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Take Your Professional Brand to the Next Level With These Tips

05/02/2015 08:40 EDT | Updated 05/02/2016 05:12 EDT
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Close up of a coworkers working together

Long gone are the days when you mailed in your resume to the hiring manager. Now, the hot pursuit of a job starts well before you even walk in the room for an interview. It begins the minute that the recruiter, hiring manager, or executive hears or sees your name. Strike that. It starts when they have the general concept that a person with your skills might exist.

Sounds like sci-fi, right? It's not. Thanks to technology, your online professional brand is as accessible as the nearest device. It may seem like a scary thought, but with this accessibility comes incredible opportunity to build (and protect) your professional identity.

This week, LinkedIn released a study to understand how professionals around the world are reshaping their professional brands for the modern workplace. The study revealed that in addition to an online presence, there are many components employees need to consider when shaping their professional identity, including how they dress, share their opinions, and how much they share about their work history. In some cases, it wasn't what we expected.

Honesty Apparently Isn't Always the Best Policy. Many Canadians want to protect their professional brand. So much so that only 43 per cent would be honest with a future employer about being fired from a past job. The rest of the people surveyed would make it look like they left on their own or wouldn't put that particular job on their LinkedIn profile.

Canadians Are Loyal. We're a loyal bunch when it comes to our employers. Eighty-six per cent of Canadians think it's completely acceptable to stay at one company your entire career and only 11 per cent think that it's important to move around at the beginning of your career.

Dress for Success. Remember when you were told to dress for the job you want, not the one you have? Apparently not everyone in Canada does that. Only 24 per cent of Canadians would wear a suit or more formal attire to a job interview. But the pressure to look good is still there, with 30 per cent of Canadian women saying they feel judged on what they wear to work.

We're Not Afraid to Speak up Later in Our Career. When asked the one thing they would do now compared to when they started their careers, over half of Canadian workers reported that they would challenge their boss by voicing their opinions more. By contrast, 62 per cent of millennials consider themselves a "yes employee" -- someone who does what they are told and less likely to question authority.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words. Nowhere is one's professional brand more evident than in photos -- the photos we share can firmly establish our professional brand and can make or break the first impression for potential employers, clients or partners. In fact, adding a photo to your LinkedIn profile makes you profile 14 times more likely to be viewed. Millennials have already mastered this. They change their LinkedIn photo more often than any other demographic, making them the most viewed profiles on LinkedIn.

Your professional brand is the sum of many aspects of your professional life, so it's important that you are always representing your best self. Don't shy away from announcing promotions or career milestones and updating your profile. If a colleague or friend shares their win with you -- congratulate them. Share and comment on relevant industry stories and voice your opinion. And keep your profile photo up-to-date so people instantly recognize you when you finally meet them for that sought after interview.

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