by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Frequently Asked Questions About Career Branding: 13 Questions and Answers About Branding for Job-Seekers and Careerists
Question: What is a Career Brand?
Question: What Goes Into A Career Brand?
Question: Do I Have a Career Brand?
Question: How is My Career Brand Communicated?
Question: How Do I Go About Branding Myself?
Question: How Long Does it Take to Brand Myself?
Question: Can I Change My Career Brand?
What is a Career Brand?
It’s your image, your reputation, the words you use to describe yourself and the words others use to describe you. It’s a promise of a level of quality and professionalism. Your career brand is what makes you distinctive from other workers and job-seekers; it’s the essence of who you are, what you can do for an employer, and your potential for the future. If it helps, think of your career brand as the answer to the job interview question, “why should we hire you?”
Is a Career Brand the Same as a Professional Brand? As a Personal Brand?
Career brand and professional brand are interchangeable, though the preferred term is career brand. In terms of personal brand, some experts make a distinction that your personal brand is who you are when you’re not working — and that employers are not interested in your personal brand. I’m afraid those experts are wrong; in today’s marketplace, an employer who does a background check does not distinguish between personal and career; the perfect example is the use of credit scores by employers as a part of the hiring decision. Your personal brand is your career brand is your BRAND. You cannot have one (personal) brand on Facebook that showcases one aspect of who you are and one career brand on LinkedIn that says something completely different. Are we different socially and professionally? Sure, but employers do not see it that way.
What Goes Into A Career Brand?
Everything. If you are new to crafting your career brand, start with making a list of your key accomplishments; strengths; skills; education, training, and certifications; awards and honors; passions; and core values. Decide which of these elements makes you distinctive from people similar to you… from the other job-seekers competing for your job (or next job or promotion).
Do I Have a Career Brand?
Yes, whether or not you have been consciously working at creating a reputation or image for yourself, you have a career brand. Even if you have done nothing to create or maintain a career brand, you most definitely have a reputation at your work — and that’s your current career brand, like it or not. Managing your career brand can also provide additional benefits, helping you better understand your career path and the professional development you need to succeed.
Why Should I be Concerned with Career Branding?
Hiring managers and bosses use your career brand as a shortcut to evaluating your fit for a new job or promotion — and if you are not actively managing your career brand, the message it is sending may be different than the image you wish to portray.
I’m Not Job-Hunting, So is a Career Brand Important?
Unless you own your own business (and then a career brand is perhaps even more important), it’s unlikely you will work for one employer for your entire life — and even if you did, career branding is also used to position yourself for promotions. Besides, how do you know you will not be looking for a new job tomorrow or next week? In fact, career branding is perfect for passive job-seekers — people who are happy with their current jobs and not actively job-hunting but open to new career moves and jobs if the opportunity presented itself.
How is My Career Brand Communicated?
Everywhere you are — in-person or digitally — everything you do and say… these are the ways your brand is communicated… your work itself, what you say to your boss and co-workers, what you do and say online, as well as your job-hunting documents (resume, cover letter, elevator speech, and the like). A favorite idea for communicating your career brand is to create brand stories — anecdotes that showcase your distinctive brand — that you can use in networking and job interviewing situations.
Will Branding Myself Make it Easier to Find a Job?
Yes, assuming you have created an authentic career brand — AND — there is no digital dirt that tells a different brand story. The more your career brand is communicated consistently, the more likely employers looking for someone with your brand will discover you. But please note the moral of this example. I once had a graduating student who told an employer in a job interview how studious he was and that he would take that same approach to work for this employer; his career brand was that he was diligent, talented, ready to work long hours for success; yet, when the employer searched his Facebook account, there were one too many stories of his exploits at parties and a disregard for his studies; there was no second interview.
What are the Benefits to Career Branding?
Branding is just another critical tool in your job-seeker toolbox that you can use to shape how employers and hiring managers see you and judge your fit for job openings. Creating a career brand is also an excellent exercise in career development and growth; use your career brand to propel yourself to gain additional training or education so that your brand aligns with your reality. Finally, creating/crafting your career brand allows you to have a consistent message about yourself across all job-hunting tools and devices — from your resume to your LinkedIn profile.
How Do I Go About Branding Myself?
Your first step is developing the key attributes that make you distinctive, that make you a great worker, that make you an attractive job candidate. Once you’ve articulated your brand into a sentence or short paragraph, the next step is communicating that brand through all your actions and communications. In other areas of Quintessential Careers, we provide lots of advice, tools, and samples for how to brand yourself.
How Long Does it Take to Brand Myself?
It depends, partly based on what you have unknowingly done to promote or diminish your career brand. If you have no digital dirt, it should take a much shorter period to build a new and consistent career brand. Start with what you can control and then ask others to remove, untag, and unassociate negative elements that relate to you. Remember, though, that branding is a long-term strategy and you won’t likely see overnight success.
Do I Need to Use All Available Branding Tools?
No. Use the tools that you are most comfortable with, that your employer (and prospective employers) use, that will get you the exposure you desire. At a minimum, you’ll want to brand yourself with your current boss and on your resume. After that, there are many options, including branding yourself with a LinkedIn profile, a personal Website or blog, and by communicating your (brand) expertise through videos, podcasts, articles, guest speaking, and the like.
Can I Change My Career Brand?
Yes. Just as companies modify their brands, you can too. If you’re considering a career change, for example, you’ll probably need to modify your career brand to fit your new career path. It’s a matter of articulating your new brand and then using a variety of branding tools to communicate your new brand.
Final Thoughts on the Value of a Well-Developed Career Brand
Besides a career brand’s use to communicate your potential value to a prospective employer, your career brand can also serve a very important career development role. Your career brand can help you make key decisions in terms of new jobs, additional education, and the like. Your career brand serves as a constant reminder of what you should expect of yourself — and of your career development
Additional Readings on Career Branding
- The Value of Creating an Adaptive Professional Brand
- A Dozen Things You Must Know About Communicating Your Career Brand
- 15 Quick Tips for Career Branding Success
- Career Branding Basics: What, How, Why. A Primer for Job-Seekers
- Building Your Personal Brand: Tactics for Successful Career Branding
Have questions about other aspects of job-hunting? Find our entire collection of answers to the most frequently asked questions in the Quintessential Careers Career, Job-Search, and Job-Hunting FAQs for Job-Seekers.
To better understand how these marketing terms apply to job-hunting it helps to first understand the terminology. To that end, go to our Marketing Concepts Glossary. And for a general introduction to marketing and career development, read: Using Key Marketing Tools to Position Yourself on the Job Market.
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.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Enhance Your Brand! Find all the great tools and resources for developing your personal career brand, as well as key self-marketing technqiues to get hired or promoted, that we offer at Quintessential Careers: Personal Branding & Career Self-Marketing Tools.