Confused about what “personal branding” is and how it can help you in your job search?
You’re not alone, and it’s no wonder. So much has been written about personal branding, and much of it misses the point or is downright wrong.
Here’s my brief description of personal branding:
Defining, differentiating, and communicating the unique ROI (return on investment) value you offer your target employers over others competing for the same jobs.
Sounds deceptively simple, but so much goes into branding. How do you define what makes you valuable to employers? This is NOT something you can throw together in a day or two.
It all starts with identifying who those employers are. That is, the specific companies or organizations, or the kinds of companies, that are a good mutual fit for the expertise you offer and the kind of work you want to do.
Once you know who you’re targeting, research their current needs and challenges – by searching online and speaking with current employees at that company – and determine how you are uniquely qualified to help them.
Then, start looking at all of the qualifications, strengths, areas of expertise, and personal traits or attributes that make up “brand you,” and fit with what your target employers are looking for in candidates for the kind of job you’re seeking.
Defining and communicating your brand also requires:
- Looking at your passions and motivated strengths. What things do you love doing that you’re also great at doing?
- Being authentic. Don’t be fake. Don’t make claims about yourself that you can’t back up.
- Using relevant key words and phrases. In your company and industry research, you’ll uncover key words that keep coming up. They usually represent areas of expertise. Make note of them and get them into your writing.
- Precision. Write tight brand messaging (on the paper, digital and web page) and work on to-the-point verbal communications of who you are and the value you offer. Don’t bore people with superfluous and irrelevant content.
- Visibility. Stay visible and top of mind with your target employers through social media, real-life networking, and all other personal marketing efforts. Position yourself on LinkedIn and other social media, and relevant blogs. Develop a realistic online brand communications plan and stick to it. Be online or be invisible.
As you uncover all this information, begin developing content for your career documents (resume, biography, cover letters, etc.) and online profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). And create a personal brand statement and/or brand tagline to briefly describe what makes you unique and valuable.
Don’t be afraid to give your writing a punch. That helps to differentiate you, too, and generates chemistry for you.
No doubt about it, this takes time and a lot of hard work. It requires deep reflection and help from others around you – peers, managers, staff, employees, mentors, clients, friends, and family. The true measure of your brand comes from those you know you and your work the best. Ask them for feedback about you and what kind of employee you are.
When it all comes together . . .
- You know who your target employers are,
- You know what you have to offer that they need,
- You’ve created online and offline career marketing communications that showcase your value to your target employers.
Here’s what your brand will do for you in job search:
- Help you stand out above your competition in your career marketing materials (resume, biography, online profiles, etc.).
- Help you clearly communicate your value and good fit qualities when you network and interview.
- Generate chemistry for you by linking your hard skills with “soft” skills, highlighting who you are, what you’re like to work with, how you make things happen, and what you have to offer that no one else does.
- Help your target employers differentiate what you have to offer over other candidates competing for the same jobs.
Personal branding is no longer optional in job search. Many of your competitors know this, and have the advantage over you, if you’re still job searching the old way. That is, blindly sending out your one-size-fits-all resume and hoping it lands somewhere.
In today’s highly competitive job market, employers are seeking (and getting) candidates who fit all their criteria, including personality fit. What are you like to work with? How well will you work within their culture? How do you make things happen for your companies – make them more money, save them more money, improve processes, etc.?
Branding helps you define and communicate these essentials. My 10-Step Personal Branding Worksheet over at Job-Hunt.org should help.