Last fall I attended a Global Career Brainstorming day in San Francisco. It was a great opportunity to connect with other career coaches and talk about what’s happening in the world of work.
One issue that we discussed in detail was the growing importance of personal branding. While most of us in the career field recognize the impact effective branding has on career success, many job seekers aren’t familiar with the concept or don’t appreciate the significance it plays in today’s market.
We all have a personal brand, whether we realize it or not. At best it helps us convey what we are selling and identify organizations that will most benefit from our expertise, and at worst it sabotages our efforts and limits our chances for success.
We can attempt to create our brand but the ultimate test of brand is determined by how we are perceived by others. That’s right: our true brand is in the eye of the beholder.
How good of a job have you done branding yourself? Take out your business card. Feel the card stock. Does it convey a sense of quality?
Take a close look at it. Is your contact information easy to read? Is it well laid out? What about your color choice — is it bold, understated, or jarring to the eye? Is the message your card is conveying congruent with the professional image you hope to communicate?
Speaking of professional image, is yours contributing to or detracting from your brand? Marion Gellatly, a professional image consultant likes to say, “Image isn’t everything, it’s just what everyone notices.” Pay attention! What you wear, how you apply your make up and carry yourself are definitely part of your branding package.
But branding is more than a good looking résumé, snappy business cards or wearing the perfect suit. Branding is about who you are and how you behave. You can say pretty much whatever you want on your résumé and during interviews, and you can buy expensive clothes, but what really counts is how you show up or don’t, what your references say, and how you behave on the job.
We all know people who can talk a good line but who can’t deliver when the going gets tough. Never mind what they say their brand is; we know their true brand by their actions.
If you are not sure what your brand is, ask colleagues, co-workers and friends what you look like and how you behave when you are working, when you are in the flow. Identify the behaviors that support your brand and eliminate the ones that sabotage it.
When you know your brand, own it. Advertise it consistently across multiple platforms: on your résumé and personal business card, with your email address, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Understanding your brand makes it easy for you to identify best fit companies and for them to find you. The best managers are evaluating candidates on the basis of their branding to determine if they are good match for their organization.
We all have a personal brand, is yours intentional?
Mary Jeanne Vincent is a career expert and strategist with a private coaching practice in Monterey. She may be reached at 831.657.9151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.