Achieve Your Career Goals By Branding Yourself
Personal branding: a new twist on an age-old idea
It's no secret that your professional reputation can do a lot to hurt or help your career. In fact, this is a universal truth that has been around as long as commerce itself: If you have performed well in the past, acted with integrity, offered valuable services, and treated others well, you're likely to succeed. If your history and past performance is questionable, you're probably going to have a much harder time creating the kind of opportunities that will help you advance.
Personal branding builds on the long-established concept of professional reputation and updates it with some cutting-edge 21st century ideas about image, perception, and marketing. Personal branding is about taking your past performance and your most sought-after skills and melding them into a coherent, unified marketing message that clearly conveys the assets you offer an organization.
What personal branding isn't -- and what it will be
Contrary to popular belief, personal branding isn't about selling a phony, exaggerated version of your self. Overly aggressive self-promotion is off-putting and frankly, ineffective. Experienced hiring managers instantly recognize and discredit candidates whose message is bogged down in baseless hyperbole.
Instead, the process of developing your personal brand involves identifying your core strengths and using them as the basis for a consistent personal marketing message that will serve as the unifying theme for your job search and career advancement efforts.
CEO 101: How to create and cultivate your personal brand
In order to develop a truly effective personal brand, the first thing you must do is take on the kind of analytical mindset a corporate leader would use to make decisions. Rather than looking at your professional experience and reputation from a personal vantage point, you have to adopt a broader approach.
It may feel strange at first to assess your career from a non-personal perspective, but it is very important to try to look at yourself as others will see you. Then, you can begin to systematically sort through your past experiences and identify the key strengths, assets, and attributes that will form the core of your brand.
- What are your fundamental values? Think about the ways that your attitudes, beliefs, and ideals have been reflected in your professional accomplishments and experiences. What are the unifying themes that emerge?
- What is your core marketing message? Your marketing message needs to draw on your unique assets, talents, and experience, while also confidently projecting your future plans. Stay grounded and keep your expectations and promises realistic, but at the same time, don't sell yourself short.
- What is your brand statement? Just as leading corporations develop a brand statement that they use as the basis for all of their marketing efforts, your brand statement should be a concise, compelling statement of your personal philosophy and ambitions. Make sure that it is confident, but at the same time, deeply reflective of your genuine character and personality.
Personal branding for new opportunities -- and for long-term success
The time that you spend developing your personal brand is an investment that will pay dividends throughout the entirety of your career. In your job search, a personal brand will help you differentiate yourself in a crowded field of competitors by strategically conveying a clear, easy-to-understand message about your value to hiring managers.
Once you've landed your dream job, your personal brand will continue to drive your professional success. Maintain consistency -- what marketing experts call 'message discipline' -- and continue confidently broadcasting your assets and experience to those around you. If management has a clear understanding of your value and potential, you'll be much more likely to be offered opportunities for growth and advancement.
Remember that all brands evolve over time. The messages that advertisers use to sell cars today, for example, differ dramatically from those that they used twenty years ago. Likewise, your personal brand will need fine-tuning over the course of your career. Update your brand to reflect your experiences, both professional and personal, and you'll remain well-positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities that will arise.