Searching for a job has evolved into an exercise in marketing. As a candidate, your job is to sell yourself as the cure for whatever ails the employer you are courting. Much like a consumer products marketer cultivates a plan for promoting the likes of Pepsi, Sony, Charmin, or Jennie-O, you must create and promote your personal brand.
Whether you realize it or not, you already have a personal brand. It encompasses everything you are and everything you have to offer. In recent years, personal branding has become a key component of the job search. There’s been a realization that an individual possesses specific, saleable features and benefits and that touting those attributes can make the difference between getting hired or hitting the pavement in search of another opportunity.
Here are a few tips for building your brand and convincing a potential employer that buying what you have to offer will be good for their business:
1- Define Your Brand – You can’t sell what you can’t describe, so begin by answering some key questions that get at the very heart of your personal brand: What are your core strengths? What are you passionate about? How would you describe your values, your vision, your purpose? What are your goals for the next year, five years, 10 years? What differentiates you from the competition?
2- Elicit Feedback – You may feel you have a good handle on who you are, but those around you, particularly those who have worked with you, are in a position to provide invaluable insights into how you are perceived by others. Compare their feedback to your personal assessment and adjust accordingly.
3- Draft Marketing Materials – Consumer products marketers spend thousands of hours coming up with the perfect slogans and complementary materials to sell their brand. Take your time, flex your creative muscles, and focus on writing a personal brand statement that encapsulates your skills, passions, values, and goals in a clear and compelling way. Keep it concise by sticking to one or two sentences.
4- Integrate Your Branding Materials – Incorporate your personal brand statement into all your career marketing materials – resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, business card, and professional biography. Weave your branding through everything you say and do that could possibly be related to your career.
5- Sell Yourself – Promote yourself as a valuable commodity by participating in LinkedIn groups and other Internet forums pertaining to your specialty. Start your own blog and position yourself as an expert by sharing your expertise through regular posts. Include links to other components of your personal branding initiative, such as your resume, biography, and LinkedIn profile, as well as any journal articles you have penned.
Personal branding is an exciting means of maximizing your career potential. All you have to do is think of yourself as a commodity worth buying. Countless legends of business have developed their own personal brands – often without even realizing it. After all, Bill Gates was once just an enterprising young egghead, but who in today’s world doesn’t recognize his name and everything the brand “Bill Gates” has to offer? With a little inspiration and a solid strategy, you, too, can become a brand worth buying.