Differentiate your unique ROI for today’s executive job search.


Personal branding has come a long way since Tom Peters ignited the business world nearly two decades ago with his personal branding manifesto on Fast Company, THE BRAND CALLED YOU.

“You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues. What have you done lately — this week — to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?”

Your brand is your reputation – the perception of you held by the external world. It is the combination of personal attributes, values, drivers, strengths, and passions you draw from that differentiates your unique promise of value from your peers.

It helps those assessing you determine if they should hire you or do business with you.

You need to identify those qualities and characteristics within you and communicate a crystal clear, consistent message across multiple channels– online and offline – designed to resonate with your target audience.
Executive Personal Branding

More and More Executive Job Seekers Are Embracing Personal Branding


In my experience, working with c-suite and senior-level executives, savvy job seekers now have at least some understanding of the value of personal branding, and are more willing than ever to do the work required to define what differentiates them from their competitors.

They’re coming to understand that, in today’s executive job search environment − where so many of their competitors have done the targeting and branding work − they, too, have to leverage the new strategies, just to keep pace with their competitors’ ability to differentiate their great-fit qualities.

It’s been several years since I wrote one of my most popular blog posts, 10 Steps to an Authentic, Magnetic Personal Brand, The Executive Personal Brand Worksheet.

Since then, I’ve tweaked and improved the actual worksheet I provide my clients, when we partner to define their personal brand, differentiate their unique value to their target employers, and position them to land a great-fit new gig!™

Here’s my latest update to that original post, bringing it more in line with the process my clients work through these days, still based on my Reach Personal Branding training.

1.  Who is your target audience?

Determine what kind of work you want to do (job position and industry), and which companies and organizations will afford you the opportunity to work your passion. Determine what hiring decision makers in that field are looking for when they’re assessing candidates.

Research your target list of companies to learn what current challenges they’re facing that you’re uniquely qualified to help them overcome.

Create your personal brand messaging around what keywords and content will attract them. Find out where those decision makers hang out, position yourself in front of them to capture their attention, and stay top-of-mind with them.

As you complete this worksheet, always keep your target audience in mind. Determine the values, attributes, strengths, skill sets, and other qualifications you have, that align with what they will be looking for.

This will help lead you towards employers who are a mutual good fit, that is, those who will benefit the most from your expertise, while bringing you career fulfillment.

2.  What are your vision and purpose?

Look externally at the bigger picture of your vision for the world, and then internally at how you might help the world realize your vision.

Think about one world problem you would like to see solved or one area of life that you want to see transformed or improved. This is your vision. What role might you play in making your vision happen? This is your purpose.

3.  What are your values?

Your values are your guiding principles – things like:

Balance, being the best, agility, calmness, challenge, decisiveness, perseverance, drive, honesty, integrity, pragmatism, sensitivity, structure, teamwork, sharing, vitality, zeal.

By determining your top values, you’ll be better equipped to choose employers whose values match yours.

4.  What are your passions?

What do you most enjoy doing – in your personal life and work life? Think about the activities, interests, or conversational topics that fascinate and energize you. Your passions make you get out of bed at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning, or get you talking enthusiastically with others. How do your passions converge with what you do best at work?

5.  What are your top personal brand attributes?

What words do you use to define your personality? What words do those around you (at work and elsewhere) use to describe you? Which personality traits define how you make things happen?

Identify 3 or 4 adjectives that best describe the value you offer. Once you pinpoint what you feel are the right kinds of words, it’s a good idea to consult a thesaurus to nail the exact words. Here are some possibilities, but don’t limit yourself to these:

Collaborative, resilient, forward-focused, risk-taking, connected, international, visionary, diplomatic, intuitive, precise, enterprising, ethical, genuine, accessible.

6.  What are your core strengths?

What are your 3 or 4 greatest strengths or top motivated skills (things you love doing) that have benefited your companies/employers? These are your “super powers” – the skills that position your value above your competition.

  • In what functions and responsibilities do you excel?
  • What gap would your company be faced with, if you left suddenly?
  • For what things are you the designated “go-to” person?
  • Again, think about what those around you say about you. How do they introduce you to others?

Here are possible strengths that may fit you. Don’t hesitate to come up with whatever best describes you:

Analyzing, collaborating, leading, delegating, empowering others, forecasting, crunching numbers, anticipating risk, mentoring, visioning, selling, innovating, managing conflict, defining needs, writing, listening, communicating.

7.  Get feedback from those who know you best – at work, at home, anywhere.

The true measure of your brand is the reputation others hold of you in their hearts and minds. Notice how they introduce you to others. Ask them what your top brand attributes and core strengths are. How does your self-assessment jibe with their feedback?

If you received meaningful performance reviews within the past few years, review them closely.

Reach out to the people you work with for recommendations, with questions like these. You may need to tailor the questions for each person, depending upon their relationship to you:

1. What do you feel are my top strengths and skills that most benefitted the company?

2. In what ways did I add value to the team and/or the company?

3. What was my most important contribution to the company?

4. What things did you know you could always rely on me to deliver?

5. In what ways did I help you do your job better and advance your career?

6. How would you describe my leadership style?

8.  Do a SWOT analysis (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats).

SWOT is an invaluable personal branding exercise that also helps prepare you for interviewing, and future career growth and stability.

We’ve already covered your strengths above.

Weaknesses – What could you improve? What do you do badly? What should you avoid?

Opportunities – Where are positive opportunities that face you? What are the interesting trends you are aware of?

Threats – What obstacles do you face? Are the required specifications for your job, products, or services changing? Is changing technology threatening your position? Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems? Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your opportunity?

9.  Who is your competition in the marketplace and what differentiates you from them?

What do the people competing for the same jobs as you typically have to offer? What is it about you that makes you the best hiring choice? What added value do you bring to the table that no one else does?

One good way to assess the competition is by searching on LinkedIn for members with the job titles you’re seeking. Check out their profiles and see what they have to offer.

10.  Identify 3 words that best describe you.

If you’ve done the work above, you’ve narrowed down your top personal attributes and core strengths, and have a handle on what differentiates you and makes you qualified to help your target employers.

Now bring it all together and describe yourself in 3 words. I mean personal qualities, NOT job titles (Management Executive or Operations Leader). What 3 words reflect your personal brand (the value and good-fit qualities you offer your target employers)? Why did you choose those 3 words?

Bottom Line:

Be prepared to devote time to this. The work involved in uncovering and defining your personal brand may seem daunting, but it will benefit you immeasurably, as you prepare for the job hunt.

In the end, your efforts will be eye-opening and invigorating, and help you better communicate the unique value you offer your target employers in your career marketing collaterals (resume, biography, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, etc.), and as you network and interview.

More About Personal Branding and Executive Job Search

What Personal Branding is NOT

Want a Successful Executive Job Search? Run It Like a Small Business

10 Keys To a Memorable Personal Brand

16 Deadly Executive Job Search Mistakes

How to Use Twitter for Personal Branding and Executive Job Search

How Storytelling Makes Executive Resumes and LinkedIn Profiles Dazzle

Executive Job Search and Personal Branding Help

Land a GREAT-FIT New Executive GigNeed help with personal branding, your LinkedIn profile, resume and biography, and getting your executive job search on track . . . to land a great-fit new gig?

Take a look at the services I offer, how my process works and what differentiates my value-offer . . . then get in touch with me and we’ll get the ball rolling.


I encourage my clients to get involved with blogging in some way. Even a focused strategy of regular commenting and guest blogging on relevant blogs can have value and significant impact.

If you like to write − and perhaps have a number of articles or white papers under your belt − and have something to say about your industry and areas of expertise, consider giving blogging a try.

Starting your own blogsite is probably the best option, if you can invest the time in setting up a site, writing regularly, and maintaining the site.

Alternatively, LinkedIn offers a long-form publishing platform (it used to be called Pulse) for any member (paid or not) to write content whenever they wish.

This LinkedIn platform offers many of the benefits of having your own blogsite, without most of the inherent hassles.

What’s so great about blogging?

Top-level executives (and other job seekers) who blog in some way are getting on the radar of executive recruiters and employer’s hiring decision makers, and landing jobs.

Hiring authorities found them when they were keyword-searching online for viable candidates.

Some of these executive job seekers were offered opportunities in the “hidden job market” — positions not posted anywhere — because their blog writing demonstrated their subject matter expertise and credibility, and positioned them as a good fit for a company.

Put yourself in the shoes of people assessing you as a candidate.

When they Google a candidate and find few, if any search results associated with their name, they may pass on that person.

But when they Google a candidate and find plenty of diverse content associated with that person’s name − including well-crafted blog posts and/or articles − that person is more appealing and more likely to be pursued.

Blogging doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

Don’t assume that a blog won’t be of benefit unless you post several times a week. I you have a blogsite, you can set up your blog so that posts do not include dates, so no one will know your posting frequency.

Or, you can set up your blog to look like a career web portfolio or personal website with no blog stream at all – just pages and perhaps several important articles or white papers.

For both scenarios, you have the ability to publish new blog posts whenever (and if ever) you feel like it.

Although longer posts (1,000 words or more) are best, you don’t have to publish lengthy manifestos every time you write.

Frequency is important too. If all you can manage is a 300-400 word post a few times a month, you’ll still be way ahead of candidates competing against you who aren’t blogging at all.

And, to save time, you can break up some of your extremely long posts into a series of several shorter ones.

So, how do you come up with good ideas for blog posts?

Your mission in blogging:

  • Demonstrate your subject matter expertise and thought leadership.
  • Advance your brand promise and ROI to your target employers.

10 Strategies for Blogging Well


1.  The topics you write about should represent your areas of expertise. They are also the relevant keywords and phrases you’ll use in your personal marketing materials for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), to optimize your online presence.

2.  Google those same keywords to research what others are writing about those topics. Use this research to write more blog content.

3.  Set up Google Alerts to stay informed of issues impacting your industry and target companies. Some Alerts to set up:

  • Names of your target companies and/or those you want to be informed about
  • Names of key decision makers in your target companies
  • Keyword phrases relevant to your niche and target job(s)
  • Names of your target companies’ relevant products or services
  • Job position(s) and industry you’re seeking.
  • Names of subject matter experts and thought leaders in your industry and niche.
  • Names of any other people whose radar you want to get on.

4.  Subscribe to your target companies’ blogs and those of industry thought leaders and subject matter experts. Google their names and relevant keyword phrases to find relevant blogs. See what they’re writing about, and blog about the same things.

5.  Subscribe to (or just read) industry publications.

6.  Peruse the big publications – NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, etc. – and industry-specific publications for industry news.

7.  Check out the LinkedIn long-form posts of people you’re following on LinkedIn, and those of your LinkedIn “Influencers”.

8.  Re-purpose articles and white papers you’ve written. If they’re too long for one post, break them up into a series of 2, 3 or more.

9.  Write a post commenting about someone else’s post. Include the title of their post with a link. There are many benefits to this strategy:

  • They’re fairly quick to write,
  • The blog post author will be very flattered by your support and mention, and
  • Your generosity builds community.

For even better impact, coincide these kinds of posts by posting a comment on the original blog post.

10.  Keep track of good posts by other bloggers you’ve read all week and do a weekly roundup listing 4 or 5 posts with links and include a brief encapsulation. That takes almost no thought or time, and makes connections with other bloggers!

In your posts and post titles, frequently use relevant keyword phrases, and mention people and products of your target companies. Someone at those companies has set up Google Alerts to monitor mentions of these names and products. Recruiters and employer’s hiring decision makers search industry-relevant keyword phrases online and have Google Alerts set for those keyword phrases. These people are very likely to find you.

More About Blogging and Executive Job Search

Executive Brand Online Reputation Management: How to Build Your Brand Online

Personal Brand Buzzkill: Snarky Comments on LinkedIn Pulse

How a Robust Online Presence Helps You Land The Best Executive Jobs

LinkedIn Personal Branding Secrets for Executive Job Search

Executive Job Search and Personal Branding Help

Land a GREAT-FIT New Executive GigNeed help with personal branding, your LinkedIn profile, resume and biography, and getting your executive job search on track . . . to land a great-fit new gig?

Take a look at the services I offer, how my process works and what differentiates my value-offer . . . then get in touch with me and we’ll get the ball rolling.


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