Resumes used to be important. When I graduated from college in 2003 I was hurled into the world to find work armed with only 2 pieces of paper: a resume and a diploma. While neither were all that impressive, they were enough to score my first “career-path” type job. The world has changed drastically since then.
Personal Branding is the New Resume
I am sure there are a lot of companies that still require a resume submission (and actually look at it), but more and more companies are looking at candidates from a more holistic perspective. Not only do they want to know your job history and education, they also want to know if you fit the culture they are trying to create. They want to know that you are teachable and invested in personal growth. They will Google your name, look at your LinkedIn, your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Many will ask you for a personal blog url or website link.
There is a day coming when your personal brand is going to be the main evaluation tool for every opportunity in front of you. It is not only for the entrepreneur or mommy blogger. It is for everyone. Now, more than ever, we should be developing a brand for ourselves that will travel with us regardless of our current job or role.
Discover Your Personal Brand
I understand that many of you will read this and immediately think of ways you are investing in a personal brand now. This section is not really for you. Some people are just naturals at networking and developing a name for themselves. These people are also usually very successful. For the rest of us, developing a personal brand takes training, time and a certain degree of courage because inevitably we will be making ourselves more vulnerable to criticism.
So, how do you get started?
Discovering your brand is, in essence, a journey of self-discovery. I don’t mean in a deeply psychological sense but it will take a bit of self-reflection. Start by thinking about what drives you. Think about what excites you and makes you come alive. Try to think of things that you get really fired up talking about and things that you enjoy teaching to others.
The thoughts that emerge may or may not be linked to your current career. They may or may not be subjects you studied in school. This is one of the cool aspects about developing a personal brand. It’s uniquely yours and it’s not governed by your current situation or environment.
One caveat before we move on: you may discover during this process that you suffer from multiple-brand personality disorder. That is completely okay and most likely the norm. When you begin developing your personal brand, you’ll probably want to focus on one aspect of yourself, but in time, you may find that all of your interest harmoniously intersect.
Discover Your Value
I may have misled a bit in the introduction to this post. Personal branding really isn’t about you. It’s about others. We all have something to give. When we connect with what motivates us we will often find that we are most motivated when we are providing the most value to those around us.
Assuming you are not a narcissist, the “value added” aspect of personal branding can be increasingly hard to cultivate. Most of us are far too humble when it comes to what we have to offer. Maybe it’s a lack of motivation disguised as humility but the point is, the only real purpose of developing a personal brand is to add value to the world we exist in.
What is your value proposition? What can you give? What do you find an increasing burden in yourself to do? Let me put it bluntly, if your idea of personal branding is stockpiling more for yourself, then this path will not be very beneficial to you. You should try professional sports, acting or hiphop music production. Those with the best personal brands are those who find a way to link the things that drive them to a value they can offer to others.
Here’s the truth. No matter where you feel you are in the progression of life, there are always people behind you – people that need your guidance and people that will listen.
Find your passion. Find your value. These are the first steps to developing a personal brand.
You are Already Branding Yourself
Truth is, you are already branding yourself. In her book Everybody Writes, Ann Handley wisely states:
“As you think of developing a writing habit, realize that you probably already do write every day. You write emails, you post to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; you comment on blogs. Recognize all that posting for what it is: writing.”
I would go a step further and say that every post or comment you make on the web is either a deposit into or a withdrawal from your personal branding bank. These exchanges could be building your personal brand or detracting from what it is that you want to portray to the world. Once you recognize that we are all branding ourselves daily you will likely be more conscious of the thoughts you put out into the world. Pay attention to how you are currently branding yourself. This may or may not be inline with what you discovered from the first two steps we discussed.
- Discover your brand.
- Discover your value.
- Evaluate your current brand.