As a former recruiter and someone who has been involved in coaching and training people for over 25 years, I have consistently stressed the importance of creating a personal brand. When coaching candidates for interviews, conducting business development workshops, or in personal coaching sessions, I have helped people view themselves as a product which requires ongoing development. This approach has helped people view themselves more objectively and recognize their strengths and accomplishments while identifying areas for development and growth. It has also enabled them to be more confident and assertive in job interviews. I have found this approach of self-analysis as a product to be particularly helpful for those in non-sales or marketing roles including finance, engineering, architecture, construction and technology. These people are often too modest and self-effacing, preferring to talk about the technical aspects of their job or projects they have worked on. The worst case scenario is when they want to talk about anything but themselves.
In this competitive market where more candidates are vying for the best jobs, consider the following product development strategies as you work with your recruiter to prepare for interviews where you will promote your brand and market your product:
§ Be Authentic. Conduct an honest assessment to identify who and what you are. Determine what your strongest attributes and qualities are. If this is a challenge, find a trusted advisor who cares enough to give you honest input. Be sure to listen with an open mind. Although you may not want to hear what he/she has to say, it may be exactly what you need to hear.
§ Define your core values. Core values are a set of beliefs that govern and direct your behavior and actions. They communicate what you stand for and represent a clear and explicit philosophy about how you intend to conduct yourself. People pay more attention to what you do than what you say.
§ Reframe the way you view yourself. Don’t view yourself as an employee. Think of yourself as a product that you own and are responsible for making successful. Go beyond your job title and ask yourself these questions – What do I do that is valuable? What am I most proud of? How and where have I made a significant difference to my current employer or clients in the past 6 months?
§ Define your value proposition. What makes you unique, different and valuable to your company and clients? Think of “soft” attributes such as a passion for client satisfaction and your commitment to do what ever it takes to satisfy the client or strive for excellence. Your value proposition is as like your reputation – what do people say about you after you leave?
§ Study leading brands. Identify what makes you stand out from the competition, or other candidates, in the same way Coke or Apple do against their competitors. Define your distinctive features and attributes that bring value to a prospective employer. How are you different in a unique and positive manner? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest strength?
§ Be consistent. Ensure that your message and actions are consistent. In other words, ‘walk your talk’. Nothing confuses people and weakens your personal brand more than an on-again, off-again performance. Being inconsistent undermines your efforts. Everything you do, or choose not to do will affect the perception of your personal brand. Something as simple as the way you interact with peers or write or respond to emails defines your personal brand and creates your “life signature”.
As you prepare for interviews ensure you have a clear and compelling message that highlights the value of your personal brand. Remember: YOU are the Product!