Article originally appeared in recruiter.com’s October 2019 quarterly magazine

How can recruiters build a brand…and why should they bother?

I get these questions all the time. As such, I thought it was worth putting together a crash course guide in personal branding for recruiting. 

In a nutshell, your personal brand is your reputation and how you promote yourself as a recruiter. In this busy world where everyone is competing for your attention 24/7, a personal brand is critical for cutting through the noise to reach candidates and prospects.

If you’re an independent recruiter, your personal brand is the foundation of any business development efforts. However, corporate and third-party recruiters alike also benefit from a brand because it helps you engage with candidates.

With that established, let’s dive into some tips for building your brand from the ground up.

Establish a Niche (At Least While You’re Starting Out)

In today’s day and age people can find recruiting specialists for virtually every industry and field. This is very appealing to companies searching for recruiting services. For example, if you’re an automotive manufacturer, why would you go to a generalist when you could hire an automotive recruiting specialist?

It only gets more important when the industry itself revolves around specialized expertise that outsiders don’t understand. In the field of tech recruiting, a recruiter who knows the difference between Java and JavaScript will the wipe the floor with someone who mixes them up.

When you’re working to establish the foundation of your brand, pick a niche. You want to gain a reputation as a tech recruiter or a finance recruiter, etc. This makes it easier to get the ball rolling and build your network. Be a specialist, not a generalist. Once you’ve established a name for yourself, you can start branching out into other fields.

Tighten Up the Bolts on Your LinkedIn Profile 

Let’s face it, before anyone hires you, they’re going to search for you on Google and LinkedIn. In fact, they will probably research you before you even get a chance to speak to them. With that in mind, you want to make sure your LinkedIn profile makes a stunning impression. 

Tighten up your headline with a catchy description that highlights what you do and the value you bring to companies in your niche. A simple template for your headline might go something like this: “[Industry] Recruiter Helping Companies Land Top Talent.”  

You have 2,000 words to use for your summary. Make the most of it with a detailed description of what you offer companies, your experience, and why you’re the best recruiter for the job. Work in keywords related to your niche so that you rank for searches when someone looks for a recruiter in your chosen area of expertise. 

The experience section is often overlooked but is just as vital as any other section. You should use each entry to list accomplishments with concrete results. Think “landed x number of positions in y months,” “achieved a 90% submittal-to-interview rate” or similar quantifiable achievements. Lastly, don’t forget to weave in keywords related to your niche! 

Get Social and Start Adding Value to Communities 

So far, we’ve covered how to present yourself effectively. However, in order to build a reputation, you must get your name in front of potential clients and candidates. One of the best ways to do this is to get involved with user communities online – and eventually add value to them. Join user groups on LinkedIn and other forums related to your niche. 

The best thing to do here is to contribute. Create your own content, like articles or videos. A 30 second video sharing your thoughts on an issue can be completed in just a few minutes with an iPhone and helps you connect with people online. Talk to people and provide genuine advice. In these user groups, people are always asking for other’s thoughts and advice on problems they’re facing. It’s a perfect opportunity to build some connections. 

You will probably never be an expert on the industry like those who work in it. However, you don’t have to be. You just have to be savvy on the subject matter. With this knowledge, you can be expert on employment and recruiting in the industry, which is just as valuable. 

If you don’t have enough subject matter knowledge to contribute, ask questions! Ask people how different trends and developments in the industry are affecting their role. Soon enough, you will be familiar enough with the industry to start contributing and building a name for yourself. 

You should post often on your own LinkedIn page. Never post job advertisements, as it looks hokey and shows you don’t care who gets the job – people may get the impression you just want it filled to cash a commission check.

Lastly, don’t forget to talk to people in person. Check out networking events and conferences in your area. People are more likely to remember the face of someone they shared a handshake with than some stranger online.  

Be Authentic and Be Yourself 

I know that sounds like something out of a self-help book but bear with me. No one wants to follow a phony on LinkedIn who is always showing off about their perfect life and flawless career. 

People are more drawn to others who are honest and act like real people! Be yourself and try not to put on too much of a show. In fact, a lot of people love content where you admit a recent mistake and demonstrate how it helped you learn a lesson. 

In all your interactions, try to have an opinion. Don’t be afraid to take a bold stance on certain issues. It’s better to make a strong impression on 90% of the crowd and offend 10% then to be forgettable to everyone! 

Building a Personal Brand is a Long Journey 

I won’t sugarcoat it: you won’t build a brand overnight. Furthermore, you’ll have to experiment through trial and error. What works to build a brand for one recruiter might not work for another – you have to find the promotion style that fits YOUR unique brand. But if you keep at it, you will earn a following! 

You can put all these steps into action today – what are you waiting for?