Career Brand – 1
This is another piece under Challenge 44 – which is a project to improve my writing in 90 days. This is the first phase and the purpose of this phase is meeting a deadline rather than making remarkable content.
Brand vs Bland
Let’s start with the broader definition and application of brand. I am still struggling to figure out the differences between my Toyota Camry and Lexus. For one thing Lexus is a lot more expensive, that is we associate more value with it. But is it really that different in its built and functionality than Camry. I don’t know. Well what about Apple computers. People who buy Apple computers love it, pay a lot more money compared to other nameless computers and yet is it really that much more reliable? I am no expert in either cars or computers but I know that brands project value, perceived or real and more importantly followers of a brand associate with the brand, it associates with their identity. At the very least a well-crafted brand becomes memorable the investment in its promotion persists. Just think about it. Wouldn’t you want to be memorable after a job interview? If you are a service provider, wouldn’t you want to be remembered in the mind of the person you spoke to over the phone or the one who visited your website? I mean memorable in a good way of course. Memorable in a way that project value to them.
Words Projecting Value
So having a brand means having an identity that stands out, it is an identity that is desirable to your audience and it is something they consider of value. If you are competing for a job position and the candidates have identical experiences how do you want to stand out and be the one chosen for the position? Well we use two different strategies that work together to accomplish that.
One of those strategies that I have written about earlier is Interview Aikido. Interview Aikido is part of the communication you will have with your clients. The conversation that transpires during Interview Aikido must invoke emotions, positive emotions that client will then register in their memory using your visual cues. That’s right, they will probably not remember the exact words you said. What they remember is your appearance and physical interactions, if made them laugh etc.
But what is it that you want them to remember or be registered with them. Those are your brand messages which of course they can always go back and read in your cover letter and resume but those words are now have a stronger association because you invoked them during the interview Aikido.
How to Build it
So where do we start looking for values that can be used in your branding? In the following section we will cover some of the common areas that we discover in clients’ worksheet and our subsequent interviews with them.
Personal Values & Attitude
As someone who has screened, interviewed, hired, and coached hundreds of professionals I have a dirty confession. First and foremost, what I am hiring are values, attitude, and behavior. Now by values I mean their professional values not personal matters that are none of my business. And to me attitude is everything. Now of course there are exceptional situation where people are hired to work like robots and none of these matter much, but honestly, in my experience I have not encountered too many of those situations. All my experience indicates that smart employers buy attitude. They aim to hire highly motivated professionals rather than trying to waste their time motivating people. Now, because these are attributes that employers relate to, we want to pull them in to your branding. But abstract statements like I am highly motivated don’t set you apart. You want to be the Lexus, you want the employer to associate your attributes to value and in order to do that we need to transform these abstractions in the form of examples as to how it has brought value to your former employers. We need to relate them to the environments and circumstance of your past performance and demonstrate the value in that context.
Obviously the next set of attributes that we want to pull in your branding language are your accomplishments. This is were we can also borrow from your attitude and behavior and take it even one step further with how and what you did to deliver specific outcome. Employers are desperately looking to project your past accomplishment into the kind of outcomes you can create for them. We need to help them. As a hiring manager myself I have found myself in so many cases where I am reading an impressive resume and cover letter and yet I have been struggling to visualize how all that can translate in to outcome for me. And that brings us to the next section from which to pull attributes to be considered for your brand.
Obviously, every job is associated with certain functions that you are expected to be performed in that position. So, that by itself cannot be a distinguishing factor for your brand. But, again, how you have gone ahead performing that function, under what conditions, and what outcomes you produced can. Managing a staff of 20 and processing 3000 checks per week may or may not be a norm in your industry but what can make it even more impressive and relevant is, as an example, if you were able to accomplish that during sporadic electric outages and other impacts of a hurricane that had devastated the circumstances of your check recipients and the hoops you had to jump through to make it happen. And finally, we would want to take a closer look at your target audience.
As I am sure by now you have heard this many times, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. We can not refine our brand for a particular position without taking into consideration attributes that are specific to that target. Obviously the first element we are looking at are the specifics of the job for which you are applying. But what about the company, its culture and values? What about the people you will be working for? What if you find out that your future manager is a decorated service disable veteran? What kind of values has she lived by? Obviously I am not recommending that you become a chameleon or claim things that are untrue. But this knowledge about the position, company, its culture and value can be very helpful in what you can emphasis and what may not as much resonate with them.
Finally, we are talking about taking all this information and packing it in a paragraph of only 2-3 sentences if that much. We don’t want to write a book to project your brand. But rather in those few sentence you value and how you are set apart from others should come through.