Manage Your Reputation like a Brand to Standout in the Marketplace
By Phillip Newsome, Principal at Telescope Brand Vision
To compete in today's over-communicated business environment it is essential that you use all available branding tools to differentiate yourself and stand out in the increasingly competitive job market. But before you consider any of the tactics usually associated with personal branding, such as blogging, a Linked in profile, Twitter stream, Facebook page or business cards, it's important that you understand what shape your brand is in today.
Yes, you already have a brand. Surprisingly, many people haven't thought of their reputation in branding terms, but they should. People you know have formed opinions based on the way you speak, act, dress, the company you keep and the job you do. So, whether by accident or good management, you already have a brand.
The Brand Audit
The best way to understand your current brand position is to conduct an audit. With the learning that you gather you'll be able to summarize where you are today and the value that you offer to a potential employer. Brand reputation is primarily comprised of two components: the things you have done and the attributes that are known for, so keep this equation in mind.
Experience (the things I've done) + Expectations (the attributes I'm known for) = Brand Reputation.
If you're considering changing industries or planning to take on a completely new role, you should write two statements. The first summarizing where you are today. The second to clearly articulate where you will be once you have refined your skills and qualifications.
A personal brand audit can be more difficult to complete than it may first seem. Most of us tend to undersell ourselves. So, I recommend that you ask for input from trusted co-workers, friends or associates. Another option is to seek the help of a personal Branding consultant or career coach such as Telescope Brand Vision.
To help you get started here are some example questions to ask of yourself.
- How do you dress?
- How do you speak?
- What do you do really well?
- What do you do not so well?
- What do your present business cards, resume and Linkedin Profile communicate about you?
- How professional is your written communication?
- What are your most noteworthy accomplishments to date?
- Are you passions apparent? What are they?
- What professional accreditations do you hold?
- Are you highly involved in the community, or not so much?
- What do others say about you?
You get the idea. The goal of this evaluation is to develop a clear understanding of your authentic reputation: your brand. Working through the process you'll become confident of your strengths that are apparent to others, and the attributes you possess that make what you offer unique. When the audit is complete, synthesize everything you learn into a Brand Statement that articulates how you can deliver value and differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Your statement is two to three sentences telling what your expertise is (your value), who you wish to serve (target group) and how you do it uniquely (your differentiation or Unique Selling Proposition).
Once your brand statement is complete, you're ready to fine tune your resume, write your elevator speech and align the other elements of your communications arsenal in a manner that will assist you in standing out as a noteworthy candidate.
Put yourself in the Employer's Shoes
Part two of this exercise is to focus on the employer(s) in which you have an interest. What kind of company or manager are they? What are their expectations of the person they are seeking?
The job posting will give you a summary of the skills and qualifications that are required in the target position, but don't stop there. Include more than education and experience attributes. Do some research to find out as much as possible about the culture of the organization. I find that it often helps when working on this section, to figuratively put one's self in the employer's shoes. I have on occasion had clients move to the opposite side of the table to put them in the right frame of mind. Try it.
The goal is to help you to understand the type of person who is likely to thrive within the organization(s) that you're targeting. Fit with a company culture is as important as having the functional skills to be successful at the job.
With the two profiles completed: your current brand and the profile of the targeted company, you'll be able see which of your strengths meets or exceeds the expectations of the potential hiring manager. You'll also be able to identify potential areas of concern. These will now be less daunting because you can strategically prepare answers for the "difficult" questions as you progress through the interview process.
©Telescope Brand Vision, 2011. Telescope Brand Vision works with organizations and individuals to develop and communicate ideas that allow them to stand out in the marketplace.