Career advice, insights & tips for HR professionals
Tweak your brand and secure the job you want 14/07/2011
It used to be called your 'image' and these days everyone's talking about 'personal branding'. It's easy when you're job hunting to dismiss personal branding and focus solely on your skills and experience, but this could end up costing you money when it comes to getting the job offer.
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- More to the brand
- It's all about presentation
- How does this apply to personal branding?
- What do you stand for?
- New book - Business Cookery
More to the brand
When we think about branding, various company logos spring to mind. As a former head of marketing, I know that there's a lot more to a brand than the colour of the logo and the name. The same applies to you – it's more than which clothing or shoes you decide to wear to an interview.
So if it's not about logos or names - or clothes and shoes - what is branding about?
It's about conveying who you are and the value you bring to the organisation - not just in the words you use, but how you use them. It also includes how you communicate through body language and whether you seem like the kind of person they think you are.
It's all about presentation
Let's look at this another way. It's a sunny Saturday and you're in a country village with friends. You spot two beautiful traditional pubs side by side and can't decide which one you'd like to eat in so you examine their menus. Coincidentally they have the same lunch specials. Here's what the menus say:
The Plough – 'Sausage and Mash £4.95'
The Coach and Horses – 'Traditional locally-sourced, organic Cumberland sausages served with creamy crushed potatoes drizzled with thick onion sauce £7.95'
Based on the descriptions alone, most people would choose to eat at The Coach and Horses, all other things being equal. And notice that the price in The Coach and Horses is more, but seems worth it.
For all you know, The Plough might have won awards for its sausage and mash, but when you read the description you'd think it's no different from a sausage and mash you could whip up at home or get in your local greasy spoon.
The way that The Coach and Horses describes its special gets the tastebuds going and conjures up a completely different image of what you'll see on your plate. It's all about presentation.
How does this apply to personal branding?
Before you start to write your CV or start preparing your answers to interview questions, think about whether you want to be plain old sausage and mash - the same as you could get anywhere else - or if you want to be the kind of sausage and mash The Coach and Horses would serve. The dishes are exactly the same, but with a different spin on the information and giving a bit more detail you can earn a premium on the top.
Personal branding goes a step further: it's not just about the words you use to describe yourself. It's about understanding your customer and in your case, the recruiter.
The Coach and Horses understands that when customers come into the village they are looking for a slice of old England. They want people to take their time with their food and spend more money on drinks (where they earn most of their profits). They want their customers to feel they are treating themselves to something special when they choose to dine with them. They also realise that their customers are mindful of animal welfare and global warming, so they take care to subtly mention that their meat is organic and locally-sourced. In doing so they say a lot about the values of their establishment - one of which is caring for their customers - and give a reason why their food is more expensive than at The Plough.
They know that their customers have other options. They manage to clearly differentiate themselves without mentioning their largest competitor.
What do you stand for?
What are your personal values?
What's important to you?
How are you going to bring something into the organisation that other candidates won't?
This isn't the time to freeze up and say, 'I don't know'.
If you'd like to get a pay rise at your next appointment and find a job that's really 'you', it's well worth taking the time to consider this.
For example, a client I coached recently on getting a new job hadn't thought about her values. We explored them in a coaching session and she realised she'd been applying to organisations whose values clashed with her own. Immediately it dawned on her that they'd spotted the mismatch and had decided not to hire her even though she was very well qualified for the job. In that moment she also realised that if she had been offered the job, she probably would have ended up desperately unhappy and within a year or two would be looking to move on again. With this new information she drew up a new 'wish list' of companies she'd like to work for who shared her values. These would be companies who would appreciate her for who she was as a person rather than her having to adopt a 'mask' at work and constantly adapt her behaviour. She left the session much more confident and sure of herself. It also helped that we rehearsed the answers to the most difficult interview questions.
The point here is that understanding yourself and your values is absolutely key to being happy in a job. The way you convey who you are the value you bring becomes your personal brand. You know who are and also who you're not. You feel much more in control of your own destiny and able to reject unsuitable opportunities because they're not you. When it comes to networking your way into a job, you're better able to tell friends, work contacts and agencies the kinds of jobs you'd be suitable for and which you wouldn't. Your personal brand is fundamental to helping recruiters understand who you are what makes you tick. When you can communicate that clearly, you'll begin to get the kinds of job offers you really want and deserve.
New book - Business Cookery
Hannah's new book, Business Cookery, is available now. Click to view on Amazon.
Topics covered: Setting your vision and mission * Understanding your target market * How to find out what your market wants * Business planning and budgeting * New product development * Working with suppliers * Systems and processes * Leadership, people management and staff training * Sales and marketing * Customer service * Follow-up and analysis * Referrals and customer loyalty If you run your own business, are in a management position or are simply curious about what goes on behind closed doors in the CEOs office, this is for you.
Hannah McNamara, CEO, HRM Coaching
Hannah is an executive coach specialising in leadership, management and career development. She works from her busy practice HRM Coaching Ltd in central London and is available for private coaching, corporate coaching programmes and in-house training.