When you think of popular brands you automatically remember the specific value that manufacturers focus on when talking about their products. Whether it’s Volvo and safety, BMW and performance, or Tesla and innovation – the focus is on the differentiating qualities and the value those qualities provide. And yes, they all get you where you want to go but that’s not what all the noise about. It’s about HOW they do it and the value they provide and that’s what distinguishes them from each other and from the competition.
The same holds true for you as a professional. Your personal brand is like a fingerprint – no two people bring the exact same qualities to completing the task at hand. How you do what you do – whether it’s the specific experience you bring to the table, the innovation you are known for, the ability to engage others to work with you – is very important in distinguishing you from your competition.
Here are some important lessons to be learned from those people who are masters of creating solid well-known brands;
1. Never present yourself as a jack of all trades – because you will be mistaken for a master of none. Generalists are not memorable and therefore not easily remembered. Identify those skills/talents/experiences that enable you to provide the unique value a prospective employee needs to be successful in the position for which they are recruiting. And then find the stories that back up the claim. If you can’t claim value that distinguishes you from the competition you will be thought of as a commodity – and pricing rather than value will be the differentiating feature.
In the example I used above, the cars I mentioned would never be considered commodities – although pricing may be a deterrent for some, their target audience makes the purchase based on perceived value, not on pricing. You’re not JUST buying a car; you’re buying a specific brand known for the qualities you want.
2. Know what your selling points are and make sure all your collateral materials (resume, LinkedIn, bio, etc.) reflect and validate these points. For example, a common mistake is to make your resume a comprehensive listing of every responsibility and task you ever completed throughout your career.
Companies with strong brands keep hammering home the points they want you to remember, to connect with, and use as part of your purchase decision. They don’t give all the details of their product because that would dilute the message they were trying to convey and make it harder for you to remember what they deem to be the strongest selling points.
A resume that has too much information is as bad as one that has not enough. A resume filled with more than what’s needed is asking the reader to pick and choose what he/she deems important. Instead a resume that highlights the skills and talents you want them to see puts you in charge of how you are viewed. The focus should be on the job you want, not the one you had 5 or 10 years ago. So take control of what they think, point them in the direction you want to go, and the odds of being singled out increase.
3. Never underestimate the value of a cover letter. A cover letter is another opportunity for you to hammer that message home – that you have the skills they need and want.
A cover letter is your opportunity to link your skills, experiences, successes, and abilities directly to the job for which you are applying. It’s not a rehash of what’s on your resume – it’s a time for you to show personality, showcase your writing capabilities, illustrate the knowledge you have of the industry and of them, and tell them something that would be relevant to the job but not fully fleshed out on the resume. This is an opportunity to let your differentiating qualities come through and let your personal brand be more visible.
In my days as a recruiter I always read the cover letter and if it was one that would be able to connect the dots for my clients – show them how this candidate might fit well with their needs – I always forwarded both the resume and the cover letter. After all, the candidate was making my job that much easier.
So don’t bury your personal brand in favor of being all things to all people. Instead highlight your secret weapon and use the resources that are in your control to spotlight the differences.
Whether you are in a job or looking for one, strengthening your personal brand is vital to your success. Need help? Contact me.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigital Photos.net