What’s your personal brand?
One of the biggest takeaways, as I’ve had people reaching out and looking at their next career step and landing interviews, is that you can’t underestimate your personal brand.
I always thought that this was important, but it also seemed a bit like a buzz-term. Detached from any fundamental best practices, and more conceptual than anything.
In recent years, with the help of mentors and in speaking with hundreds of incredible professionals, I’ve been piecing together some practical ways to go about building your brand and landing that job.
First–what have you done? No, really, what did you actually do of substance?
Did you work at a restaurant and wait tables? Or did you manage customer engagement, ensure prompt fulfillment of orders, and drive an exemplary customer journey?
Did you volunteer doing language classes, or did you coordinate events planning, communicate across a variety of cultural contexts, adult learning methodologies, and develop curriculum?
It’s not propping up your experience artificially, or outright lying about your qualifications. It’s having the confidence and recognition to portray the solid work that you’ve accomplished.
It’s also the context of whatever role you’re going for. Not including that 1-year you spent working at a fast food chain when you were going to school, unless you can really speak to relevant experience from it.
I’ve worked retail and service jobs, and often trivialized the experiences I’ve had. It’s also easy to let others dictate your brand. And that can be dangerous if they’re not your advocates. You can be boxed into, ‘hey, you’ll only ever be good at x, y, z.’ I’ve certainly heard that before, and I’ve been stuck in roles because I thought I couldn’t do any better.
Time and time again though, I’ve seen people with retail and service experience, or straight out of school, get some incredible corporate jobs (or go off and create their own successful business). And you don’t always need a college degree either. If you can communicate better, and speak to a brand that shows confidence, adaptability, great communication skills, and tailored experience (specifically the roles you’re going for), it goes far. Referrals and such can help too, but you don’t necessarily need a referral if you’ve already made yourself a standout candidate.