Whether you like it or not – everyone has a personal brand! From graduates to seasoned CEO’s, their brand tells the world who they are. Here’s what marketers say about branding: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Does this apply to your job search? It sure does!
So instead of burying your head in the sand, and pretending that you don’t need to pay attention to this article, take 5-minutes to review this practical article on how to use your personal brand to advance in your career and secure your next job.
Be Clear About Your Direction
In a job search, your brand is manifested in your LinkedIn profile, the recommendations friends and colleagues give you, and how you present yourself during interviews. Your CV and cover letters are also an opportunity to highlight your brand to the hiring manager who receives and reads them.
In order to maximise these channels, first we must be clear about how we express our brand. When we first start working with many of our clients, they describe themselves and their job search in generic and vague terms. “I’m a project manager” is a common expression used to describe someone seeking Project Management roles.
There’s only one problem: almost every Project Manager we know describes him – or herself the same way.
“I’m an IT Project Manager,” some would say. From a branding standpoint, that’s immensely unhelpful and vague. We don’t know what sort of projects or sectors this person works for. We don’t get much sense of a job seeker’s brand in these statements, because they’ve very generic or full of jargon.
The first step in honing your job-search branding message is to understand the sorts of jobs you’re pursuing. You can have more than one job-search target. Our Project Manager may be targeting software implementation as well as infrastructure upgrades. Be aware that having more than one job search target will cause a problem on your LinkedIn profile, which will limit you to just one branding message. You will also need to tailor your individual application to match the industry or sector you are targeting.
Once we have a sense of our job-search direction and any targets inside that direction, we can think about our job-search brand. It’s very hard to work on our personal brands until we know where we’d like our job searches to go!
Fine Tune Your Branding Message
When we decide, “I am going to focus on Job Search Direction A,” we gain a great deal of power from that decision. It’s much easier to define what make you a great candidate for that job search target. From my experience as a recruiter, I noticed that when applicants had a crystal clear job-search direction and brand they stood out confidently. His or her message is no longer “Just give me a job,” but rather “I’d love to talk with you about your [IT] issues, because I love to project manage solutions.”
Some great examples of a clear job search direction include:
“I’m looking for HR software implementation project roles in Europe”
“I’m looking for Marketing Internships within the manufacturing sector”
Now that you are clear on where you are heading its time to ask yourself: why are you the best person for the job?
Most of us have a shopping list of reasons why we might be the best person but how do you bottom line this so that you are able to sound unique? Do this by listing what you do better than anyone you know.
Don’t be modest. This first attempt is not necessarily going to be used on your CV or LinkedIn profile. This exercise is meant to help you get in touch with the elements and qualities that make you perfect for the jobs you’re pursuing.
Use human language and avoid corporate jargon such as “I have excellent teamwork skills..” A more authentic list of statements might include something like, “I motivate project members to outperform their targets”.
If you can, try to list as many as 10 statements on your list. Now it’s time to synthesise these to a statement you can use in your CV, LinkedIn profile and networking conversations. This statement will be vivid and describe why you do what you do so well.
Here’s an example. Let’s say that you have decided that your ability to motivate superior performance amongst project team members is a huge advantage over other IT project managers. You really like to get under the skin of your team and understand what motivates them individually. You expect that not every project manager enjoys or is interested in doing this. And you know that this makes a huge difference in being able to deliver
projects on time and on budget.
Part of your job-search branding statement may be “I love to understand what motivates my team to excel in their performance.” Notice that you’re not praising yourself as you say that. You’re telling the reader (of your CV or LinkedIn profile) what you love to do. If you love to do something, are you likely to be good at it? Most would tend to agree.
An ideal statement should be no more than 1-2 sentences long. It should be easy to remember and memorable.
If this has caught your attention and you are ready to draft your personal brand statement, take a look at our April blog on “How to write punchy personal statements”. This article is much more detailed in helping you answer the questions that lead to a compelling personal brand statement.