There will be 12 posts for the 12 days of Christmas to help job seekers hopefully land a job.
Given the current economic situation, where there is more demand than supply, no longer is job search simply a matter of posting your resume on popular job sites and waiting for the phone to ring. As a job seeker, you need to stand out from the rest of the crowd now more than ever.
Branding is a combination of tangible and intangible characteristics that make a brand unique and readily identifiable. Branding is about developing an image using a strong message – that promises equally strong results to match. A brand is a promise of what a product or someone can deliver. The development of a brand makes you a valuable asset, rather than merely an addition to corporate head count.
What goes into a brand?
- promise of value
You need to examine which characteristics, features, and skills comprising your personal and professional qualities that employers will seek and expect in their employees. After identifying these unique qualities, you must embrace them as your own and ensure they are nurtured and cultivated into an appealing and admirable product that demonstrates value.
It’s about identifying and promoting your exceptional qualities, marketable skills, work experience, unique leadership experience, professional memberships, education, training, and institutional knowledge and build a reputation that captures the attention of employers and those within your professional network. Personal branding defines who you are, where you excel, and why you should be sought out.
Personal branding defines your reputation and emphasizes your unique selling points. Personal branding is about building a name for yourself that others instantly recognize and admire, showcasing what sets you apart from others, and describing the added value you bring to a situation.
Your brand should answer a few questions like:
- How can I help an employer address challenging issues and exploit unique opportunities it will have in the future?
- How can I leverage personal successes, and emphasize my capability to handle these challenges and opportunities?
- Why I believe I am the perfect fit for this position?
Most job seekers make the mistake of emphasizing their personal expectations from the position, rather than thinking about exceeding the prospective employer’s expectations. Unfortunately, companies do not care about how you value your skills, but rather care about what you can do for them, including solutions you will bring to their table and the value you are adding to their organization. This means that you, as the job seeker, must tailor your strategy to match the needs of each particular company.
Market yourself as you would market a product; the same tactics are applied for promoting a product or a person using the proper marketing mix. Your brand as a job seeker will be determined by the viewpoint of the audience, and is based upon appearance (packaging), personality (overall attitude towards your brand, how you make them feel), sophistication (a person’s competency) and differentiation (which results in you being selected over your competition).
You control your marketing mix: (4Ps)
- Product: “YOU”, including your brand positioning statement
- Promotion: The way you brand yourself, and job-search communications, including cover letters, resumes, interviewing, and follow-up activities
- Price: Your salary and benefits and how your negotiate them (the value proposition)
- Placement: Location, job-search strategy, and your network of professional contacts
You need to highlight your achievements more than your rewards, for example instead of mentioning that you were rewarded an achievement certificate for project completion on time, talk about your leadership and time management skills, problem solving capabilities etc., point out positive attributes as strengths related to the job description.
Align your goals with the potential employer and how the company will benefit from you achieving your goals rather than what you’ll get from it.
The first step in personal branding is to determine what your brand is, and then start with an objective understanding of the exact situation where you currently are, where you want to be, and establish a direction for getting there.
The second step is to ensure your brand is genuine and consistent across all communication channels
The third step is to have both an offline and online brand presence as many recruiters search for their candidates online these days
How to begin building your brand:
- Track accomplishments and gain new experience: Accomplishments are the foundation of your brand. Plan a strategy and focus your efforts upon gaining new experience in areas that strengthen your brand or develop competence where you are weak. Volunteering in your field could pay huge dividends if you are currently seeking a job to gain experience (we will discuss this in a future post). You can also consider freelancing or consulting to build upon your portfolio. Many websites, like odesk, and guru, offer attractive opportunities.
- You might also consider taking a few courses or pursue a graduate degree, specialized training, or industry-recognized certifications. Getting additional education has the potential to greatly enhance your career brand. You can seek advice through professional networking, mentors, career coaches, or community college advisors.
- “Build it and they will come” doesn’t work anymore. If no one is aware of you and your brand, then you will not achieve success. Here comes the promotion part; while you should never push your message or brand upon anyone, you can try building relationships and credibility where others will talk about your brand and evangelize it for you. Using a portfolio both offline and online to let the whole wide world know about the benefits your brand brings is a great idea. A portfolio should include all important brand artifacts including your personal mission statement, resume, accomplishments, work samples, articles, blogs, videos (a portfolio will be discussed in a later post)
- Build credibility through establishing yourself as an SME (Subject Matter Expert). For example, write articles or white papers and publish them, look for guest blogging opportunities, interviews, and get quoted by offering your thoughts, ideas, and opinions to journalists and reporters. You can find these opportunities on Twitter or sites like HARO, or seek out speaking engagements at associations or chambers of commerce, even if you do this work for free.
- Build bridges i.e. relationships, by helping as many people as you can using your expertise; pay it forward and your good will toward others will emphasize your expertise and provide anecdotal evidence about you for others to talk about you. Word Of Mouth testimonials are one of the strongest marketing tools one can have.
- Self Branding is not static. You must keep working at it to continue strengthening your brand. Do not stop developing your brand once you land a job as there will always be competition looking to fill your shoes.
Tomorrow’s post will discuss brand positioning, USP, how to build your brand and plan it step by step, pitfalls to avoid, and how and where you can promote your brand.
Best of Luck
Sahar Andrade, MB.BCh
Diversity Consultant – Social Media Strategist
Sahar Consulting, LLC. – Home of the D.I.A.L.O.G.™ Programs
Diversity& Inclusion in Active Leadership Organizational Growth™
(Exchanging Ideas through Conversation)™