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You are the message: creating a personal brand

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room  Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

When you apply for a job or work placement you are probably amongst dozens who are doing the same thing. If you get invited for an interview you are amongst the lucky few who got shortlisted. You and the other people who are getting interviewed are all probably around the same educational level, probably have similar experience and probably have similar skills. To get the position, you need to stand out from the crowd; but how? The answer is personal branding.

You may think “Why do I need a personal brand?”  Here’s the thing, you already have one. As Jeff Bezos suggests in the quote above, whether you like it or not, you are always, consciously or unconsciously, creating a persona for yourself that is responsible for your reputation, the label people put on you and how they perceive you. This is especially true in the social media age when anyone in the world can get to form an opinion about you from your posts.

So, instead of putting up with the brand that you have accidentally created, why not manage the image you are conveying so it works to your advantage.

This doesn’t mean being a phony. Personal branding is not about imitating someone else or about bragging and boasting. What it is about is consciously defining your brand by highlighting your best qualities and making sure people are aware of them. Your brand is what you want people to see and what you think they should know about you.

To help people get a better understanding of you and to fill in the perception gap that they might have you need to create a narrative about yourself that shows how you are unique and what differentiates you from other people.  This requires self-awareness on your part to understand how your experience, skills and personal attributes would benefit a potential employer.

Again, this is not about creating an artificial, contrived version of yourself. It’s going through your skills, history, experience and other attributes and creating a narrative that shows the best of you.  You can also ask friends and family to provide feedback on how you come across and what you do that works or doesn’t work.

This self-analysis and feedback from others can help you understand:

  • How you come across to strangers
  • How to introduce yourself to others
  • How to dress for success

Having done all this work on your personal brand you are at an advantage when it comes to being interviewed for a job or a work placement. You’ve already defined your skill set, your strengths and your work ethic. You now need to present yourself in the best way to highlight these and to create the impression you want the interviewer to remember. Some of the ways you can do this are:

  • Have a positioning statement about yourself; a short summary of your experience and skills that clearly demonstrates what  you can offer
  • Keep your answers to questions focussed, relevant and short. Don’t ramble
  • When asked a general question always bring yourself into the answer, ie answer the general point and then introduce an example from your experience that underlines that point.

Remember, how you dress, what you put on social media, how you interact with people and what you say about yourself is all telling a story about you.

Make sure it’s the story you want people to know. 

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