Personal Branding:

Personal Branding

I had a correspondence with a very nice young professional this morning. He has five years of experience as a Clinical Research Coordinator at a site that is very well known for its approach to conducting studies. Additionally, he has a fantastic degree and holds industry certifications. There is no doubt that he is ready to take the next step in his career. But…not one person has responded to his applications. He asked if I would look at his profile and a quick glance was all I needed. His LinkedIn profile…well, let’s just say that he needed to work on his personal branding.  

Are you selling…or are you repelling? 

We believe everyone is in sales. And the number one thing all of us sell? Ourselves. And this young professional? He lost me at “Hello”.

Isn’t it easy to imagine that you are invisible as you shoot off your resume into the unknown? That is certainly what this young professional thought. He had put all his energy into creating a resume, thinking that his resume alone would help him progress in his career. The results proved that he was wrong. If you are like this young man, you are making an egregious mistake if you are solely focused on your resume. 


Because you are not invisible. Unless you have purposely removed your online footprint (which we don’t recommend you do as that causes other flags), it is likely that you already have a brand and professional reputation. My question is this: did you determine and then create your brand, or has your brand and professional reputation just…well…happened? 

Keep in mind that you are exhibiting your brand during every interaction. Every application, email, discussion, and social media reaction helps to shape what others view as your brand. 

Personal Branding vs Reputation Management

Everyone has a reputation and it is based on what opinions others have formed due to their observations of your behavior. For example, you may have a reputation for always being late (read…my husband) or being cranky on Mondays. Alternatively, you may have a reputation for being a top performer, warm and easy to work with, or extremely trustworthy.  

Make no mistake, though, while you certainly want to foster a positive reputation, having a great reputation is only part of showing a strong professional brand. A brand is more intentional and reaches a much broader audience. 

Said differently, personal branding is about establishing how you want others to see you. It can be shaped. And…as a job seeker, it should be consciously defined and shaped

Why do you care? 

To compete as a job seeker, you must focus on representing yourself as an individual who has mapped out a clear career path…and is in control of that path. You must be able to consciously and visibly show a total picture of yourself as a professional. Forbes reported in 2022 that 70% of US-based recruiters and HR professionals state that a candidate’s online reputation and brand influence their hiring decisions. In today’s market, I would suspect that number to be much higher. The net is that personal branding is critically important. 

How Do You Determine Your Brand?

I was having a discussion with one of my favorite people and she told me how she was at a crossroads with her career. Her most recent position had been as a Director of Clinical Operations with a sponsor, but she had gained her foundations at a research site and truly missed working at the site level. As she assessed her next career move, continuing to advance her career with a sponsor was very appealing. But, she was also just as excited about the prospect of moving into a leadership role at a clinical research site. Or heck, maybe she would open a site of her own! 

Her question to me was a valid one: how could she craft a resume that would make her competitive for both very distinctly different career paths?  

My response?

Don’t worry about your resume yet. Before you concern yourself with seeking a specific role or title, do a little self-assessment to identify your passion. You need to spend some time on personal branding so that future employers can see what you stand for and the problems you can solve for them.

What do you stand for? 

Why do you work in this industry? What expertise do you have that will help solve industry problems? Setting out to determine your brand is much bigger than just highlighting your skills, qualities, experiences, and achievements.  It is about showcasing what you are passionate about. And, it will help you articulate the problem that you solve for your ideal customer (or boss or company). 

For my friend, these were easy questions to answer. We then outlined the characteristics of her ‘ideal customer’ – meaning, her future employer.  

Define your ideal “customer”.

Or boss…or company.  Now that you have defined the problem you are capable of solving, spend some time defining your future employer.  In my friend’s case, she was able to identify more than one ‘perfect’ employer, and that is okay. 

Remember that having a consistent brand is your priority.  It is then okay to realize that you can solve the problem of many different types of customers (or employers or companies).


Your employer shouldn’t impact how you define your brand. Your brand should lead you to an ideal employer.  

One caveat, if your brand can have more than one customer type, you need to craft a resume for each type. However, each resume must still align with your overall personal branding message.  

Establish a Supporting Online Presence

We are going to talk about your LinkedIn profile, but before we dig into that topic, I recommend you Google yourself.  

Put your name in quotes (like “Angela Roberts”) and see what comes up. If there are gaggles of results unrelated to you, fine-tune the search by using the Boolean term AND, plus something that further defines you (like an employer or topic). For example, if you search “Angela Roberts” AND “craresources”, you will come up with a plethora of information related to my mission. My passion…with multiple resources addressing the problem I am trying to solve.  

Do you need to course-correct? 

If you haven’t consciously determined and created a brand, your Google results are likely to fall into one of three categories:  

  • EEK, I can’t believe that is out there!  Did you find some photos that should have never been posted? A YouTube that doesn’t represent you in the best light? Are there some Facebook comments that conflict with the brand you want to represent? If so, it is time to get busy removing or correcting your online reputation. 
  • Lack of consistency across the platforms. Your online presence should be consistent across all social media platforms. And by ‘consistent’, I mean the look and feel of your presence as well as the content. And don’t forget that anything you have posted on social media should also align with your resume.
  • Little or no online presence. Unfortunately, having no supporting digital footprint is a problem. Candidate fraudulence is a real concern, so having an online presence that supports your resume is critically important. 

Be intentional in how you build your online presence. 

For our industry, having a well-branded LinkedIn profile is as important as having a ‘buttoned-up” resume. But a LinkedIn profile alone isn’t good enough. If you fall into one of the above categories, you should consider intentionally adding to your online presence. And you can do this by coming up with a content strategy.  

Writing articles or crafting blog posts are terrific ways to show your expertise in a given field. Keep in mind, though, that whatever you post should be thoughtful. And you will want to make sure the look/feel as well as the message/tone of the posts align with the brand you are trying to represent. 

I also want to note that posting doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, if you don’t want to host your own website, leverage the LinkedIn platform to post articles. 

And Speaking of LinkedIn

Remember the nice young professional I referenced at the beginning of this article? He lost me at “Hello”. 

Your LinkedIn Headline is an important feature

Your LinkedIn Headline is the first thing people see when they search your profile. LinkedIn also places a lot of authority when it comes to searching your Headline (meaning, think about optimizing it for keywords that will draw folks to you). Be strategic when it comes to what you add to your LinkedIn Headline.  Some things to think about: 

  • Don’t default to your title. Use the Headline to showcase the problem you solve or the expertise you offer. Senior Director of Clinical Operations will show your current (or previous) title, but it says nothing about your goals, passion, or the problem you solve for your ideal customer.  
  • Don’t be silly or vague. Never (seriously, never) use “Hello” as your LinkedIn Headline. I see many ‘Aspiring CRA’ and ‘Clinical Research Professional’ Headlines too…these are all too vague. Think about what your prospective clients or employers will be searching for and tailor your Headline to accommodate. 
  • Don’t portray yourself as a hero. Remember that while you certainly want to be clear regarding the problem you solve, your LinkedIn profile isn’t about you. It is about attracting your perfect client or employer. So write out your Headline in terms you feel your prospects will be searching. 
  • Don’t be needy. Remember that your LinkedIn profile is intended to frame you as an expert, so steer clear of terms like “Seeking Employment”. As a side note, it is fine to indicate you are seeking a new opportunity, but make sure you are showing us what type of job you are looking for (and why we care). 

Be Consistent 

I have mentioned this already, but it is worth repeating. Your LinkedIn profile absolutely must match your resume. It must also map to a consistent story across all other social media platforms and published content. 

We were recently working with a candidate who worked for ICON and was fully dedicated to a specific sponsor. Her resume showed her correct ICON employment, but her LinkedIn profile listed the sponsor.  We advised her to correct her LinkedIn, ensuring her resume and LinkedIn matched.  

She didn’t. Unfortunately, while we were able to explain the discrepancy to the two clients we submitted her credentials to, they both rejected her due to the inaccuracy. It may seem silly or trivial to you, but there are two things at play here: First, the truth is the truth is the truth. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you have to explain an inaccuracy because companies will not give you that chance. This brings us to the second point: details are important. Keep it consistent. 

Where Does Your Resume Fit Into Your Brand?

We have a lot of content on writing an effective resume so I will make this brief. Your resume is a key part of your personal branding strategy so all of the above advice applies. However, one additional note is that stylistic consistencies are important. 

Use the same font on all written material. Also, if you have established a color theme, a certain formatting style, or created a personal logo, make sure you are using the same elements across all of your content and social media platforms.  

For example, I recently coached a candidate whose resume had a lovely header/footer design but his cover letter was plain (and missing his contact information). Resumes and cover letters get separated so make sure themes are consistent across both. And for goodness sake, put your contact information everywhere.

Along those lines, think of this: when someone reads your wonderfully written blog post or article, will they know how to reach out to you?  Your personal branding and content strategies must include a clear way to contact you. Otherwise, what is the point? 

Need Help? 

Contact us. We are happy to help where we can.