Experience / Track Achievements
Build your brand begins with tracking your past performance and the acquisition of strategically important new experiences. Your achievements are the foundation of your career brand.
But before you seek out new work, take the time to plan and focus on what you want your brand to stand for - and develop a strategy for gaining experience in areas of your brand in which you are weak.
So, besides doing your job, ask for new and challenging assignments that will build your brand. Consider freelancing or consulting. Use volunteering to gain experience. If you are a student, seek out multiple internships.
For many careers, a minimum amount of education is necessary, but to excel in your career you may need to complete additional education, training, or certifications. Getting additional education can nobly enhance your career brand.
It may be hard in terms of time and finances, but find a way to do it.
If you are unsure if you need more education - and you probably do - seek out a mentor, someone highly respected in your field (who has branded himself or herself well), and ask for advice.
You can have an amazing brand, but if no one knows about it, you are not going to have much success with your career development. And no one more than you has more reasons to promote your brand. Throw modesty out of the window? There is a fine line between bragging and promoting - and you need to learn it - but it is always better to err on the side of promoting your brand than not.
One of the oldest tools of promotion for job seekers is the resume, and you really have to start with listing all your important efforts, skills and training on your resume. You can also get your investment statement (qualifications summary) on your resume, but do not stop there.
Begin developing two career portfolios - a print one and an online one. If you don't have a personal Web site, now is the time to buy a domain (such as myname.com) and let the world read all about the benefits of your brand. Your portfolio should contain all important brand artifacts: resume(s), mission statement, detailed accomplishments list, samples of work, articles and working papers, speech transcripts, awards and honors, testimonials, and more.
One interesting trend we've seen is of employers ''Googling'' the names of prospective job-seekers - typing each name into one or more Internet search engines - and basing initial candidate screening decisions partly on the number (and quality) of hits for each job-seeker. The lesson? Your brand needs to have a strong online presence.
And finally, don't forget to promote your brand on the job. Workers often assume the boss knows your accomplishments, but often times s/he does not. Certainly at review time, have a list of all you have achieved since your last review, but also consider finding ways to let the boss know your successes throughout the year.
Become an Expert
- Nothing builds credibility in the career brand more than about you as an expert in the field.
- Start by writing articles that showcase your skills - and getting them published (if possible) in the mentioned media. Consider self-publishing.
- Seek out conferences and meetings where you can submit speeches and presentations.
- Play up awards and other recognition that can help label you as an expert.
- Get quoted by offering your thoughts, ideas, and opinions to journalists and reporters.
- Think about constructing a professional Web site where you can publish all your articles and speeches.
Nothing in marketing is more powerful than a promotion tool called word-of-mouth, which can be defined as what people say about you.
Thus, nothing is more powerful in building your career brand than what your network of contacts - your friends, colleagues, customers, clients, and former bosses - say about you and your set of skills, education, and accomplishments.
And keeping your network strong contains nothing more than relationship building. Keep in good contact with your network and be sure they know of your most recent successes.
But the best brand-builders never close with their current network; these folks are in constant network-building mode. Find out new professional associations as well as the increasing number of online networking communities.
Once you identify and build your brand, remember to continue to strengthen and protect. There will always be competing brands (job seekers) ready to leave behind a gap to fill. You are indeed founder and CEO of Me, Inc, and the more you do to cultivate your career brand, the more successful you will be with your current employer and job search.