Are you an effective personal brand for 2016? Stephanie Sparrow looks at self-marketing to sustain your career
Are you a credible, passionate, job seeker for 2016, or will the New Year ring in the same old you stuck in the same old rut? It could be time to take stock of who you think you are and how others see you: in other words, your personal brand. This is a sensitive subject for HR professionals who often feel that they have to prove their worth to the business. However, whether you are scouting for internal opportunities, or preparing for an external interview, understanding your brand means you will be able to articulate the value you provide.
With the future in mind, here are five tips for developing your own credible brand to position you for new job opportunities in 2016.
- Understand personal branding
What is personal branding? “We all have a brand-- it is about who you are at essence”, says expert Dawn Bentley. This means understanding your motivations, limitations and strengths. It is also about how this “essence” is interpreted by other people. “Personal branding is about what people say about us when we leave the room”, she says.
Bentley, an executive coach who specialises in personal branding at her Aurora consultancy, explains that we make the most of our personal brand by identifying our talents and studying how we deploy them at work. “It’s all about understanding your strengths and playing to them”, she says.
- Believe you’re worth it
Being aware of your personal branding can help develop your values, mission, and vision, while indicating to colleagues, or recruiters, what you are trying to achieve.
“We need to create an identity, otherwise people create a caricature of us”, says Dean of Qualifications and head of the people and leadership faculty at Ashridge, Roger Delves.
For example, someone might think they display the qualities of a leader(creating business opportunities and inspiring others) while actually acting like a manager ( maintaining the status quo).
“If you are known by that stereotype then your key skills are a caricature”, he says.
- Eliminate the perception gaps
An effective personal brand allows other people and yourself to have the same view of you. In order to investigate and eliminate the gap between who you think you are, and how others see you, first gather information from colleagues, peers or family, about their perceptions.
Bentley advises asking each of them to describe you in a couple of adjectives. “The more people you ask, the more you will see a pattern emerging”, she says. If they use negative adjectives, such as “aggressive”, then question them further about their perceptions.
Once you understand how your qualities are perceived, you can see how, and where, to apply them to best effect.
“Your personal brand should be appropriate in terms of personal impact, presence, and profile for the professional environment, and at the same time, congruent with who you are”, says personal branding expert and author Lesley Everett.
“Look for the perception gaps”, she says. “So if people do not see you as a creative person [even though you think you are] how can you bring that out?”
- Choose a PDP, not a re-brand
Everett points out that personal branding should be “a core authenticity” which is communicated well to the outside world. This authenticity cannot be changed, but it can evolve.
Bentley agrees and advises that you think how to play to your strengths and where they fit. “Form your own personal development plan (PDP)”, she says.
“Change is not about re-branding”, she says, “but more about how to be a better version of yourself. I would see it as fine-tuning.”
- Match brand and goals
Once you know what you stand for, you can identify realistic and brand- appropriate goals and map out the career moves which will help you achieve those goals.
“New Year is the typical review time for this”, says Bentley. “Think about what got in the way last year and find some clarity. Think ‘let’s be really clear about what I want to be doing more of.’ ”
Understanding and strengthening your brand means that you should do well in interviews or appraisals this year. “Develop your message so that you can clearly articulate the value you provide”, says Bentley.