The Reality of Personal Branding

Personal Branding Reality“Branding” has gotten a LOT of attention these last few years. Especially in a job search, a multitude of experts will tell you that Branding is critical to landing a job.

Is Branding really that important? …and what is it exactly? It’s easy to understand Branding in terms of Coca-Cola or some other product, but what does it mean for an individual?

Wikipedia describes it as:

Personal branding is the process whereby people and their careers are marked as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging. The process is further defined as the creation of an asset that pertains to a particular person or individual; this includes but is not limited to the body, clothing, physical appearance and areas of knowledge, leading to a uniquely distinguishable, and ideally memorable, impression.

Consider some further thoughts on the concept…

It’s a trendy way to think of “Reputation” – Your reputation has always been critical in your career as in your life. People get to know you and make judgments… are you honest, competent, inept, trendy, old-fashioned, high-maintenance, easy-going, a blowhard, humble, an expert in your field or industry, foolish, a techie, a technological troglodyte, a hard worker, reliable, loyal, political, or any number of other traits?

All of these traits and more form an impression in people’s minds about you… thus establishing a “Brand”.

7-UP is the Un-Cola… just as Bob Smith might be the Go-To Guy for any PC problems in his neighborhood. Both have a Brand.

Don’t get caught up in trendy language. I personally don’t care for the “Brand” label. However, your Reputation can precede you into any meeting or new introduction. Build your Reputation carefully!

It’s amplified over the internet! – One reason the idea gets so much more attention these days is that Brands, or Reputations, are built and destroyed much faster and in more public ways than ever before due to the online amplification. Everyone is searchable through Google. Most everything they do, or ever have done online can be found. LinkedIn profiles, Facebook posts, Forum and Group discussions, Product reviews on Amazon, Movie discussions, Chat Room dialogs, Blogs, Shopping habits, and anything else forms an opinion of who you are!

Does your online presence form a consistent picture? Or a Jekyll and Hyde persona? Are you the same in your professional image as in your personal life? It’s easy to forget that ALL you do is available to anyone that looks.

Fostering your reputation is really about being consistent in your life. – If you create one impression in your career, and a very different one in your personal life, it’s only a matter of time before the two worlds collide. Consistency in your character and in your life makes it easy to build a reputation with others that can be sustained. Conflicting, compartmentalized faces to the outside world inevitably creates stress from fear of being found out.

Know yourself, and decide what impression you really want to foster in your life, then strive to be consistent across all areas of your life. You’ll find that your life, and your job search will be much improved!

Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @eExecutives.

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Comments

  1. Good points, Harry. These days, we all need a personal brand, no matter how big or small it is. Particularly in the job search, it can really influence how people view you. As you noted, be consistent and understand how others may perceive you based on your reputation or online content. It may be the difference between landing a job and being shoved in the “no” pile.

  2. I think you make a powerful point that brands have become so front and center these days because of the speed at which they’re created and destroyed online. Anyone can reinvent themselves, so to speak, and present themselves in a way they deem most attractive to the professional audience with whom they’re trying to align themselves. It’s interesting to remember that the idea of your “personal brand” also extends offline, and even outside of the professional realm. Is that “brand” still present when you walk into the office for the interview, or show up for your first day on the job?

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