by Meg Guiseppi, Reach CPBS, COIS, MRW, CPRWIn the new world of work and executive job search, impacted by a challenging job market, it’s more critical than ever to stand out and above those competing for the same jobs.There’s no better way to accomplish this distinction than by defining your personal and career brand and communicating it across your paper/digital career documents (resume, biography, etc.) and online presence (LinkedIn profile, Twitter, blogs, article-writing, etc.).
Why is Branding so Important in Job Search?
- The branding process helps you understand your return-on-investment value to your target employers and what differentiates you from your competition in the job market.
- The branding process helps you clearly communicate your value and good-fit qualities when you network and interview.
- Branding helps you stand out above your competition through your career marketing communications.
- Branding generates chemistry for who you are, what you’re like to work with, how you make things happen, and what you have to offer that no one else does.
10-Step Brand Development Process
Following is an abbreviated version of the brand-development process I guide my C-level executive clients through, based on my training as a Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist:1. What are your vision and purpose?Look externally at the bigger picture of your vision for the world, and then internally at your purpose — how you might help the world realize your vision.2. What are your values and passions?You have to know yourself and what you want and need before you can move forward. If your core values and the passions that drive you aren’t met, you probably won’t be happy in your next career step. First, identify what things you’re passionate about doing and how they converge with what you’re best at doing.3. What are your top goals for the next year, two years, and five years?Work on projecting what you intend to accomplish so you can put together a strategic action plan to get there.4. Conduct an assessment of your top brand attributes.What three or four adjectives best describe the value you offer? What words do you use to define your personality? Once you pinpoint what you feel are the right kinds of words, it’s a good idea to consult a thesaurus to precisely nail down the exact words. Some examples:
Collaborative, resilient, forward-focused, risk-taking, connected, international, visionary, diplomatic, intuitive, precise, enterprising, ethical, genuine, accessible.
5. What are your core strengths or motivated skills?In what functions and responsibilities do you excel? For what things are you the designated “go-to” person? What gap would your company be faced with if you left suddenly? Some examples:
Identifying problems, seeing the details, leading, delegating, performing analysis, fact finding, crunching numbers, anticipating risk, motivating, mentoring, innovating, managing conflict, writing, listening, communicating.
6. Get feedback from those who know your work best.The true measure of your brand is the reputation others hold of you in their hearts and minds. Notice how they introduce you to others. Ask them what your top brand attributes and core strengths are. How does your self-assessment jibe with their feedback?7. Do a SWOT analysis (Strengths — Weaknesses — Opportunities — Threats).Strengths and weaknesses are internal, and speak to your potential value to an employer. Opportunities and threats are external, and help you foresee what you’re facing in next career steps.SWOT is an invaluable personal branding exercise that also helps prepare you for interviewing and future career growth and stability. [Editor’s note: Read more about SWOT analyses in our article, Using a SWOT Analysis as a Key Career-Planning Tool).8. Who is your target audience?Determine where you want to fit in (industry and niche area of expertise). Learn what decision-makers in that field are looking for when they’re vetting candidates. Find out where those decision-makers hang out and what key words will attract them. Position yourself in front of them and capture their attention.9. Who is your competition in the marketplace and what differentiates you from them?What does your competition typically have to offer? Determine what attributes, strengths, and passions come together to make you the best hiring choice for organizations that you know are a good mutual fit. What value do you bring to the table that no one else does?10. Remember the three Cs of personal branding:A strong brand communications plan embraces these three characteristics:Clarity
- — be clear about who you are and who you are not.
- — steadfastly express your brand across all communications channels — online and offline.
- — strong brands are always visible to their target audience.
The work involved in uncovering and defining your brand may seem daunting, but your efforts will benefit you immeasurably. In job search, developing and communicating your personal brand can pre-qualify you as a good fit, clearly showcase why you’re a good hiring investment, and position you to land your next great gig.
Final Thoughts on Branding
To bring all the pieces together and express your brand in your executive resume and career biography, read my blog posts:
- How to Write An Irresistible Executive Brand Resume in 10 Steps
- How to Write an Executive Career Brand Biography
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. This article is part of Job Action Day 2010.
A C-level executive brand, resume and online identity strategist for job search, Meg Guiseppi is a seven-times certified, 20-year careers-industry professional and one of only a handful of people worldwide to hold the Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Certified Online Identity Strategist, and Master Resume Writer credentials — all recognized gold standards. She loves collaborating with top-level executives to create career-marketing materials that differentiate their ROI value and strategically position them to land their next great gig. Connect with Meg at Executive Career Brand, LinkedIn and Twitter. © Copyright, 2010, Meg Guiseppi. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Enhance your career brand! Find great articles, tools, and resources for developing your personal career brand, as well as key self-marketing techniques to get hired or promoted in our Personal Branding & Career Self-Marketing Tools for Job-Seekers and Career Activists.