What is a personal brand?
You may have heard this term around the web for a few years now. There are even experts that will help you to nail down your personal brand, with the aim of getting you more work, better opportunities and career longevity.
According to Astrid Baumgarder, a personal branding coach from the US, “A brand is your vision of who you are and what you do for your audiences.” She says that essentially, your brand is a message “that distinguishes you from your competition by expressing what makes you unique and memorable.” Once you do this, she says, the people (your “audience”) you’re trying to make a connection with will be able to make an emotional connection with you – and hopefully want to work with you.
Why do you need one?
Brands tell your story, and therefore, provide a “snapshot” of not just your working career and past employment history, but your values, your ethos and some unique things about you. Forbes contributor The Muse, says, “Whether you’re on the job hunt, a student, or gainfully employed, you must think, act, and plan like a business leader.” People these days simply don’t have time to click all the links on your resume or read a lengthy document.
“With the surge of social media,” The Muse says, “you have not only the ability, but you now have the need to manage your own reputation, both online and in real life.”
How can it help you find your ideal job?
So, lets’ cut to the chase – how can identifying your personal brand translate to getting you more work or a better job? It basically comes down to “match”. If you are sure of who you are, what you can offer and what you want to achieve – you’ll be in a better place to move towards a fulfilling and satisfying career.
If you truly “know yourself” you’ll be able to move into a role where you can achieve things for yourself, but also for your clients or employer. Everyone is different – some people thrive in an office environment, some people can’t stand the 9 to 5. Some people love talking and managing, others prefer to work autonomously. Your personal branding exercises should address all these issues.
How to identify your personal brand:
What makes you essentially “you”? What core values do you have that would be of value to an employer? Are you a brilliant organiser? Have you got excellent communication skills? Are you more ethical and community-minded than your competitors?
It’s important to really identify what makes you “you” – from a personal and business context. Try to think of real examples, and back up what you say. Take a large sheet of paper, an online storyboard or Excel chart (whatever best suits your style) and brainstorm your core values and attributes.
Your “promise of value” and “personal brand statement”
Now we know who you are – what can you offer? What are your USPs, or Unique Selling Points? Think about these from a business context. Your brand should be strong and clear, so you need to be confident when deciding on what your value promises are. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.
“Your personal brand statement is distinctive to you and you alone,” says Jorgen Sundberg, writing for the Undercover Recruiter. “You could liken it with a tagline, strapline or even a catchphrase that product brands will have.” This should be 2-3 sentences that summarise your personal mission statement, career objectives and even your life purpose.
Your target market
Another thing you need to think about is who you are trying to start a conversation with – what are their needs? In order to get your message across you need to think about how you can connect with your target market.
“Defining a target audience is a business best practice,” according to this excellent infographic by Quick Sprout. “Defining a target audience is a best practice for anyone that needs others to give them something. It might be a salary, an investment or money in exchange for a product or service.”
Quick Sprout says, “Whenever you need something from someone you go through at least some of the steps in defining a target audience.” This will help you define your message and focus on the right things in your personal branding mission.
Once you have a better idea of your personal brand, you are in a much better position to job seek, find a better career, start a business or make connections. Think of your personal brand as an essential tool in your job seeking tool kit – it should sit along your experience, your resume, your referees and your LinkedIn profile and cover letter.
These tools allow you to be prepared for whatever you come across in your career. In todays’ age, everybody can expect to change job roles many times, start freelancing or start their own business. Knowing who you are and what you have to offer the world is the first step to success.