Stand Out from the Crowd: Polish Your Personal Brand

By Robert Half Legal

So, why exactly should you focus on building a personal brand? For one, it’s the blueprint for how you present yourself, from the elevator pitch to your professional persona. While you probably already have developed one, whether purposefully or unconsciously, the challenge is knowing what personal brand says about you -- and using it to your benefit.

Here are five tips for polishing professional brand and using it to advance your legal career.

1. Do an honest assessment. Where do your strengths lie and what sets you apart from the crowd? List your skills and analyze what these abilities say about you. As examples, are you immaculately organized in managing caseloads? Got a certain way with challenging situations or clients? Are you the go-to-person for questions about legal and office software? Jot down some of your best assets and soft skills.

2. Take a look at how others perceive you. Besides just your job responsibilities, what do your fellow employees repeatedly entrust you to do? Look at past performance reviews to see there is a pattern of certain attributes standing out or ask a friendly colleague or two to coffee or lunch and ask them to describe you. If there’s a gap between your self-perception and how others view you, decide which attributes to hone and emphasize in order to better control your personal brand.

3. Define your goals and align them with your personal brand. Where do you see yourself in 12 months? Five or 10 years? Determining your legal career goals will provide the roadmap for crafting your personal brand. For example, if you want to be a litigation specialist, your personal brand should reflect leadership as well as persuasion, negotiation, analytical and communication skills -- and the ability to remain in tough situations.

4. Improve your online brand. In today’s tech-driven world, managing your online presence is just as important as how you present yourself in person. Google yourself regularly and monitor what potential employers, managers or clients can see about you. Social media can be a powerful platform for reinforcing — or eroding — your personal brand, so it’s important to pay close attention to your presence on social networks, blogs and websites --and brush up on your online etiquette. 

5. Mind your in-person impression. Remember that your voice, wardrobe, confidence level, the firmness of your handshake and your body language — are all part of your professional branding. Do they align with the professional message you want to convey? 

Your professional brand is all important during a legal job search so examine all the of your application materials, including your resume, cover letter, elevator pitch, business card and email signatures, etc. to ensure they are in sync with your brand. 

Whether you’re just starting your legal careers or you’re an experienced legal professional, you can shape how others perceive you, and ultimately have more control over your career. If you don’t define yourself, someone else will do it for you — and they may come away with a different sense than the one you wanted to or wished you could convey. Take charge of your legal career by crafting your personal brand today.