What’s A Personal Brand?According to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” They are the words that are invoked when people think of you—your skills, values, and talents. Your brand is what people can expect from you.
For example, I gave a lecture recently about personal brands to college students. I asked them to give me words that described their professors. Some said hardworking, quality, and committed. Others said disengaged, unprofessional, and unfriendly. I pointed out that all of their professors were qualified on paper, but some of them didn’t spend any effort to create a positive brand. If you lack tenure and are just entering the job market, you need to create a strong brand that tells employers why to hire you.
Developing Your BrandYour brand will tell employers why you are a perfect fit for the job and their company: how you meet their needs. Your brand must be evident in your resume and cover letter, as well as your online presence (when you Google yourself, what do you find?). Your brand must match the requirements in the company’s job posting, as well as the company values that you find on their website. As an aside, matching the job posting will also help you get through the company’s applicant tracking system, which is designed to screen out poor keyword matches.
Through the job posting and website, and any other online searching you do (for example, of staff LinkedIn profiles), you’ll learn some general characteristics the company looks for in its employees. It could be people who can work in an aggressive, multiple-priority environment, or people who function best in a process-driven government organization. You’ll learn about the “personality” of the company. The closer your brand is to their personality, the better your chances of joining that company.
Know that even companies in the same industry may have different personalities. For example, two accounting firms will not necessarily embrace the same values. A small, local accounting firm that helps clients file their taxes will have a stronger requirement for customer service than an auditor in a global accounting firm who doesn’t have any direct customer contact.