We often hear the term ‘personal branding’ but it’s much less often defined for us. And it is even less likely that we will hear or see an explanation of what personal branding has to do with our job search.
Simply put, your personal brand is about you getting clear on who you are, what you stand for and where your strengths lie—and then consistently communicating it to the rest of the world. If you accept this definition, it’s easy to see how personal branding fits in with the job hunt. Each job seeker is his or her own brand and it is their objective to sell and market themselves to employers and recruiters just as a specific brand of confectionary will sell and market themselves to consumers.
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Get clear on who you are.
You can’t brand yourself until you know what that brand is going to be about. Reflect on your experiences, preferences, qualities and values to gain clarity on who you are, what you’re good at and what you want. Knowing what you want is key to knowing what direction you want your personal brand to take. The purpose of the self-branding process in the context of a job search should be to get to where you want to be, so decide on how you’re going to get there before you set off.
Choose only one destination.
Avoid getting caught up in chasing more than one avenue. You’ll greatly improve your chances of getting the job you want if you target just one thing. The most successful brands focus on one overarching mission—it’s clear to everyone what the brand is about, because it’s about one thing.
Don’t just build your brand around what you’re good at, but also around what you’re passionate about. When we’re doing or focusing on something we’re passionate about, it’s really obvious from our faces and behaviour. The energy from within us therefore attracts people to our brand. You ideally want a job where you feel passionate about the work and your best bet of landing that job is to show that you’re passionate about getting it.
Create a personal brand statement.
If it helps you define who you are and what you’re about, write down a personal brand statement. Who are you really? What are you offering? What do you want? Once you’ve nailed down a final version of the statement, you might like it enough to use it in public—on LinkedIn, for instance—in order to explain and publicize your brand. If you decide to do this, make sure the statement is no more than 1 or 2 sentences long, in order to keep the reader’s attention. Adapt your written statement into an elevator pitch you can deliver orally in face-to-face situations where you have the opportunity to promote your brand to someone. You could even use it in a job interview if the right question is asked.
Brand your CV
Make your CV as targeted as your brand—after all, it’s actually a part of your brand if you’re a job hunter. Focus the content of your CV on each particular vacancy you apply to. Don’t just send out uniform, irrelevant CVs to everywhere you apply to. Use action verbs in present progressive tense on your CV. For example, when describing what your duties were in your previous work position, use words such as ‘targeting’, ‘leading, ‘selling’, ‘guiding’, ‘communicating’, ‘presenting’, ‘investigating’ and so on and so forth. Don’t use lack of paid work experience as an excuse for having a vague CV or no CV at all. Get out there and undertake some voluntary work or an internship to flesh your CV out and learn something about yourself at the same time.