In the last two weeks, I have posted on getting a fresh start on your overall career and on your networking. Personal branding is another hot topic for job seekers. Here are common branding problems and solutions:
You meant to update your resume but didn’t
The problem: If you haven’t updated your resume in a while, it just gets harder with time. You’ll forget more. You’ll have more to add. The task seems even more daunting. So of course, this makes you postpone it even more.
The cure: A resume is necessary but does not by itself get you a job, so do a best efforts for now and refine along the way. If you really won’t do it, pay someone to draft it. If you don’t mind putting it together but are concerned about the content, just put the structure together with filler words (e.g., XXXX) for the content. This way, you get started and can fill in over time. Then, start filling in the easy, factual stuff, such as dates, company and school names, degrees, etc. For the items that require more nuanced and creative thought (e.g., bullet points under each job) start with full sentences, the way you naturally think, rather than bullet points. Then, when you have the gist of what you want to say, you can worry about fitting it in as a bullet point and what to keep and discard. Make this the year you have an up-to-date resume.
You meant to tame your social media activity but didn’t
The problem: You know that recruiters are on LinkedIn but like your resume, updating your profile is something for another day. In the meantime, there are baby videos to watch on YouTube.
The cure: Similar to blocking out the time, it’s just a question of scheduling this in and getting it done. Once you have your resume, you can copy and paste a lot of it. Save your time for your LinkedIn tagline and summary, which should be customized. Don’t feel like you have to cover all social media outlets or none at all. Start with LinkedIn, which is the most relevant for career management in general, and add from there. Make this the year you have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile and use social media for more than entertainment.
You hear a lot about personal branding but aren’t sure what that is
The problem: You know the term, “personal branding.” You understand the general outline that people with a strong personal brand attract opportunities to them, and in this way, have a career advantage. But while you buy into the benefits, you don’t know what this means from a practical standpoint. How do you get that strong personal brand?
The cure: There are entire businesses that are built around branding, so a few lines isn’t going to summarize the canon of advice about building your brand. However, to start, think about what is known about you – how would people describe you, what stories would people tell about what you do and what you have accomplished, if people were looking for you where would they find you. You want to be able to answer these question specifically. Furthermore, you want the descriptions and the stories to align with what you’re interested in now. Finally, you want people to think of you and know how to find you. For one of my clients who was changing industries and moving from management to the executive suite, his brand needed to be tied to a new industry and to vision and strategy more than execution. He needed to circulate at conferences and get published because the people who needed to find him (high-level executive search, venture capital, Board members) would be looking for thought leaders at conferences and in print. This process took months but it started with a decision by my client to proactively management and raise the profile of his brand. The best next step for you may just be a decision to become more aware of your brand. Make this the year you proactively manage your brand.
Get to that resume. Take advantage of social media – without consuming all your free time. Be aware of the personal brand you already have, and refine according to your goals. Be proactive about these few key areas of your branding to make 2014 the year you truly differentiate yourself.