Friday, February 4, 2011

Establishing Your Personal Brand

If you’re still reading after three days – thank you! I hope some of my experiences will help you in what, these days, should be your non-ending search for your next position.

Today we’ll start with a walk down the detergent aisle in the grocery store. So many selections! Tide. Cheer. Sun. Gain. Powder. Liquid. Don’t they all do the same thing? How do you choose your detergent?

Today’s job market is much like that. Hiring managers are walking down the aisle. They literally have their pick from all the boxes on the shelf. How are you setting yourself apart?

Here’s another way to ask the same question. You’re at a race. You’re in your starting corral and are making small talk with people around you. You mention that you’re looking for a new job (why not?). The person next to you says, "My company is hiring. What are you looking for?" You have about 30 seconds to respond before the start gun goes off. What are you going to say?

Our ability to land that dream job is based on our ability to set ourselves apart from our competition. It’s about establishing our personal brand. That’s a lot more than just listing some accomplishments on a piece of paper and calling it a resume. I’m still working on establishing my personal brand, but here are some things that I’ve learned (in order of importance):

Elevator pitch (or starting corral pitch): You *will* get a phone call when you are prospecting. So are at least a few dozen other people. What are you going to say about yourself and what you are looking to do in the first 30 seconds to make sure that the person on the other end of the line is going to be interested in talking to you for 5 minutes? Get you pitch down pat. Practice. It’s not a speech. It’s from your heart. It has to be.

Accomplishments: What have you accomplished in your career. Here’s where things get tough. It’s not what you’ve done, but what the impact of what you have done was. I’m a member of a couple of networking groups for “executives in transition”. I can’t tell you how many resumes I see where the accomplishment is, “I managed a group of 5 accounting professionals.” I’ve got news for you. So have about umpteen million people out there. So what? An accomplishment is, “I managed the accounting department at XYZ where I had responsibility for a department budget of $750,000. I streamlined processes that resulted in an increase in efficiency of 10% from year to year.” See the difference? You’re no longer just a box of detergent. Think of the impact that your work had to the bottom line of where you worked. Write each of the points that are on your resume down on a sheet of paper. Quantify the results of each. If you can't, don't put it on your resume. Remember - your resume is your reflection. Give your interviewers something compelling to talk to you about.

Recommendations: In two words - get them. Here's where the value of networking really comes into play. If someone is going to vouch for you, have them do one of two things - either make an introduction to the hiring manager (along with a personal recommendation) or have them leave a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. People want to be comfortable with their decisions. A recommendation from someone they know goes a long way to making them comfortable. In fact, one of the comments yesterday from fellow blogger Naomi says a lot, " I also know of some recruiters and hiring managers who refuse to consider candidates because their LinkedIn resource is not "robust" enough." Get those recomendations.

A couple words of caution. Just like poor quality can destroy a brand (anyone drive a Jaguar?), poor "quality" will destroy your personal brand. Anyone want to guess another website that recruiters check when looking at you? Just be aware - what they find on Facebook or through a Google search will *not* be used as reasons to hire you. Think about that before you post a scathing diatribe attacking your boss or your company, or before you decide to share those photos from the strip joint bender last weekend.

There is one thing that should never leave your mind during your job search - the person who is interviewing you *really* wants to fill that position. Think about it - would you really want to have to spend hours of your day interviewing people to fill a position? Why don't you help them walk through the detergent aisle?

Tomorrow I'll use myself as a case study.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. This is great! Sometimes I find it hard as a creative professional to quantify experience, though. I mean, I can't say that my compelling piece about decorating your cubicle helped the Seattle Times sell more papers or ad space. I guess copywriting might be a little easier: my writing was on the software box that sold more than a million copies (not true, just an example). Know what I mean? What's a girl to do?

    Sorry to be the "what if" girl. Looking forward to your case study!

  2. Looking forward to your case study!

  3. Ooohhh! Case study time!
    Thanks for sharing your pearls of knowledge here. :)

  4. Infrequent blogging? Hardly. I'm just getting caught up here and it looks like you've been busy getting back in the swing of things.

    I use whatever Costco sells, the free of dyes and scents stuff, unless they offer a coupon for something else.

    It's difficult to market yourself (myself?) right now. It seems that it's all about networking and connections. Even though I did get a job in November, I'm looking at alternatives, and my husband is doing the same. As for job networking at races, well, why not? It couldn't hurt.

    I'm also interested in your case study, too.

  5. Would you case study me next? :)
    I have such interview anxiety and so messed up my last interview, where I had to sit and sell myself to people I work with everyday, it was the hardest thing I've ever done and guess what? I failed. Now a new position may be opening up at school, which I COULD get insurance through, and I being asked if I go for it. Confidence is not my strongest skill...but I so need a different job! This stuff is great, Glenn!!

  6. i am really enjoying this series of posts. i think we all need to revisit this process from time-to-time. i've been complacent in my career for the past couple of years, and this is a good refresher for me.

  7. Great series, Glenn. Definitely could work as a placement consultant or headhunter.

  8. kinda ditto what kovas alluded too. you might want to look into HR work?

  9. This is awesome Glenn! I'm not looking for a new job, nor do I anticipate doing so anytime soon, but I do a fair amount of educational consulting, I just started thinking about how I could use Linked in more effectively for that. There are not a lot of educative using it, but I see more and more every day.

    I tell my students that success is only partially about what you know; it's also about who you know. Your last few blogs may become some required reading!

  10. This is a chunk of what they taught us in grad school. I believe this stuff does help (I spent a while doing my elevator pitch and now am dismayed at how often it changes).

  11. Maybe you should be a job consultant :)

    I can't use most detergents. I need the nitpicky no-fragrance, no-dye, allergic girl brand. Therefore I should probably not work and stay home since so few places would "fit" ;) Think Josh will go for that?

  12. Thanks for the load of information Glenn. Very useful indeed. I never really thought about the FB thing. When you leave tracks in the snow, make sure that the colors yellow and brown do not lay down in those tracks as well. lol. Take care man.

  13. I'm still working on my elevator speech.