I suppose at some point it happens to everyone with strong opinions – detractors ooze out of the woodwork.
Recently, I was thoroughly clobbered, by someone else in the careers industry, for a guest blog post I wrote recommending personal branding as the best way to differentiate my executive job-seeking clients. This was not anyone I knew.
After I got over the shock of being attacked – no one likes to be lambasted in a public forum – I sat down to figure out how to deal with it.
I found it hard to understand how someone being paid to give job seekers hopefully sound advice had dismissed personal branding as a gimmick and excuse to charge higher fees. Shouldn’t career professionals be open to the latest proven job search strategies and career marketing tools?
The guest blog I wrote that elicited the negative comments was similar to one I wrote here, Tune Into the True Measure of Your Brand.
What that person doesn’t seem to get is that we all already have a personal brand. Everyone has a reputation and is relied upon for their unique set of talents, strengths, and drivers — the things they tap into to make things happen for their companies.
That’s the beauty of personal branding – it’s already there. It’s just a matter of identifying and crystallizing your unique combination of brand attributes and shaping them into a marketable career brand that showcases the unique value you offer in the marketplace.
Top executive career strategists and resume writers have been helping clients define their personal brands for years. We’ve always strived to differentiate them from others vying for the same jobs, which is basically what branding does. Now there’s a name for this differentiating process and a much more refined approach to get them there.
Following guidelines set down by people like William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson in Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand, and strategizing the best way to position and present the value my clients offer their next employers, it all comes together.
What personal branding haters also don’t seem to get is that those who go through the personal branding process reap many benefits beyond an executive resume. The resume almost becomes incidental.
So many executives who come to me in a job transition or contemplating one, are in a low emotional state – sometimes feeling deflated and worthless, almost always feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of a job search.
They need bolstering. They need to be reminded of the value they have brought to past companies. They need to understand that they bring great value to their next employer. Personal branding helps them get there.
I understand people’s initial hesitancy to embrace something that’s new to them. Personal branding is still a relatively new concept, and many of the top-level professionals I work with are not familiar with it. Once we discuss what branding really is and what it will do for them, they can see how much sense it makes.
In the process of developing branding, they come to understand how it can make their career marketing communications (resume, other documents, LinkedIn profile, and VisualCV) come alive and position them above their competition in the job market.
Along with qualifications, skill sets, value proposition, and achievements, employers vetting candidates are looking for good fit. Personal branding generates the kind of chemistry that indicates whether my clients will be a good fit with their next company.
Why am I so sure that personal branding is not just a gimmick? Because I’ve seen it work for my clients. They come out of the branding process fired up and better prepared for interviewing and the job search journey. They’re generating the interest they deserve and landing faster.
What did I do about the personal branding hater? Nothing. In the end, I thought it was best not to engage or incite him further. I can only hope that sometime in the future, he will kick himself for not getting it sooner.