As a graduate candidate—potentially lacking the work experience that can set you apart from the pack—you might struggle to communicate your expertise and skillset in a way that says, “I’m an early-career expert in this field.” This is where building a strong personal brand comes in: crafting a professional identity that allows you to articulate your unique value proposition to employers and ensure they know exactly what it is you stand for.
In this guide to building the perfect personal brand, we’ll answer the question of what is personal branding before moving on to show you why business leaders and hiring managers are considering this as a vital aspect of assessing candidates for graduate sales jobs. We’ll also give you our top ten tips on how to build an effective and professional brand in 2023.
What Is Personal Branding
So, what is personal branding, and how does it compare to how we might brand a business?
Firstly, we need to know that a personal brand is not synonymous with your reputation. Whilst our reputation is often within our control, it’s largely dictated by the ways that others perceive us—whilst a personal brand is all about how we want to be perceived.
Wondering what your personal brand might be? Take Pareto’s personal brand-building quiz and answer 10 simple questions to find out today.
What this often means within the professional environment is making sure that the key internal stakeholders you need to impress—whether it’s for that job offer, a raise, or something different altogether—need to be clear on precisely what you stand for. This is especially true once you’re applying for skilled graduate sales executive roles, where there’ll be an average of 56 applicants per position.
When all the candidates coming to a business for the handful of positions they’re advertising are graduates of prestigious universities, holding 2:1 or first-class degrees, and, in many cases, postgraduate and vocational qualifications, it’s not enough to rest on your laurels—if everyone is exceptionally talented, there needs to be something else that helps you to stand out.
A personal brand needs to be clearly defined, easily digestible, and—perhaps most importantly—visible. Attention spans are diminishing over time, and the sheer volume of candidates applying for roles means that you’ll have to grab people straight from the off, giving them something to remember you by and inspiring their trust.
When a hiring manager has a clear illustration of who you are and what you’re all about, you’ll have already crossed that all-important first hurdle in the hiring race and ensure they’ve recognised you as a professional, put-together applicant. This makes building a personal brand an important part of your wider graduate journey, one which helps you to define what makes you tick, what excites you and articulates your dedication to personal and professional development.
This is all the more important in the digital age, where employers will regularly screen candidates via the web to assess whether they’ve completed any publicly-available extracurricular activities or built their own website or blog where they have control over their own narrative.
Almost 80% of employers are now performing these background checks when evaluating an interviewee, meaning it’s important to grasp this important facet of personal branding, giving you the confidence that you have all bases covered.
The Importance of a Personal Brand in Graduate Sales Jobs
So, now that we’ve answered the question of what is personal branding, we can look in some more detail at the importance of a personal brand when it comes to applying for sales executive graduate jobs.
Whilst a personal brand can be a vital aspect of any career, as we’ve seen above, becoming more memorable to stakeholders and standing out from a crowd are readily applicable to the responsibilities and tasks expected of a graduate sales executive. Competition is fierce within the sales environment, so possessing a professional and easily understood brand can open up opportunities that might not have presented themselves had you approached a sales prospect with the same techniques and attitude as every other salesperson they’ve been contacted by that week.
At the same time, despite the digital transformation taking place across the working world—with generative AI and big data driving business decisions across all industries—the human touch remains king.
In a seminal report authored by McKinsey & Company, researchers have shown that word of mouth is still the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, highlighting that forging those strong connections through a brand which inspires trust and lets potential customers know that you’re an up-and-coming authority within the industry can lead to better sales performance, as well as more robust relationships with key accounts.
In short, by inspiring your clients to champion your stellar service and expertise, you can start to build a powerful means of promoting yourself and your employer—helping to open doors that might have otherwise been closed without that recommendation.
Alongside this, there are always plenty of opportunities to take on additional responsibilities within graduate sales executive roles, meaning that you’re likely to be able to carve out your own cutting-edge niche if your line managers and the leadership team believe that you’re a fantastic representation of their company. This is especially true in technical sales, where graduates are expected to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in their field to ensure they can offer their clients a valuable and consultative experience in every touch-point.
If you’d like to learn more about how to wow hiring managers or your future supervisors after reading this guide, see our Graduate Survival Guide for a detailed look at how you can ace the interview—covering what you can expect in an interview for sales executive graduate jobs, preparation tips and techniques, and key questions that you can ask to stand out from the competition.
Ten Tips on How to Build a Personal Brand in 2023
Success in sales executive graduate jobs is increasingly likely to hinge on the strength of your personal brand. So, how can early-career professionals such as yourself be confident that you’re on the right track when it comes to shaping a brand that says what you want to say and leaves managers and key accounts wanting to come to you when they have a specific issue that you’re an expert in?
Without further ado, here are our top ten tips on how to build a personal brand that will help you to stand out from the competition, make a positive impression, and get hired:
1. Define your unique value proposition as a graduate sales executive. What is it that sets you apart from the competition when it comes to the application and interview stage? Answering the question of “what is personal branding” for yourself certainly requires a great deal of self-reflection, so try to think about what Forbes terms the six drivers of an effective brand—that is, your passions, values, differentiators, purpose, goals, and superpowers.
2. Conduct a “brand discovery” exercise to find your niche. Like any business, the branding phase requires you to define your immediate and long-term goals and understand how your current career path will help—or hinder—you in achieving them. Conduct research into the companies you’re targeting and identify their pain points, the way they position themselves in the market, and articulate their brand personality and tone of voice. These can be an excellent guide for creating your own personal brand.
3. Craft a compelling narrative. Develop a story that can be quickly communicated to interested parties, highlighting the journey you’ve been on to get to where you are today, where you aspire to be in the future, and what you value in your professional life—this can help you to forge an emotional bond with your audience, whether it’s a hiring manager or a key account, and help you to stay at the forefront of their mind when they’re making a decision.
4. Clean up your social media accounts and set up a personal site to ensure authenticity and consistency in your brand voice. If your social media pages don’t portray the image you’d like potential employers or clients to see, clear them out. Consider setting up a personal website to have complete control over how other professionals see you. You can even utilise this site as a blog, offering valuable articles and advice to graduates and rising stars within your field.
5. Use digital platforms to network and connect with personal branding experts. LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as Meta’s emerging Threads platform, present a graduate sales executive with an excellent resource to see how personal branding specialists such as Gary Vaynerchuk are able to maintain their tone of voice across multiple channels.
6. Attend industry events. Whether you’re going to learn or you’ve got an insight on a hot-button topic that you need to share, attending industry events or sales seminars can be an excellent way to begin making a name for yourself and gain a better understanding of the wider sector you’re looking to work within.
7. Provide valuable content to your audience. Devise a content strategy for your personal brand that can capture the attention of professionals within the sales industry—whether it’s sharing your own insights on the sales process or reflecting on articles authored by others, this can be an excellent way for you to start building your authority within a niche.
8. Consider accreditation or pursue professional awards. You’re good at what you do—you wouldn’t be considering graduate sales jobs otherwise. At the same time, sharing these accomplishments with clients and hiring managers can be a challenge, especially if they’re in an otherwise unrelated field of study. Accreditation with an organisation such as the Institute of Sales Professionals or a professional qualification such as those offered by a technical sales apprenticeship can go a long way to offering you the proof you need.
9. Align your values to an organisation you admire or the business you want to work for. Defining your audience is a crucial aspect of figuring out your personal brand—if you know the business you’d like to work for, or there’s an organisation whose values align with your own, you can use that to build a strong case for why those same values have guided the creation of your brand. When it comes to principles, if you’ve got them, stick to them—for good reason, of course.
10. Always aim to improve your skills. If you can make hiring managers and key account holders aware that you’re always looking to enhance your skills and expertise to continue to grow as a salesperson, you’ll set yourself in good stead. It’s important that you utilise the other tips in this guide to make sure what you learn is relevant and focused, but this can be an excellent way to earn new responsibilities and challenge yourself.
By deciding to work on your personal brand, you’re already off to a great start, but it’s important to approach this with the same attitude that has allowed you to succeed in your professional life and academic studies so far.
Make sure to discuss this personal branding exercise with your advisors, mentors, family, and friends since they’ll be able to offer you guidance on your behaviours and traits that you might not notice yourself, which you can then work on to continue—or improve if they’re not something you’re happy with.
Building a strong personal brand is crucial for success in graduate sales jobs. Any aspiring graduate sales executive would be well advised to understand how to answer the question of what is personal branding and, moreover, to recognise their significance within the professional world.
By crafting a clear and visible personal brand, candidates can effectively communicate their unique value proposition to employers and stand out in the competitive job market. A well-defined personal brand not only allows jobseekers to differentiate themselves from their competition but can also enhance their performance and career prospects within sales executive graduate jobs.
Your brand fosters stronger connections with clients and colleagues, inspires trust, and positions you as an authority within your industry. You should begin by defining your unique value proposition, followed by conducting brand discovery exercises, crafting a compelling narrative, curating your web presence, networking with experts, attending industry events and providing valuable content for your audience—in short, any combination of these techniques can be helpful when it comes to a personal branding exercise.
By approaching your personal brand with dedication and a growth mindset, you can maximise your potential and achieve career success in any number of dynamic graduate sales jobs.
Connecting Candidates with Sales Executive Graduate Jobs
At Pareto, we’ve been supporting candidates and helping them to connect with exciting graduate sales jobs for over 25 years. Our consultants are experts in assessing, placing, and training candidates for graduate sales executive roles, providing learning and development opportunities for in-demand, practical skills that will help early-career professionals succeed in the modern workplace. Contact us to discuss your ambitions today.