Do you feel bombarded by the words personal brand? Do you back away from the conversation and look for the nearest exit? Or just sit there and think, “um, well, I’m not quite sure!”
You are not alone. Many people I encounter are flummoxed at the mention of personal branding when it comes to their careers. Why do you need a personal brand anyway? Can’t you just have a career without being concerned with a brand?
Well, it’s not really like that. Branding is figuring out who you are and what you offer. Companies find you based on your brand.
So, what is a personal brand? How do you determine yours?
Your personal brand is what you’re known for
Your personal brand is deeply rooted in who you are, your passions, your expertise, and what value you bring to the company. It is what differentiates you from your peers.
Companies want to hire you for the uniqueness you bring to the table. Not because you are the same as everyone else. It’s your story and messaging about who you are professionally. It is uniquely you.
When I talk with a client about defining their brand, I ask them a few questions to get a good feel for what their brand and expertise might be.
Questions to determine your personal brand
- What are you known for at your company?
- When people talk about you, what do they say? What do they tell others to go to you for? For example: “Go to John for anything having to do with customer relationship building. His clients love him,” or, “Janet is an expert in enterprise software sales. She can answer any question about that brand,” or, “Mike can tell you in five minutes why that machine broke down. He knows them like the back of his hand.”
- What is your very favorite part of your job? Where do you really shine? Where do you excel?
- What makes you passionate about your job?
- What value do you feel you bring to your company?
Being honest with yourself when answering these questions is key and will help you determine your personal brand a lot quicker than if you try to be everything to everyone. So, get a pad of paper and start jotting down keywords or phrases you hear when people talk about you.
Personal branding is personal storytelling
One of the things I know I am known for, my brand, is executive resume writing. How do I know? Well, it began cultivating about fifteen years ago after five years of resume writing and slowly watching my keyboard and computer screen breathe life into dull and ineffective executive resumes. I was good at entry level and professional, yes, but executive level is where the magic happened. Capturing clients’ years of successes and experiences by creating a story that made people want to pause and read took hold. And then it snowballed. As I began to develop a fervor in that segment of writing, more and more clients referred colleagues to me. Boom! Executive resume writing became my brand.
Now, look at your own career and see where slowly your brand began to take shape. Do you see similarities between my story and yours? Can you tell where at some point you were given more responsibilities in a certain area? Do you see where your skills developed and you became successful in a given area? When you look back at your career and see your steady progression, it’s easy to spot where your brand has taken root, developed, and flourished over the years.
I have this great personal brand. Now what?
So now you have this fantastic personal brand and may be thinking, “Awesome. Now what?” Now you need to put it to use in your job search. Here are a few ways to do that:
Revamp your social media
Head over to each of your social media profiles you use professionally and ensure your brand stands out. Create a new tagline or header in LinkedIn that focuses on your brand and the value you bring. If on Twitter, make sure all of your tweets showcase your expertise and brand. If you are using Facebook professionally, keep your posts focused on your projects and accomplishments that focus on your brand.
The same goes with any other social media you are using to establish your expertise and –dare I say—brand dominance. Keep it consistent and brand-focused.
Use your personal brand to expand your network
As a huge fan of LinkedIn, it is my go-to for networking. Use your brand to reach out to other people who have similar roles. It’s a great way to break the ice and get to know others in your industry. Offer insight to LinkedIn groups that are related to what you do. Engage with group members and add thoughtful answers.
Create a brand-focused web page
Consider starting a blog where you can demonstrate your expertise by showing off your projects, video clips, articles, and expertise. You can add this link to your LinkedIn profile as well so recruiters, hiring managers, or readers can click on it to view more about what you offer. Don’t be afraid to show off your accomplishments or projects you were involved in.
Once you’ve established your personal brand, using it when searching for a new role will boost your chances of being found. Communicating your value and expertise will open doors and increase opportunities for you.
Erin Kennedy, MCD, CMRW, CERW, CEMC, CPRW is a Certified Master & Executive Resume Writer and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc. (PRS), home to some of the best resume writers on the planet and voted “Forbes Top 100 Career Websites.” Erin is a nationally published contributor of 16 best-selling career books and has written thousands of career-related articles over the span of 20 years. She has been quoted in Forbes.com, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Mashable, and more.