The job search and your personal brand

Perception is everything

When there’s a job to be filled, hiring managers must typically weed through piles of applications. They skim resumes and CVs to determine who’s worthy of a closer look. Your resume has mere seconds to make the kind of impression that inspires that particular manager to want to toss it into the “keep” pile. So, what makes the difference? You’ve heard it time and time again but I’ll say it once more: your personal brand makes the difference.
Now before you click off of this article, there are a few points that I want to make on exactly HOW to use your personal brand to make that impression.
First off, let me say that I’ve been in the position of sifting through resumes and interviewing potential candidates. They all had similar degrees and work experience, which simply leveled the playing field. Apart from noticing a bunch of clones applying for one job, I needed to focus on what stood out about each one of them. What made one applicant appear different and more interesting than the others?

The “It” Factor

What made a real difference in how I perceived an applicant was if (and how) their personality showed through and how they used that to set themselves apart from the other equally qualified applicants. The way you’re perceived in any media becomes your personal brand.
I absolutely understand that all of us want to be seen and heard, and we all want to be respected and treated like the human beings we are. I hear ya. We’re not simply “candidates” but people. Individuals. And having said that, I’ll also say that screening heaps of resumes that pretty much all say the same thing is mind-numbing. It feels like a bright, warm ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds, while the hallelujah choir simultaneously bursts into song when that one special resumé explodes into sight.
So what makes that difference? A couple of things, actually. Telling a story is one of them. HOW the story is told is the other. Together, these two things, whether you’re aware of it or not, whether you like it or not, become your personal brand.

You have a personal brand regardless of whether or not you’ve put any thought into it.  Doesn’t it make sense to intentionally cultivate a personal brand and then use it strategically?

Qualified or Not

Historically, hiring committees prefer the kind of applicant who is a straightforward match. That applicant has gone to the right kind of schools and they have the right kind of degrees and they have applicable work experience aligning with the desired job.
But not all qualified applicants have traveled that route. There is another kind of potential candidate who’s traveled a more circuitous route, like me. Sure, we have the degrees and the experience necessary, but along the way, we may also have held jobs that don’t quite relate or add relevant experience (or qualify us) for the job at hand. In that case, we need to tell the story of our personal growth. Why? Because you see the obvious connections between those former positions and the one you’re seeking, but Human Resources may not. So explain it to them.  Guide them through your educational process and those previous job positions to demonstrate how each of them relates to the job you’re currently seeking.  What did you learn with each of those jobs? And what does each lesson have to do with the job you’re applying for? Do you see how this makes your resume not only more interesting and engaging, but it also points out to the reader that you’re bringing more value to the table than they originally thought?  Those seemingly “unrelated” positions that you’ve held actually bring something important to the company and to the position itself that the other applicants simply lack. Suddenly, an ill-perceived, minimally-qualified job-hopper is now seen as a qualified, multi-skilled, pertinently experienced candidate. They also happen to be perceived as “different” and interesting, because they talk about how they got to where they are now.

The Edge

I say it a lot and I’ll say it again: perception is everything. Regina Hartley, human resources executive at UPS, says “A series of odd jobs may indicate inconsistency, lack of focus, unpredictability. Or it may signal a committed struggle against obstacles”. Overcoming obstacles is also known as “Post-Traumatic Growth.”
When we realize that we are not who we are in spite of adversity, but because of it, that story becomes a heckuva lot more interesting and important to tell, wouldn’t you agree?
Our professional stories are a means to an end. Hiring managers and search committees will piece together a personal brand about you anyway, so give yourself the gift of time to hone and share yours.

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advertising-brand-branding-1449081 The job search and your personal brand
Article Name
How your personal brand makes the difference
These two things, whether you're aware of it or not, whether you like it or not, become your personal brand.
Diane Metcalf
Image and Aspect