How Working on My Personal Brand Turned My Career Around

We speak so much about personal branding at CM, and to help our members take that first step towards building their own personal brands, we entered a partnership with Perfocal UK, so that members of Career Masterclass get to enjoy an amazing discount on their professional headshots. 

Tomi Ibirogba, HR professional and Career Masterclass member got her headshots done recently, and shares her experience with us, and why investing in her personal brand matters to her.

Tell us about yourself and your career background

I have an LLB in law from The University of Southampton and MSc in Human Resource Management from LSE. After graduation, I went back home to Lagos, Nigeria to launch my career starting off as a teacher and then onto the ExxonMobil graduate scheme to work in the Global Facilities department. I moved on to an HR role after this and eventually left Nigeria in 2018 for the UK. I’m currently an HR Advisor at a global Maritime leader where I oversee HR operations for Europe.

When did you become interested in/intentional about building your personal brand?

Moving to the UK, I experienced first-hand the struggles of professionals abroad trying to break into the job market of a new country. I struggled to navigate the job market and land any opportunities and I would say this was due to the subtle cultural differences, lack of a solid network, lack of confidence and lack of a brand! I was failing to clearly communicate who I was, what I can do and how I stand out to prospective employers. I had so many goals I wanted to attract and uncover, but I was failing to do this because, essentially, I was not actively branding myself as someone worth working with. Therefore, I spent time learning to craft my story and how I could share that with the world.

Why does investing in your personal brand matter to you?
Investing in my brand is important to me because I want to build my recognition and credibility.

Coming into the job market, I wanted to differentiate myself and bring something unique to the spaces I was entering. The goal is always to set myself apart by playing to my strengths. Additionally, up to 80% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. Thus, I invest in my brand to be able to clearly communicate who I am and what I can do. I wanted to attract and uncover multiple opportunities, interviews, partnerships, job promotions but how would that happen if I am not actively putting myself out there? All of these goals pointed to the need to consciously work on my brand.

What does an appropriate, on-brand headshot on social media look like and why does it matter?

My top tips for an on-brand headshot are:
• Ensure the picture is recent; you want to ensure you still look like you.
• Clear, bright and high-resolution images only. Blurry pictures don’t portray you in the best light.
• Ensure you’re the only person in the picture! We want to see as much of your own face as possible.
• Have a welcoming expression; you want to look warm and approachable.
• Keep it professional. Dress how you would in a formal or semi formal setting.
• If you have the means, invest in a professional photographer. You will not regret it.

in my experience, investing in proper photos has increased my response and referral rates, presented me as friendly, likeable, trustworthy and made it easier for people to engage with me.

It takes a split second to form a first impression of you based on your profile photo. Plus, LinkedIn research says that just having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed! Your photos are a key element of your personal brand and, in my experience, investing in proper photos has increased my response and referral rates, presented me as friendly, likeable, trustworthy and made it easier for people to engage with me.

What was your shoot-day experience with the Perfocal team, and what did you think about the end results?
Seamless. My photographer (Iyanka) showed up early, tested out the lighting in the different rooms, then we settled on a shooting location and 4 outfits. He asked for my vision, showed me some ideas, rearranged my home to look like a set and within one hour, we had shot 4 different looks. I think it was all perfect and I got my pictures within 24 hours.

What would you say to a professional who is still unsure about investing in their personal brand?
Step out of your comfort zone and build your brand because, everyone has a brand! The difference is just that while some actively influence their brands to work in their favour, others passively let the world define theirs.

As you invest in your brand, remember to be yourself and do what you love. This will help you build a reputation as someone credible to work with, which will give you a unique competitive advantage and industry recognition which helps you attract likeminded people and opportunities. Internally, your brand inspires and gives you tremendous confidence.

Once I began to devote time to working on my brand, I have been able to move up in my career journey, establish partnerships with various organisations, reach thousands of people via my social media content, secure speaking engagements, uncover job opportunities that are not advertised and even launch a business that gained traction quickly.


Tell us one fun thing about you
I love to travel! I’m an avid traveller and actively devote time and resources to seeing the world. I have a travel bucket list and before COVID hit, I was well on my way to visiting 40 countries before 2022.

What’s a quote you live by?
“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result…” by Michelle Obama.

What was the last book you read?
Becoming by Michelle Obama.