Personal Branding How To

Posted by | July 6, 2010 | Advice, Blog

What is Personal Branding and how can you use it to land a great job?

If more job seekers knew the answers to these questions there would be substantially more success stories.

Oprah Winfrey certainly knows a thing or two about personal branding. She has taken the idea to a new level with not only market saturation but also diversification of activities (ranging from magazines to radio to TV). Her personal “brand” is recognized by millions. But you do not need to be Oprah to utilize the idea of personal branding. Any job seeker can create a “brand” for themselves by following a few simple rules:

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Define Your Brand
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To brand yourself you must first determine your strengths. What do you do best and who is your “customer”? You should be able to sum up the answer to this question in one concise personal branding statement. If you are not sure of your direction, try doing a SWOT analysis to determine the answer. (SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). This will help uncover a pattern that will allow you to see your true potential.

While your career objective represents what you hope to gain for yourself, your branding statement speaks more for what you have to offer to others. Think of it as your unique selling point – the basis of what you do best. Remember, you are your strengths so let them lead your way.

Personal branding statement example:

I am a career strategist who helps job seekers leverage networks and emerging media to find success.

That’s my personal brand. It’s not my job title or my career field. Instead, it is a statement that clarifies my audience and highlights my particular expertise.

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Brand Your Resume
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Once you have uncovered your talents and branding statement, begin building your resume package. But, resist the urge to use the generic templates you find online. The old “cut and paste” is probably the most overused technique utilized by job seekers today. As a result, 8 out of 10 resumes will contain the same, tired old catch phrase that have been pitched for years: “A professional worker with excellent communication skills who can work in a fast paced environment” blah blah blah… “Team player with demonstrated success in the business field”… {yawn}. Thanks to the power of Google, these go-to phrases are nothing more than a waste of valuable marketing space. You must rise above by branding your resume with your particular stamp. Personalize each and every statement and tailor them to the job for which you are applying. Consider being creative with your cover letter. Create a table where one column lists the needs of the employer from the help wanted ad and the other column details what you can offer in this area.

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Niche Your Brand
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Niching is key to get yourself noticed. And, of course, getting yourself noticed means opening yourself up to more opportunities. The idea of finding a niche is nothing new. The business community has embraced the idea for years: if you can’t be the big fish in the big pond, then be the big fish in a smaller pond. As a result, you are probably already a customer of a variety of niched products or services yourself. For instance, I am a runner. While I might appreciate all aspects of general health and fitness, my true interest is in running. Therefore, I shop at running stores, I subscribe to running magazines and podcasts, I follow running experts on Twitter and I read books written about running. This same idea can be applied to your job search.

Think of it this way: there are thousands of “Account Representatives” out there, but how many “New Account Development Authority For The Financial Industry” are there? The trick is to be authentic. You will find greater success in your career and life in general if you stay true to yourself.

Some might argue that this type of niching will limit opportunities but I disagree. People who are experts in their field get noticed by a wide range of industries simply as a result of ‘buzz’. The big fish in the big pond will be keenly interested in what the big fish in the small pond is up to.

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Market Your Brand
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What good is all this branding if nobody sees it? I mean, where would Starbucks be without all the media buzz and branded slang and marketing and cross promotion? They would likely just be another cup of coffee instead of the double caff no whip lifestyle brand they have become. Job seekers are no different from corporate customer seekers. We are all looking for the same thing – to be noticed, accepted and utilized for monetary gain. So, with this in mind, you must develop your brand portfolio and get yourself ‘out there’. This means branded resumes, business cards, online listings, job board posts, social networking accounts, blogs, video resumes, Flickr portfolios and more. Like Oprah, you should be everywhere. Each and every item should reiterate your brand stamp and, when possible, even style and color should harmonize.

Think about purchasing your domain name (yourname.com) or creating a free blog using your name yourname.blog.com – This is an excellent way to maintain a sort of central homebase for all of your links, networks, portfolios, testimonials, etc. Be sure to add the URL to your hardcopy resume, cover letters and email signature file.

Another great way to market your brand is by commenting on other blogs, forums and news items on the Web. Be professional, of course, and try to stick to topics that are related to your career field. It has been noted that a vast majority of employers Google job candidates before offering them employment. Make it easy for them to find positive feedback on you by showing them that you are a professional in the field.

Remember to always be professional. This includes your email address and social media custom names. If only I could share some of the wild email addresses that I’ve received over the years from job seekers! Trust me when I tell you that “DrunkGirl@aol” is NOT going to help win over a potential employer. You absolutely must use a professional email account for your job search. If you name is not available, consider your career field or an industry buzz word. Even names that you might think are ok (such as “SleepyHead” or “MomOf2″) may give a hiring manager the wrong impression. Best to be on the safe side and stick to your name or related title.

Consider claiming your space on all of the following:

Twitter
LinkedIn
Facebook
Youtube
StumbleUpon
Digg.com
del.icio.us
Ask.com
and (if applicable) MerchantCircle and Yelp

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Face To Face Marketing
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While the digital age has made the idea of “face to face” communications almost obselete, it does not mean that you should overlook traditional networking options.

Start with a simple yet professional business card that displays your Personal Branding statement and your contact information including your blog, online resume or social network URLs. You do not need to spend much money on your cards. Vista Print offers job seeker networking cards plus a free card holder for just a few dollars.

The creation and management of your personal brand does not end when you get a job. It’s more of a lifelong pursuit that will involve constant monitoring and upkeep. While this may seem like a tedious and unnecessary venture, keep in mind that there will always be competitors who will be more than happy to take over where you leave off. Unless you are 100% confident that you will never change jobs again, then you should work to maintain the personal brand that you have worked so hard to create. You never know when you might need to rely on it in the future to help you get ahead.


For Additional Information:

Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success

Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand

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This article was reprinted with permission

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