Personal branding continues to be a trending topic on job-search related social media because it’s such an integral part of successful executive job search and personal marketing.
But so many people have so many conflicting things to say about it.
Some truly grasp what personal branding really is. They speak of its value in helping job seekers land good-fit jobs, and caution that it takes time and effort to do the initial digging-deep work.
While others are merely talking heads and self-professed experts who constantly pound us with misinformation.
These misguided voices tell us things like “Personal branding is . . .”:
- A passing fad soon to be replaced by the next best thing.
- The way to position yourself as an expert in your field.
- Ego-stroking . . . an opportunity to brag about yourself.
- A nifty tagline for your LinkedIn profile, resume and email signature.
- Your ticket to making big money.
- The path to becoming famous.
- A bland brand statement that only includes your hard skills or areas of expertise.
With so much noise, flash, and bravado, it’s no wonder so many people are confused about what personal branding really is.
Let me set you straight about each of those misguided points above:
1. Branding is NOT a passing fad.
In fact, the process of identifying what differentiates you from your competition has been part of job search, personal marketing, and resume development for decades. It was given a name in the mid-nineties by Tom Peters. Personal branding may go by a different name in the future, but the concept and approach will probably be the same.
2. If you’re not actually an expert in your field, don’t lie about it.
When push comes to shove, you won’t be able to live up to the expectation . . . and then you will have tarnished your reputation by boasting inflated claims.
3. Don’t think of branding as bragging.
It’s really all about being truthful about the best you have to offer. If you’ve achieved great things that position you as a good-fit candidate, you’d be wise to let your target employers know about them, without embellishment. Think of it as educating people about the specific way you can help them.
4. Branding is so much more than a tagline.
If all you’ve done is create a nifty tagline that reads well and slides easily off the tongue, then you haven’t truly defined your brand. You haven’t done the work. Back up, and spend time identifying what differentiates you.
5. It’s not about making big money.
Money may come with authentic branding. But if you’re setting out to become wealthy, it takes a whole lot more than knowing and expressing your brand. Your brand may help you land a high paying job (I hope!). But once on the job, everything will fizzle if you don’t have the chops to back up your claims.
6. Fame is not necessarily the name of the game.
Unless your goal is to become famous and you have whatever “it” is that makes people famous, your brand alone probably won’t make you a superstar.
7. A brand statement alone doesn’t cut it.
A brand statement needs to be much more than a string of relevant keywords highlighting your functional areas of expertise. To hit home with people assessing you, it needs to integrate both your hard AND soft skills. Indicate who you are and how you use your skills to make things happen. Don’t forget the “personal” in personal branding.
Here’s the real deal about personal branding
More and more on-target voices are vying for their share of the attention. These are the true experts who understand the value of authentic branding. They’re helping branding to become embedded in the fabric of healthy career management, job search, and personal marketing.
They know what personal branding is really all about:
Defining what makes you unique and valuable to the employers you’re targeting, and clearly communicating what differentiates your value from your competitors when you network and interview for jobs.
. . . And why personal branding matters so much in your job search
The branding process helps you understand your ROI (Return on Investment) to your target companies and what differentiates you from your competition in the job market.
. . . and helps you clearly communicate that ROI and good-fit qualities when you network and interview.
Branding helps you stand out from your competition in your personal marketing materials (resume, biography, LinkedIn profile, other online profiles, blogging, etc.).
And makes it easier for recruiters and hiring decision makers to decide if you’re a good fit for their organization, and whether to hire you or do business with you.
Your brand helps generate chemistry for who you are, what you’re like to work with, how you make things happen, and what you have to offer that no one else does.
What you should take away from all of this.
Ignore the hype. Invest time and effort in identifying the things that differentiate you from your competitors in the job market. Know what makes you the best hiring choice for your target employers.