Personal branding for job search is a means to differentiate the good-fit qualities and value you offer your target employers over candidates competing against you. By creating personal brand content, you align your key areas of expertise, driving strengths, passions, and relevant personal attributes with your target employers’ current needs.
Executive branding encompasses personal and business attributes, and zeroes in on your leadership qualities. How do you motivate high-performing teams to deliver (or over-deliver) on goals, increase profitability, boost productivity, decrease expense, etc.?
When preparing for executive job search, your mission is to create content for various purposes. Then you’ll build an executive brand communications plan that reinforces your unique promise of value to your target employers.
Here’s how to pull it all together.
Build Executive Brand Content From the Inside Out
Step one in executive brand-building is doing the time-consuming initial work of digging deep internally and externally:
- Research target companies. Your research will be based on your target list of employers that are a mutual good fit.
- Identify relevant keywords. You’ll use these throughout all the content you write.
- Complete personal branding exercises. Define the personal and business attributes that make you a good fit for your target employers.
- Get feedback from others (at work and in your personal life) about the value you offer. The true measure of your brand is the perception of you held by the external world. Annual performance reviews are a great resource.
- Build out your career history. For each job, detail your scope of responsibilities and key areas of expertise that align with target employers’ current needs. Use the relevant keywords you’ve uncovered.
- Complete the Challenge-Actions-Results (C-A-Rs) exercise. Detail your top contributions to past employers (with metrics whenever possible) that will resonate with target employers.
Now You’re Ready to Write Your Personal Brand Content
Some things to keep in mind as you create the content you’ll use in your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc.:
- Always keep your target employers in mind, and write content that positions you as the problem fixer for them.
- Make it an interesting read right from the get-go.
- Your content should be written with both human beings and search engines in mind (if the content will go online), and ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) if it’s going into a database.
- Use storytelling whenever possible, instead of only flat statements of fact.
- Include plenty of white space so the content is easy on the eye to read, and people will want to read more of your profile.
Essential Personal Brand Content
Just to keep pace with your executive job seeking competitors, you’ll need to create content for the following job search communications:
Executive brand positioning statement. A brief 3-5 line paragraph that links your areas of expertise (using relevant keywords) with your key personal attributes. Here’s an example of a brand statement for a VP of Global Marketing in Medical Devices:
“I am a tireless innovator in new product development, strategic planning, marketing, and commercialization. I envision opportunity where others see complexity and thrive when tackling the big projects, making the tough decisions, and catalyzing the team to surpass goals and outdistance competitors. A supportive, consensus-building leader, I value collaboration and guide with confidence, diplomacy, and heart.”
Executive resume. Include your brand statement in your resume.
Executive career biography. A bio is a better storytelling vehicle than a resume. So your bio helps those assessing you envision you at work, contributing to the success of the company.
LinkedIn profile. Use both your resume and bio to create this content. Once you build your branded profile, get busy on relevant LinkedIn Groups. Start discussions and participate in existing discussions where you can showcase your subject matter expertise.
Cover letters. Focus even more deeply on each company/organization you’re targeting. Include in your cover letter to each one the specific challenges you’ve uncovered in your research that you can help them with. Get some new information into your cover letters, that’s not in your resume, LinkedIn profile or biography.
2 Neglected Branding Opportunities
Email signature tagline. Pare down your personal brand statement into a hard-hitting, concise tagline. Here’s an example, for the same executive job seeker as above:
“Tireless innovator in new product development, strategic planning, marketing, and commercialization, envisioning opportunity where others see complexity.”
Your elevator pitch, or “Tell me about yourself” response. You need to be able to tell people exactly what you have to offer and what you want. Otherwise, they won’t be able to help you reach your career goals. Here’s an example using the same job seeker as above:
“People say I’m a tireless innovator. My expertise is in new product development, strategic planning, marketing, and commercialization for the medical devices industry. I’m seeking a senior-level marketing position in the [geographic location] area. Two of the companies I’m targeting are [name of company] and [name of company].”
With the above items under your belt, you’re ready to start networking your way into opportunities at your target companies.
But don’t stop there . . .
Other Important Places for Personal Brand Content
There are many strong sites you can leverage to build your brand online. These are places where executive recruiters and hiring decision makers hang out, and search for good-fit candidates. Here are just a few of the best ones:
- LinkedIn – Post LinkedIn updates, comment on or react to other people’s updates, publish articles on LinkedIn.
- Twitter, Facebook and other social networks
- Relevant Blogs – Starting and maintaining your own blogsite is the best option. But, if that’s not a realistic commitment for you, try guest blogging and/or commenting on relevant blogs.
- Profiles and activity on Professional Association Websites
- Write book reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. – first create profiles on these sites, to build more relevant search results for “your name”.
For more ways to build your brand online, see 10 Best Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Online.
Take the time to target your job search and define what differentiates you from your job-seeking competitors. Focus, and land a great-fit job faster.