Your Personal Brand and Your Job Search

Think about a successful company, and then identify two or three words that you associate with it.  For example, if your company was Apple, your words may be innovation and creativity.  If your company was Tim Hortons, your words may be Canadian values, tradition, or hockey.  These associations did not happen by accident.  Marketing campaigns were carefully crafted so that you would view the organization in a particular way.  This is called branding.

Branding also works with individuals.  When you meet someone new (whether in person, by phone, or through e-mail), they immediately form an impression of you.  By working to develop your personal brand, you can better control that impression. This means that with some effort, you can make sure that your personal brand presents you as a natural fit for a particular job.

With social media opening up so many opportunities to communicate your brand, using a personal brand in your job search has never been more important.  Employers will be looking for your brand, and the jobs will go to the candidates with strong brands that they communicate well.

Here are some steps to help you start building your own personal brand:

1.  Identify your brand.  Keep in mind that you have an internal and external brand.  Your external brand relates to how others view you, and your internal brand relates to how you see yourself.  An effective personal brand will incorporate both.  To identify your brand, first think about how you perceive yourself.  What adjectives would you use to describe yourself?  What is important to you?  How would you like others to perceive you?

Next, talk to your friends, family and colleagues, and ask them for some adjectives that they would use to describe you.  Tell them that you are working on building your personal brand, and that you need some insight.  Most people will be willing to help.  Make note of any words that come up repeatedly, or are consistent with how your view yourself.  These are the qualities that you may be able to work into your personal brand.

2.  Relate your brand to your target job.  Don’t forget that the purpose of creating your personal brand is to make you competitive in the job market.  Therefore, it is essential that you can relate your personal brand to your target job.  How does your personal brand make you uniquely qualified for this particular position?  You must be able to answer that question if you are going to have any level of success with your branding effort.  For example, if you are looking for a job in sales, it would not be effective for you to brand yourself as quiet and unassuming.  A brand that exudes youth or creativity would be more appropriate for this role.

3.  Communicate your brand.  Communicate your brand in all of your correspondence with the employer.  This includes your resume, cover letter, interviews, and any other interaction that you have with them.  You should also be making use of social networking sites.  Communicating your brand effectively requires a considerable time investment.  If you are going to do this, you need to do it right.  Here is a website that can show you how to make employers aware of your personal brand:  http://mashable.com/2009/02/05/personal-branding-101/

A strong brand gives you additional confidence.  You know exactly what you want to convey to the employer, and after a bit of practice, it becomes second nature. Just the act of identifying your brand gives you a better picture of your goals, and what you have to offer.  If you can effectively communicate your personal brand to the employer, it will set you apart from the many job seekers who don’t have a clear idea of who they are as a professional, and where they are going in their career.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo From: Naypong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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