Effectively Building Your Personal Brand

I will be the first to say it: the word “brand” is overused. We hear it so often, especially in conversations around job search, that one of two things happens: the word loses its impact or causes confusion. As overused a term as it might be, branding is still a pivotal piece of marketing yourself, both formally in a job search and throughout your career. So let’s bring some meaning back to “brand.”

In its simplest form, a brand is what lingers in the minds of consumers when they think of a product or a service. It needs to be relevant, relatable, consistent, and add value. If I challenged you to list quickly all the brands that come to mind, you could likely come up with several “household name” products or companies. I would also guess that the brands you think of would be those you use every day, or perhaps luxury brands you aspire to indulge in. Often when we think of those brands, certain lingering impressions, feelings, or words come to mind. We hear Nike and think “Just do it.” We think of Coca-Cola and see a polar bear in our minds. We hear BMW and think “performance.” As much as you have connected those words to those products, I’m sorry to tell you it wasn’t you that made that connection; that connection was carefully thought out, tested, and crafted by a team of professionals working to create that brand. In other words, you think those things because you were told to think those things. It’s what they want you to think about when those products may not be directly in front of you.

So what does this have to do with your job search brand? Your brand is what stays in the room with people long after you have left that room. It, too, needs to be relevant and relatable, to be consistent and to add value. How do you want to be known, described, remembered? Take some time to come up with a few words you would want people to use to describe the professional you. Now think How can I get other people to think these things?  The answer is perhaps more simple than you might think – give them those words. You can do this in your 30-second commercial, in the summary of your resume, and in your LinkedIn profile – anywhere that people learn about you.

Consider these three key elements of your job search brand:

Relevant & Relatable

Like a brand, your resume is about you but not for you. It is for your target audience. The reason you thought of familiar brands earlier is likely in part because you are the target market for those brands and therefore those brands speak to you. Hint: Look at job postings that well represent your target functionality and level. What themes do you see in terms of language, qualifications, and required experience? How do these match what you have to offer, and are you using that information to define your employment brand?

Consistent

A brand can’t become a brand unless it is consistent. Think of those same brands and consider what might even be small but consistent details, like color, shape, and font of a logo. That consistency suggests you can count on it regardless of where you see it or when you experience it. So your language should always be consistent. Be sure that you aren’t simply defining yourself a certain way because it sounds good. Rather, your brand has to be something that you also “live” day to day. Hint: Make sure you are the same person whether I am talking to you, reading about you on your resume, or exploring your LinkedIn or other social media profiles.

Add Value

Your brand must not only speak to your audience, but offer your audience something of meaning or benefit. Who is your audience, where is your audience and what value does your brand offer them? Hint: Think of your area of expertise – why does it exist? At a high level, what is your skill set meant to offer an organization overall? Why do they need someone like you working for them? Your answer is your value; it is what you offer to their need.

Remember: a brand doesn’t just happen overnight… it is carefully researched, developed, and tested.  From resume design to elevator speeches, from LinkedIn profiles to key word search, from written words to spoken words, the job search that utilizes a carefully crafted branding strategy is likely to be a successful one.

By: Jen Berry

 

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