If you knew you were going to spend more than 40% of your waking life doing something, how much time would you spend planning and reviewing what that “thing” was? I’m guessing a lot.
Well, that’s how much of your waking life is spent working. Despite this massive allocation, never mind the financial and status implications, few invest the time to explore the vast possibilities for finding work satisfaction. The reason for this is complicated, and a subject for a future blog post, and effort that can easily lead to a work life that’s 50% better.
In this post, I want offer some practical guidance on creating your brand platform.
Just as smart marketing is essential for powering a company’s sales, it’s also an essential ingredient for discovering a lifetime of rewarding work. Full disclosure: I spent more than 25 years in progressively senior marketing leadership roles. Well thought out marketing invariably drives strong sales, by understanding the target audience, crystalizing points of difference vis-a-vis competitors, and developing the brand’s value proposition and values.
For those who are not marketers, in the business world, a company’s value proposition conveys the value the brand claims to deliver to customers and its distinctive qualities.
But a value proposition cannot stop there. No, to drive sales, a brand’s value proposition must be defensible. In other words, there must be “proof points” to buttress a brand’s claim and convince the audience to choose it. Otherwise, customers will quickly learn that the brand’s value proposition puffery, or as we say in the marketing agency world, “lipstick on a pig.”
Several years ago, I began to see people use of the term “personal brand.” At first, I cringed; the image of “lipstick on a pig” flashed in my mind because the idea of developing a personal brand felt superficial and blustery. I immediately dismissed the concept.
That was then.
Today, however, I’m an enthusiastic proponent of personal branding, although I prefer to call it professional branding. Why? Because the process of developing your own brand helps you clarify and more precisely define the right job for you and articulate precisely what you have to offer an organization. I prefer to call this professional branding because it’s used in a professional context. Ultimately, your professional brand should communicate when and why an employer would want to speak with you about a role and get you to the interview stage for the positions that interest you.
But your professional brand is more than a value proposition. It also includes your values, and increasingly, employers and employees are recognizing how important these are for employee job satisfaction, performance and retention. Your values influence what gives you purpose and the characteristics of the people and the culture you enjoy working with and in.
Once you’re invited to the interview stage, however, a hiring manager worth their salt will seek evidence or “proof points” to validate the claims you’ve made. So you need to be prepared.
GETTING TO A STRONG PROFESSIONAL BRAND
When you decide it is time look for your next role, there’s a natural tendency to want a professional brand that appeals to a very broad swath of employers. By narrowing how we position ourselves,, we worry that we’ll miss potential opportunities. By the way, many companies fall into the same trap. The problem is, if we stand for everything, we stand for nothing.
For this reason, it’s critical to start with your Personal Vision, which will lead to defining the characteristics of your target job(s).
Crafting Your Personal Vision
If you’re looking for more rewarding work that’s sustainable, you’ll want to start by exploring the qualities that matter to you. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your future work as you develop your professional vision:
- What impact do you want to have (your purpose)?
- How do you want to make your impact?
- Who do you want to do it for?
- What are the values and culture of where you want to make your impact?
- Can you think of 5-10 organizations you’d like to work for? What is it about them that attract you?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a much better idea of what jobs to target and apply to. Note: this type of self-exploration is challenging for many to take on alone. Blind spots and resistance can make this process limiting—that’s when the services of a coach can be invaluable. Most of my coachees admit feelings of fear when we begin the coaching process.
Creating Your Value Proposition
Why would a company call you for an interview? For starters, because there’s a job that needs to get done and they believe you may be able to do it. So how do you convince them?
You do it by reading the job description deliberately and articulating your value proposition in a manner that is aligned with what the employer values:
- Your promise— what’s the value you bring with your competencies and knowledge?
- What makes you distinctive—what’s particularly compelling about what you bring to the table?
This alone, however, is usually not enough. They will usually want to see and hear “proof points.”
Proof points are evidence that you can perform the work competently and fit into the organization. Tangible, positive impact is what employers want to see that they can use to project your future performance. Here are some examples
- “Designed and managed the project plan for a $3.1M IT infrastructure project that finished on time and 10% under budget.”
- “Led a team of 23 to exceed departmental goals for 2018, increasing revenue by 15% and improving client retention by 5%.”
- “Developed virtual training program for 250 employees, reducing training time by 40% and saving over $300K in training costs.”
PROJECTING YOUR PROFESSIONAL BRAND ACROSS MEDIA CHANNELS
Now that you’ve create your personal vision and value proposition, it’s time to project it across media channels. Here’s how you can do it.
By creating an “elevator pitch,” you’ll always be prepared to launch the conversation or respond to a question like “so what do you do?” or “what are you looking to do?”Here’s an example:
“I’m a data-centric digital marketer with extensive multi-channel experience in the financial services industry. I really enjoy leading cross-functional teams to develop brands, create demand and drive sales.“
LinkedIn is your face to the professional world. This is where employers go to learn more about you and it represents an opportunity to shape how you’re perceived. LinkedIn offers plethora of tools to help you convey who you are to an employer. From developing a banner that sets the tone to writing about yourself, you’ll want to carefully build a case for the organizations and the roles you’re pursuing. And because networking is the most likely activity that will lead to your next job, I recommend you subscribe to the career or business levels.
Priority number one is ensuring that at a quick glance, your resume conveys information that demonstrates that you meet the core requirements of the job description. This is why it’s important to limit irrelevant information—it can hide highly relevant information. As Antoine St. Exupery said, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
In cases where a cover letter is required, you can be sure it’s important. Use your cover letter to mention something about yourself the employer will value and to highlight something important in the resume. Always begin with an intriguing introduction that grabs the readers attention.
About Mach10 Career & Leadership Coaching
Mach10 Career & Leadership Coaching works with individuals and organizations to enhance leadership performance, maximize employee talent and guide career development. David Ehrenthal and Rob Vlock, both Principals with a combined over 40 years’ experience, left their corporate careers to help leaders and employees improve their performance and job satisfaction.
If you would like to explore our support, call or email David at email@example.com or visit http://www.mach10career.com and schedule a conversation.