What is the acid test of whether your personal brand as expressed in your executive resume will help get you your next job? This story illustrates the answer:
I worked with a technology executive to write his branded executive resume and brand bio. I heard back from him in a couple of months in the form of a link in an email. I clicked through and read the article announcing his appointment as CIO for an organization experiencing rapid growth. Congratulations to him!
As I read the article more carefully, I noticed that the two reasons the organization stated for selecting him were the two components of his brand that we had showcased in his resume and bio.
It struck home to me then that personal branding is not just an optional exercise. The value proposition and value-adds that you use to represent yourself are absolutely critical to getting your next job.
When writing your executive resume, bio, cover letter, or blogsite copy, be sure that the ONE THING you do best and the SUPPORTING PERSONAL INFORMATION are what the employer really needs - a lot!
In the case of my client, the hiring organization immediately picked up on his brand that he was extremely skilled at ramping up technology functions to enable exponential corporate growth and sought him out. So, in their need to find someone to help them with their "pain" - the fact that their technology infrastructure was not adequate to provide for planned growth - my client was the answer to their needs.
We also, in his bio, talked about another key component of his personal brand: he is highly committed to mentoring up-and-coming technologists. He initiated programs and provided other kinds of leadership both within and outside of his corporation to help reverse the prevailing scarcity of skilled IT personnel. The article pointed out that his commitment was an additional fact about him that made him a valuable hire.
So, to test whether your personal branding will be effective in your resume ask the question: "Have I made it crystal clear in a 10-second read that I am the solution to a company's needs?" And: "What makes me interesting and distinctive and gives me a competitive advantage over other applicants?"
If so, you will stand out amidst the flood of other applicants and land interviews. You can then use your career and personal brand in interviews and salary negotiations to get the offer and negotiate your compensation at the high end of the range. Personal branding is the "gift that keeps on giving!"
The other day, I had several messages from someone I didn't know. When I called the man back, he said, "Do you remember me? I was your census taker?" Then he went on to say, "I called you because you seem to be outgoing (I'm an introvert) and upbeat (hmmm), and you might be interested in a multibillion-dollar company I'm connected with. I told him that I have a business of my own, and he said that I'd be doing something completely different from what I'm doing now (he looked me up online). He said, "Let's have coffee" and "Here's a website to look at."
He was so mysterious that I went to a similarly unrevealing website that looked to me as though it was a pyramid scheme and the former census taker was just looking to harvest prospects (from people he met in the census, researched, and approached!)
I found myself taken aback that someone would use information he found that way (possibly illegally?). He had used what he found out about me online to try to enlist me in his scheme.
A second instance happened in my life this week too. This one related to the connection you make when you do an online video where you are speaking to your target audience. You put it up to address that audience. But it doesn't feel great to have someone not in that audience or in the industry make assumptions about you that they then act on.
Now that having a strong online brand is increasingly de rigeur for professionals, managers, and executives (and just about everybody!), don't we all become at risk of becoming known - not just by the employers who might want to hire us or the customers/clients we'd like to do business with - but by people willing to exploit what they have learned about us to try to manipulate us for their own ends?
I'd love some reaction to the following questions:
* Does anyone else out there feel uncomfortable at times that the whole world is able to find out what you are "known for"?
* Does having a video of yourself in cyberspace make you feel more vulnerable or exposed than text alone would?
* Where do you draw the privacy line in terms of what you put online?
* Is your personal brand something you want everyone to know, and, if not, how do you protect it and still get a job or do business?
Although it's a little strong for my experience with the ex-census-taker (or maybe not), a gospel verse popped into my head: "Don't cast your pearls before swine, lest they suddenly turn to attack you."
Personal branding is, or should be, all about authenticity, and as such, is revelatory of the "personal" as well as the brand. Isn't it the "personal" part that places an individual potentially at risk?
But, for all these concerns, is a personal brand kept out of the public domain, like the tree that falls unheard in the forest, a brand at all? Jean