Branding. When you see that word, especially with the word “personal” in front of it, what do you think?
The columnist Liz Ryan had this to say about personal branding in a recent post of hers:
“The branding mistake 90% of job seekers make is this: they don’t brand themselves for the jobs they want. They brand themselves as collections of skills and credentials that don’t add up to a whole, strong and vibrant person.”
That is the crux of the matter with most people according to Ryan. And I share her thinking.
It is human nature to:
- say what we have done, rather than who we are
- be a jumble of skills and experiences rather than a curated collection of great things you are
- want to say what someone else wants to hear, rather than stand out when it is needed
I have met a lot of people who don’t feel comfortable with the whole idea of personal branding. I get it. Most of us don’t learn a lot about branding in our schooling and work. It is not that different than personal investing. Many people are uncomfortable with personal financial planning, not necessarily because it is wrong, but because so many of the terms are foreign to us.
Think about it. Branding has a lot of definitions that “don’t apply to me”. Branding is what Coke, Nike or Budweiser do. We might even understand why people like LeBron James or Beyonce or the Kardashians brand themselves. Heck, it is what is done to cattle to mark them. Why would branding apply to me?
I think the simple answer is this. You are trying to clearly communicate to someone who does not know you why you would be awesome at what they are looking for. Let me make that simpler. You are trying to help a hiring manager find YOU, the right person for the problem they need solved.
That’s right. Your personal brand, in a job seeking role, is simply to HELP SOMEONE ELSE. Think about the overworked hiring manager or HR person. They have to look through hundreds of resumes for one job. Maybe they do a LinkedIn search and end up with hundreds of potential names. Now they have to sift through the proverbial haystack to find the needle they need.
Do you want to be the haystack or the needle?
I think it is critical to change your mindset about branding. It is not bragging. It is not restricting your options. It is not dumbing down your experiences. It is not “fluff”. It is your way of helping someone else understand you – and what you can do for them. You have what they are looking for. Tell them in clear, compelling language. Make sure they understand the opportunity.
Need some help with your career branding? I would be glad to talk with you.