Build a Personal Brand & Land Your Next Job Faster

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Building a personal brand, though highly recommended by most job search experts, is not without some risk. Depending on the job market in your area or industry, a personal brand may strengthen - or diminish - your chances of landing an interview.

1) A Personal Brand Targets Choice Positions

A personal brand strengthens your resume by highlighting what makes you unique when compared to the competition. At the same time, touting your unique strengths generally narrows the field of possible positions for which you may qualify. In a highly specialized industry, this may not create problems. But if you are broadening your search to a wider range of positions or targeting generalist positions, you may not be considered if your personal brand is too narrow.

An alternative is creating a series of different resumes tailored to unique positions. However, if you wait to hear back from each position before revising the resume for the next, you are losing valuable time in your search. While this approach may help you feel as if you are accomplishing more, it may also make it more challenging to present the power and passion that is easily communicated with a personal brand.

2) Make the Most of a Diverse Work History

Wide-ranging job experiences or gaps in employment make it difficult to identify a specific brand or focus. Using your diversity to establish an image of a generalist may be your best solution if you are trying to create a consistent image out of an inconsistent work history. Review your accomplishments to determine specific strengths or skill sets that employers will see as valuable. Examples might include “building cohesion” or “adept at identifying solutions.” The consistent skill set becomes a focused brand that creates value for employers across a number of different positions.

3) Use Thank You Notes to Expand Opportunities

Despite the fact that you presented yourself with a specific brand in an interview, you can always use the thank you note to highlight skills or qualifications for other potential openings at the same company. Express interest in the company and ask the hiring manager to keep you in mind for any other openings. Do your homework after the interview to find out areas of expansion for the company and align other strengths with growth initiatives. Remember to do so without being too wordy. The thank you note is not another version of your resume.

4) Use References Consistent with Your Brand

All references are not created equal in the job search. Try to identify management-level professionals with whom you have checked before giving out their names to hiring managers. You don’t want your references to be surprised and you don’t want to be surprised either if the reference doesn’t feel they have anything positive to say about the specific skill set needed for this job. Matching various references with the specific qualifications for each position becomes even more critical if your brand is less well defined or if you have diverse work experience.

5) Make Sure Your Internet and Resume “Brands” are Consistent

Of course you realize you need to conduct an online search of yourself before interviews or even before submitting an application. Removing any offensive or questionable online photos or posts is also a given. You also need to take a big picture approach to be certain postings don’t contradict the brand you are presenting to potential employers. If you have membership in two different organizations, be ready with a concise explanation of how these memberships contribute to your skills and value for the position to which you are applying.

6) Emphasize Professional Brand, not Personal Goals

Disclosing personal reasons for accepting a job that is inconsistent with your work experience or brand is not going to open any doors for you. The job search is about the organization’s needs, not yours. Shift your focus to your professional brand in terms of what you can provide to the company and you increase your odds of landing the job. Confusing personal needs with your professional brand will only weaken your qualifications.

An effective personal brand can set you apart from the competition. Attending to job search goals and details in creating a consistent brand communicates your value to hiring managers. Use your brand effectively to land your next job!