Personal Branding for Success in a Tight Job Market

What do you do well and how much better do you do it?

By Laura Smith-Proulx

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If you’re trying to stand out among the multitudes of job hunters today, you’ve certainly got some stiff competition. Gone are the days when you could toss your skills and job responsibilities onto a  resume , and expect to get nearly immediate calls for  interviews .

It’s not your imagination — the current job market is more demanding. Many professionals are finding that they need that additional edge, above and beyond the traditional resume presentation. Have you heard of the critical resume element that can make your qualifications stand out among other job hunters and get you into more interviews? It’s your  personal brand .

A personal brand, as defined by branding gurus Tom Peters and William Arruda, represents your “unique promise of value.” In other words, a brand is the distinctive set of natural strengths that employers get when they hire you versus your competition.

It’s important to ensure that hiring authorities can quickly see this information on your resume, because it can increase the volume and quality of your interviews. Plus, it ensures that you are considered for prime opportunities that more closely match your talents. Here are some tips that will help you assess and quantify your personal brand:

Examine Your Strengths Carefully

Ask yourself the following questions, and be sure to jot down your answers as a starting point for your brand:

  • What type of work opportunity do you thrive on?
  • When compared to peers, what do you consistently deliver that others do not?
  • What kinds of tasks make your day fly by effortlessly?
  • What do you achieve that consistently adds to the bottom line for your employers?

You’ll notice that these questions focus precisely on what you do best, rather than drawing out the mundane responsibilities associated with your jobs. This specific type of information forms the core of a successful personal brand.

Gather Feedback From Others

A key component of your brand is the noticeable value you bring to the workplace. When others commend you for possessing a particular talent or for achieving a strong level of results, this information can underscore your personal brand by serving as a testimonial. Assess your feedback and answer each of the following questions:

  • What qualities do your supervisors point out as assets (especially during a performance review)?
  • What is the regular response that you receive from customers, colleagues and other business relationships on the quality of your work?
  • What professional abilities do others compliment you on even though they seem to come naturally to you?

The reputation you earned at work can be as strong as your actual competencies. Consider this: Many companies compensate employees based not only on what they do, but on what they are capable of doing.

Assess Your Competition

In your current role, do you have peers that are tasked with similar duties? If so, what do you regularly accomplish that seems difficult for others to achieve?
Further, what personal style do you bring to the workplace that distinguishes your abilities? You might find, for example, that when challenged with a particular client or situation your colleagues immediately ask for help, while you’re able to confidently manage it with seemingly minimal effort.

Another way to gauge your performance from a competitive standpoint is to measure your success against that of your predecessor in the same role. In addition, what have you accomplished in terms of improvement or turnaround efforts? The answers here will help you to distinguish yourself from others with the same leadership job function.

Incorporating your personal brand into your resume can make the difference in how employers perceive your qualifications against those of your competition. Getting called for an interview is much easier when you raise your own and subsequently others’ perceptions of your achievements and unique contributions.

Laura Smith-Proulx, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Certified Interview Coach, is the Executive Director of  An Expert Resume , a career services firm that caters to organizational leaders. Published in six career bestsellers, she is a former corporate recruiter who works with executives and IT leaders to present a powerful and compelling leadership brand.

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