When you hear the word branding what’s the first thing you think of? Some will think it’s a method used to mark cattle and take ownership, others think of large companies and the image they use to be noticed in the marketplace. Either one is accurate but both have relevance as to why we should usethis in our search for employment in an ever – competitive job market.
We are all too aware of how hard the current economic climate is with the bellows of austerity being citied by our politicians and every newspaper and programme highlighting the struggles of a generation. Zero hour contracts have offered little financial security and low-income earners are now turning to food banks to feed their families. The ONS (office for national statistics) has just released figures of unemployment running at 1.91 million. So with so many challenges facing us today is it little wonder that people are ill prepared for the fierce recruitment process.
As a personal branding coach and author of new book “Brand You New –You’re Hired”, I will over the next few months share my knowledge and give you the essential tools to enable you to stay ahead of the competition and get that job.
But let’s start at why branding is as important to you as an individual as it is to large organizations like Apple and coca cola. Branding is all about defining who you are and what you stand for. It allows you to identify yourself as being unique and memorable, which is true whether you are one person or a huge corporation but ultimately it’s about becoming the candidate that just has to be hired. Jeff Bezo, the founder of Amazon once said “ Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”.
In the interview process you want to be the one that they are talking about for all the right reasons. As we have just seen with the end of another Celebrity Big Brother, Perez (love him or hate him will be remembered) and talked about for maybe not the right reasons. So when we think about being memorable, consider your personality/ brand carefully.
When you think about how to brand yourself, always start by creating a U.S.P (unique selling point). To do this think about what skills, attributes and abilities you have that will not only look great on your CV but can be used to give you confidence at your interviews. Often people are unsure about how or why they are unique, it’s just not the British way to gush and tell everyone how brilliant we think we are.
But we need to adopt our American counterparts bravado and develop the inner strength to almost shout out how great we are and how many wonderful skills/qualities we have. When many of my clients struggle on this area I discuss the following points to help them break it down and come up with a plan:
- If you feel unsure on what attributes and abilities you possess, think about someone who inspires you, what traits do they have and work towards adopting similar ones.
- Think of all your skills and experience and then add to it what makes you unique and memorable. In an increasingly saturated market, hiring companies are looking to reduce their time by scanning and discarding poorly presented and content lacking CV’s. Make yours count. A saxophone-playing accountant is more memorable to a potential interviewer after the hundreds read.
- If you feel you are weaker in certain areas, look to strengthen them. Consider trying out new possibilities, like volunteering, this can help you gain a multitude of skills and organizations will see this in a positive light.
Start a course if this will help you secure a role you want or ask somebody who has the position or skills you desire to mentor you.
One of the exercises I give to my clients is to consider everything above and write a personal statement taking into account your skills and personal achievements/qualities. Over time this statement will change as you learn more and take on new roles and activities but for now write based on your current knowledge. Ask friends/family or work colleagues to look it over to see if there is anything missing and when you feel you have honed the piece to truly represent you, rehearse it like the words of a play.
The reason behind this exercise is that it develops not only the knowledge of your experience but it gives confidence to use this with ease at any interviews you attend. Part of creating your brand is to understand who you are and what makes you special, desirable and the only person for the job and being able to execute delivery at an interview with confidence.
So try this out for yourself, if you are weak in any areas, as in you feel you need to retrain, then look at this as a goal. For now write it with what you have, taking your hobbies and life skills into account. You will be amazed at how well you look on paper and practice reading this to anyone prepared to listen.
“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique. – Walt Disney