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Personal Branding Using Structured Examples

By Meg Guiseppi

A powerful job search strategy, story telling is a compelling way to draw people in and illustrate your unique promise of value in the marketplace.

When you link your value proposition with your personal brand and frame it all around "career success stories", you make it easier for hiring decision makers to picture you in the job they're trying to fill.

An extremely useful personal branding tool as well, story telling can help you uncover your key personal attributes, if you're having difficulty defining them.

While developing your stories, you'll probably notice that certain qualities, strengths, and areas of expertise consistently run through each one.

Story telling will also help you become accustomed to articulating your value.

As you'll see, telling your story can make all the difference in your resume, other career marketing documents, job interviewing, and networking.

Bring together your career success stories using either of the following approaches:

Challenge – Action – Results (C-A-Rs)
Situation – Task – Action – Results (S-T-A-Rs)

Here's how it works:

Describe a few of your most important contributions to companies within the past 10 years or so. Think in terms of business value that had significant impact on the company. Think about the strengths you have that you and others always rely on you to make things happen.

Answer these questions for each of the situations you describe:

  1. What was a specific CHALLENGE (or Situation) facing the company and/or your team? Were you/the company facing particularly difficult odds with this situation? What were the stakes?
  2. What ACTION(s) did you take to meet the challenge and improve things (whatever the goal was or whatever needed turning around)?
  3. What were the long and short term RESULT(s) that positively impacted the company? Did you meet the goal and/or turn around the situation? How long did it take to see the results? Monetize the results and/or use hard facts whenever possible.

Maybe what shines through in your career success stories is your talent for being resourceful, analytical, collaborative, organized, decisive, forward-thinking, productive, dependable, enthusiastic, dynamic, etc. Determine which are your key personal brand attributes.

Now look at your key areas of expertise and skill sets. Maybe you've had significant impact improving productivity and processes; increasing profitability and revenue growth; leading, building, and mentoring teams; and/or budgeting and containing costs . . . whatever has been of value to the companies you worked for.

What you want to do is link your personal brand attributes with your value proposition, which represents the results of your actions and how they affected bottom line and benefitted your employers. Then you can show them the money you've saved and/or made for companies in the past, indicating what you can be relied on to deliver for your next employer.

As you're going through the C-A-Rs exercise, just write everything out step by step, and don't worry about how lengthy your answers are. After you detail the entire story, go back, consolidate, and whittle down the information to the essentials.

Include a few tightly-written, to the point success stories (2 to 3 lines) in your resume. Beyond your resume, your stories will have significant impact as part of your online social networking profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

They can even become a stand-alone career marketing document showcasing top contributions. Link here to an example of a "Leadership Initiatives Summary" I created for an executive client outlining 2 of his standout career achievements, Paul Goldfarb.

Investing effort into developing these stories will help remind you of the value you offer and help prepare you for interviewing and better networking efforts. Prepare a few somewhat expanded versions of your stories. Having these compelling examples of your value proposition in your back pocket will help ease you through even those difficult sessions with inept interviewers who don't ask the best qualifying questions, or in uneasy networking situations.

Your C-A-Rs stories provide people assessing you (in person, on paper, or online) an indication of who you are and what you're like to work with. Your stories generate chemistry and help hiring decision makers determine whether you'll be a good fit for their company and culture.

About the author...

Meg Guiseppi, Job-Hunt's Personal Branding Expert and 20+ year careers industry veteran, has earned 10 certifications, including Reach Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Reach Social Branding Analyst – LinkedIn Profile Strategist, and Certified Executive Resume Master. Meg is the author of "23 Ways You Sabotage Your Executive Job Search and How Your Brand Will Help You Land." Connect with Meg at for c-suite personal branding and executive job search help and on Google+ and Twitter (@MegGuiseppi). And, you may also download Meg's free ebook - Job-Hunt Guide to Smart Personal Branding with LinkedIn.