#124 Personal branding for HR industry professionals (such as recruiters)


Let’s talk about personal branding for HR Industry professionals, such as recruiters.

How well do you utilize social media to build a position as a trusted and followed recruitment professional?

The most common way recruiters use social media is to post recruitment marketing messages on behalf of a client or your employer’s account. 

But what about your personal brand as the recruiter?

A personal brand can help you to overcome some of the struggle hiring for unknown employers create

Have you ever considered what your role as a recruitment professional is for your job seeker audiences?

Many recruiters struggle to hire for unknown companies and lack employer brand appeal. The obvious solution would be to build the employer brand for the employer.

But frequently, that road might be blocked.

Not a possibility.

Especially if you work as a recruitment consultant, you have to deal with helping even the most unappealing employers.

I know I’ve said this before, but just in case you missed it, I didn’t say it convincingly enough for you: As a recruiter, you can take matters into your own hands and build your brand as the recruiter of choice

If the client or your employer is unwilling or unable to build their employer brands, why don’t you start becoming the go-to recruiter for your audiences and your clients, if you work as a consultant? 

Personal branding as a recruiter will help you overcome challenges with an unknown employer or unappealing clients. Building your recruiter brand will not only help you to succeed in your recruitment projects but will help you to build the career you desire!

In this episode of the Building a Modern Employer Brand podcast, I talk about personal branding for recruiters. I share my own personal branding story and how it has benefitted me. And I talk about how it can benefit you too as a recruiting professional. If you listen to the end of this episode, I have something for you to get started too.

My name is Susanna Rantanen, and these days, I teach branding, marketing and communications for professionals in the HR industry who are driven to create the career and life they desire.

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Personal branding as an introvert solopreneur

I used to be a budding HR entrepreneur.

I was also an introverted entrepreneur who didn’t have any professional networks at the beginning and had an utter fear of picking up the phone for cold calling.

Imagine that when you start as an entrepreneur!

What I did to overcome this was not to learn how to sell or become more extroverted.

I started to position myself as an expert with something different, newsworthy and of immediate value to share through content marketing.

This is nothing new in 2023. But I started personal branding in 2009.

I started personal branding in 2009, but I didn’t know it was personal branding!

If you google the history of content marketing and social media and what the world was like in 2009, you’ll realize I was doing something very novel.

In 2009, I was on maternity leave with our son. What a wonderful year home with our sweet little baby!

Personal branding didn’t even exist as a term back then, and what I was doing wasn’t with the intention of personal branding myself.

I was sharing my knowledge and expertise as a columnist for the TOP HR industry magazine at the time – as a hobby while at home with our baby.

I loved writing already back then and accepted the invitation to write for them while at home. 

As my maternity ended in early 2010, I decided to give it a go and start my first business.

But this fear of picking up the phone to approach prospective clients made me turn to blogging.

I said to myself (multiple times a day):

I’ll write a blog post and call after it.”

I was so scared of picking up the phone. I couldn’t get words out of my mouth and was getting panic attacks. It was vicious!

So, I blogged a lot. Like a lot!  Every day, multiple times a day! I was very productive avoiding the phone!

Getting attention with the choice of media not many businesses were using yet

At the time, in 2010 and even a couple of years forward, business blogs were few and far between.

That’s probably one reason why mine got a lot of attention.

And by the way, one of the key learnings I picked up early in my branding career: If you can, always choose a media or format where there isn’t a lot of competition yet. That’s why I transitioned into podcasting in 2017 and that’s also why I’m now getting to TikTok..

As a result of my active content marketing, I was asked for speaking engagements. The media wanted to interview me regularly. I started to build a name as a modern HR practitioner. In fact, at some point, I was called The Modern HR of Finland or something like that! 

Clients followed with inbound contacts and invites for sales meetings.

Social media didn’t really exist back then, apart from Blogger.com, LinkedIn, and Youtube. Even Facebook hadn’t taken on yet, and Instagram didn’t even exist!

I didn’t know my sharing of tips, recommendations and how-to’s for the HR Industry was branding myself.

It wasn’t a thing people did yet.

I was literally just avoiding picking up the phone, and this was kind of a by-product of my fear of approaching people I didn’t know.

The day when I realized I had a personal brand

It took a good few years before I even realized that what I was doing, was personal branding. 

One day, I got a call from this young woman.

She was doing her dissertation about personal branding, and her mom, whom I know from the business world, suggested she ask if she could interview me.

I still remember that moment when it hit me, what, I have a personal brand?

It makes me laugh even to this day! Since then, my personal branding story has been covered in many dissertations and thesis work in Finland!

When I understood what I’d been doing for years and what benefits it had created for me professionally, from that moment, I started to build my own brand consciously.

Struggling with the idea of personal branding

However, for years, I struggled with the idea of personal branding.

This was because the term was attached to individuals who became “the subject”. These days, we know them as social media influencers.

That didn’t feel right to me. I now know it’s because of my introversion. I am more comfortable being known for my expertise than for myself.

During those early years of personal branding, all attention was on lifestyle and fashion bloggers, not business experts and opinion leaders. Fortunately for us, this is no longer the case!

What is personal branding?

As years have gone by, personal branding has evolved.

People can still brand themselves as the subjects like influencers do, giving the audience their face and social proof for what they promote on behalf of the branded products. They are equivalent to celebrities.

But we can also personal brand ourselves as experts and go-to people for what we professionally represent. Like I have done for a long time. We are known as thought leaders.

Blog & social media quote #124 Personal branding for HR Industry professionals - Building a modern, magnetic employer brand podcast with Susanna Rantanen

Personal branding creates an identity as an individual or professional in your niche.

Both can be equally beneficial, but the most distinct difference, I would say, is that as a professional brand, your audience is most likely from your professional niche.

A typical social media influencer’s audience could be anyone relating to the influencer and her lifestyle.

However, I’ve learned that the most impact personal brands create is when you combine both.

And that’s what I have been working for myself. Giving more about myself, my person and from behind the scenes, and letting you guys learn about the woman behind this professional expertise. 

It hasn’t been easy due to my introversion, but I believe it will help me as an entrepreneur more than hiding behind my professional surface.

What do you think?

How will personal branding benefit you as an HR Industry professional

What you’ll probably find interesting is that my first business was in recruiting.

We developed recruitment software back in the day to match talents with company missions.

That was my slogan too!

While developing the software, I worked as a recruitment & HR consultant for a few years to pay the development bills and my team’s costs. 

If you don’t know, before my first business, I had been working in HR and recruiting already for almost 10 years. I just continued invoicing what I’d done for a decade anyhow.

That’s why I can tell you first-hand how much I benefited from my brand as a recruitment & HR consultant!

#1 So much easier to get clients and time with job seekers

Not only was it easier to get clients, but I also built a job seeker audience in the tech industry that I was mostly hiring for!

I grew a pretty good following then, and it was easy for me to get attention to our client’s recruitment needs during those years. Clients wanted to work with us because they saw me everywhere online.

And most importantly for me, I was able to stop cold calling. What a relieve!

I have not picked up the phone for a cold call since. And won’t!

Even if the times are very different now, I still do the same stuff to build my brand as I did back the.

I have a different role these days and use different social media, but I use the same techniques. 

#2 Built a profitable 6-figure business without any full time sales people

As my entrepreneurship has evolved, so has my own brand. I no longer work in talent acquisition and don’t want to be known for that either.

That’s why I’ve developed how my audience sees and knows me too.

At first, they became to know me as the modern HR & recruiter. Then as the modern employer branding expert in Finland.

For a couple of years now, I have been ramping up my personal brand internationally as a modern employer branding expert. For a while now, I’ve geared my brand internationally as an online coach in branding, marketing and communications for HR industry professionals.

It’s like reinventing yourself, building the career and life you want!

I’ve built a profitable 6-figure business in Finland in an industry that didn’t exist until I create it.

There were no clients in the beginning and I had to create the need for our services

The client audience that was super small for many years because we went through from the financial crisis to pandemic and now the inflation. Yet, I was able to succeed. It wasn’t easy. I burned out three times. But we made it!

There was no employer branding industry in Finland before. Now there is.

Employer branding is something many types of agencies and professionals can these days.

So, I’m very proud of that, even though for years, it was a lot of convincing clients to even believe in employer branding.

#3 My brand has attracted all the employees I’ve ever hired during my nearly 13 years as an employer

When it comes to hiring my employees, all of them had pretty much followed me on social media for years before we got together.

And what’s more, they were willing to wait until I was ready to hire. I’ve never had difficulties in hiring for my business! And I’ve never had to do more than announce on social media I’m hiring now. I’ve saved a lot of marketing and advertising costs, not to mention time because of my personal brand.

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Building your own brand will deliver so much value for you as an HR industry professional

I’m telling you, your personal brand will have so much power, you can literally decide whom you work with and how much you work, and build the kind of career as a recruitment professional you desire.

That’s what I’ve done.

And after some difficult years with burnout, difficulties growing our family, and a challenging business environment, I can still say I’ve created the life I always wanted and the more my brand grows, the more freedom of choice I’ve had! 

Now that I’m building my international brand, I’m using the same branding tricks and techniques I teach and what we use when we help our clients build their employer brands. I’ve also used them to develop our agency brand.

My international brand is of course nowhere near what it is in Finland.


But I know how to get it there. And how to achieve my next career dreams.

And that’s why I have something for you guys too.

I want to share with you how to build your personal brand as a recruiter and get the life you dream of! 

Whether you work inhouse and you need it to build your job seeker audience. Or whether you work as a consultant and you need it to get clients AND build your job seeker audience.

And I know this is not for everyone. That’s ok.

But if you found this tickling your curiosity and making you go hmm, then let’s start this new year 2023 with a promise to ourselves:

“This year, we’ll invest our own time in personal branding so that we can build the career we desire and deserve.”

I’m going to be doing this myself as well to build my international name and reach, so literally, we can do this together! You can follow my lead and take your career into your own hands.

Are you in on this with me?

If you said yes, I suggest you start by joining my personal branding tribe.

You do this by downloading my free Getting Started with Personal Branding in the HR Industry PDF-eBook.

This way, I know who you are and can be in contact with you, and you also get immediate tips on how to get started on this journey with me.

Let’s get started with a new year and new life!

Ok, that’s all for this week my friends! 

Come back next week for more branding, marketing and communications juice for the HR Industry to keep you going! 

My name is Susanna Rantanen and I wish you Happy New Year!

Let’s make 2023 a wonderful year for us wanting to succeed professionally and learning how to use branding, marketing and communication for it!

Moi moi!

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