To succeed in job search you need to have a clear personal brand. This tells people what differentiates you from others applying for jobs in a similar field. Personal branding is also very key if you are looking to become self-employed. We need to know what you stand for and what solutions you can bring. Are you aware of your own personal brand for a start and secondly are you nurturing it to help you achieve your short and long term career goals.
For some people that word “brand” might ring alarm bells and feel a bit too much like sales talk. If so, then think about it as your reputation. What do you want to be known for? How would you like people to describe you when they are chatting at the coffee machine and you’re not there? When the leadership team are identifying the right person for an open position do you come to mind? Do they clearly know what you stand for in terms of skills, personality traits and values?
Hopefully you can now start to see how important it is to present a clear and consistent personal brand to others so that they know what you can help them with and they can pass on that brand message correctly to others. If not, you will miss out on opportunities or other people will create your brand incorrectly for you and make assumptions about what you want to do.
Think about people in the public eye who have strong personal brands like Richard Branson. We know that he stands for entrepreneurship, exploration, unconventional leadership. It’s a clear, simple personal brand, consistently delivered in all interactions people have with him in person or indirectly online or via the media.
Take a moment to reflect on what you want to be known for. What are the two or three main skills or talents that you want to focus on in your brand? Which three (positive!) personality traits would you like others to use when they describe you?
If you’re struggling to answer these questions, seek feedback from others. Ask a manager, colleague, direct report for their advice. Look back at appraisals, 360-degree feedback, LinkedIn recommendations, e-mails received after you finished a piece of work – do you start to see a pattern or theme? Certain words being used repeatedly? Are there words that you personally feel differentiate you from others in a similar field? For example, in my deliberations about my own personal brand I decided I wanted you to associate the words “energiser, structured and supportive” with SW Career coaching. Hopefully this comes across in my choice of colours and words, use of friendly, smiling photos and video clips in the new website.
Next create a brand headline for yourself of up to twelve words. What do you stand for? What’s that combination of skills, values and personal qualities that you offer? For example, “International Finance specialist partnering with you to achieve cost savings”, and “FCIPD qualified Learning and development manager, energised by e-learning and innovation.” Check your LinkedIn headline which is just under your name. Have you captured your personal brand there? Is it key word rich?
Expand your headline now into a thirty second commercial about yourself. This should be five or six sentences, describing what role you want to be known for, your career background, your main skills that you want to offer, any knowledge, experience or expertise that particularly differentiates you and how you would describe your personal style. Make sure in your LinkedIn profile that you have included a Summary section and put this personal brand thirty second commercial there. I’ve created a wordle list as the picture at the top of my LinkedIn profile, highlighting key words that readers can associate with my brand. Perhaps this might work for you too?
Check your CV, do you have a strong summary statement at the top which reflects your personal brand consistently? Some people nowadays are choosing to create their own personal website. It’s a good idea to have personal business cards where you might choose to include your brand headline so that people you meet remember what you stand for.
Nurture your Personal Brand
Most importantly your personal brand must be authentic, it must be you. When you meet up for a networking coffee or go to an interview, the people you meet must see, hear and feel those consistent brand messages. If you have put in your CV and LinkedIn summary that you have a high energy, enthusiastic approach that’s how you need to come across on the phone or in person – not with shoulders slumped, monotone voice and so on! With social media now, every tweet, every LinkedIn post, every Facebook photo either strengthens or weakens your personal brand.
Moving forward, make time for and take actions that deepen your personal brand. Identify courses, conferences and events that you can attend and share the outcomes with others. Be known as the “go to” person, the expert in your chosen area. Contribute to Groups on LinkedIn, write an article for your company newsletter, share your skills locally by volunteering.
Read, absorb and share that’s the way to enhance your strong personal brand.
If you would like help to identify your own personal brand, then do get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
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