Staking Your Claim with Employers and Recruiters
Use Your Personal Brand to Own a Piece of Your Prospect’s Mind
Personal Branding is one of the hottest – and most misunderstood – concepts in career and job search. It doesn’t mean adopting a flashy personal image, driving a Jaguar or wearing Hugo Boss. Very simply, it means projecting your best qualities and characteristics to potential employers and recruiters. It means promoting your value to a clearly defined audience that appreciates it.
Your Personal Brand conveys your value. It stakes a claim in your future employers’ minds. It positions you as “the answer” to their dilemma. It links you to the services – and service relationship – they need.
You can build a corporation off a great Personal Brand. Look at Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; their Personal Brands are the core of a multibillion-dollar companies. People think of him as a heroes who helped middle-class investors, the champion of the computer age.
By positioning their Personal Brand front and center, these two helped put a personal and friendly spin on an impersonal industry. By driving a brand home with years of relentless marketing, Jobs and Gates – the men, the companies – have come to own the “computer” position in consumers’ minds.
Why Is Personal Branding Important?
Think about your domain – the circle of employers, recruiters, friends, family and contacts you look to to help in your job search. How crowded is it? Are 2, 5, 10 others alongside you, all digging for the same ‘vein of gold’?
A Personal Brand can make you stand out from the crowd, rise above the noise and be remembered. The alternative? Say what everybody else says, offer what everyone else offers, conform to the norm – and flush your true potential down the toilet.
Personal Branding in Action
Personal Branding can totally transform your career. Take the story of Jason of Loveland, CO.
“My previous business development could only be characterized as haphazard,” Jason notes. “I had 30 clients, no specialization, and grossed only about $50,000 in revenue. That certainly wasn’t enough to support my family the way I wanted to…I had a wife and four daughters to support.”
Jason opted to work with a branding strategist, and he realized he had to specialize. He became “The Financial Strategist for Northern Colorado Educators.”
“To my delight, almost immediately new opportunities came as a result of my new brand, including speaking opportunities that I would only have dreamed of before,” he states.
When I last checked in with Jason, he was on track for 140 clients and projected revenue of $160,000 to $180,000 for 2005. That’s over 300% growth in a very short time, from a near-dead start. Best of all, he’s building his business around clients he wants.
How Can You Brand Yourself?
Branding isn’t just for corporations. Any professional can benefit from it. It’s simply a matter of telling your domain who you are, what you do, and what you stand for – and presenting that message in a classy way that will set you apart from the rest.
Your Personal Brand is that thumbnail description people have of you – a description associated with the benefit or value you provide. Here are some examples:
- The altruistic athlete whose philanthropy has transformed a neighborhood
- The architect who’s made Mission Revival hip again with a new post-modern edge
- The former PGA Tour player-turned-chiropractor who understands and treats golfers’ unique back and spine problems
Types of Attributes
Your Personal Brand is built around a leading attribute that will appeal to your target audience. There are three types of leading attributes:
- Experience. You know how to do “X” like no one else – your prospects would be foolish to hire a rookie. You’ve done it thousands of times; you’ve seen it evolve.
- Expertise. Specific skills and knowledge set you apart.
- Understanding. You live the same life as your clients, or you have shared a particular life experience with them. Therefore, you understand where they’re coming from.
A good Personal Brand takes advantage not only of a leading attribute, but also of your personality.
Start Building a Brand
Building a solid Personal Brand takes time and research. Here are the basic steps:
- Define your target audience. Who are they? Are they making a specific financial transition? Do they live in a specific region? Work in a specific industry? Are they over 55? Over 70?
- Decide on a leading attribute. Narrow several down to one. Having a leading attribute doesn’t mean you can’t offer other services, talents, products, but you better promote and hammer home the main value you can provide.
- Check out the competition. Collect resumes, websites, business cards, print ads and other materials issued by your competitors. Are their Personal Brands particularly memorable? Or are they all claiming to provide “quality service?” If they are memorable, why? Asking these questions will help you refine your Personal Brand, and make it stronger in comparison.
- Create your own online personal brand. Take a portion of your day and set up profiles on every social networking site with your name as the username and core message. You may chose to leverage those sites now, or they may prove beneficial later, but you want to have those should the opportunity present itself. Further, should anyone want to search you out on these sites, they will see what you want them to see.
- Create a professional website. Employers and recruiters are increasingly looking to the web for prospective employees; either to find new prospects or to find out more about their prospective candidates. Take control of this effort by creating a consistent message across the social networking sites (see above) and on your own personal website. [Read this article before thinking about creating a blog on your site as there are pros and cons to having a blog.]
Most job searches take some time. With these steps you will be in a better position in your job search, and, before long, you’ll have a Personal Brand that will serve as the foundation for your career.
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Mark Montoya has been working in personal branding for more than a decade for hundreds of online and offline companies, small businesses and individual service professionals. His focus has been toward improving the way jobseekers find employment on the Internet. He has synthesized his expertise by helping job seekers obtain their ideal choice of employment over the Internet on his sites MyOnlineCareerSpace.com and MyOnlineCareerCoach.com, and through his books 101 Tips Every Job Seeker Should Know and The Ultimate Online Job Search eBook.
“It is the responsibility of the individual to reject the prospect of mediocrity and to strive for the betterment of society as a whole” ~ Mark Montoya