Using personal branding to give you the edge in your job search

Many job hunters don’t think of themselves as a brand, simply a person with a bundle of skills and experience to offer. But you could be selling yourself short if you don’t.

If you have ever run a business you’ll know that reputation is everything. But your reputation is more than your logo, your funky website or any of the other things that spring to mind when you think of the word brand, it’s as Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon says: “Personal brand is what people say about you when you aren’t in the room.”

Personal branding is important for everyone but it’s even more important for jobseekers who don’t have long to create first impressions and make a lasting impact on a prospective employer or manager. While many candidates concentrate on their image – the right suit or outfit, clean shoes and finger nails for example (and yes, this is good practice) – many pay less attention to the rest of their personal brand.  It’s helpful to think about everything that makes up you so that you are fully prepared in advance of an interview and in control of your brand rather than leaving it to chance. Here’s how…

What exactly is your personal brand?

Much like reputation, your brand is what others say and think about you. You can take some control of it, but it must be authentically you, not a false identity you’ve created just to get a job.

If you’ve never taken the time to sit down and think about what you want your brand to be, do it now. Companies spend a long time thinking through their purpose, mission, vision and values and it is the same for us as individuals.  Dan Schawbel talks about “our most important job is to be head marketer of the brand called you.” Thinking about and defining your personal brand  will help shape many of your career and day-to-day decisions at work.

The thing is, if you don’t think about and define what you want your personal brand to be, you can’t make decisions which support the creation of that image and you are simply leaving it to chance.

Defining your brand

Here are three simple things to think about which will help you define “brand you”.

  • What do you want to be known for? What is the first thing you want people to say about you? Thinking about and defining this will help you have clarity on your purpose and objective, then once you know this you can adjust your behaviour and decision-making so you’re living up to that part of your brand
  • How would friends and colleagues describe you? Sometimes it can be difficult to define your key attributes, so thinking about how others describe you is a great way to discover words, skills and personal qualities. If you don’t know – it’s easy to just ask people and that way you get a list of things they associate with you. (A great way to check how aligned their view of you is with the brand you want to create.)
  • What is your USP? Your unique selling point – what is it that makes you different from everyone else doing a similar job with the same experience? We are often asked what makes us stand out from the crowd and this can be hard to pin down. Think about what you do and how you do it, think about the things in your role you are passionate about, what you most enjoy and when you are at your best.

As an example, if you’re crystal clear that you want to be known for getting things done, volunteering for that extra project at work will seem like a simple step to take to support that part of your image. And having clarity on what you want to be known for will make it easier to identify the things you shouldn’t volunteer for too.

Once you’ve done this thinking you need to tie everything together and make sure you live your personal brand.  This means integrating your brand into everything from your email address and voicemail message, to your CV and online profiles, your image and your interviews. All your written and verbal communication should be aligned to this brand and help to create the reputation you want.

Want to read more?

Dan Schawbel is a recognised authority on personal brand and the best-selling author of Promote Yourself and Me 2.0.

Or try one of these 12 books to grow your personal brand.

Jennifer Holloway – Personal Branding for Brits is another good read.

If you’re struggling to define your brand or not sure what to change to improve it, give me a call to explore how I can help.

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