Movie studios will spend an average $50M per movie for this. Companies like Apple, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart spend an average 5% to 7% expected annual revenue for this. It is just as important to a company as it is to you personally. Do you know what it is?
It’s branding. In the business world it is related to selling products or services. For you, it is you selling you. If you are searching for a job, you don’t need to spend $50M, but it would put you far ahead of the hundreds of other job candidates if you have a clear and compelling brand.
William Arruda and Seth Godin, two recognized personal branding gurus, have slightly different understanding of what a personal brand is. You can choose either or both understandings, whatever makes the most sense to you. William defines a personal brand as, “your unique promise of value.” Seth says, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Companies spend a great deal of time, energy, and money to ensure their message is accurate, clear, and appeals to their target audience. If you are searching for a job, your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, online presence, and how you conduct yourself during the interview should showcase the value you would provide the employer. Your documents and messaging also must be accurate, clear, and appeal to the type of employer you wish to work for.
Your multimillion dollar branding strategy doesn’t take millions of dollars, but it does take some thought, direction, and focus. Here are some key steps:
Define your brand. Clarify to yourself who you are, what are your values, what unique skills, experiences, accomplishments and specializations do you have?
Your authentic self. An effective brand is not all things to all people. Take a stand and celebrate your individuality. You are much more relaxed, confident, and energized when you are authentic. Pretending to be someone else is stressful, and can lead you further to a place you aren’t meant to be.
Define your target audience. Who are the employers, recruiters, and people that can connect you with employers? Do you want to keep your job search broad or focus on start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, or mid-sized organizations?
Align. An effective company aligns their product features with what their targeted audience needs or wants. Out of your unique skills, experience, values, and accomplishments, what are the MOST important items that your target audience needs to see?
Get objective. Just as you would go see a dentist if your tooth hurt or hire a plumber if your sink broke, consider working with an experienced and certified resume writer or career coach. Since you are your brand, it is impossible to be objective about yourself. You could be missing something vital or overemphasizing something. An objective professional could analyze your documents, interview responses, and overall brand to identify any weaknesses, areas to improve, and what you are doing well.
Quantify quality. When you put your resume on job boards, use LinkedIn to search and apply for jobs, leverage recruiters and people in your network, always keep track of what is working and what isn’t. Examine job leads to identify the key skills employers (your target audience) are in need of. Your resume might not be optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Your LinkedIn profile might need better Search Engine Optimization (SEO) terms. Continuously refine your message until it is clear and compelling to your audience.
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde