In today’s job search and recruitment world, having a “personal brand” is all the rage. Most people know that they need one, but they just aren’t sure what it actually means, what it does, or how to go about defining it, much less how to communicate it to others.

I think that the best place to start is to describe what a personal brand is not. Many are under the impression that the personal brand is a carefully crafted image of you that has that “Wow!” factor, drawing everyone you come across to you like a magnet. It is not.
Branding is a key element of marketing. I would encourage you to think back on different marketing campaigns you’ve seen over the years. When you hear an advertisement that lists all the great things about a company or about a product, you quickly tune it out. However, when you hear a spot that highlights the benefits you can derive from the product or service, your ears perk up. Sometimes you get excited by the prospect of what the product can do for you. Other times, you may have a strong adverse reaction to the information presented.
With the image of those good advertising campaigns in mind, please proceed with the understanding that, communicated properly, your personal brand:

  • Is not about you but is audience-focused or customer-centric.
  • Presents your value proposition or value-add to an employer in a clear and concise manner (two lines of text maximum on your documentation and 30 seconds or less in a verbal response to an interview question).
  • Will be intriguing and attractive to a narrowly defined target audience.
  • Should actually repel those that are not a part of the target audience.

Communicate, Don’t Manufacture
One problem many people face is how they go about constructing their brand. Instead of fabricating or manufacturing something, you want to communicate strengths from your knowledge base and experience set that will resonate with your audience. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you define what that key value-add is that you can bring forth and put on display with your resume, in your LinkedIn profile, and in your interview sessions:

  • Who is your customer or audience?
  • What is important to your audience in relation to the role you desire?
  • What is the core business issue that the company or industry faces right now?
  • How can I help to solve this challenge that’s central to operating effectively?
  • What have I accomplished in the past that can support my claims for filling this void moving forward?

When you take the time uncover your brand and incorporate your brand message into your career documents, you distinguish yourself from other candidates and help your audience understand your value. And isn’t that what effective marketing is all about?


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