Want to Stand Out in Your Job Search? Brand Yourself

How did Sheryl Sandberg land the role of COO at Facebook?  It’s not just because she had an impressive resume or noteworthy references. The reason she scored this top position in a Fortune 500 company is because she built an outstanding personal brand.

From a marketing perspective, branding helps companies carve out a niche within their chosen industry. It provides a unique identity and enables them to stand out from the competition.

That same concept can also be applied to people through career branding. A career brand enables prospective employers to easily understand who you are, what professional skills you bring to the table and whether you would be a good fit within their organization. Like traditional branding, career branding also allows you to differentiate yourself from other candidates.

“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.”  - Tom Peters, 'The Red Bull of Management Thinkers' in an interview with Fast Company.

A career branding statement can be used when discussing your career development plan with your manager, during your networking activities, when promoting yourself in interviews or when evaluating job opportunities to ensure they align with what is most important to you. In other words, it’s like a blueprint for your future success.

So, what exactly does the process of career branding entail? Well, it’s a lot more than just brushing up your resume and keeping your LinkedIn profile up to date. Rather than a one-off or temporary activity, creating and maintaining your own personal brand should be part of a long-term career strategy. In fact, career branding is so important that I often speak to professional associations, students and special interest groups on the topic: Crafting a Compelling Career Brand

How to Develop Your Career Brand

Start by answering the following questions:

Question 1:  What skills do you most enjoy using?

Over the years, you’ve probably amassed dozens of skills. The key here is to distill them down to just a couple of main selling points that will tell prospective employers that you know your stuff. Be honest and authentic about what your strengths truly are.

As Pamela Rucker of the CIO Executive Council put it: "People need to find out what those one or two things are and then define themselves.” For instance, perhaps you are particularly adept at project management. This might make you especially valuable to a prospective employer who is seeking expertise in that area.

Question 2:  What work do you want to attract more of in your career? 

It’s easy to focus on what you don’t want, but this will only generate more of the same. It does nothing to propel you forward. Instead, focus on the job and/or work duties that energize you.  For example, do you enjoy turning around underperforming operations, or resolving complex procurement problems, or working with a specific type of client group? 

Then, add this area of interest and expertise to your career branding statement to clarify what you want more of so your network can respond by providing leads regarding upcoming projects, job vacancies, clients who need your services, networking contacts and more.  Need help answering this question? Check out my article 4 C’s to getting ‘unstuck’.

Question 3:  What influence or impact do you want to have?

Lastly, figure out what type of impact you want your work to have on the environment around you. Perhaps you want to create work cultures where people love coming to work. Or maybe you’d like to be a top account manager or lead an organization to achieve industry awards. 

Writing Your Career Branding Statement

Use this formula to craft your Career Brand:

"I specialize in using my skills in _____(question 1)_______

to attract ______(question 2) _______________

to impact (OR) influence ___________(question 3)________.

So, using myself as a Career Coach as an example, my statement would look something like this:  “I specialize in using my coaching skills, and job search and career advancement expertise to attract professionals who are job searching or feeling stuck in their careers and help them to build rewarding and highly engaging careers.”

Remember, your career brand needs to be clear, concise and to the point.  Avoid fancy jargon or eloquent statements which only confuse the listener.  Really want to ensure your branding statement works?  Try it out on your mentor or a trusted advisor.  If they don’t readily understand what you do, go back to the blackboard and simplify. 

Finally, remember, everything else out there – the job listings, your present and future colleagues, the prospective employers – all of those things already exist. The one thing that doesn’t is how you will position yourself and differentiate yourself. That is where your career brand statement comes into play.

Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional.  She has a reputation as a highly sought after Career Consultant and she has been referred to as "an absolute expert at navigating the complex territory of career advancement.” Joanne provides leadership coaching as well as career transition coaching, career planning workshops, and job search services (resumes, LinkedIn profiles, cover letters, and interview practice) for Professionals and Executives. Copyright 2018 JL Careers Inc. All rights reserved.

Wishing you much career success!

Joanne Loberg
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc

© 2004-2013 JL Careers, Vancouver BC, Canada

JL Careers provides Career and Leadership Coaching, Career Development Workshops, and Career Transition Services which support organizational succession planning, leadership development and employee engagement strategies.