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Stop All This "Personal Branding" Nonsense – It is Too Complicated

It is hard to be in a job search today and not run across two, overused and misunderstood terms, one is “networking” and the other is “branding,” usually “Personal Brand.” How did these words become the “buzz words” the “must do” the “most important,” words so critical that if you don’t do them, you are sure to fail in your job search?

Who makes this stuff up? They’re the marketing geniuses.
The number of books, blogs and news articles written on “Personal Branding” continues to grow. If it takes that much to explain “Personal Branding” it may just be too complicated to begin with. It’s as if this is some new concept in job searching or as if the “holy grail” of conducting a job search has finally been found.
NONSENSE.
All that has happened is that some marketing person put a clever name to it. It’s as if once you “brand” yourself you will be the NIKE, Apple, Coke, Michael Jordon or Tiger Woods in your field or industry.
Silly me, for 29 years as a recruiter I’ve just referred to this as, “differentiating yourself” or “making yourself unique.” I didn’t know I was telling my candidates to “BRAND THEMSELVES.” I’m not sure that is all there is to a brand, but it pretty much sums up all you have to do in a job search.
It’s not so complicated that it takes a 200+ page book to explain it.
For the sake of appearing up to date and current, it is critical in any job search to communicate “why” you are different from your competition. What unique skills, traits, talents, accomplishments, experiences and passions do you bring to the party? If you can’t define these, you are a commodity. The problem with being a commodity is that the only thing you have to negotiate on is price. In a job search price is compensation.
Call it “branding” or something else, we can’t stress enough that every candidate needs to step back and take some time to determine what makes them unique. Often each position may require a different set of skills, experiences or talents. It is possible that you may have to differentiate (oops brand) yourself differently for different positions. It also means that you may not be the best qualified candidate for every position.
Do a S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Obstacles and Talents) analysis of yourself. List them out. Once you have the list, for the S and T, identify accomplishments and examples that demonstrate these strengths and talents. For the W, develop a plan to work on improving your weaknesses and for the O develop a plan of action to overcome any and all obstacles in your way to getting the position you want.
So forget about “Personal Branding,” it is way too complicated and probably just a fad. Just get back to the basics and figure out what differentiates you from all the others like you. Then go market it.
In the future you will see articles I write on “Personal Branding.” I will even title the article using the word “branding” because if I don’t, nobody will read it. So I will reluctantly conform.
Conformity has never been a “brand” for me.
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Bill