Personal branding has certainly become an accepted, and even expected, part of executive job search. But I see too many people misunderstanding and misusing branding in ways that may sabotage their chances of landing the jobs they want.
I break the personal brand cheaters into two groups:
1. The deceitful
They boast, in brand messaging that is not authentically them. It’s about who they strive to be or how they want to be perceived, so the information is not, shall we say, “accurate”. They over-inflate, and are imprecise about who they are and what they have to offer.
To be fair, these people probably haven’t done any branding work, so they don’t “get” it. Or they’re just poor writers, and should probably work with a professional.
2. The lazy thieves
They see someone else’s brand messaging, perhaps on a LinkedIn profile, that kind of sounds like them and is written well, so they “borrow” it for their own LinkedIn profile or resume or other career marketing communications. It’s so much easier than doing the work themselves.
I wrote about this practice in my post, What’s Wrong with Copying an Executive Brand Resume Sample?
I mentioned one client who initially sent me the resume he’d written, that needed work. The brand statement he used was vaguely familiar. Sure enough, it came straight from one of the resume samples on my blogsite.
If you’re either type of cheater, you face some problems:
– You’ll have to live up to any claims you make and deliver on the promise of value in your messaging. Be very careful about how you present and represent yourself – on paper, online and in person.
– Circumventing the personal branding process – not learning how your unique value proposition aligns with your target companies’ needs – leaves you at a disadvantage as you move through the job search process. You won’t be as well prepared to speak about and promote yourself when networking and in job interviews.
– Doing the branding work is energizing. You’ll be empowered by what differentiates you from your job-seeking competitors, and what you have to offer that no one else does. And your brand messaging could be even better than you expected, and more compelling than the nifty phrases you lifted from someone else.
– Stealing content violates copyright law. Anything published online is automatically protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).