.
There was a time, before the digital age, when your personal brand was limited to your phone calls and face-to-face meetings. Equally, you could typically rely on your company to provide a brand that was a stage for you to perform from.
This was the age of the big company ruling the roost.
The age of the conglomerate’s ability to outstretch, outspend and outmanoeuvre the little guy.
As an employee, you could rest on your laurels, safe in the knowledge people would have heard of your brand and thus do business with you.
“I’m calling from …..” you’d say in the first sentence.
And without anything further they’d know the business, the reason for your call, and that you were probably well trained.
Enter Social Media
If you work in recruitment, it’s safe to assume you have at least one form of social media. In fact it’s safe to assume if you have a head you have one form of social media.
LinkedIn’s the obvious channel for recruiters. It serves as a personal branding platform in the corporate world.
Where those outside of recruitment use LinkedIn as a career tool, Recruiters use it for marketing their brands.
It’s seldom a tool for a Recruiter to use for their own career and job search, but rather optimised to help them in their day job.
Recommendations and endorsements can help with self promotion. Which maybe why people you’ve never met start endorsing you for skills you added on a whim, hoping no one would call you out for.
A community of people verifying an individual’s ability. Rather than their employer’s quality. Presumably done in the hope the action is seen as favourable should the endorser suddenly need their services.
You might sometimes get one of these people thanking a company for their help, but it’s not regular.
You’re much more likely to get person thanks.
And with the average employee tenure in the UK at 2 years, that’s a good thing. You take your personal brand with you from role to role. It’s a guarantee of continued success. And it’s becoming just as important to protect and promote every day.
So, in a world which is increasingly reliant on media to deliver a brand, which should you promote more? Yourself? Or your business?
The Company Brand or the Personal Brand?
The more modern methods of talent attraction would perhaps push you towards the personal brand in focus.
As the old adage says: People buy from people.
This is as true in recruitment as any other industry. Certainly from a candidate perspective, there seems to be a weighting towards the individual brand.
A candidate who has a relationship with an individual recruiter would probably see that bond transcend any company – depending on the level of rapport.
This can be true for clients, and when you can build strong connections with individual hiring managers they become relationships that last. Irrespective of the logo on your email signature.
Adversely, in a larger client where bonds with senior staff are discouraged, this may be extremely difficult. Think of an RPO model. The company owns the relationship, not the individual.
For the best recruiters out there, it doesn’t matter who you work for.
This is accentuated by the amount of smaller firms who now don’t need to rely on a large corporate brand to do business successfully.
Big Business – Branding Benefits
What are the benefits of a company brand? In recruitment they’re plentiful. An amazing brand sells itself.
So to ignore the possibilities of how much impact a large company brand can have on your own business is short-sighted.
If you work for a brand with a good reputation, clients and candidates will assume you’re also good. Before you’ve even had the chance to prove otherwise.
At large organisations, the database will be huge. They’ll get more website clicks than you’ll get personally. Their reach on social media will be further. Most notably, calling up a potential client will automatically open a door which otherwise may be locked.
This can be key to an individual’s success.
Social media’s levelling the playing field however, and a company brand means less than it used to for recruiters’ success.
Your brand’s visible whether you want it to be or not. Any recruitment company thinking about offering you a job will Google you.
If you have an open Facebook, Instagram, Twitter account, they’ll be scrutinised.
It’s common sense given their clients and candidates will have access to the same information.
Further to this, if there’s no synergy between them and you, it’s unlikely you’ll be offered a job. Especially if they’ve got the word synergy written on the wall in a large funky font as one of their key values.
Sports players are a nice example of how the recruitment branding strategy is changing. You only have to look at the worlds top sports stars such as David Beckham, Floyd Mayweather, Serena Williams and Tiger Woods.
Herein lies a nice spread of personal brands. From the sublime to the more wayward.
These days there’s less reliance on newspapers, and sports stars can control their own narrative. As Maverick Carter (LeBron James’ manager) astutely commented “athletes become kings when they control their own message.”
Is this a message that translates into the recruitment world? Perhaps.
Much like the analogies above, over self-promotion can be counter-productive at times. Those most vocal on LinkedIn don’t necessarily have the best brand, or make the best Recruiters.
Similarly there’s no clear correlation between top performing companies and the loudest brands. Recruitment awards and acknowledgement in industry accolades don’t necessarily equate to a strong brand.
Wear Two Hats
A company brand is an important base for any recruiter.
It can propel your career, give you a great grounding for success and assist in winning business.
Neglect your personal brand however and your business potential will be limited.
The key to branding is to target both personal and company. It’s absolutely essential to develop your personal brand from the earliest possible start. You’ll keep clients and candidates throughout your career and become closer to them as your brand definition becomes stronger.
Equally if you choose to work for great companies, it will only help you flourish in your career.
You’ll often experience negative encounters on both of your company and personal brand. The stronger they are individually the better you can compensate, and the less you’ll be affected over the course of your career.
If you can assimilate to a David Beckham type model, and self promote while working for the best brands, you’ll find yourself in the top percentile of Recruiters with an incredible brand strategy and fulfilling career.
If you go down the Tiger Woods path, you might find yourself a bogie Recruiter that needs a bit of work to make the cut.
But no cause is ever lost.
So continue to work on your brand and think about the long-term strategy whenever you’re a fairway from your ideal branding. You can still be a success. You can always overcome any negative periods in your branding.
Personal or company.