By Meg Guiseppi
In my practice working with senior-level executive job seekers to define their personal brand and create personal marketing materials to help them land, I find that many people have a hard time grasping what personal branding really is.
In job search, personal branding is all about differentiating and communicating the unique value you offer your target employers over your competitors.
Your resume, bio, LinkedIn profile, and other marketing communications need to make you stand out and above your competitors in the job market.
You need to clearly showcase what makes you a better fit than the rest to help them meet their current needs and challenges.
Many job seekers slip up because they strive for sameness.
They think that, in order to compete, they need to come across just like all the other candidates.
But, sameness won't set them apart. Differentiation will.
Leveraging the "personal" part of personal branding will help to differentiate you.
Don't forget that branding is not just about your areas of expertise, detailed through a list of relevant keywords. Branding also encompasses your passions, values, and driving strengths (both hard and "soft" skills).
Think about the hiring decision makers reviewing and assessing candidates through their LinkedIn profiles (usually first) and other online presence, and then their career documents (resume, bio, etc.).
Even the best candidate can get lost and overlooked in a sea of similarly qualified candidates.
Sure, you still need to reinforce that you possess the required skill sets and expertise specific to your target employers. That's all about using the right keywords and phrases.
But you need to go beyond these basics. You need to generate chemistry. And you need to make your content a more interesting read than the other candidates. Capture the attention of hiring professionals above the fold, and compel them to read your entire LinkedIn profile, or resume, or biography.
How do you stand out from the crowd and generate chemistry? Give yourself permission to be authentically you.
Don't be afraid to say things you've never seen in a LinkedIn profile or resume. Things like:
Or, whatever describes you.
[I offer these examples to prompt your own differentiating brand messaging. Don't think about "borrowing" these phrases. You don't want to copy someone else's brand. You're an original, right?]
Here are 4 questions I ask my clients to prompt them to be authentic and define what differentiates them:
I have my clients dig deep, using a tool similar to my 10-Step Personal Branding Worksheet. Try it now!
Make the content in your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc. come alive with your personal qualities that have benefitted past employers, in a way that will compel future employers to see you as the best-fit hiring choice.
[See my article, Building Personal Brand Content for Your Executive Job Search for the how-to, even if you are not an executive.]
You know that old expression, "You only have one chance to make a first impression." Create personal brand messaging that captures attention at first glance and holds people's attention, because it differentiates the authentic you.
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 ExecutiveCareerBrand.com for c-suite personal branding and executive job search help and on Twitter (@MegGuiseppi). And, you may also download Meg's free ebook - Job-Hunt Guide to Smart Personal Branding with LinkedIn.