ed muses upon

2010/07/09

Why Personal Branding Matters to Job Seekers

Filed under: branding, job search, networking — Tags: , , , , — edmusesupon @ 5:39 am

Like so many others, I was brought up not to toot my own horn. It was a lesson that I took to with a vengeance. But one thing a job search teaches you is relentlessly re-examine what you do and how you do it. It is crucial that my résumé stand out from the crowd for me to return to the working world—just as it is for every other job seeker. So timidity became something I was obliged to retire, like a bad vice: I just can’t afford it anymore.

You see, the current unemployment figures are grim: at the time of this writing, unemployment is at 9.5%. Nearly one in ten Americans are unable to find work. Consequently, the competition for open positions is fiercer now than it’s been for a very long time. Anecdotally, I keep hearing that for every open position literally hundreds of résumés are being submitted from the dozens of job seekers I see each week.

Those may be long odds but there’s hope. The 9.5% unemployment rate—which doesn’t include consultants, incidentally—means everyone knows someone in transition. Something else my own search process has reinforced time and again is that people want to help job seekers. I had the opportunity to reiterate this point yesterday on Margo Rose’s blog in my very first guest entry. There is tremendous goodwill out there that job seekers can tap.

But how?

The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is frequently quoted as saying 70% of jobs are filled through networking, a statement recently researched by Kimberly Beatty on the JobFully blog. This means that 70% of jobs go to those candidates already known to the employer. As known candidates are known qualities to employers, it logically follows that candidates who are unknown to employers are unknown quantities. The implication is clear: the key is to become a known quantity.

And this leads me to personal branding. In the past several months I have ramped up my LinkedIn presence by answering questions, re-started this blog and established a Twitter presence where I re-tweet the great content I see there. In conjunction with a monthly column I write for the PSG of Mercer County called Staying Focused and the volunteer work I do for that, another group and a Twitter movement called #HireFriday, my personal branding campaign has officially been kicked into high gear. Each of these processes serves to increase my visibility.

But notice that the activity I describe isn’t about me broadcasting about myself: it’s about giving to others. This is the most pernicious misconception about personal branding: that it’s selfish. Yes, it certainly can be that but there is a better way. In two words: personal branding is about adding value. Each of those activities is aimed at adding value for someone else. And it accomplishes two things: personal branding, yes, but by giving to others, you re-energize yourself.

There are several parts of the job search process that rob candidates of influence, beginning with “the black hole” process itself—applying to a job through a Web site without ever getting a contact name—to the lack of an acknowledgement that a job seeker has applied for a position. There is of course more, such as the news certain organizations have made in recent weeks by declaring that they simply will not consider professionals in transition.

Giving to others by way of personal branding is the way to reclaim lost influence.

In closing: personal branding is important for job seekers. Not only is it how you can differentiate yourself from other candidates but it’s good for you. It’s win/win!

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4 Comments »

  1. Hi Ed,
    I am glad we met on Twitter.
    I cannot agree more with your statements about personal branding.

    As an executive coach I see many executives and managers who were not prepared for being laid off and are under shock. After all, they were doing a great job and gave a lot of their personal and family time working 24/7.

    There is a process to build a personal brand both off line and online and I agree with you Ed that this activity is good for the person because it starts from the inside out. First step is self-discovery phase: what motivates the person, values, strengths, talents, life purpose, personal vision etc. Then, like 95% of recruiters and hiring managers, I check the person presence on the web: I Google their name, check their profiles on Linkedin Twitter and Facebook.

    I do not pretend that people can find a job by just using online social networks but aligning their personal brand attributes in combination with traditional activities such as wrtiting an outstanding resume and networking with a solid communication strategy is clearly giving a competitive advantage.

    Corporate executives and managers are usually late adopters of new technologies so the ones who do it stand out of the crowd.

    Comment by Anne Egros — 2010/07/09 @ 8:01 am

  2. Anne, thank you for such a substantial and considered comment. Very interesting point re: late adoption of new technologies by execs and managers but of course, you would certainly be positioned well to know.

    I’m glad we met, too!

    Comment by edmusesupon — 2010/07/09 @ 4:29 pm

  3. Ed, from the moment we first met on either my blog or Twitter, because right now I don’t remember, I knew you were unique. I am thrilled to see your profile pic on everything. You updated it on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on your gravatar so when you do comment, we can see who you are.

    You have certainly got the giving back down well. You jumped in with both feet and have gotten to know and help both the job seeker and career industry and probably many others.

    Thank you for your insight and I hope you keep moving on with blogging and finding ways to use your “voice”. This online space we now live in, needs more people who care and are articulate and helpful!

    Anne, your comments are spot-on and exactly what I teach my clients. We have not met yet, but I can see by your words, we totally agree:
    Anne: “There is a process to build a personal brand both off line and online and I agree with you Ed that this activity is good for the person because it starts from the inside out. First step is self-discovery phase: what motivates the person, values, strengths, talents, life purpose, personal vision etc. Then, like 95% of recruiters and hiring managers, I check the person presence on the web: I Google their name, check their profiles on Linkedin Twitter and Facebook.”

    I still see lots of shocked faces who haven’t gotten as far as Ed in understanding how it is not tooting your own horn to make yourself visible and positive in this space.

    Blessings to you both!

    Comment by Julie Walraven | Resume Services — 2010/07/12 @ 9:51 am

    • Julie, thank you so much for your kind comments!

      Heh…both AvidCareerist and HRMargo pointed out that having a real picture would be advantageous, which I always knew but needed a nudge to get there.

      And yes, I absolutely intend to continue blogging. But I have no illusions that what I say is revolutionary or new: I stand on the shoulders of giants.

      I just use a different megaphone. :>

      Thank you, Julie.

      Comment by edmusesupon — 2010/07/12 @ 8:43 pm


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