How to define your personal brand
Being unique and standing out from the crowd is an important part of being noticed in our ultra-competitive world. Nowadays, we are always hearing about “personal branding,” so what exactly does it mean? Well, for me, it’s a 360 degree approach to how you are perceived by employers. In effect, you become a brand ambassador of your own image and product — You Inc., if you will.
It’s not enough for you to be good, or even great, at your job because there are plenty of other candidates out there who are just as great and even better – many of which have a higher education, more experience, who will work for less money. So, with these kinds of insurmountable odds, how can one stand out? The answer is actually quite simple: have a strong personal brand.
Defining my brand launched my career to new heights.
While it’s very important to be up-to-date on your skills, that isn’t enough. One job posting online brings employers at least 100 or more resume submissions, so you have a one-percent chance of getting the job (just going by the numbers). One thing I’ve noticed since I became a recruiter is that candidates who have a very strong personal brand consistently outshine some candidates who have more experience, so they get strong job offers.
When I was still a job-seeker, I defined my own personal brand and got amazing results. Here’s what I did:
- CHANGED MY HAIR: I used to have my hair cut very short; actually, it was shaved like a Marine. I’m not going to lie; I did it out of convenience so I wouldn’t have to style it. Well, a number of studies have been done about people with and without hair, and the overwhelming consensus is that people with better hair are treated differently. So I grew it out and took some time to style it in the morning.
- UPGRADED MY WARDROBE: My clothes were a bit out-of-style and not so fashionable. I took some time to research the latest trends for men’s suits and I upgraded my wardrobe (on a budget, so I didn’t spend a fortune).
- LOST WEIGHT: I was overweight, period. Now, I know this part may be touchy for some people, but for me I thought it was time to drop some pounds. If you’re comfortable with your weight, great! For me, I wasn’t. After I lost weight I noticed people treated me differently. I know it’s not fair and the world shouldn’t work like that, but we don’t live in a world free of judgments. The bottom line: I felt more confident.
- UPDATED MY SKILLS: I went back to school and it increased my desirability to employers. I got more job interviews and performed better on pre-employment tests/screening: writing, aptitude and technical. The best part: A very large percentage of my education was paid for with free grants that I qualified for.
- REVAMPED MY RESUME: My resume format was out-of-date and a little messy. I did very, very exhaustive research about what a “modern” resume should look like; and what it should and shouldn’t have on it. My prospects increased dramatically!
- TALKED THE TALK: I caught myself up-to-speed on industry “buzz words” because I sometimes felt a little lost in interviews. With this, I was able to build a stronger rapport with interviewers.
- WALKED THE WALK: I videotaped myself walking, literally. I also recorded myself in a mock interview to get perspective on my own mannerisms. Being able to honestly give myself a critique and revamp my posture and stance helped tremendously.
All of this work paid off because I got more job offers and a higher salary, which afforded me a better way of life.