Personal Branding: Career Success Strategy or Gimmick?

career strategy personal branding Oct 14, 2010
Is personal branding an important part of a career strategy

Is personal branding a critical part of your career development and getting your next job or is branding just a way to misrepresent yourself so that you can get a job? 

The answer really depends on you – your reasons for developing your personal brand and what you do with it.  Like many tools and strategies, personal branding can be used to further your career and satisfaction or it can be used to manipulate and misrepresent for short term gain. Let’s take a look at how personal branding can be used in both cases so that you can decide what you want to do or maybe even what you are doing now.

At its most powerful, personal branding first and foremost helps you to understand yourself, your innate abilities as well as learned strengths. Taking this information a step further, what are the qualities you have, your experiences, mannerisms, personal values, personality, etc. that make you unique and valuable? Self-awareness is a quality common to most successful and personally satisfied people.  Building on your self- awareness you can determine what is the career and career path that best fits you, where you can both enjoy the work and excel. What companies offer a work environment and positions that match you? Now that you who you are, you can ask how well does your vision of yourself match how others see you?  Is it the same? Different?  Are there qualities that others see that you like and missed? How about qualities you don’t like? How do you bring what others see and how you want to be perceived into alignment?  Lastly, how do you go about connect you to the right people you want to work with?  This is personal branding at its best. It’s authentic.

What about the other approach, where you create an image that’s not in alignment with you? You’re looking for a job. Could be any job because you’ve been unemployed or perhaps you’ve believe you need to climb the corporate ladder in a particular way. So you decide you want to present yourself in the best light for your next position. You might even talk to someone about branding. This approach starts with the objective of getting a particular job and then works backwards from the previous approach by finding ways to present you in the light you believe will get you the job.  You look through your past experience looking for something relevant that will present you in just the right way. 

The problem with this latter approach, common as it may be, is that it’s inauthentic. Even if it’s based on facts and real experience, you are presenting yourself as the way you think someone else wants to see you.  Do you see the problem with that?  First of all you’re not presenting your genuine self and secondly the way you are presenting yourself may not even match what the employer is looking for rather what you think the employer is looking for. Do you really want to be pretending to be somebody you’re not for 8, 10, 15 hours a day? How satisfied will you be with that job?  How successful with you be in a job that is unsatisfying?

With the first approach to personal branding you are presenting yourself as you generally are. It does not matter whether what you think the employer is looking for. Your skills and personality will either match or not match, and either is ok. You eliminate much of the guess work. Best of all, you will appeal to the right people, the ones who appreciate and enjoy someone just like you. 

Contact us to learn more about how personal branding can be used to help you develop or improve your career success strategy.

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