Personal Branding: What You Do Is Only A Small Part of Your Story

Mary Rosenbaum | February 6th, 2015

An important part of your personal brand is your story. The most difficult part of defining your personal brand is unearthing and then communicating what makes you good at your job, why you stand out, and what propels you to do what you do.

Each of us has a unique story – one that helps us stand out.

Some time ago I worked with a young woman, a daughter of a friend of mine, who was a senior at a high-ranking university. She was able to get great first interviews during on-campus interview season. Her problem was she rarely made it to a second interview and couldn’t figure out why.

Compared to her fellow students who were getting those call backs, she had similar grades and had taken the same courses as they did. She thought that her lack of professional experience during her college summers held her back. She had chosen to travel extensively each summer rather than “pay her dues” and work as a summer intern in the financial industry (her preferred career choice).

That wasn’t her problem.

What we identified as an issue was her inability to create a cohesive story that would encourage an interviewer to want to know more about who she was and what she had to offer. There was nothing about her story that made her memorable- and standing out was critical given the sheer number of interviews companies scheduled each day they were on campus. Her story, or lack of story, made her forgettable.

Through our work together she realized that she was more than just the courses she took and the grades she earned. That even someone without work experience has experiences that build and exemplify initiative, creativity, leadership, flexibility, resilience, and intuitiveness – each of which are highly valued by prospective employers.

Once we delved deeper into her life and her experiences, we were able to add some color to how she represented herself. Some of the experiences we drew from included:
-  She was President of her sorority.

-  As President, she initiated and executed on a variety of fund raising programs for local charities.

-  She ran the sorority’s finance committee.

- Through her summer travels she learned how to navigate the world, deal with some adverse situations, communicate with people of different cultures, and come to understand that people of other cultures respond to a variety of behaviors in very different ways.

We took these experiences and fleshed them out into stories that highlighted the soft skills that so many employers want. These stories coupled with her strong academic credentials provided interviewers with a more interesting candidate. She gave them enough information so they had greater insight into who she was, what she might have to offer, and how she stood out from her competitors. Her story of growing up in NYC leading up to her desire to work in finance was cohesive, informative and differentiating.

As a professional, you have many experiences to draw from but never forget that your story is comprised of all your experiences and serves as a differentiating factor in how and why you do what you do. Your story should provide us with a glimpse of your character –your passions, your motivators, your values – and how these impact your professional life.

STAND OUT and BE MEMORABLE!

Need help standing out, contact me.

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