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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Personal Branding Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with insights from our CTL Associates.

  • 15 Dec 2015 2:37 PM | Anonymous

    By Jack Mulcahy, ACRW
    Jack Mulcahy Resume Services

    “Why should I hire you, instead of one of the other candidates out there?”

    Whether you’ve never been on an interview or written a resume, or you’re a veteran of the interview process and have what you consider the world’s greatest resume, that question needs to be foremost in your mind at all times during the hiring process. And to have any hope of obtaining the position, you had better have a more intelligent answer than, “I’m a hard worker,” or “I won’t cost the company a lot of money.”

    The answer you need is something you must define before you present the final version of your resume to any employer. You may have a clear idea of it before you begin, or it may emerge as a result of your own brainstorming while writing. What I am talking about is known as your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The USP is the quality or qualities that set you apart from your competition. This is what tells the prospective employer why s/he should purchase your services instead of someone else’s.

    The USP also may be referred to as your brand. Brand has become the latest in a long line of hot topics to hit the employment field. But regardless which you call it, you need to define it clearly and without any equivocation throughout your resume, or else you’re finished before you’ve started.

    In developing your USP, you need to define: who you are (and what you do); what benefits you will bring to the employer when you’re hired; and why you are better than your competition.

    Let’s take a look at this example, taken from the introduction to a resume:

    Hands-on leader with outstanding interpersonal skills; Organizational agility; Negotiation skills; Presentation skills; Computer proficient; Multi task within fast-paced environments.

    This individual is trying to sell himself as a set of skills. Is there a person in there? Does the person (to grant him the benefit of the doubt) show who he is? Why he’s better than his competition? Benefits he will bring to the employer?

    Contrast that example with this one:

    District Sales Manager, with experience in organic sales, recruitment, coaching, and marketing, who propelled sales growth 30% and increased client loyalty 35% within 1 year. Natural leader, expert in creation and management of high-quality sales teams, communication of business goals, and motivation of staff to exemplary performance. Innovative problem-solver, adept in delivering superior client service and developing new systems.

    In the second example, the individual describes herself in terms of experience, accomplishments, and expertise. In other words, “This is who I am, what benefits I will bring, and why I’m better than the competition.”

    Which one would you hire?

  • 06 Dec 2015 10:33 PM | Marie Zimenoff (Administrator)
    By Stephen Van Vreede

    The Executive IT Resume
    Preparing a strong IT resume for executive roles is still important. No matter what anybody tells you, decision makers (HR managers, IT executives, and technical recruiters) still want to see, touch, and feel your resume to determine if you are a good fit for a potential opening. However, how your resume got into their inbox or on their desk can depend largely on your personal brand strategy. In addition, how an employer or recruiter views your capabilities and the perception they have of you as they go through the post-resume review process also depends on your personal brand strategy.

    Personal Brand Strategy: What Does That Mean?
    All the personal brand strategy means is the manner in which you present or “package” yourself in your professional life. For example, if you are an IT Director looking to move up to the VP of IT role, you are going to attempt to brand yourself as an IT Executive, not an IT Director. Another example would be if you were a Technical Consultant that has worked with clients across all industries, but you wanted to work for a company in the healthcare industry. You would package yourself by highlighting your engagements with medical and health services clientele.

    The difficulty with branding is in considering how you position yourself all the time, not just during a job search. Understandably, the job search — and this job search in particular — may be what motivates you to think about how you are branded. You might be wondering whether you are even branded at all. Well, yes, you are. You may not have defined it, it may be very watered down, and it may not be very effective, but each of us is branded in one way or another. Just look at your resume and any other communications you send to a prospective employer. If you were to pretend that was somebody else, what would you say that person’s core message is? If there’s no core message or the message does not equate with the types of jobs you want to pursue, than it’s not going to be very effective.

    How Else Can I “Brand” Myself?
    As I mentioned, personal branding goes well beyond the job search and your resume. Let’s mention some of the more obvious traditional forums for you to convey your brand:

    • Cover Letter
    • Business Card
    • Executive Bio
    • Elevator Pitch


    And here are some of the social media forums through which you can convey your brand based on your content, what you like, what you retweet, what you repin, etc.

    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
    • Google+
    • StumbleUpon
    • Pinterest


    Don’t forget about these other forums through which prospective employers can learn more about your:

    • own blog site
    • specialty sites you comment on that go with your brand
    • in-person networking events
    • community affiliations
    • industry conferences


    How Do I Put It All Together?
    You want to ensure that your brand is consistent across all of these forums. I’m not saying that you copy-and-paste the information from your resume into all these other sites and converse with people face-to-face in resume speak. Each should have it’s own unique flavor depending on the audience and their expectations…but the same brand and theme should shine forth in all of them.

    Article originally released on eZinearticles.com athttp://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Stephen_Van_Vreede
    http://EzineArticles.com/?IT-Executive-Resume-and-Personal-Brand-Strategy:-How-They-Are-LinkedIn&id=6990943

    Email: stephen@ittechexec.com
    Phone: 585.586.1385
    Skype: ittechexec
    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ittechexec
    LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede

  • 07 Oct 2015 3:59 PM | Marie Zimenoff (Administrator)
    By Deb Dib, The Coach for CEOs & Rising Stars
    RCPBS, CCMC, CCM, NCRW, CPRW, CEIP, JCTC, Certified 360Reach Analyst

    People have been talking about personal brands since Tom Peters’ groundbreaking article “The Brand Called You” appeared in Fast Company magazine in 1997. Since then the world of branding has exploded, with experts and novices alike extolling the virtues of personal branding.

    Human branding has become a force in personal and career development because the process and outcome of personal branding works. It authenticates and clarifies the value of an individual and empowers that individual to be more, to achieve more, and to contribute more—with an empowered enthusiasm and vigor that attracts success, satisfaction, and happiness.

    In fact, in the changing world of work, the power of branding may be most visible in today’s most successful employees, executives, and job seekers.

    What is the difference between a personal brand and a career brand?

    A personal brand is formed by your authentic worth and attributes—in many ways it is timeless and unchanging. Like a personal brand, a career brand projects an authentic and unique promise of value. However, career brands extend beyond the personal. A career brand is born of a personal brand but is specifically tied to unique business value.

    A career brand projects a clear and marketable value proposition, one that is often coupled with a history of visible accomplishment.

    At executive levels, such accomplishments could include success in change management, innovation, turnarounds, corporate contributions, thought leadership, and social responsibility as well as profit generation and delivery of shareholder and stakeholder value. In non-executive areas, examples might be delivering projects on time and on budget to save time and money, and conducting exceptional customer service calls that build loyalty and drive further revenue growth.

    A career brand is your face in the business world, your differentiator, your voice when you are not there, and your advertisement of absolute authentic value. It is your entree to top jobs and top compensation. It is what powers your career.

    Your career brand combines your personal and business attributes with how you use them in the marketplace. Your career brand is driven by market reality and market need. Consumer brands change to meet the changing trends and requirements of consumers, and so must your career brand, remaining flexible—in pro-action or re-action to critical changes in the marketplace.

    Why identify and leverage a career brand?

    Branded employees and executives are valuable commodities—recognized, coveted, and courted by employers—much like the way unique products are known, desired, and purchased in the consumer marketplace. Branded employees and executives are visible and respected leaders (at any level!) who project clear and distinctive career brands—recognizable and unique promises of the value they bring to their companies, their stakeholders, and their world.

    Today’s successful and innovative employees, executives, and job seekers understand the power of branding and its ability to help them compete and win for the best jobs and highest compensation. They know that branding is no longer an option in high-stakes job search and careers where branded leadership, branded communications, and branded career management are critical tools for career growth and lifelong career management.

    What can career brand management do for careers?

    The most successful careerists are adept and consistent brand managers. They continually define their brand and then communicate it in all they write, speak, and do. And they surround themselves with environments and items that reflect that brand in their work lives and personal lives.

    Your well-managed career brand prepares you to out-compete at every level, stay visible, and keep career momentum going. A career brand diminishes confusion and uncertainty and maximizes freedom and control—all based on your authentic value.

    If you have been in the workplace for more than a few years you will have experienced times when you needed to jump-start an unexpected job search or differentiate yourself as a top contender for a promotion. And, perhaps, you felt uneasy and unprepared.

    You are not alone. Most people are exactly like you—superb at what they do, but confused by the intricacies of today’s high-stakes career management and job search process. This is where career branding can be immensely helpful in keeping you constantly prepared for whatever the economy and your company throw at you!

    Can career branding help in resumes and job search?

    Savvy careerists know that their career communications must be branded, refined, and reworked to attract and maximize every individual opportunity. One size fits all does not exist in successful career management.

    They know that just as in career branding, their resume, career collaterals, networking pitches, and interview content must show leadership and potential, tell a marketing story about vision and innovation blended with practical solutions and bottom-line / profit-building performance, demonstrate personality and work style, and prove a team and corporate culture fit.

    When preparing to write your resume and launch your job search ask yourself the following questions. Then use your answers as the foundation for branded career development activities.

    What parts of my job do I love? Do my best accomplishments reflect that enjoyment?

    What parts of my job do I do well, but not enjoy? Do I wish to be hired to do those again?

    What is my management style? How do I interact with my team, core management group, or board of directors?

    What do my peers and staff routinely say about me?

    Do I have visibility in the marketplace, with the media, etc.?

    What are my top 5 business skills and my top 5 leadership skills?

    What have I done that best demonstrates each of those skills with bottom-line, strategic, profit-building, or profit-enhancing performance?

    Can I compose “challenge-action-result” success studies of each of these and then speak of them in a concise, enthusiastic, and compelling manner?

    • Do my accomplishments and skills have value in my target market?
    • Can I answer the question “Why should I hire you?” with a compelling value proposition that makes me irresistible to a prospective employer?

    What is a value proposition?

    Your value proposition is about “what happens” when you do what you do. It is the result that you deliver to your company when you use the skills and strengths that form your brand. A brand’s strength is determined by the marketplace—and so is the strength of your value proposition. A value proposition answers the brand question “Who cares?” Be sure that your value proposition is one that is relevant, even critical, to your target market.

    When you think about your value, don’t think in generalities. Put a number to your outcomes whenever possible. Numbers speak louder than words. They create credibility and desire.

    A value proposition that says, “I revitalize aging brands, recapture market share, and typically deliver 50+% revenue gains” will likely attract an interview. A brand statement that says, “I revitalize aging brands” is too vague.

    Review your answers to the above questions, identify themes, and construct your overriding and unique value proposition and subsets of “value-adds.” It may help you to imagine an organizational chart with you at the top (value proposition) heading a core group of direct reports with distinct supportive rolls (value-adds).

    Developing a branded resume with a strong value proposition is tough (the better you are at what you do, the tougher it is!), and it may help you to work with a team of supportive personal and professional resources. Your team might include mentors, family members, trusted colleagues, a brand strategist, an executive coach, and a resume consultant.

    Many successful job seekers routinely assemble such a team—a personal board of directors—a dream team of trusted professionals who help guide them, support their efforts, and give them the listening environment and honest feedback that is critical to branding, job search, and lifelong career management.

    What are key strategies for branded career planning?

    Even while you are engaged in a job search, you must also be engaged in long-range planning so that your new position “fits” your brand and your ultimate career goal.

    Once in your new position, focus on strategic contributions that will support your long-term goals and radar-screen activities. Document your contributions so that you have compelling success studies for compensation reviews, resume updates, bios, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter bios, interviews, and even media kits.

    Include these strategies for branded career planning in your career brand toolbox:

    • Continuous visibility-building activities and “give-to-get” online and offline networking.
    • Resume and portfolio updates with new, branded success stories.
    • Personal performance reviews / promotion planning.
    • Strategic entry, situation-specific, and career planning coaching.
    • Personal fulfillment activities for on-brand work-life balance, blend, and happiness.
    • Continuous refining of your career brand and value proposition.
    • Ongoing market research on the key companies and players in your industry.
    • Continual practicing of your branded 30-second elevator speech.

    How do you discover your career brand?

    Every individual has a brand, but not every individual knows he has a brand. Knowledge is power and discovering, defining, and refining your brand is a critical step towards reaching the success you crave and deserve.

    Start thinking about the ways you are unique and valuable. Then decide if you will benefit from the expertise of a certified personal brand strategist, if you’d like online training, or if you prefer to read one of the many books on personal branding so that you can begin the process yourself.

    The person who knows his value, actively manages his brand, and is clear about his value is a person who is poised for accomplishment, success, and fulfillment—for himself and for his company.

    Phone: 631-475-8513
    Email: debdib@executivepowerbrand.com
    Twitter: www.twitter.com/CEOCoach
    LinkedIn: www.Linkedin.com/in/debdib

  • 16 Jan 2011 4:43 PM | Anonymous

    By Gerry Corbett

    As public relations experts, we strive to successfully deliver the goods for our customers and clients. “Brand” for us is critical, and a solid reputation is what is important at the end of the day. Words are the vital threads that we weave together in a cohesive statement that fully and succinctly describe the organization so that it strongly resonates with customers and other audiences. Yet who among us has taken the time to consider a statement that describes who and what we are and the value we bring to those with whom we work and interact? Perhaps it is time to treat ourselves as clients and spend the intellectual capital required to effectively brand ourselves.

    So how best can you smartly craft a brand statement that will help you strongly resonate with customers, clients, friends and family? Here is a ten step approach that can help you encapsulate the essence of "you." Bear in mind this exercise may take up to two weeks to two months depending on how responsive your friends and colleagues are and the amount of brain power you dedicate. The basic framework for a smart brand statement is typically one sentence that succinctly captures your value in a way that is memorable and intuitive. The structure might be as follows but use your best judgment based on your own style: “I am (your name) and (an/a) (descriptive attribute) (title/role noun) (descriptive verb of value) (object of value noun).” For example, “I am John Doe and a versatile and experienced PR brand strategist focused on surfacing and promoting the vital attributes for organizations to strongly bond with their audiences.” Statement Guidelines: As noted, the simpler the statement, the likelihood it will be more memorable. So keep these criteria in mind as you craft your brand description.

    1. Keep it simple

    2. A reminder of the beneficial effects of your talents/skills

    3. Intuitive

    4. Understandable

    5. Easy to remember

    6. Paints a picture

    7. Universally understood

    Process:

    1. For each session that you spend on this exercise, sit down in a comfortable place with your favorite instrument of composition and beverage of choice.

    2. Compose a list of your six best characteristics as you view them. Be succinct but descriptive. For example, “versatile,” “strong writer,” “insightful strategist,” “intuitive thinker,” etc.

    3.  Ask five of your best friends to compose a similar list of your best six characteristics as they view them. 

    4. Next ask five colleagues at your place of work/business to do the same assuming you are actively employed. If not, ask five colleagues in your support group.

    5. With all characteristics in hand, create a 6 by 11 matrix so that you can assess, cross check and select the characteristics that are most common among you, your friends and work colleagues. Make sure that the most common characteristics or traits personally resonate with you.

    6. With your characteristics narrowed down and in hand, construct three sample statements based on the framework noted above that are authentic, fit your thinking and match your character.

    7. With the three statements in hand, enlist the help of your colleagues and friends to provide to you their favorite two statements.

    8. Go through the same exercise as step 5 and select the two most preferred statements. And sleep on it.

    9. With fresh eyes and brain, select the one statement that most resonates with you and commit it to memory.

    10. From here on in, use this statement religiously and consistently until you decide it is time for a new role for yourself. Feel free to use this statement for the introduction on your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles or any other social infrastructure platforms that you employ.

  • 06 Sep 2010 5:41 PM | Anonymous

    By Stephanie Clark

    As a resume writer and interview coach, I am blessed with wonderful clients that run the gamut from entry level to senior executives. Some have a great handle on how to self-promote; most do not. And surprisingly, this isn’t always related to stature, experience, or education.

    Business depends on growth, and growth depends on the cumulative impact of each employee's individual performance. Your performance of a key function absolutely impacts the bottom line. Knowing yourself, your character, strengths, talents, and skills, relating these to your performance, and then demonstrating how your performance influenced your company’s year-end performance report, is an essential aspect of career management that impacts not only the interview, but also your annual review and other business conversations. Your character, strengths, talents, education and skills—your credentials or value proposition—must be articulated clearly. They must be connected, in your interview conversation, to your employer’s bottom line. In relating stories of how your performance improved a previous employer’s business, you establish yourself as an employee who provides a return on investment. That is, investing in your pay will produce a return through your performance. So many cannot articulate these workplace stories, and indeed, have no idea of what kind of return they offer.

    And what of you and your return? Any ideas? I encourage you to create a list of five or more aspects of your current or last job, a list of responsibilities or accountabilities that contribute to business growth or sustainability. If you are an administrative assistant, you must be organized and organize others; a network administrator, you must proactively keep the network humming along; a salesperson, you must not only keep existing accounts, but you must add new ones. Challenge yourself to create your list!

  • 05 Apr 2010 7:48 PM | Anonymous

    By Randi Bussin

    Goal setting is a key component and one of the first steps in helping clients extract their personal brands. Without goals and a defined target audience, it is impossible to know how to express and where to point your personal brand. Goal setting helps: you get clarity on what you want in your career.

    How do you actually go about doing this? Here are 10 steps to goal setting and goal attainment.

    1. Develop a big picture of what you want to accomplish in your career/life. Take a piece of paper or use Microsoft Word and write down everything you want to accomplish in the next ten years of your life. Be sure to include goals for all major areas of your life, including career, community service, family, health, financial and hobbies.  As you identify your goals, be sure they are goals you want to achieve, and not ones desired by others in your life, such as your parents, your significant other, or employer.

    2. Prioritize the goals by time frame. Go back to the list you just created and break the long list of goals into three smaller time frames. For example, you could categorize them by short-term (next 12 months), medium-term (next 2 to 5 years) and then longer term (6 to 10 years).

    3. Rewrite your short-term goals in SMART goal format. SMART goals are:

    Specific--this means answering the “who, what, when, where, and why” questions. The “why” question is very important. You need to understand why you want this goal and how the goal aligns with your values.

    Measurable--this establishes how you are going to measure progress toward the attainment of the goals you have set.

    Attainable--make sure the goal is within reach, but also stretches you to strive and to think big.

    Relevant or Realistic--a realistic goal is an objective which you are both motivated to achieve and realistically able to do so.

    Timely or Time Bound--a goal with a time frame sets your subconscious mind into motion to begin working on it. With no time frame, there is no sense of urgency to reach the goal.

    4. Make your goals visible and review them daily. This action of putting your goals in a visible place sets the intention to the greater universe and becomes a daily reminder of what it is you are trying to accomplish. Review your goals regularly and revise them if you reach them too easily, or if they are too difficult. Also, if you notice a deficit in your skills despite achieving a goal, then think about what you would like to do to fix this.

    5. Identify the obstacles that are getting in your way. Think about what is going to get in the way of your achieving your goals. What within yourself is holding you back? What changes can you make to move forward?

    6. Identify the knowledge, skills and competencies you need to move forward. Which skills do you need to be at the top of your game? What one skill, if you developed it, would have the greatest impact on your life or career? What one skill, if you developed it and did it consistently, would help you achieve your most important goal? Identify it and begin to work on it every single day. 

    7. Recruit and enlist your support team. To achieve lofty goals, you will need the help and support of many people. Who is your support team or board of advisors? Identify the list of family members, work colleagues and mentors you need in your life. You list could also include your coach or an industry consultant.

    8. Celebrate successes, which boost your confidence. When you have achieved a goal, take time to celebrate reaching the milestone. Treat yourself to something “meaningful” to mark the accomplishment. You do not have to spend a large sum of money; it could be a simple token such as a DVD, a drink with a friend, or something more extravagant such as a massage.

    9. Organize your 12-month goals into smaller more manageable steps. Planning is very important to reaching your goals. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your efforts. So how will you spend your time? Plan out the next 12 months, month by month. For each month, list two or three key activities that you must accomplish that would have the most profound impact on the bigger picture.

    10. Take action every day. Many baby steps taken consistently add up to big goals.  Just do one thing, one little thing each day that will keep the momentum going and keep you moving forward.

  • 13 Feb 2010 9:20 PM | Anonymous

    By Randi Bussin

    Personal Branding: it’s an opportunity for job seekers, career changers, and small business owners to figure out what separates them from their peers and to rise above the noise in this crowded business and employment environment. Personal Branding is for EVERYONE, not just consumer packaged goods firms with large marketing and branding budgets. It is about identifying, and then communicating, what makes you unique, relevant, and differentiated for your target audience, so that you can reach your career or business goals. If you understand your strengths, skills, passions, values, goals, and how others perceive you, you can then use this information to separate yourself from your competitors and really stand out. Personal Branding is very powerful because it sends a clear, consistent, and authentic message about who you are and what you have to offer. A strong, authentic Personal Brand helps you become known for what you’re good at, sets you apart from everyone else, and can position you as a niche expert.

    So you are probably wondering, how do you discover your Personal Brand? The first step in the process is (1) to do your own introspective analysis or homework (understanding your goals, values, passions, strengths, etc.) and then (2) to understand how others perceive you. Once you have analyzed all of this information and have distilled down your unique brand attributes and leadership competencies, then you can determine how to communicate your competitive differentiation to the people who need to know about you (your target audience). In the communication phase, you establish a media plan that is based upon communication vehicles you enjoy using and those that reach your target audience. This phase could also include incorporating your Personal Brand into your resume, a branded biography, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, etc.

    So why should I care about Personal Branding? There are numerous benefits to a strong Personal Brand, some of which are listed below:

    • Personal Branding enhances your self-awareness.
    • Personal Branding helps you clarify and reach your career or business goals.
    • Personal Branding helps you create visibility and presence, in front of those people who will be making decisions about you.
    • Personal Branding is about differentiation.
    • Personal Branding offers more control and power over your career.
    • Personal Branding creates wealth as strong brands are typically paid more.
    • Personal Branding offers resilience in difficult economic times.

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