Personal Branding For Scientists
When you hear the words ‘personal branding’, what does it make you think? Some words that may come to mind are marketing, Instagram influencers and self-promotion. Personal branding can be related to all of these things, but when you put it in the context of career development, it takes on a whole new meaning. In today’s job landscape, whether you have a secure job or are looking for one, personal branding is key to your success. If you want to progress within a company, you will be competing with others who want to do the same. Differentiating yourself is important in this situation.
If you are looking for jobs in industry after completing your degree, there will be hundreds or thousands of competitors you have to stand out from. Your skills and experiences may be impressive, but it’s how you position these that are a big determining factor for what roles you end up doing. As someone with a science degree, you may feel that others have a certain perception of your skills and qualities. Rather than letting your experiences speak for themselves, it’s important that you spend time actively working on your brand. This means working on how you communicate your skills, experiences and qualities to others. This can be on paper or in person. It can be online or offline.
It also means that if potential employers have a general perception of the skills someone with a science degree possesses, you can make yourself stand out. If you have spent time crafting your personal brand, you will know what makes you unique. The way you present yourself will come across as well thought-out. It will be clear what you can offer that no one else can.
Here are 3 personal branding tips you can use as a scientist:
Work on your LinkedIn profile
Firstly, if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, go and make one! Online presence is crucial in today’s digital world. It is often seen as a negative sign if someone doesn’t have any presence on social media. Secondly, see your LinkedIn profile both as an online version of your CV and a marketing tool for yourself that can have a wider reach. Think about how you can optimize your LinkedIn profile for the industry you want to go into. For example, if you are interested in working in the Pharmaceutical industry, mention your passion for helping patients in your summary. Then, start sharing content with your connections. Remember that LinkedIn is a platform where you can reach recruiters, peers, and potential future managers and colleagues. Show your interest in your desired career field. Follow companies that you are interested in working for and join groups of people with similar interests. (Our article on networking for introverts has some tips on networking on social media.)
Make sure your CV positions your experiences effectively
If you are looking for a role that directly uses your scientific knowledge, you can put your education at the top of your CV. However, let’s say you want to move into a different industry or role like banking. If you have had work experience relevant to the finance world, you should put this first and list your education further down. Remember that your CV should be future-focused. Also make sure that you are clear on your transferable skills as a scientist. This means you know what skills you have to offer in the job that you want. You can use these on your CV to demonstrate how your academic background applies to roles in industry.
Have an elevator pitch ready
Have you ever been in an elevator with someone and stood there in silence until you reached your floor? Does the silence feel like it will never end? Well, that’s the amount of time you could spend pitching yourself to someone! An elevator pitch is a short summary of what you can offer as a professional to another person or company. The pitch usually 3 or 4 sentences and sums up your unique offering based on your particular skills and experiences. It may include you stating your degree, a key project you have delivered, and any special skills you have. This will be different depending on whether you are looking for a job or just generally networking. When forming your elevator pitch, remember to focus on how you can help the other person, and not just on what you are looking for.
Talking about personal branding often feels uncomfortable, and the exercises above may feel out of your comfort zone at first. However as scientists, especially when looking for roles outside of academia, it is vital to stand out amongst all the other graduates, Masters and PhDs. Try asking for feedback on your LinkedIn profile and CV, and practise your elevator pitch with friends and family. Even if it feels strange at first, you will be happy that you did these exercises when it comes to your next interview or networking event!
If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, book a Beyond the Lab Breakthrough Session here.