We often hear the term “personal branding” bandied about in conducting a job search, but many people have a hard time envisioning it in concrete terms. What I would like to share with you is a real life example you might relate to.
Last Wednesday evening I attended a candidate’s forum where seven candidates seeking to win the primary election on the Democratic ticket to succeed NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg were invited to discuss the issues. Being an executive resume writer and job search advisor I viewed this forum as a job interview, because essentially that is what it was and I learned a few lessons that night.
Two candidates have no chance of winning so we’ll leave them out of the discussion, however the other five candidates are all viable in the race; a former NYC Congressman, the former city Comptroller and head of the Board of Education who was also his party’s mayoral nominee who lost to Mayor Bloomberg in 2009, the current Speaker of the City Council, the current Comptroller, and the current Public Advocate. To be honest all five are NYC Democrats who for the most part agreed in principal on the majority of the questions, except for one, with each having a somewhat different political spin on the various issues.
This said all five needed to make us believe he or she was different from one another and each had 120 minutes to try and establish a unique ‘Personal Brand’ that made him or her stand out in our minds rather than blend into the crowd.
Only one of the five candidates succeeded in established a personal brand and stood out in the crowd, and this is the one candidate for the job of mayor most people I spoke with afterwards said they would vote for. Here is how he did it.
Three male candidates each had on a dark suit, crisp white shirt and power tie. The lone woman wore a feminine version of this attire. These four presented the same exact image. The fifth candidate wore a nice blue shirt and tie and no jacket making people take notice of his uniqueness by markedly differentiating himself from his four adversaries.
Then came the Q&A session; when asked a question the four candidates in suits all answered their questions while they sat in their chair however the candidate in the shirt and tie stood up and moved forward towards the audience when he was called upon to respond. Again we saw four clones and one person who was different and stood out. This tactic also made us pay more attention to what he was saying and how it differed from the other four. Whereas when the other four answered the same questions our attention was focused on how similar they were to the other three.
Finally, there was one question where there was a genuine difference of opinion. A very telling question was asked about how they each felt about the current mayor not negotiating union contracts and leaving this up to the next mayor. The four suited candidates were united in their belief the mayor was wrong and should have negotiated the deals before the new mayor comes into office. The shirt and tie candidate said he was glad the mayor did nothing and left the responsibility up to the next mayor. He said the buck stops here, the rest said it is best to pass the buck. This is an important lesson to job seekers; companies want people who desire rather than shirk new responsibilities.
I do not know which candidate will eventually win. But I can tell you which candidate stood out the most in my mind and in the opinion of most attendees I talked to, and who was the only candidate to make people reconsider the opinion they had of all of the candidates before the event started.
As you can see this candidate established a “Personal Brand” and it worked.
This is the same with each job seeker. You need to find a way, starting with your resume and then carrying over into the interview stage, of standing out in a crowd. If you do this, your chances of being offered the job you desire is going to be much higher than before.
I am happy to critique U.S. resumes and LinkedIn pages at no cost. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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