The Professional’s Job Search Creed – 4 of 10

This is part of a series where I’ll introduce 10 points of a creed, and comment on them. The series is summarized as we go (see bottom of post) and you can link back to the commentary on any of the 10 in that summary.

This fourth point is obviously one of my favorites, and I am surprised that I don’t see more blogs/websites on this topic (there are some links on the left to bloggers that cover this topic (here are some must reads), and I have a category for it on this blog):

4. I will define and continually refine my professional brand and unique value-added proposition.

I love this topic of personal branding because I didn’t have one, and see so many professionals who I think are “water walkers” but use only their resume to substantiate “who they are.”

I tell people that developing and communicating your personal brand is basically trying to let others know what your breadth and depth is. If I’m evaluating you for a job position, or to be a speaker at a conference, or a partner in a venture, I’m going to want to know how much you know, and what your boundaries are. This breadth/depth thing can be used to quantify your experiences, passions, expertise… etc. But I don’t think that any would argue that a resume is the tool to quantify the breadth and depth, or at least give me a real “big picture” view of who you are, right?

Defining your personal brand can be a little tricky. What I used to say was “I have an MBA.” Or, “I am the General Manager.” Or, “I am a programmer.” But the problem with these statement is that it allows others to stereotype you so fast that you might not have an opportunity to work yourself out of that stereotype. Yuck!

For example, when I asked my then-employer if they would pay for my MBA the answer I got was “the owner of the company feels that MBA stands for ‘more bad answers.'” I took that as a NO. But it got worse.

After I got my MBA, when I was in board meetings or executive/strategy meetings, I would say something that would trigger a comment like “Well, Jason here with his MBA-answers…. ” So my personal brand was becoming associated with previous stereotypes that I had nothing to do with, and people weren’t listening to the message because they had already formed an opinion on who I was and what I had to offer.

I think the other challenge of defining a personal brand is to not sound cliche. Ever here someone that is “a strategic problem solver with the ability to get the job done on-time and under budget“… ? You have to figure out how to concisely define what your personal brand is without painting yourself into a corner, or sounding like more blah blah blah (which I’m guessing interviewers hear all day long).

So Jason, just how do you do that?

Glad you asked 😉 I don’t want to sound myopic but I am a huge fan of blogs to help substantiate your personal brand. One of my favorite examples is last month’s monthly winner of the “You Get It” award, Kent Blumberg. Kent is a senior executive who could easily have a 3+ page resume full of all kinds of cool things. But if you go check out his blog, you’ll see a history of posts that continually exemplify his breadth and depth. He shows his breadth by blogging on a wide variety of topics, and he shows his depth by drilling down on those topics. Also, the book reviews he writes show’s you where his interests are, and his ability to learn from and critique the expert’s works.

If you want to begin to understand the full breadth and depth of Kent Blumberg, are you going to get it from his resume, or his blog?

I know many of you have concerns about blogging – I did too. And we all know the world doesn’t need another bad blog (that was one reason why I didn’t want to blog 🙂 :)), but don’t think of this as “adding yet another blog”… you have to think of this as “how can I use this technology to quantify my breadth and depth?” If you have a better way to do it, let me know – I’d love to hear it. This is just my little myopic world I live in.

One more thing – and here is probably one of the main reasons that I love the idea of creating and communicating your personal brand – YOU are bigger than YOUR JOB. Aren’t you going to change jobs in the next 5 – 10 years anyway? Your job will not last forever, but your personal brand will. And it is in your control to brand yourself – why not take charge of it proactively?

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, whether you begin to do it or not, you already have a personal brand! You might want to figure out what it is and change it, if it doesn’t jive with what you want it to be 🙂

Running List:

  1. I will get a job coach (not my spouse) to hold me accountable for my job search efforts. I will encourange him or her to be honest and indicate that feedback is the greatest gift that I could receive. I will ask for at least weekly contact. (read the post here)
  2. I will network for contacts, opportunities and more market knowledge; making at least 10 networking contacts each day and working towards at least 10 interviews each week; with at least five of those with decision makers. (read the post here)
  3. I will attend the Professional Career Workshop and attend at least one Professional Networking Group each week. (read the post here)
  4. I will define and continually refine my professional brand and unique value-added proposition.
  5. (haven’t done yet)
  6. (haven’t done yet)
  7. (haven’t done yet)
  8. (haven’t done yet)
  9. (haven’t done yet)
  10. (haven’t done yet)

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