We all can identify name brands. We see them in grocery stores and shopping malls daily. We associate them with a certain level of quality and satisfaction. However, did you know that you have your own brand? Your personal brand defines who you are — what you’re known for and what you want to become.
Building your personal brand is especially important when you are looking for a job. Your brand conveys to potential employers vital characteristics, beyond the skills and experience listed on your resume. It communicates to a prospective employer more about you as a person and the value you would bring to the organization.
The first step in building your personal brand is to decide on the core of your brand: Who you are, what you do and what you have to offer. This process can take time, research and honest self-reflection.
Start by answering a few questions:
- What are the key features of your personality? Are you organized, fun, creative and/or detail-oriented? Think about how others describe you and what your unique selling points might be.
- Who is your brand targeting? In marketing parlance, we call this “knowing your target audience. ” What industry are you looking to work in? What type of job is your ultimate goal? Maybe you have something specific to target, like working in an accounting department; or maybe your goal is broader, like working for a nonprofit.
- What specific talents can you offer? This may be a skills-based assessment, like being a writer, a bookkeeper or a graphic designer. It can also be experience-based and described with terms such as manager, organizer or developer.
Once you have these three areas of your “voice” tightly defined, put them together to create your personal branding statement. Keep your statement short and memorable. Make sure it encapsulates what you have outlined, but also make sure it inspires you and compels others to want to learn more about you.
Now that you’ve perfected your personal brand statement, let’s see how you can put it to work as you look for a job.
- Design your resume to reflect your brand. Many times your resume is the first thing a potential employer receives that represents you. As a consequence, your resume is your first (and possibly only) chance to establish and represent your brand. Make sure to point out what you have to offer that directly aligns you with the position you are seeking. Consider including your personal branding statement as part of your objective. Don’t make employers look for the information in your resume that would be of interest to them; make it easy to find the most important points on your resume.
- Put social media to work for you. Make sure you are fully utilizing professional social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Plaxo. These sites let you include your personal branding statement in your profile. You should align the information in your profile to support your brand. Request recommendations from contacts who can attest to your work and your brand. Then make sure your profile photo is in line with your branding statement. Remember that social media can also work against you. Look carefully at more personal social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter to make sure your postings and privacy settings are appropriate, especially during your job search process.
- Perfect your pitch. Always be prepared to represent your brand in a conversation or when meeting someone for the first time. A basic pitch includes your name and describes who you are. To make it more effective, you should also include your personal branding statement. Practice your pitch until you are comfortable, confident and able to recite it naturally. Being able to speak confidently about who you are and what you want is a great way to make a positive first impression.
- Be consistent. It’s important to remember that one of the keys to building a brand is consistency. Make sure all elements of your job search stay true to your brand. While your resume may establish your brand with potential employers, other pieces such as your cover letter or work portfolio should use the same formatting and language styles as well. Use the same consistent language during the interview process to align your efforts and reinforce your brand. Even your interview attire should be consistent, representing the quality of your brand by being polished and professional. Making sure that all parts of your brand are aligned will allow you to make the best impression possible.
Now that you have your personal branding statement and you are making the most of it in your job search, be sure you maintain it. Your brand is part of you and is something that you reflect and leverage on a daily basis. Allow your brand to evolve as you evolve, and review your personal brand regularly to ensure that it represents the very best of what you have to offer an employer.
Jamie Flynn is the President of Mom Corps Seattle, a professional staffing firm that specializes in flexible workplace solutions. Mom Corps partners with local companies, academic institutions and non-profits to help them understand how to use flexible staffing solutions to meet evolving business needs and build loyal, productive and cost-efficient teams. Mom Corps has access to more than 75,000 candidates nationwide who are looking to be placed in full-time flexible, part-time, project-based and seasonal positions. Check out momcorps.com to learn more.