Personal branding is important, but not that many people can tell you how to express that in one or two sentences. Learning how to describe your personal brand is key to making a positive first impression on recruiters and hiring managers viewing your LinkedIn profile, though—don’t glaze over this!
If you’ve ever been stuck wondering how to answer “what is your personal brand,” then this is for you.
What is a personal brand statement, exactly?
Your personal brand statement is a headline or a short few sentences that describe who you are, what you achieve for businesses, your mission, and why.
Yeah, it’s a lot—but personal branding is important if you want to get good jobs in your career.
It has to fit into a short number of words, too—best to think of it as a personal brand headline, really.
- It’s probably going to live as the headline on your LinkedIn profile
- It needs to make a first impression, not a second or third impression.
- You want hiring managers to understand your personal brand at a glance.
You need to know how to craft your personal brand statement because it’s one of the first things that hiring managers and recruiters learn about you.\
Personal brand statement examples for students
It’s tough to write a personal brand statement when you’re still in school or haven’t had much time outside of it. I definitely struggled to find many worthwhile personal brand statement examples for college students for this page, but there are a few good ones out there.
Take notes from these people because they’re doing things the right way.
The best personal branding statement example for students I found was from Mia Gradelski. As of writing she is enrolled in an undergraduate program that lasts for another 2 years, and she has wasted zero time in playing up her internship positions as work experience (which it is).
Her personal brand statement: “Visa Client Consulting Associate Intern | Investment Analyst”
That’s pretty impressive for someone only half-way through college.
This gives her credibility, derived from her work experience—which is exactly what we talk about in the 7-step job roadmap. I love it.
Another fantastic profile I found belonged to Ryan Collins, a PhD candidate transitioning into the digital marketing industry. He has a great headline that identifies the niche he’s pursuing too, which is an excellent strategy.
His personal brand statement: SEO Intern at Pillar4Media, Ph.D. Candidate, Aspiring SEO/Marketing Analyst. Python | R | SEMRush”
It tells hiring managers exactly where he plans to take his career as well as the skills he’s developing to take him there—plus some platform proficiency, which is always a bonus.
To top it all off he complements it beautifully with a banner image that promotes his portfolio website. I might apply that idea to my own profile, now.
Last but not least is Laura Davidson’s personal branding headline. I like it because it’s an overpowering collection of positions and industry experience including:
- A master’s degree
- A research assistantship
- A forensic assessment internship
- A volunteer research role
- A clinical assistant role
If that doesn’t scream “hard worker,” then I don’t know what does.
This profile could use a banner image to improve that first impression, but you can’t deny the power of that headline.
Personal brand statement examples for managers
Crafting a good personal brand statement as a manager can call for different messaging. By this point in your career you should be thinking about a problem, cause, or industry to rally around—it shows internal drive and, by implication, a high degree of passion and expertise.
Most people never use them so you can create a solid advantage for yourself if you pay attention to these examples of manager brand statements.
Let’s look at this example of Anthony Iliakostas, a manager at ABC News:
“ABC News R&C Manager by Day, Entertainment and IP Law Professor by Night”
That’s pretty good. It shows that he takes his job seriously but also has a passion for teaching and for the study of law itself. The “by night” part also implies (successfully) that he’s a hard worker, which is increasingly difficult to do without sounding disingenuous.
Anthony pulls it off, though.
Next up is Etta Di Leo, an internal communications expert specializing in the financial industry. Here’s her personal brand statement:
“Focused on internal and change communication. I can help you navigate change and improve your corporate culture.”
Her branding statement is great because she doesn’t actually say “internal communications” or “HR.” She talks about achieving organization change and improving company culture, which are the results of what she does for a living.
That specialty also encapsulates a clearly identifiable personal mission: to improve company culture and help organizations evolve from the inside. Seasoned business leaders (her audience) know this is a lot harder to do than it sounds, which is why the headline works so well.
It also contains useful personal brand words for her profile, including:
- Navigating change
- Improving culture
Last but not least is Chance Nguyen, a digital marketing manager. His headline is geared for a more informal crowd and it totally works.
“Marketing + Technology = Magic | Specializing in ecommerce, design thinking and digital strategy”
This personal branding statement works well because it deftly rolls his skills and his enthusiasm for his field into a single phrase. Immediately I got the sense that Chance is absolutely smitten with marketing technology and automation.
That’s important because internal motivation is far more believable than saying “passionate about marketing.”
Notice the difference between personal branding statements for students and managers? The best student branding statements focus on picking a professional direction and displaying experience, while the best managerial brand statements focus on finding a niche or a cause to generate success for prospective employers.
Personal brand statement examples for leaders
Most leaders rely on their job titles to do the heavy lifting for their personal brands—you’ll see CEO, VP, and Chief _____ Officer most often (among executives, anyway). I searched for hours and found only a few good headlines.
It turns out that most leaders’ personal brand headlines suck. People presenting themselves as true leaders online aren’t usually executives. Go figure.
That’s a shame because showing you have a vision and a purpose beyond holding a fancy title is kind of what leadership is all about. Take a page from these personal brand statement examples for leaders in a few different industries.
So I found examples of today’s digital leaders outside of the executive suite: real people who are making a difference from the seat they’re in rather than climbing a ladder.
First up is Lakrisha Davis. Her personal brand statement is crystal-clear on multiple levels, which makes it particularly effective.
“I Help Ambitious Women of Color Launch Authentic & Profitable Brands on LinkedIn ✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿”
- She has a clear business mission.
- That mission has a clear audience.
- The audience can clearly understand her value proposition.
This is still an incredibly specific and powerful personal brand statement. Other leaders could learn a thing or two from Lakrisha’s profile, because it does not get more crystal-clear than this.
Next up is Jackie Lauer, a consultant and local thought leader on emotional intelligence and company culture.
“Speaker, Leadership and Culture Expert, EQ Coach and Neuroscience Geek, Start up Mentor”
This one isn’t quite as punchy as Lakrisha’s but that’s okay because it speaks to the many hats Jackie wears and years of experience and insight. She’s clearly a valuable resource to businesses in the region.
Remember: as a local leader, she wants to be approachable within the business community. Her personal branding statement definitely accomplishes that by speaking to her experience in startups, company culture, and leadership training. It’s a perfect fit.
Last but not least is Alexandra Carter, an extremely accomplished professional who lets those accomplishments do the talking for her.
“Award-Winning Negotiation Trainer | WSJ Bestselling Author of Ask for More | Clinical Professor at Columbia Law School”
What a powerhouse! Even just one of those achievements would be amazing, and she’s listed three in a single headline. Her personal branding statement speaks to her work ethic, communication skills, and originality as a thought leader.
Clearly this is an MVP that you’d want in your organization if at all possible. I’m probably going to buy Alexandra’s book now, too.
Quick note: There are plenty of great male leaders out there and I’m happy to know some of them, but only a scant few among them actually use any kind of personal branding statement. I looked far and wide for good examples from men but I didn’t find much. If you’re looking for a leadership role then this could be to your advantage!
Developing a personal brand statement
The thing about developing a personal brand statement is that there’s some “invisible” work that happens in the background before you ever start writing a headline.
You’ll need to figure out these things before writing anything:
- What kind of problem do you want to solve?
- Which industry do you want to join or change?
- What do you want everyone to have in their lives that they currently don’t?
- Who would hire you at your ideal company?
Figure out why you want to do something and then take it from there by identifying who would be interested in hearing that message—that’s your audience, and a key step in building your personal brand.
Starting here is how you create a personal brand statement that actually works.
Create a personal brand document
Put everything on paper, starting with your audience, your industry of choice, and your cause (or problem to be solved). It’s also a great place to write down your favourite personal branding quotes for inspiration, which has helped me out a few times.
Here are the next steps:
List the gatekeepers in the hiring process. This will probably include HR generalists who will screen candidates, team leaders who will conduct interviews, and directors or executives who will review your selection as a candidate.
We’ll just do a quick whiteboard example for a Content Manager position (excuse the chicken-scratch handwriting!) In the example pictured below you’ll find gatekeepers listed like this:
- HR Generalist
- Digital Marketing Director
- Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Revenue Officer
Identify their pain points (what they want solved for them and the company). Write out three of each for every gatekeeper on your list. Here are their prominent pain points:
- The HR Generalist looks bad if he passes on unqualified people, so he needs to be sure that candidates know what they’re talking about.
- The Marketing Director can’t do everything herself, and is too busy with partnerships and high-level strategy to worry about writing, measuring, and analyzing every piece of marketing content on her own.
- The Chief Marketing/Revenue Officer has been struggling to get the marketing and sales teams working in tandem. They’re operating in silos and moving in different directions.
Identify their hopes and goals. Write out 2-3 examples of what those gatekeepers want to see in a candidate or what they want to achieve for the company.
- The HR Generalist wants someone who is clearly able to talk shop with the Marketing Director and the Chief Marketing/Revenue Officer.
- The Marketing Director wants someone who can execute on her strategy—and someone who can cover the analytical side of digital marketing in the trenches to let her focus on high-level strategy.
- The Chief Marketing/Revenue Officer, the Director’s boss, also wants that candidate to be able to get along with her Director and to work laterally with the sales team to make sure each hand knows what the other is doing.
This is essentially a strategic framework showing you how to communicate with each gatekeeper in the hiring process according to their individual needs.
For this example, I’ve distilled their pain points and goals into building blocks for the eventual brand statement.
- All three gatekeepers here clearly care about communication skills. They want someone who can communicate marketing performance to management and with salespeople.
- They want someone who can understand marketing strategy and sales strategy, supporting both every day.
- They want a “doer”—someone who will execute the Marketing Director’s strategy and also proactively approach salespeople to learn what’s working and what’s not working.
With those clear messaging points in hand we can finally create the personal brand statement.
How to create personal branding statement on resume or your LinkedIn profile
Here is where we finally create the personal brand statement out of the distilled messaging points that we developed in the previous section. Those points are:
- Communicating marketing performance to everyone in the company.
- Executing, measuring, and analyzing marketing strategy.
- Doesn’t need to be asked to work cooperatively in the trenches with other teams.
We need to distill those into 1-2 sentences. Here’s what I’d write:
“Content marketer who champions strategy and sales teams without being asked. Distills marketing lingo for the whole company.”
Alternatively, you could remix it like this:
“Distills marketing strategy for the whole team, working with sales teams and getting it done.”
Not bad, right? It speaks to the pain points of the people who you want to hire you. It can fit right on a resume or a LinkedIn profile without fuss, and it hints at deep experience.
The messaging points you’ve developed here will also be useful for your portfolio website, your LinkedIn comments, and during interviews. The personal branding statement is just a distillation of all the work that happens in the background.
Can you use a personal brand statement generator?
There aren’t really any personal brand statement generators out there, currently. A few exist for companies because corporate brands are easier to create than personal brands, but these aren’t very reliable.
Case in point: I used one of them and the results were poor. In the image below you can see the automated sentence the generator created, and it doesn’t even make sense.
They are handy in concept but the ones available on the web today are rudimentary at best, unable to take basic grammar into account—nevermind the complexity of pain points and championing positive office cultures.
Writing your personal brand statement without some internet bot will create a much better result because it will be smoother, punchier, and on-point.
More to the point, learning how to create a personal brand statement involves learning about your audience and its pain points before you ever put pen to paper, making it a methodical process that online generators can’t match (yet). If you’re still not quite able to do it then you should check out a personal branding consultant!
Figure out your audience and its pain points first and you’ll be well on your way to creating a statement that gets you hired.
Happy hunting, job seekers!