Hold on. Why are we talking about personal brand? Where’s your guide for writing a resume? Cover letter? LinkedIn profile? I thought I’m here to learn about those things.
Relax. I value your time and that’s why Personal Brand is what we need to discuss first. We need to always strategize in approaching job opportunities. A thorough plan is better than quick fixes. Think about it this way. You submit a wonderful resume, a spectacular cover letter, and your LinkedIn is available online. But when recruiters ask about your strengths and weaknesses, you are completely lost. Or maybe you’re presenting in front of potential investors. You talk about projected sales and how much investment you need. But when they ask what makes your business and you as an owner different than others, you cannot answer. This is where personal branding comes in.
John Peter and Julia Gomez wrote on IUP Journal of Soft Skills 2019 that “your personal brand is ‘you’. ‘Who you are’, ‘what you stand for’, ‘how you live in the hearts and minds of people (in your market)’, and is essentially a person’s unique message to the world. To put it simply, personal brand is how you want people to perceive you. It is built based on your values, strengths, weaknesses, vision, motivators, and current and potential network.
Here’s an exercise for you. Pick 10 values that you believe based on the list below
When you’re done, I want you to narrow it down to 5 values. Finish? Then choose top 3 values. You can write it down somewhere or keep it in your memory. Here’s why this matter. Say your value is about “Autonomy” then you might not value working in an environment with high supervision. Or maybe you value “Trustworthiness” then you might not be comfortable to charge your customers for services you couldn’t provide with good quality.
I also want you to write a story that incorporates the 3 values you have. This will come in handy when you are asked to introduce yourself.
Disclaimer: I took this list from James Clear’s website.
Try to think 5 strengths that you have. Start from reflecting to your past experiences then listen to what others say about you. Think about the school you attended, the knowledge you obtained, and the work experiences you have. Not only your resume will include those three, people would like to hear them in your introduction.
You need to consider your behavior too. Below are questions to dig deeper about your positive qualities.
Nobody is perfect and we need to know what doesn’t work for us. A recruiter will ask about your weakness(es). This is how you should approach it. Strategically name a weakness that you ARE consciously working on. After you name it, tell a story where your weakness shows up. Then continue your story with how you are working on it. Give them a sign that you are a person who’s willing to improve yourself.
In a teamwork setting, weaknesses mean more collaboration. You might be an engineer with no degree in business. This means you need to speak to the Finance department. You might be good at public speaking but someone else is better than you. He or she is selected to be the next speaker. Turn this news to opportunity. Ask the other person to work together with you to improve your skills.
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What do you want to become? While values, strengths, and weaknesses are about your basic information, vision is about the future of you. Below are small activities to train yourself in thinking long-term.
There are two types of motivators: external and internal. It’s easy to get external motivators. Pick public figures you admire. Search on quotes to live by. Look for gym buddy, study buddy, and other buddies. Connect to a business coach and a career coach. Download productivity apps and set daily reminders.
Internal motivators are more about your preference on work situations. For example, you value kindness and therefore you prefer a job that helps others. This might be a consultant or coaching job. Or you value security and thus, you prefer a job in the public sector. Internal motivators are important because it what keeps you going.
Current and potential networks
Your personal brand is also about who you network with and how you interact with them. When you have worked well with an employer, they can give references and testimonials. When you never contribute to your team, people might not want to work with you.
There’s also hidden networks you can tap into. Think about the alumni of your school, local groups that share same interests with you, social media and website followers, upcoming event speakers, and more. They are all important especially when you start a business or you get a sales job.
As you build relationships, don’t forget about your ‘digital footprint’. That is, your activities online. Be aware of what you post, like, and share. Avoid releasing anger about workplace in the online world because recruiters will see it.
To sum up, personal brand is about your values, strengths, weaknesses, vision, motivators, and current and potential networks. If you’re interested, you can check out Strengthsfinder and Career Leader tests to understand yourself better. Consider using your answers in your resume and LinkedIn profile.
For example, you can write ‘I’m a passionate personal-development advocate who aspires to help people navigating their lives because I believe in growth and success.’
Lastly, be consistent on portraying yourself.