To make the most of Job Search 2.0, you first need to master personal branding. What exactly is that? Branding (some call it self-branding when talking about individuals) is essential to career advancement because branding helps define who you are, how you are great, and why you should be sought out. Branding is your reputation. Branding is about building a name for yourself, showcasing what sets you apart from others, and describing the added value you bring to a situation.
Career guru and author Susan Britton Whitcomb notes that “successful career brands weave together three A’s: Authentic image, Advantages, and Awareness. Project an image of your authentic self, focus on the advantages you offer in getting the job done, and make employers aware of those advantages.” Whitcomb elaborates on these three A’s:
- Authentic Image: Your brand should be founded on authenticity. It should be about who you are, what your work-life purpose is, and what you are committed to causing. As a starting point to develop your brand, brainstorm a list of all the things you are good at. As examples, some ideas for brands include conflict management, sales training, best-practice systems, marketing for service professionals, and customer service. Next, identify your passion. Using your brainstormed list of what you’re good at, circle those items you are most passionate about. For starters, identify the No. 1 item. If you’re having difficulty narrowing the list down, pretend you are packing your suitcase for an important business trip. If you had room to take just one item (brand) with you in that suitcase, what would it be?
- Advantages: Once you’ve identified your top pick, determine the advantages to that item. For instance, if you are great at conflict management, the advantages to recipients (employers) of your brand might be greater cooperation among team members, which leads to enhanced productivity, new ideas, less employee turnover, etc. List at least three distinct advantages for your brand.