Donald Trump equals Money. Oprah equals Empathy. And Richard Branson equals Adventure. All three have created successful personal brands - when you think of their name, you know immediately what they stand for. Just like when you think of Apple or Nike, you know what those brands stand for too. And now personal brands are moving into the workplace as savvy job hunters learn that associating their name with a defined field of expertise is a short-cut to getting hired. So consider this: when a recruiter sees your name, what do they think of?
People are managing their own careers rather than having their career taken care of by an employer, according to William Aruda, executive coach and author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand.
“The speed at which we move through companies and the change that is happening in companies is accelerating,” he told A Brand You World, the global telesummit on personal branding held last November. “Job tenure is decreasing, the projects we are working on are changing faster and faster and the teams with which we work are changing more and more.”
The one constant in the new world of work is your brand and your reputation, according to Aruda. And in this new world, we won’t be the hunters looking for a new job – we are going to become the hunted. “So we need to make sure that our visibility is such that we are getting found.”
Marketing guru Laura Ries, author of The Origin of Brands, says being a well-rounded individual isn’t enough.
“What gets you ahead is having focus, being a specialist, and being known for being very good in one thing,” she says. “Being kind of okay or proficient in a few things is not going to help you stand out because most jobs today are extremely specific.” So how can you find your brand and share it with the world? Aruda has a three-step process that job-seekers can use.
First is the extraction phase, which is used to find what makes you different and what makes you compelling to the people who are making decisions about you.
“Look at yourself from two angles,” Aruda says. “Introspectively – who am I? What do I want? What are my passions? What’s my vision? What are my career goals? Get an understanding of who you are and what motivates you,” he says.
At the same time, get an external perspective by asking people around you about your reputation – what are your strengths and weaknesses? What are you good at? What are your skills? “You need to understand the baseline brand you have before you embark on aligning it with who you really are and what it is that you want to communicate to the world,” says Aruda.
You need to choose a niche. “The smaller you make your target audience, the larger your brand will be for them and the easier it will be for you to get your message to those people,” he says. Try to express your brand in a sentence – distilling all the data you have collected into something pithy and crisp that says what your brand is all about. Next comes the express phase, which is all about getting your message out there. First, go back to your goal. Say, for example, you want to be working in sales for a major pharmaceutical company, think of all the people you need to influence who are members of your brand community.
“You might know these people by name or by job title, but you want to get clear about who these people are,” says Aruda. “Then you can say, here’s my message, here are the people I need to get it to. What are the vehicles I have to get this message to those folks?”
The final phase of Aruda’s three branding phases is: exude. This is when you really start to live and breathe your brand. “What you want to do is make sure that everything that surrounds you communicates your brand message,” he says.
Your personal appearance needs to reflect your brand and be consistent with who you are, according to Aruda. “If you are all organized, buttoned up, structured and super dependable, looking sloppy or wearing wild, out of control clothes may not communicate the same brand message,” he says. Aruda says job-seekers need also to think of their brand identity system. “Have your name stylized as a logo, create a tagline if it is appropriate for you, choose a colour that represents your brand and use it consistently.”
Finally, use your network. “A network extends your brand for you,” says Aruda. “None of us is successful in a vacuum. The more you give to members of your network, and give them what they need and what they want, the more they are going to be there for you when you need them.”
Aruda says a brand must be based in authenticity – it’s not spin or packaging. "It’s about being yourself, about understanding what makes you amazing and exceptional and compelling, and using that to stand out from everyone else who seemingly does what you do,” he says. It’s about creating your own unique promise of value. What more could an employer want? jp