This article was written by Katerina Liapis PT, MPT, and has been vetted by the CovalentCareers team for inclusion in our resource library.
What makes you unique as an individual? As a therapist, what knowledge and skills do you bring to the table? What are your biggest goals? If you were to ask a friend to describe your best virtues, what characteristics would you want to accentuate? While it is usually easier to comment on the positive attributes of others, it is important that you are able to identify the qualities that highlight your value. Whether you are a seasoned clinician or a new graduate, you have a lot to offer!
Thinking About Your Brand
When you think about branding yourself, where should you begin? This may not even be something in which you’ve invested much time or thought however it may make a big difference in your efforts to land your ideal job or start on the path of successful employment.
If you were to create a marketing campaign to promote yourself, what would it look like? Consider what makes you want to purchase a product, engage in a specific activity or work with someone you admire. What draws you in? What captures your attention? Think about these things when you are in the process of cultivating your own brand.
Leveraging Your LinkedIn Profile
One of the most valuable tools that can be instrumental in creating your brand is your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t already have one, strongly consider creating it. If you do, it may be time to do some revising.
When designing or updating your profile, it is critical that you include a captivating headline, a professional photo and a summary of who you are. These items are all equally as important as listing your education and job history. While there are some individuals who are not active on social media, creating a professional profile is extremely valuable to building your network. This can act as a key component of establishing your brand as it allows you to summarize your education, background, training and goals in a cohesive way. It also offers an excellent opportunity to make connections with colleagues and fellow clinicians in your field as well as potential employers.
With this in mind, it is critical to design a biography that reflects who you are and what you represent.
Choosing the Right Elements
As you work on developing your brand, what are the most critical elements that you wish to express? What are you passionate about? What about your field excites you most? Are there projects in which you have already participated that speak to who you are as a person?
You may also want to consider commenting on other activities or causes that align with your employment goals. For example, did you participate in or coordinate a health fair as a student therapist and feel that your experience highlights your leadership skills? Do you actively participate in the APTA? Have you attended CSM as a presenter? Are you involved in research for a specific patient population which you currently treat or with whom you aspire to work? Have you published any articles on subject matter that is related to the job that you are seeking?
Networking to Build Your Brand
Networking offers another opportunity to brand yourself. This may be a foreign concept to many of us, especially those who are already employed. It can also be a very daunting endeavor, specifically to individuals who aren’t as comfortable interacting in large groups, but it can be an integral part of building your brand.
How does one network? While you can certainly take advantage of online methods and informal opportunities to meet people and promote yourself, it is also important to consider more formal events or venues where you can engage in networking.
Networking really boils down to learning about the people you meet. Why is this important? You will meet people about whom you are truly interested in learning more and this will increase the possibility of reciprocation. The connections you make may also serve to help you learn more about the art of branding yourself.
Eventbrite is an excellent site to find professional networking opportunities, many of which are free of charge. You may also consider creating your own business cards for in person networking. This measure is often suggested by professional career coaches as it helps to solidify the face to face connections that you make.
Believe it or not, this service is offered at many office supply stores at a very low cost (i.e. 250 cards for about $15.00). You can design them online or in the store using pre-established templates or you may prefer to design your own.
When in doubt, keep it simple. Include your name, phone number and e-mail and select a title that best reflects your current professional status. Choose colors and logos that demonstrate your personal style and aesthetic. Business cards are a great tool that can help you make a lasting first impression. It is always helpful to give a potential colleague or employer something concrete by which to remember you and it will allow people to access your contact information quickly.
You may think of your business card as a preview of your brand.
Making Your Resume Uniquely Yours
Your resume acts as another piece of the branding puzzle. Resume writing could be the topic of another article altogether; however, it is important to mention that your resume should be consistent with whatever other professional profiles you have already established. This document may be very brief if you are a new graduate or, conversely, less concise if you are an experienced clinician.
In either case, it is a representation of both your accomplishments and your goals in addition to speaking to your brand. What are the most important elements to highlight?
- Did you establish a certain process or create a program that assisted your company with improving productivity or outcomes?
- Did you contribute ideas which were instrumental in team building or boosting morale?
- Did you participate in an event that helped to promote your organization?
When writing your resume, think about your innate talents and how you desire to be viewed by others. While there are various formats, there may be a certain way that you wish for yours to come across in alignment with your branding efforts and your individuality.
While the use of LinkedIn was already mentioned as a key component of creating your brand, it is also a wonderful resource to find tools that will help you design an effective resume. Regardless of how you choose to brand yourself within the context of your resume, it is imperative that you proofread it thoroughly or have it reviewed to verify that it is free of errors. This is indicative of your commitment to take the time and effort to pay attention to detail, which also reflects your dedication as a professional. Your brand, in turn, should emulate these attributes.
Considering New Grads' Brands
As a new graduate healthcare professional, branding may involve some different challenges. In this situation, you may have to extrapolate more on some of your experiences as a student therapist in order to build your brand. Think about the courses that most interested you and why.
- In pursuit of your highest degree, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
- Consider which patient populations you love and which clinical affiliations you enjoyed most. What about those types of patients or settings motivated you to stay engaged and learn more?
- Are you outgoing and outspoken or more introverted and introspective?
- Do you enjoy working collaboratively with other individuals in a team setting or do you prefer working more independently?
Think about how those preferences relate to the type of job that you accepted or are currently pursuing (i.e. working in a hospital setting vs. as a home care clinician). Are you interested in a very specific facet of practice, such as women's health or research?
Think about how the aspects of your personality and the experiences that you have had thus far have shaped you and the desired direction in your field. There are so many options available to clinicians and in order to find your best match, you must promote yourself accordingly.
If you are interested in working with children, it would be helpful to emphasize your ideas, experiences and goals related to the pediatric population. If you have an affinity for working with athletes as you have sustained sports injuries yourself, think about how you could feature this as part of your brand. Similarly, if you love working with the elderly patients, what about your job provides the most satisfaction?
Branding yourself calls for finding your voice and your vision. Never forget that there is only one you - what you offer to your profession and the world is very special. Be forthright, enthusiastic and authentic and success will follow.