Tom Peters in a 1997 Fast Company article titled The Brand Called You addressed the importance of branding yourself and finding a particular niche for you, your name, your services that you provide and your career. It seems such a long time ago, pre-social media, the infancy of the 24 hour cable news cycle and pre-Paris Hilton; but branding oneself is so vital for success – especially in a job search.
“It’s time for me — and you — to take a lesson from the big brands, a lesson that’s true for anyone who’s interested in what it take to stand out and prosper in the new world of work. ”
“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. It is that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.”
Like any other service or product, you must analyze what makes you different. In fifteeen words or less, why are you unique and why should I pick you over your competition? I hate to use the phrase – but what is your personal value proposition? If you can’t discern a unique personality trait or why you are different than others – then it is time for you to have a heart-felt discussion with someone who knows you best – yourself.
If you are going to sell yourself to a potential employer, you need to provide reasons why you are uniquely positioned to take them to the next level – that is your brand. What are you good at and what do you excel at and most importantly what do you enjoy doing? The answers to these questions are all elements of your personal brand.
Any salesperson worth their weight will tell you that you never sell the steak- you sell the sizzle. What are the results that you can bring to the new employer based on what you have done in the past for others? You need to describe the end-product and how individuals reacted to what you have accomplished. This is not the time to be humble. If you are going to close, you must take this opportunity to distinguish yourself from all the others. Truthful and forthright boastfullness in the search of employment is no sin!
Any success a brand has is due to the amount of exposure it can obtain. Today it is so simple to positively get your name out there and make people aware of what your abilities and experiences are. Obviously, as a professional who is looking for a professional place of employment we need to stay away from the 15 minutes of fame tactics that the likes of Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen seem to always find themselves in over the past few years.
If you are a capable writer, go forth and get yourself involved in blogging, writing for your local community paper or how about finally finishing that Great American Novel that you have promised yourself for all these many years to do. Exposure from any of these techniques can be very positive. I would encourage you to stay clear of controversial issues because you never know what potential employer you can alienate with your political comments (right or left).
If you are comfortable intereacting with people, this is your opportunity to get involved in a cause and show your leadership prowess. Help in raising money for a hospital, a school, or to fight a disease. Show your organizational skills and your empathy by taking a leadership role to help others. There is nothing immoral or unethical in benefiting from others who you have provided time and effort for.
Your are building a reputation that portrays an individual that you can depend on and one that has impeccable credentials. If you don’t contribute to the building of that reputation – your career, unfortunately others will.
Peters in the Fast Company article emphasizes that you must continually measure yourself against others. “First, you’ve got to be a great teammate and a supportive colleague. Second, you’ve got to be an exceptional expert at something that has real value. Third, you’ve got to be a broad-gauged visionary — a leader, a teacher, a farsighted imagineer. Fourth, you’ve got to be a businessperson — you’ve got to be obsessed with pragmatic outcomes.”
Your professional career is chock full of experiences and projects – your brand is the end product of what you have accomplished up to now and what you can achieve in the future. Life is much too short for “what could haves,” this is your opportunity to find an appropriate home for your skillset. Of course if there isn’t a home for your unique brand maybe it is time for you to consider building your own home. A subject for a different time indeed.