You’re Not Paid to Build Your Personal Brand

Most recruiters have visions of them becoming the best known recruiter in their space. If you haven’t had this day dream yet, let me show you how it goes.

A client you’ve never worked with gives you call.

They’re looking urgently, and simply have to find the right person.

They’re not interested in using multiple agencies.

This is a critical hire.

They need the best for the money.

They offer you the role exclusively, before you ask and would be happy to pay a retainer, if that’s what it takes.

They’re an astute business with their ear to the ground.

Now… a quiz:

How did they get your details? How do they know who you are?

Option 1) They Googled recruiters in your space and picked up the phone

Option 2) They called your boss and asked who the best recruiter in the biz was

Option 3) They’ve seen you online. You talk a great game. You seem to deliver. You’re personable. Have a good character. Make a lot of noise, in the right places and others talk about you.

If you picked anything other than option 3, this day dream will remain just that.

If you chose the right option, you already know the value of a good personal brand. And whether you’re pushing yours or not, here’s the good news… you definitely have one.

Chances are, it’s limited to phone calls, occasional meetings and hoping just doing a good job will earn you a reputation from word of mouth.

But my boss thinks it’s a load of old nonsense?

I hear this a lot.

I get calls from frustrated recruiters bemoaning their boss’s attitude.

I occasionally speak to these agency owners about personal branding. And in less than two shakes, realise I’d get a better reaction asking the office dog to cold call CEOs.

Here’s the thing.

Your boss is almost certainly not interested in a personal brand. Especially not yours. And definitely not paying you for the privilege. 

Why would they?

Chances are they started (and finished) recruiting in a time a personal brand was limited to phone calls, word of mouth and meetings. They never had to be present online. Therefore they don’t see the point now.

Fair enough.

But this isn’t the eighties any more.

Think about how much has the world’s changed in the last thirty years. Recruitment’s no different.

In an industry where reputation is everything and mistrust from your target audience is sky high before you ever pick up the phone, personal branding is the new rolodex.

Or… phone book, if you don’t know what a rolodex is. 

How do you tame a dinosaur?

In almost every case it depends on the dinosaur.

If they’ve got a long neck they constantly put on the line, you need to show them results of how a good personal brand can improve their reach. And the good thing here is, you don’t have to take any risks.

Quite literally pick one of the most ‘famous’ consultants out there and ask them whether being vocal has affected their potential.

If your dinosaur is big and angry with a forced smile when they bare teeth. If they force you to do it their way, realistically, you might find it difficult.

Not too many old school bosses have the mental capacity to grasp the idea of personal branding. It’s a marketing activity they can’t control. And if they’re paying you a salary, you’re building a personal business and not theirs.

But isn’t that what recruitment is? Isn’t that what they implore you to build? A business, within a business?

Shouldn’t you promote a business?

In their mind, you’re promoting your individual skills, not those of the wider network.

The missing link

The link with personal and company branding is always evident.

If you’re a company owner the thinking against it goes like this…

“I’m paying someone to promote their personality. Their character. Their name sits at the top of their profile and if they were to leave, they’d take business with them.”

Errr… yep.

But if someone does business with your employee, they’re doing business with you.

Would you have had this business without them? Probably not.

And they’ll take it with them? Yeahhhh… that kinda happens already though doesn’t it? It’s why non-competes are in place, and routinely ignored or side-stepped by 99.9% of the working population.

If you’re a business owner and are against personal branding for this reason, you’re missing out on a huge new path to market. Probably the angle with the most insane growth trajectory of recent times.

Also, have you not always said people buy from people?

It’s just, people buy differently now. They showcase their wares in more visual places. And they use different methods.

So, sure it’s a GIF one day to get a few laughs. But the following day those potential buyers are more engaged. The next day the sell becomes easier.


How to swim against the tide…

A lot of agency owners I speak to would rather spend time fantasising about selling their agency to a multi-national. Their leadership style’s dictatorial. It’s their way or the highway.

‘Driving change’, is written on their website, and manifested in picking a new venue for the top billers’ lunch.

They wrote two LinkedIn articles in 2015 and nowt came from it so “you should probably focus on the phone, eh?”

If this sounds like your boss, it’s probably too endemic a culture to change.

I’d imagine most people with this thinking have absolutely no idea the results careful pruning of personal branding can generate.

And yet, I’d also guarantee, they’re constantly frustrated about not finding good people.

Funny isn’t it?

Sort of.

Unless you’re working for this kind of person.

So, what are your options? 

Well first off, be brave.

Either try and push your personal brand in your own way, and prove the results. And I guarantee, if done well, there will be positive results.

Alternatively, you can leave and find a boss who gets it. But even with that angle, it’d be nice to have something to show them at interview.

These employers are out there.

They’re probably the same type of employer who spends more than a round of jaeger bombs on their annual training budget. Or God forbid, looks after the wellbeing of their staff.

The key to nailing your personal brand, is experimenting.

Some risks you take will bomb. Some will fly.

But you’ll accomplish nothing if you don’t go for it. So, what have you got to lose?

You’ve already got a personal brand. It’s you.

And you’re already paid to build it. Just, at the moment, you’re leaving it in the stock room and not in the display window.

Get it out to the masses, front and centre. It’s never too late to start. And soon enough your boss will be thanking the heavens, they’re paying you to build your personal brand.

Here’s where to find a boss who gets it.