As part of the celebration of Quintessential Careers’s 15th anniversary, we’re presenting lists of 15 tips on some of the most essential topics in college, job search, and career.
As a job-seeker, are you a Coke, Pepsi, or generic cola? In other words, have you been proactive in establishing and promoting your personal career brand — or are you still using outdated job-hunting and career-management methods that keep you from standing out from other job-seekers? Personal career branding is about defining who you are, what you offer to prospective employers; it’s a combination of reputation, image, promise, and value-added.
Whether you’re new to career branding or a pro at it, we’ve included our best tips for creating, enhancing, and broadcasting your career brand. Once you’ve developed your career brand, you can use it in a plethora of ways to obtain a new job, help get a promotion with your current employer, and even establish yourself as a consultant.
Here’s our list of the 15 best tips for career-branding success.
- Start with articulating your accomplishments. Building your brand begins with tracking your past accomplishments and gaining strategically important new experiences. Your accomplishments are the foundation of your career brand. If you’re not sure how to go about tracking your accomplishments, consider using this Accomplishments Worksheet.
- Compile a spreadsheet of your strengths and skills. Sometimes we are so involved in the daily grind of our work that we don’t take the time to inventory our strengths and skills. To develop a true and authentic career brand, you have to understand your most important strengths and skills — ones that set you apart from others.
- Examine your education and training. Your education, training — and degrees and certifications — can play an important role as your develop your career brand. By examining your these elements, you may also realize you need additional education or training to fully execute your career brand.
- Review awards, honors, and other recognition you’ve received. Because many of us are raised to behave modestly, we often downplay awards and honors we receive, but in building your personal career brand, it’s important to consider any external validation you have received for your work.
- Decide what makes you different from your competitors — your USP. By exploring your accomplishments, strengths, education, and recognition you can begin to build a picture of the total package of who you are as an employee or job-seeker — and what makes you stand out from the crowd. Try to articulate this using a tool from advertising, your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
- Translate your passion, goals, and core values into words. Identify the key elements of your work that excite, drive, and motivate you — as well as the work-related values you cherish the most. Put into words the true passion, goals, and values of your career.
- Create, edit, and revise your personal career brand. Once you have gathered together your accomplishments, strengths, skills, education, honors, USP, and passion, it’s time to distill all that information into a concise statement that is your career brand. Your brand statement should be easily communicated and understood, separate you from the competition, and be relevant to your target audience (i.e., hiring managers, recruiters).
- Communicate and reinforce your career brand by becoming a published expert. An excellent method of reinforcing your career brand is through becoming a published author. Consider writing for national and industry magazines and newsletters. Post insightful comments and write guest blogs for influential industry blogs and Websites. Speak at local and industry gatherings. Start a Twitter account and tweet intelligent and career-brand building thoughts.
- Communicate your career brand to your network, references. Make certain that the people most likely to talk about you to others — people in your network as well as people you’ve asked to serve as references — know, understand, and communicate your career brand to others.
- Craft brand stories you can use in job interviews. Stating your career brand is one thing, but showing your career brand in action through stories that highlight and reinforce your expertise is something altogether different — and much more powerful. If you’re unsure how to start, considering using the STAR (situation-task-action-result) formula as the foundation. Read more in our article, STAR Interviewing Response Technique.
- Incorporate your career brand into your Elevator Speech. If you have not done so already, it’s important to integrate your career brand into your elevator speech — a 15- to 30-second (and sometimes longer) commercial that job-seekers use in a variety of situations that succinctly tells the person you are delivering it to who you are, what makes you unique, and the benefits you can provide. Read more in our article, The Elevator Speech is the Swiss Army Knife of Job-Search Tools.
- Use your career brand statement as a headline on your resume. Broadcast your career brand by placing it boldly at the top of your resume. If you are using a profile or qualifications summary section on your resume, make certain your brand statement and bullet points align. For more information, read our article, Branding Your Resume.
- Incorporate your brand into your LinkedIn profile. Your career brand statement fits perfectly in the “headline” section of your profile. Of course, you should also consider your entire LinkedIn profile as a branded profile — including the groups you join (or establish). Finally, you can also showcase your expertise by responding to questions.
- Add your career brand to your Facebook profile. Your career brand statement goes perfectly in the “About Me” section of your profile. Because Facebook tends to be more personal than professional, you can’t do too much more branding on the site — but you can make certain your profile contains no digital dirt that could negatively affect your brand.
- Promote your career brand as cornerstone of your personal Website and/or blog. The ultimate in career branding is establishing a personal Website using your name (firstlast.com) — with which you can publish all your key career credentials, including your branding statement, elevator speech, personal mission statement, resume, and career portfolio, as well as white papers and other writings, videos, or podcasts that showcase your brand. If an entire Website is a bit daunting, and you like to write, establishing a blog around your area of expertise might serve you and your brand better.
Final Thoughts on Career Branding Success
The most important tip here is just do it — just go ahead and create, revise, polish, and broadcast your career brand. Doing so will help you in all other areas of job-hunting. Once your brand is established, consistency is vital — you want prospective employers to find one brand message across all media.
Other places you can publish your career brand include in your email signature and in personal business (networking) cards.
Remember to coordinate your professional attire with your career brand; in other words, look the brand, which may mean removing or restricting access to pictures and videos of you that do not fit your brand.
Also, try to be consistent with all aspects of your career brand — including both your message and your look (design elements such as font, colors, appearance). When a brand is not consistent, the meaning tends to get lost, greatly diminishing all your hard work.
Finally, remember that just like most elements of your career, you should evaluate your personal career brand at least annually — at which point you can make tweaks and adjustments, as well as additional plans and action steps for strengthening and promoting your brand.
Wondering about the level of your online identity? Take this Online Identity Calculator.
Also, don’t forget to check out all our Personal Branding and Career Self-Marketing Tools for Job-Seekers and Career Activists.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
Enhance your career! Take advantage of all of our expert free career development advice, tools, and more in our Career Resources Toolkit for Job-Seekers.