Personal Branding FAQs for Executive Job Search

by Meg Guiseppi on September 26, 2016


When I speak with my c-suite and senior level executive clients for the first time, we discuss the job search issues concerning and impacting them right now . . .

The things they don’t know how to deal with.

The things they don’t understand that may be holding them back

Since their questions range across the spectrum of the job search landscape, I thought it would be meaningful for others facing some of these issues to benefit from our discussions.

So, I’ve gone back to my notes over the past year or so, and compiled a good amount of information to pass on to you.

This first in my series of Executive Job Search FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) focuses on two personal branding issues I’m asked most often.

Over the next several weeks, you’ll see posts here on the other topics in this series:

  • Executive Resume FAQs
  • LinkedIn FAQs
  • Online Reputation Management FAQs
  • Executive Job Search FAQs

2 Personal Branding FAQs for Executive Job Search

1. I have a diverse background with widely varying expertise and success in many disciplines. How do I develop my personal brand around that?

Branding starts with targeting and researching specific employers, so you’ll know what specific value you offer and what makes you a good fit for those employers. You need to know who you’re writing your personal brand content for. How else can you whittle down and focus what to include, and what NOT to include?

Being generic in your approach and including everything about yourself – all your strengths and areas of expertise – will dilute your message. Your content may not resonate with the people you want it to, unless you’ve found that your target employers want and need a “jack of all trades”.

Through your research, uncover your target employers’ current pressing needs, and then build your personal brand content (for your executive resume, LinkedIn profile, biography, etc.) around positioning yourself as the best-fit candidate, and differentiating the value you offer over your competitors.

Although it may seem counterintuitive to limit your possibilities by niching your focus, narrowing your search is the way to go. This also allows you to effectively manage relevant keyword density (that is, your personal SEO, or Search Engine Optimization) in your LinkedIn and other online profiles. You need to be sure you balance personal branding with personal SEO.

2. I don’t like to boast about myself. What is the most effective way to write about my brand without coming off as arrogant and boasting?

Many, many executives struggle with this, because they assume personal branding requires you to boast. This can be especially difficult for shy and introverted people.

Branding is about being and communicating your authentic self. So, unless your brand is all about being arrogant and boasting, and these characteristics will be positives to your target employers (not likely), they should not be part of your brand content.

On the other hand, you do need to put forth your best strengths, areas of expertise, passions, and personal attributes (in line with what your target employers are looking for), to help employers determine whether you’ll be a good fit for them.

Something I advise my clients to do, to help them with this issue, is to think of branding as educating people about the value they offer.

Always approach personal branding with your target employers in mind, positioning yourself as a good-fit candidate.

More About Personal Branding for Executive Job Search

How and Why Personal Branding Works

The 10-Step Executive Personal Branding Worksheet

The Secret of Personal Branding – Be Authentic!

How to Balance Personal Branding With Personal SEO

How to Build Personal Brand Content for Executive Job Search

Look, I Found My Personal Brand Doppelganger!



How to Stay Positive in Executive Job Search

by Meg Guiseppi on September 12, 2016

10 tips to conquer negative thoughts and keep moving forward.


Job search can wreak havoc with your emotional state and self-esteem.

Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll face at least some rejections.

You’ll get your hopes up when you seem to be sailing through the interview process for a job you covet, only to learn they’ve chosen someone else . . . if you even do find out.

The drastic ups and downs will take a toll on even the most secure person, and may cause you to carry negativity with you, as you network and interview.

To make matters worse, according to Russ Harris in his book The Happiness Trap, 80 percent of our thoughts contain negative content (whether or not we’re job hunting).

It’s part of our way of coping with the fast-paced world around us. We’ve evolved into problem-fixers, always sussing out things that need our attention.

What a way to enter the job search landscape . . . with a monkey already on our backs.

But there are some things you can do to bolster your ego, keep from believing those negative vibes are true, and excel through the inevitable negative experiences associated with job search.

1. Remember that bad times or situations are only temporary.

Things can (and do) change in a moment. I’ve had clients land a dream job within a day or two of finishing work with them on their LinkedIn profiles, resumes and biographies. They connected with the right person, at the right time, and presented with personal marketing materials that clearly positioned them as the best fit. One client made that connection on the golf course.

It may help to verbalize the sentiment. Try saying out loud, “This is only temporary”.

2. Accentuate the positive. Latch on to the affirmative.

Remember the old Johnny Mercer song? Good advice.

Instead of dwelling on the bad things, or what’s NOT happening in your job search, think of all the good things going on in your life. Be grateful for the good friends you have, your loving family, the creature comforts in your life, your loyal pet(s), an unexpected kindness from someone.

Many people turn around negative thoughts by keeping a gratitude journal, writing down 3 things every day that they’re grateful for.

3. Avoid negative people.

You know who they are. They’re the ones who greet you with insensitive questions like “Did you get a job yet?” Half-empty types and chronic complainers can drain the energy out of you, and make you feel worse. Circumvent them as much as possible.

Sometimes it helps to have ready answers for those awkward, embarrassing questions about your career situation. For instance, if someone at a get-together feels they need to remind you of your situation, and says “I can’t believe you got fired! How are you doing?”, a polite answer that will shut down the conversation might be “I saw it coming and I’m looking forward to a fresh start. But thanks for your concern.

4. Stay connected and reconnect with fun people.

Refrain from dumping your negativity about your job search on them. Stay upbeat and reinvigorate yourself through their positivity.

Do you have favorite comedians? Watch videos or movies of theirs to perk yourself up. Belly laughs will work wonders on turning around your negativity.

5. Determine and plan for the worst case scenario.

What will you do if the worst happens, whatever that may be for you? Having a plan can soften the blow if the worst actually happens, and can help you switch off the fear if you find yourself worrying too much that it will happen.

6. Get silly with your negative thoughts.

Barbara Markway Ph.D. suggested in a Psychology Today article to sing your thoughts or say them in a funny voice:

“Try singing your thoughts to the alphabet song or to Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Your thoughts will certainty sound absurd this way, which is the whole point.”

7. Set aggressive, but realistic, job search goals.

Determine how many hours a day or week you can invest in job search activities, including:

  • Expanding your LinkedIn and other networks
  • Researching your target companies
  • Reaching out to people at your target companies
  • Staying in touch with recruiters in your niche
  • Staying top-of-mind with people who can help you with your career goals.

Keep at it until you complete your goals, then reward yourself by taking the rest of the day off.

8. Forget about job search for a day or two.

Take a few days off from job search every now and then, and do something for yourself. Go on a day trip with your spouse and/or family or alone. Spend the day reading a light novel, playing your favorite sport, tooling around with a hobby, or learning something new. Make yourself NOT think about job search at all.

9. Eat right. Take care of yourself.

Especially eat a good breakfast every day. If you have an unhealthy diet, learn how to improve it. Healthy eating definitely improves mental outlook, stamina and overall well-being.

Learn how to cook and save money over going out to eat or ordering takeout. Cooking is a satisfying and positive diversion from negative thinking.

Exercise regularly, even if it’s just to take a short walk. And things like yoga, tai chi, qi gong, going to the gym, dancing, etc. can all make a big difference. Movement helps stimulate the brain and can shake away negative thoughts.

10. Sleep well.

Even if you don’t have to get up in the morning to go to work, try to keep “working hours”. Keep your body in the rhythm of going to bed and getting up at the same time. If worries are keeping you from sleeping, try meditation and deep breathing before you go to bed to empty your head of negative thoughts. Try keeping a pad by your bed to write down those thoughts or problems making you toss and turn.

More About Executive Job Search Success

Are You Executive Job Search-Ready?

Essential Checklist to Optimize LinkedIn For Executive Job Search

Is Your Executive Resume an Interesting Read?

10 of the Worst Executive Job Search Email Mistakes

7 Tips to Build Your Executive Job Search Target Companies List