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Paper - How Personal Branding Can Give Graduates a Competitive Edge

Branding is actually a strategically created expectation in the mind of the target audience (Henny
Paul, A. 2007).

This briefing paper will discuss how personal branding can give graduates a competitive edge in
relation to current issues and the implications of these issues for graduates as employees.
Historically, personal branding was commonly seen as something just as simple as a business card,
which involved the basic details and job title needed to network and gain contacts. However, in
todays modern day society, personal branding involves the use of social media, for example using
LinkedIn to network and find potential job opportunities. It is also very popular for individuals to have
websites dedicated wholly to the individual, to promote themselves to a future employer. A website
can be considered as one of the most effective ways to create a personal brand, as the individual can
fill the website with content such as a C.V., personal statement and contact details. This is different to
just a business card as a graduate can immediately give the employer all the details they need which
is more time bound for the employer (especially if they are a part of a large firm).

Current Research
In recent research, it was found that jobs are changing and in the future, according to the World
Economic Forum new categories of jobs will emerge, partly or wholly displacing others.
Consequently, this will affect many factors, such as skills in the workforce and the gender gap
between certain occupations. Due to the potential new categories of jobs, with reference to gender
gaps in society, this may have a positive impact on graduates as they will not be discriminated due to
their gender for a particular job as it is within a new category, therefore there is no stereotypically
gender association with it.

Current Issues
One main issue that graduates may have to face when completing their degree is that the
competition they face when applying for jobs as 532,300 students attended university or higher
education in 2015. This is when personal branding may prove to be beneficial for students as they
need a competitive edge in order to succeed and gain the best jobs, as they need to stand out when
competing against those with potentially the exact same qualifications. By having a personal brand
graduates can consider themselves as having their own USP, which will be what makes them stand
out amongst their competitors when applying for jobs and attending interviews. An employer is likely
to be more favorable to an applicant if their details and information are easily accessible and by
having a website or Linked In profile, it will be extremely accessible for them to get this information.

Another potential issue that could effect graduates within their quest to find jobs after graduating is
the impact of the recent Brexit vote in 2016. This is because, as a result of the UK leaving the
European Union, this could mean less immigrants coming over from other countries in the EU. This
will effect jobs for graduates as immigrants are stereotypically associated with being employed the
labour jobs available. Therefore, if there are less immigrants, there will be more labour jobs available,
consequently meaning that graduates may find that these are the only jobs available to them straight
after finishing their degree. In a report found on CBI (2016), labour market statistics showed that the
number of people in employment rose in June to the highest numbers since record in 1971. As these
results were recorded before Brexit, it shows that if immigration does reduce due to the vote, there
will in fact be more labour jobs available. As a result of this, if workers are crucially needed, graduates
may have to consider this field of work before applying for professional work as it may be the only

occupation to offer. As a result of this, the UK may have over skilled workers in environments that
they are not suited to due to getting an academic degree.

As of August 2016, the unemployment rate stands at 4.9%, the lowest since 2005 (CBI. 2016),
consequently meaning that graduates may find it hard to gain jobs in the field or industry they are
qualified in. As well as this, a BBC News article reported that UK unemployment level fell slightly to
1.62 million, which yety again suggests that graduates in years to follow are going to find it difficult
to leave university and go straight into a professional working environment. Therefore, personal
branding is a very important factor for a graduate to have, as it allows them to network and gain the
competitive edge they need over other applicants for the same job.

However, in research what was also found was that according to a BBC new article economists
warned that there were signs the labour market had started to cool off since the Brexit vote. If the
labour market jobs start to reduce, it may mean that there will be more applicants for professional
jobs, therefore again reducing the gap for graduates wanting to gain these jobs. However, if another
applicant is older with more work experience then a graduate they are more likely to be chosen over
the graduate.

Conclusion and Recommendations
With regards to current issues, personal branding may be considered as a very important factor for
graduates to consider, as the competition to gain jobs in a professional workforce is evidently getting
tougher and graduates need a personal brand to act as USP to them. As well as this, graduates will
now be competing with older generations who have potentially previously worked in the labour field,
however employers sometimes prefer their employees to have more life and work experience then a
degree, as this shows more life and communication skills.

Graduates should be making their personal brand a priority when it comes to applying for jobs and
employers should take the time to look at their website or profile, as it may benefit them, as if it is
successful it may have the potential to shorten the hiring and interview process. This is if the graduate
has provided all of the information needed in enough detail for the employer.


BBC, 2016. UK unemployment in further fall. BBC Business, 14 December

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HENNY PAUL, A., 2007. Personal Branding [viewed 13 November 2016]. Available from:

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economicsonline, n.d. [viewed 14 January 2017]. Available from: