Personal branding describes the image that you portray of yourself to others. It encompasses everything about you including your talents, strengths, accomplishments and the contributions that you make to the world. Perception becomes reality when developing a professional brand, meaning that what people think of you really matters. You need to focus on showcasing your value to others and make clear how you stand out from a crowd full of individuals with similar experiences and skillsets to you.
Despite being regarded as an anathema for life science professionals in the past, the importance and benefit of having a personal brand within industries such as biotech and pharmaceuticals has significantly increased. Competition is rife and there is an abundance of talent constantly entering the life science industry. It’s critical that one works on building their personal brand to be visible to potential employers amongst the numerous like-minded individuals that want to make a positive impact on the health of society.
In addition to this, more companies are starting to see the value in hiring someone with a successful personal brand. Having a strong engagement with the general audience and a good public persona has numerous benefits for an organisation’s ability to spread its message and scientific research to the public.
How to build a personal brand in life sciences
Developing a personal brand requires time, effort and strategic planning. You need to build and maintain an image that portrays exactly what you do and what you offer within the context of your profession. Below are some key steps that should be followed in order for this to be achieved.
Find your brand story
It’s important that you take the time to figure out the story that you want your personal brand to tell. How does it position itself within the life sciences? What impact do you want to have within the industry? A personal brand shouldn’t be as simple as stating what you do and where you work. Adding narrative and reasoning behind your profession creates a humbleness to your story that entices and draws people into what you’re trying to sell.
Start by identifying the specific topics or subjects where your qualifications and achievements are of most value. Ensure these areas are where your passion truly lies so that sincerity is conveyed and your commitment to the field can be clearly seen. If you’re unsure about where your expertise lies, ask current or past colleagues and employers. Seek out what qualities and strengths they have noticed you possess. They see you in a way that you can never see yourself, so using their opinions will help you to craft a more holistic, well-rounded and honest image.
Identify your niche
Determining your niche or USP (unique selling point) is key for distinguishing yourself from the never-ending talent pipeline. Finding your individual value will allow you to focus on building a personal brand that will appeal to a smaller but more targeted audience. This means less competition and more productive conversations with relevant prospects that are likely to hire you.
It can be hard to work out what your exact niche is at first. Pinpoint the skills you possess that make you stand out within your chosen scientific area. Try to understand what your strengths and weakness are and focus on what you excel at. Ask people around you what they see your best assets to be and where they feel you contribute the most within the area.
Once you have found your niche, ensure that it is emphasised in both your online and offline presence. Develop a short statement that homes in on what makes you uniquely different and states your strengths and value within a particular field. Keep this statement and defined niche consistent throughout all your content to ensure clarity and effectiveness in your personal brand.
Focus on showing off your expertise to target companies
Research companies that you want to work for and make an effort to understand their missions. Identify how they contribute to the scientific field and use this information to tailor what you say and how you present yourself in your brand. Emphasise your relevant attributes, passions and skills and show how this can provide specific value to the target companies. Employers want to see passion and enthusiasm from life science professionals about wanting to make significant contributions to advancements in science, so ensure this is portrayed and emphasised clearly.
Don’t just demonstrate this on your CV, but create and share content online that is particularly valuable and relevant to your target companies too. For example, regularly share and communicate informative research about specific medical devices or treatments that are related to the field. Look at the current content that is being produced and shared by industry leaders such as blogs, infographics, or informative videos. Use these as content inspiration with the aim of making yours better in a way that makes it stand out from others and places your work in the spotlight.
Optimise your social media presence
Social media is a fertile ground for cultivating a personal brand and increasing an individual’s presence within a specific industry. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter open the door to numerous career opportunities and progression. They are the primary ways in which professionals network, and are used by both employees and employers to learn and research one another. 92% of companies are using social media as part of their hiring strategies along with 3 out of 4 hiring managers researching candidates on social media to learn more about them. Therefore, having an active and strong presence on social media that portrays exactly how you want the life sciences industry to see you is critical.
LinkedIn is considered to be a strong networking tool in the life sciences sector. To increase visibility to employers, ensure that all sections of your personal profile are filled out thoroughly with meticulous attention to each detail. Your statement should be engaging and be focused on your niche and the value that you add to a specific field. Include all past experiences and accomplishments and list every skill, starting with the most relevant. Utilise keywords throughout your profile that relate to your brand and scientific area. Don’t forget the little details either such as having as using a professional headshot for your profile photo and including a well-designed personal logo.
In addition to optimising your social media profiles, be sure to also be actively present on them in order to reap the benefits. Engage with the latest relevant content by not just liking posts but also by making insightful comments that add to a wider understanding and show your expertise on the topic. Research the profiles of potential employers, find out more about the company, ensuring what they say aligns with your offer. This will give you a nice advantage in the event of an interview as your in-depth knowledge will invite them to see you as being a well-informed, passionate and valuable candidate.
Communicate and network
Building a strong professional circle is hugely beneficial when developing a personal brand. Through the connections and interactions you make with peers and industry leaders, opportunities will open up that will allow you to showcase your knowledge and value.
In order to do this, be proactive and make the effort to integrate within the scientific community. Regularly attend in-person networking events where you can connect with other professionals in life sciences. Ask questions, learn from others’ experiences, and create valuable lifetime working relationships. These conferences also give the chance to display your work to organisations relevant to your scientific field. This will help to foster a relationship with companies putting you in an advantageous position as a promising future candidate for their business.
Don’t forget the networking opportunities that social media offers. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and take part in the current discussions, adding value and expertise where needed.
Express passion for the relevant arena you specialise in by posting recent ground-breaking research and sharing your expertise on a particular subject through Twitter posts or online blogs. Consider also messaging leading scientists through social media for learning opportunities and enquire about any possible collaborations you could make with them.
Long story short, competition within the life sciences industry is fierce, and more top talent is emerging all the time. A strong personal brand that shows employers exactly what you offer and how you can benefit their company will give you the competitive edge.
Our Pharma Partners team are experts in life science recruitment, and specialise in pharmaceutical physicians, medical affairs, R&D, and the pharmacovigilance space. You can take a look at all our roles here, or get in touch with use for a confidential discussion.