[This article was first posted for my Personal Branding Expert gig on Job-Hunt.org.]
In my practice working with senior-level executive job seekers to define their personal brand and create personal marketing materials to help them land, I find that many people have a hard time grasping what personal branding really is.
Differentiate to Land
In job search, personal branding is all about differentiating and communicating the unique value you offer your target employers over your competitors.
Your resume, biography, LinkedIn profile and other marketing communications need to make you stand out and above your competitors in the job market. You need to clearly showcase what makes you a better fit than the rest to help them meet their current needs and challenges.
Many job seekers slip up because they strive for sameness. They think that, in order to compete, they need to come across as just like all the other candidates. But sameness won’t set them apart. Differentiation will.
Leveraging the “personal” part of personal branding will help to differentiate you.
Branding Is Not Just the Right Keywords
Think about the hiring decision makers reviewing and assessing candidates through their LinkedIn profiles (usually first) and other online presence, and then their career documents (resume, biography, etc.).
Sure, you still need to reinforce that you possess the required skill sets and expertise specific to your target employers. That’s all about using the right keywords and phrases.
But you need to go beyond these basics. You need to generate chemistry. And you need to make your content a more interesting read than the other candidates. Capture the attention of hiring professionals “above the fold”, and compel them to read your entire LinkedIn profile, or resume, or biography.
How do you stand out from the crowd and generate chemistry?
Give Yourself Permission To Be Authentically You
Don’t be afraid to say things you’ve never seen in a LinkedIn profile or resume. Things like you’re “a champion for innovative, far-fetched ideas” . . . or that you’re “not intimidated by unknowns” . . . or that you’re “all about educating and inspiring teams to become great ‘doers’“.
[I offer these examples to prompt your own differentiating brand messaging. Don’t think about “borrowing” these phrases. You don’t want to copy someone else’s brand. You’re an original, right?]
Write Vibrant Personal Brand Content
Make the content in your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc. come alive with your personal qualities that have benefitted past employers, in a way that will compel future employers to see you as the best-fit hiring choice. [See my article, Building Personal Brand Content for Your Executive Job Search]
I have my clients dig deep, using a tool similar to my 10-step Personal Branding worksheet. Here are 4 other questions I ask my clients to prompt them to be authentic and define what differentiates them:
1. What kinds of business challenges do you like to solve the most and why?
2. How would you describe your leadership or management style?
3. What do you believe gives you an advantage over those you’ll be competing against in the job market?
4. What makes you (above others competing for the same jobs) uniquely qualified to help your target employers overcome the challenges they’re facing right now?
You know that old expression, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Create personal brand messaging that captures attention at first glance and holds people’s attention, because it differentiates the authentic you.