Defining Your Personal Brand
If you aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to defining and communicating the value of your personal brand, it’s nowhere as difficult as you might think, and the rewards are excellent because you will be foremost in the minds of hiring decision makers when they are considering similarly qualified candidates alongside you.
Essentially, developing a strong brand makes it easier for people to associate you with the skills and expertise you are known for. This will make it easy for people to connect with you when they have opportunities that suit your skill-set and interests.
Before you set about defining your brand, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What is your area of specialty? In other words, what specific subject-matter are you an expert?
- What are three to five adjectives that you think describe you? For example, the late Steve Jobs could be described as creative, entrepreneurial, innovative, passionate, inspirational and imaginative. Once you have a small list, ask other people who know you well in a professional capacity to write down adjectives they would use to describe you. Include previous managers or even suppliers or customers you’ve worked with and know you well enough to make an informed assessment of your knowledge, skills, and ability. How do the lists match up? Are there specific attributes on the list that you’d rather not be associated with?
- What are your career goals? What would you like your career to look like in 5, 10 or 15 years? What would you consider to be a successful career?
- Are there any specific obstacles that you need to overcome to achieve each goal on your list? What is that obstacle? Is it a specific skill? A qualification? Do you have the academic credentials required to establish your brand as an expert in a specific industry? For example, if you are branding yourself as a paid search expert, do you have the industry-relevant Google certifications?
- What do you think are your key personal strengths? What specific personal attributes do your friends, family members, colleagues and team members acknowledge in you? Think of specific instances when these qualities have manifested themselves in the work that you do. What specific knowledge do you have that others around you do not?
- What specific attributes do you have that make you unique? What do you have that others in a similar position or industry don’t? Examples could include an engaging sense of humor, specific talents, ability to solve complex problems, strong communication skills, etc.
- What are your major accomplishments? Create a list of the major milestones in your career. Examples include personal and professional achievements such as earning a graduate degree and exceeding sales quotas at work.
- What do you feel is your singular mission or purpose in life?
- How do you want to be perceived by your target audience?
- What are your values? (These are typically the guiding principles that are most important to you and drive your personal decisions.)
- What are the specific subjects that you excel at?
- What are your professional passions—i.e., do you prefer to work with technology, code, design, children, etc.?
- What most sets you apart from your peers and competitors?
By taking the time to answer these questions, you can begin to create a personality for your brand that effectively defines how you want to represent yourself to the world in general, and to prospective employers in particular. When you know who you are and what you stand for, you’ll know what type of jobs will make you happy and fulfilled.