I know a lot of people view the term “personal branding” as nonsense – pretentious hogwash and marketing balderdash. They feel that we didn’t need a personal brand in the 1980′s or 1990′s, and we don’t need one now. Life would be much simpler for all of us if that were correct. But, unfortunately, it is wrong.
A personal brand is critical to the success of a 21st Century job search, and the longer a job seeker ignores defining and disseminating their personal brand, the longer and more difficult their job hunt could be.
In the 1990′s and before, most of us didn’t have (or need) a personal brand. Unless we were actors, authors, politicians, musicians – think: James Earl Jones, Truman Capote, Bill Clinton, Cher - a personal brand was irrelevant and unnecessary. We were known by the people who needed to know us, so differentiating ourselves from the rest of the world was not necessary. We lived in a much smaller world during the 20th Century.
Then, the Internet and Google came along, and the game changed - BIG time!
Your Personal Brand = Your Professional Reputation, Online and Off
Think of your “personal brand” as what we’ve long taken for granted – our professional reputations. Our professional reputation is much more visible to the whole world now, and that makes it much more important, too.
Rather than the local reputation we had in the 1990′s and earlier, this reputation must be web-proof, world-wide. Read Meg Guiseppi’s excellent Personal Branding articles here on Job-Hunt (and on her Executive Career Brand blog) to understand much more about how to define, develop, and make your Personal Brand visible. Then, read Tim Tyrell-Smith’s Personal Marketing articles to understand how to market your personal brand.
3 Important Reasons YOU Need a Visible Personal Brand
1. To avoid mistaken identity online.
Recruiters and potential employers (also bankers, credit card companies, etc.) need to be able to differentiate you from others who might have the same name that you have but who may have done (or been publicly accused of doing) “bad things.”
You may lead a blameless, “perfect” life, but you could still be negatively impacted by something unsavory done by someone else with the same name you have. They may owe back property taxes, been accused of hitting someone with their car while driving drunk, been convicted of a felony, or any of a million other things are now “public record” and easily found in a search on the Internet.
If you don’t have a visible “personal brand,” something done by someone else could reflect on you, causing an employer decide not to consider you for a job.
2. To avoid having someone else define your brand for you.
Whether they intend to or not, someone else may define your personal brand if you don’t. They hand your resume to their boss with the comment, “She’s great at customer service.” Probably you are great at customer service, but maybe you’d rather find your next job in social media marketing. Or you are quoted in a blog post, referencing your extensive experience in sales when you’d really like to move into marketing for your next job.
In the two examples above, you would have prepared the person handing over your resume to describe you as someone who is great at customer service but accomplishing some amazing things in the social media marketing aspects of that job and interested in moving your career more in that direction. Or the quote in the blog could link to your blog which is full of thoughtful articles about marketing and how marketing and sales work together to achieve important goals, defining yourself as a sales and marketing professional.
3. To demonstrate your understanding of how the world works right now.
Being “invisible” as almost as bad as having a bad reputation. If you are invisible, either you don’t understand how the online world works or you don’t want to participate. For most organizations these days, that marks you as out-of-date or out-of-sync with society. You demonstrably don’t “get it” when it comes to operating in society currently. Very, very few jobs are untouched by the Internet.
Marketing Your Personal Brand
I think the best part of personal branding, in addition to the above 2 characteristics, is the thought, time, and attention needed to define and develop a personal brand. Most of us haven’t put that much thought into our careers in the past. We just jumped from opportunity to opportunity without much plan or analysis.
Once you have defined your personal brand, you market it by making it visible and living up to it. This involves any or all of the following:
- Knowing – and feeling – your personal brand – not as a role you “put on” like a coat but as who you are now, reflecting your interests and abilities.
- Demonstrating your personal brand in your activities, certainly in your job but also in your personal life.
- Developing a LinkedIn Profile that describes – and demonstrates – your personal brand.
- Participating in other social network activity that is appropriate for your brand – Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, a blog, or whatever else fits your personal brand.
- Being able to articulate your personal brand when asked.
Bottom Line: You Are Your Personal Brand
Privacy isn’t “over” hopefully, but anonymity is. And your personal brand is your professional reputation – how the world (including the World Wide Web) sees you and understands who you are, deflecting mistaken identity and protecting your reputation.
© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.