polish away, originally uploaded by Darwin Bell.
Personal branding has always been out there, but it has become a better defined and an increasingly popular concept over the past decade.
It is the essential first step in your career search process, helping you identify your own unique and differentiating value and communicate it memorably and consistently online and offline to employers and recruiters. Today’s economic recession and job market have opened many professionals’ eyes to the importance and effectiveness of personal branding throughout their whole career as an ongoing part of their continuous professional development.
Just like with interviews, when you’re seeking job opportunities, you begin to get increasingly better at presenting yourself and effectively answering questions posed to you by the interviewers; however, upon employment, your stop practicing and your interview skills become rusty. This is why career experts suggest that you schedule periodic informational interviews with fellow professionals both within and outside of your organization as part of your career development in order to stay prepared for future interview opportunities should they arise. Maintaining and updating your personal brand online and offline are not only healthy and necessary for effective self-understanding and self-presentation, but also set you up well whether you are seeking employment or you are positioning yourself for promotions or other opportunities within your organization.
So how do you stay on top of your brand and keep it polished?
1. Develop or redevelop your own one-or-two-word personal brand and supporting personal brand pitch and practice saying it as the answer to questions like “Why should we pick you?” so that it is flows naturally and confidently and effectively presents yourself.
2. Update all of your online profiles/websites and career outputs, including your resume, cover letter, email signature etc. with recent professional experience, education and achievements and most importantly your personal brand.
3. Make sure that your actions and achievements are consistent and support your personal brand claim both inside and outside of work.
4. Seek formal and informal feedback from fellow co-workers, family members and friends on how you and your actions are being perceived by others. Compare that to your own perception of your performance, as well as your personal branding goals and make adjustments or updates as necessary.
5. Stay alert and aware of new technological changes with respect to how you present yourself, how you engage in networking and how you search for and pursue new career opportunities and set time aside to learn about and take advantage of new professional networks, platforms and tools.
By periodically polishing your personal brand, you will come across more confident, more professional and more memorable to those with whom you interact and work on a consistent basis. More importantly, you and your personal brand will be ready to “shine” when the need or opportunity present itself to pursue another job or more responsibility.
Chris Perry (@CareerRocketeer) is a Gen Y Brand and Marketing Generator, a Career Search and Personal Branding Expert and the Founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Blog.