WorkWise: What job seekers don't know about branding
By Mildred L. Culp
The job-hunting process depletes a person's imagination. If you don't have a brand or your campaign is getting stale, look for a fresh approach to differentiate yourself. The knowledge that employers and recruiters match needs with applicant brands will help inspire you to sharpen what you have to offer in the marketplace. Lethia Owens of Lethia Owens International Inc., in St. Peters, Mo., stresses that "a brand isn't what you say it is but what you show people. Don't (announce), 'I'm cutting-edge.' Demonstrate the abilities and share information that shows you're credible."
The concept of branding is well-known to sales, marketing and HR people, but many job seekers don't know how to use it in their campaigns. A brand needs "a compelling story that speaks uniquely to the challenges facing a prospective employer," observes corporate consultant Joseph McCool of The McCool Group LLC., in Amherst, N.H. "That message has to be wrapped up tightly and conveyed convincingly to stand out."
How do you identify your brand if it isn't already clear to you? Janice Ellig, co-CEO of New York City's retained search firm Chadick Ellig Inc., shares her secret. "Think about what people have said about you," she says. "Listening to those who've given us feedback and advised us in our current careers tells us a story about our strengths. The strengths become your brand, certainly your selling point, what differentiates you. Look to companies that might be really interested in what you bring which might be different from where they've been." Owens recommends being strategic. This means, in part, selling benefits. It also means, as Ellig suggests, "Don't try to sell yourself from a position of weakness. Sell yourself from a position of strength." Appealing to every employer can sabotage a job search.