by Patricia Dorch
This article is adapted from Military To Civilian Transition: Job Search Strategies and Tips to Get Hired in the Civilian Job Market.
Why Should Transitioning Military Veterans Have a Career Brand?
Are you marketing your top skills and value to civilian employers? Do you effectively communicate what makes you different from your military peers and civilian candidates? What skills have you accomplished in the military that are transferable to the civilian market? What are your most outstanding strengths? What is the best value you bring to an employer?
No matter what type of position you are seeking in the civilian job market — communicate how your top skills provide a solution to an employer’s problem. During the interview you should sell your skills to civilian employers, not tell what you did in your military positions. Sell your skills by always providing examples of the accomplishments unique to you. Doing so establishes your brand. In closing the interview use your brand achievements to market the most compelling reasons they should hire you.
Who Should Have a Career Brand?
Personal branding should be used by everyone — new and experienced professionals. Your personal brand is a “career distinction” that identifies and differentiates you from other candidates and colleagues in your industry with similar knowledge, skills, and abilities.
With personal branding you are the brand. A brand advantage is a unique combination of your military experience, education, business qualifications, professional qualifications, internships, volunteer work and work experience you promise to those who hire you.
Do you “stand out” to potential employers?
To attract the ideal employer use strategies to build your personal brand and position you for career success. To “stand out” during your interview communicate to an employer what makes your brand distinctive, unique, exceptional, compelling, engaging and valuable to the organization. Provide examples of your strengths, achievements, and problem-solving — the perceived value you will bring to their organization. Listed are strategies to build your personal brand.
Seven Key Strategies to Achieve Personal Career Branding Success
Strategy 1: Visual Brand — Appearance
Your visual brand sends a non-verbal message how successful you are.
What does your visual brand say about you?
- Make a powerful first visual impression and be consistent with your image.
- Reinforce your personal brand by aligning your appearance with your unique promise of value.
- Your body language, gestures, and posture all communicate your personal brand.
- Your visual brand should communicate success.
- How distinct is your visual brand from others?
Strategy 2: Branding Tools for Success
Never underestimate the importance of using branding tools for success. They communicate your personal brand.
- Ink Pen. Use a quality brand ink pen and pencil set. Name engraving adds a personal touch. Use black ink for business.
- Writing Portfolio. Use a writing portfolio in black or dark brown leather with business-card holders.
- Paper. Use white tablet paper for business and yellow paper if you are in the legal or financial industry.
- Personal Business Cards. Always carry your personal business cards and business-card holder.
- Personal Branding Statement. Write your personal branding statement on the back of your business card; better, have your branding statement printed on it.
- Presentation Portfolio. Present your resume, cover letter, best work samples, and references in a presentation portfolio with your personal business card on the outside of the portfolio when you interview.
Strategy 3: Career Distinction
Think of yourself as a brand. What makes brand YOU unique from brand X?
- What makes your brand unique from your colleagues and competition?
- Does your brand statement include qualities that make you distinctive from others? What are they?
- What is your brand strategy to make you “stand out” from others?
- What are your top three strengths?
- Stand out by leveraging your strengths.
Strategy 4: Career Investment
Career investment is an ongoing process that will enhance your knowledge, skills, expand your network and help you sell your brand to potential employers.
- Read. Read books, articles, and blogs and subscribe to industry newsletters that relate to your industry.
- Seminars. Attend seminars to increase your industry knowledge.
- Certifications and Certificates. Consider certifications, certificates or an advanced degree to position you for brand distinction.
Strategy 5: Communication and Branding
- Exceptional active listening, as well as oral and written communication skills will enable you to communicate your brand with confidence and excitement.
- Your resume and cover-letter language should complement each other and support your personal brand.
- Be actively visible to your target employers.
- Write articles to market your brand to gain the attention of key decision makers.
- Volunteer to be on committee or board to gain exposure for your brand.
Strategy 6: Power of Reputation and Branding
- Brand Management. A good reputation is earned by brand management and will follow you throughout your career.
- Brand Reputation. Your brand reputation should add unique value in your area of expertise.
- Brand Association. Employers want to be associated with a brand that is different and has a strong reputation.
- New Skills. Develop new skills and expertise and expand your network to grow your brand.
- Social Media. Visit social-media Websites regularly to monitor and protect your reputation and ensure you make a good impression to potential employers.
Strategy 7: Brand Visibility Campaign
The most effective way to increase your visibility is to get your name out in the industry. Establish a visibility campaign by:
- Maintaining and expanding your network of colleagues, clients, customers, friends, and industry contacts.
- Attend and speak at industry conferences and meetings.
- Write an online book review on a topic that relates to your industry. This content becomes part of your online identity when people search your name.
- Write a blog — become known as an industry expert on a topic of your expertise to showcase your work.
- Write an article in your company newsletter on an industry topic on which you have expertise.
Final Thoughts on Branding and Job-Search Success
Personal career branding is building a unique brand personality. Your brand comprises your personal and intellectual assets that differentiate you from others. Whether you are looking for a new job or seeking a promotion, build your brand and career distinction. Communicate your unique promise of value to a potential employer. Manage your brand reputation, professional appearance, platform, online presence, and brand community.
Today every career advantage counts in helping employers take notice. Use these innovative strategies as a career distinction tool that will position you to stand out in today’s competitive market and help you succeed in your job-search.
See some additional career branding resources:
Maximize your use of the many no-cost veteran and career resources — including career consulting to resume-writing to job placements. These resources are there to help empower you to success in your transition from military service to civilian worker.
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 2013.
Patricia Dorch is an speaker, career expert and author of Military To Civilian Transition: Job Search Strategies and Tips to Get Hired in the Civilian Job Market; Professionalism: New Rules for Workplace Career Success; What Are Soft Skills? How to Master Essential Skills to Achieve Workplace Success; Six Figure Career Coaching Advice: The Ultimate Guide for Achieving Success; and Job Search: New Get Hired Ideas, Tips and Strategies for 40 Plus.
© 2013; Patricia Dorch.
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