People tend to think of branding as something that’s reserved for big businesses. Companies like Nike, McDonalds and Waitrose are all brands that we recognise and associate certain values with. In effect each of these brands have their own identities and their brand is the sum total of what they believe really differentiates them from their competitors. But branding isn’t just for the big boys. As a job candidate, you need to be thinking about creating your own brand in order to really stand out from the crowd. Although branding yourself isn’t an easy task, it’s well worth the effort, and the investment you make will stand you in great stead when it comes to both attracting your next employer and establishing yourself in your new role.
The first place to start in your branding process is identifying your strengths. What exactly will you bring to your new employer’s table? What do you do better, more effectively or more efficiently than any of the other candidates that they are likely to come across? Perhaps you have some unique training or experience? Or maybe you have developed a highly effective way of working that is unusual or relatively unheard of? If we apply the same rules to people as we do to products or services, these things would be called your Unique Selling Points or USPs.
People often find identifying their own USPs difficult and if that’s the case, here are a few things that might help:
Identify your core skills and competencies
You’ve probably already done this, but if you haven’t, when it comes to defining your brand, the values you describe need to be related to fact and reality, not invented. The best place to start is by identifying your core skills and competencies that are related to the job you’re applying for. Once you’ve identified those skills, dig deep to identify occasions where you have excelled in the workplace thanks to a nice combination of these basic skills and any unique talents or experiences you may have had.
Look closely at people you admire
Like many things in life, looking at others for strengths you admire is often easier than looking at yourself. So, if you’re struggling to identify the points you want to express in your brand, look around you in the workplace or look at professionals or mentors you admire. Once you’ve identified a few people, set to work to identify what makes their ‘brand’ so unique and what makes you admire them so much? While your brand values are likely to be different (albeit you may have some in common), simply going through the conscious process of analysing what makes someone impressive in their role will help you analyse what makes you stand out in yours.
Think about how people describe you
If the people around you are easy to analyse, but don’t ultimately help you put words around your own brand, then think about how others describe you. In the workplace we are often ready and willing to describe colleagues’ strengths but aren’t so comfortable when it comes to doing so for ourselves. What might help is if you dig deep into comments and compliments that you have modestly shrugged off when they have come along over the years or things that have been noted on evaluations prior to pay rises or promotions. All of these things will help you put words around your brand.
Express your brand values clearly
Once you have identified what values you want to include in your brand and you’ve aligned them with the needs and desires of your potential employer, you need to put everything down in black and white and get out and about to spread the word. Remember that everyone is unique and once you’ve identified your brand assets you’ll be able to package them to make you an even more attractive prospect for any employer.
Once you’re at the stage where you’ve identified and expressed your brand values, you need to make sure they are consistent across your CV, your covering letter and your social media accounts. Making sure that every element of your career history and any feedback or connections you have on the social media tie in with the personal brand you develop for yourself will make the whole notion more credible and more powerful.
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