Do you know your personal brand?

When I first saw Ken’s resume it was so short, there was so little text, I thought he must have just graduated from school and had no work experience yet. I later learned that Ken had been in the same field for about 8 years. While he still worked at the company that hired him straight out of college, he was in fact experienced in his industry. But he didn’t know what he did well, or what he loved. He still thought of himself as a new employee, a novice just out of school. Ken didn’t know his personal brand.

Do you know yours? Your personal brand is essentially the perception people have about you based on your message and your image. My friend and colleague, Deb Berger, and I came up with a list of 5 questions we ask our clients when helping them define their personal brand as a professional looking for work.

1) What do you love about your work? (What do you love to do?)

2) What are you great at?

3) What do you do better than anyone else (or at least better than others you know)?

4) What do others say about you?

5) In what ways do you bring value to your company, your team, your clients/customers, or your boss?

Identifying your personal brand requires that you be very clear about who you are and what you offer (or do) in a professional setting. These questions can take time and serious thought to answer.

Ken spent time really working to answer the 5 questions. He discovered what he loved about his job, and what he didn’t love. He learned he loved working with clients and customers. He really enjoyed training the interns. He didn’t enjoy the administrative paperwork. He realized he had become great in certain areas of the job. There were assignments and special projects he had been given simply because his bosses knew he was the best choice on the team. He was the guy they asked to pilot new services. He began to pay attention to what his customers said about him, what his vendors said about him, and what his peers said about him. He realized others found him warm and easy to talk to, and the one people came to first with questions. All of these are elements of his personal brand.

Through this process, Ken discovered the components of his personal brand. He got clear about who he is and what he offers. Now Ken is clear about the direction he wants his career to take. And his resume is full of descriptions of his extensive experience, and reveals a clear picture of where he’s been, and tells where he wants to go next.

As you consider the 5 questions, are you clear? Which question is most difficult for you to answer?

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I hired Lori because I was feeling stuck in my job and needed to find a career that was more rewarding, more challenging, and more suited to me.  In the arts, it's difficult to find a job you enjoy that also pays enough to live on, but Lori helped me do just that! 

As we worked together, Lori always helped give me that extra nudge when I was having trouble taking the next step toward success and acknowledged and applauded me when I accomplished something that I'd been struggling with. 

Thanks to Lori, I got out of my 8-year rut at the same job and discovered a new career I love that brings me all of the things I want in a job--creativity, variety, challenge, learning, flexibility, teamwork, and cake.  With no professional experience but a desire to learn, Lori helped me find ways to become a cake decorator--first on my own and then, eventually, at a reputable cake shop.  Now, something I used to do just for fun has become something I make my living doing, and each workday flies by!

Emily Sweeney, Chicago, IL