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Passport, originally uploaded by gravitywave.
Personal branding has become increasingly popular for professionals in today’s job market. Job seekers have especially found personal branding to be an effective strategy in their pursuit of job opportunities. However, in the last few months, several job seekers and professionals have said to me: “I understand why personal branding is important in my career search, but what is the value of personal branding once I get a job?”
I definitely see where they’re coming from. Here’s a great way to look at it.
Personal branding is the process of:
o Identifying the unique and differentiating value that you can bring to an organization, team and/or project
o Communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions and outputs, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.
Everyone has a unique personal brand (a.k.a. the unique and differentiating value), and you communicate your own whether you know it or not in everything you do, both when you are looking for a job and when you have one. Personal branding is so much more than what you put on your social networks or what you write on your blog. It’s who you are inside and out, online and offline. Your personal brand is essentially your overall lifestyle.
Obviously, when you have a job, you won’t have to talk about your personal brand like you would when “selling” yourself in an interview or at a career fair or event; however, you are still communicating your unique and differentiating value to those with whom you interact each and every day.
I would compare your personal brand to your passport for four reasons:
1. Identity: Passports certify your identity, telling others who you are, where you’re from and where you’ve been when you are traveling. Throughout your career, your personal brand captures the essence of your identity, reinforcing to others who you are, the experiences you’ve had and the value you bring to the table.
2. Access: Your passport is the premier, internationally-accepted travel document. You don’t have to have a passport, but you will be limited as to where you can go without it. This is the same for your personal brand. You are not required to develop your personal brand; however, you will be limited as to where you can go in your career without it.
3. Investment: Passports are not free, for they do cost you time, patience and money to acquire. Personal brands are not “free” in that same right, for you must be patient and commit your time (and sometimes a little money) to effectively establish your personal brand consistently online and offline.
4. Renewal: Passports are periodically upgraded with new identification technologies; however, regardless, you have to renew your passport every few years or you cannot continue to venture abroad. Similarly, every so often in your career, you must review and “upgrade” or “renew” your personal brand using any new more effective technologies and media available so you will be able and ready to take advantage of new opportunities (i.e. new projects, promotions, jobs) knocking on your door.
So, no matter where you are in your career travels, don’t forget your personal brand! It’s your passport to career success!
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.