THE JANUARY JUMP: TASK 11
Brand Blast: Personal Summary
Whatever your career goals, it is important that you understand your “personal brand”.
What is a Personal Brand and why is it so important?
Your personal brand is, in essence, what makes you “you”. It also identifies what makes you different from everyone else.
Just as Coca-Cola’s brand is made up of various components – the swirly lettering, the red and white combination, the tag line, the images of fun and good times – so too your brand is made up of various elements that work together to give an overall view of who you are.
For Coca-Cola, having such a strong Global brand means that people trust its products to be the same quality wherever they are on Earth. The brand is instantly recognisable and its products are not confused with those of its competitors. The Coca-Cola brand imagery also suggests how good we might feel when we’re consuming their products. And millions of people buy into this message, even if many of us are more likely to drink Coke in a somewhat less “fun in the sun” frantic day of work meetings.
When it comes to your career, having a clearly defined brand is equally powerful. It can give people who don’t know you some insights as to what it might be like to meet you or to work with you. It also gives them clues as to whether you might fit into their organisation, team or project.
At the end of the day, people recruit people. How you progress in your career is decided by people. So, if you are able to show who you are as a person – on your CV, on your LinkedIn profile, in your covering letter, at interviews, in meetings, etc – you are more likely to be discovered by people who will truly value you.
How to Find Your Personal Brand
Discovering someone’s personal brand can be a complex and in-depth process. We will not have time to do anything quite so complex in your 30 minute task today.
The good news is that we can take a shortcut. Our mini Brand Blast Exercise will take just ten minutes and will get you a step further ahead in understanding your personal brand.
Mini Brand Blast Exercise
Today, to get a quick view of your personal brand, answer this series of simple questions, with only one or several ‘one word’ answers:
– What am I known for?
– How do other people describe me?
– What are my strengths?
– How do I like to work?
– How do I work differently to other people?
It can be very hard to think about yourself in isolation. That’s why I ask my clients to think about what other people say about them. You can use the same technique. Think back through your performance appraisals, or to when someone last thanked you for a task well done. What did they highlight or mention about how you approached your work?
Your Brand in Just Three Words
After you have answered these questions, select the three words that best describe you.
Why only three words?
The temptation is to include too many terms when describing yourself. But this ends up being confusing for the reader and, at best, will dilute the impact of each term.
Maybe you are a strategic/big picture thinker, a detail-oriented planner, and you are creative and innovative. And maybe you also take a hands off coaching/mentoring approach with your team whilst also being ‘hands on’ as a leader.
It is, however, highly unlikely that you do all of these things equally well or that you are equally well known for all of them.
Even if you are so versatile, the person who reads your LinkedIn/CV/covering letter/etc is unlikely to fully believe it and, consciously or subconsciously, they may reassess everything else you have said. They will probably also find it hard to distill a picture of “you” from such a varied list. Who is this person really? What do they focus on in their job? How do they prefer to work?
So, if you contain yourself to just three words, you will give someone a fighting chance of understanding how you work and what you personally can bring to their role or organisation.
Words to Avoid
Avoid overused terms such as passionate, focused, motivated, enthusiastic, and dedicated. These are positive terms but they are too vague. They don’t tell the reader anything specific or concrete about you. They are wasted words and in today’s world of two-page CVs and brief emails and letters, you are essentially wasting precious words. Instead substitute terms that are more specific and informative.
Words to Include
When you have your three words, it’s time to get out the thesaurus! Look up each of your three words and see what other words the thesaurus suggests. Be careful to select only business-appropriate terms and sense-check them with a friend to ensure they give the right message. So, for example, “analytical” and “structured” might be fine, but the thesaurus suggested “painstaking” and “meticulous” which clearly are not.
Now Put Your Brand Into Action
Hopefully you now have your original three brand words, and 2-5 synonyms (words that mean the same thing). Your job is to use these words in all your messaging and documents, so that they paint a picture of you as a clearly consistent “these three words” type of person. Consistency is key!
Rewrite Your Personal Summary
I want you to use your remaining minutes for today’s task to write (or update) your Personal Summary.
A Personal Summary is the short paragraph or two that sits at the top of your CV and LinkedIn profile. It provides a snapshot of who you are and what you are all about.
Most people waste this space by presenting a summary of their career to date. Instead I want you to focus on using this paragraph to introduce yourself to someone who hasn’t met you.
- It can be useful to record yourself as you dictate the draft of your Personal Summary. Most mobile and computers have in-built voice recorders these days so it’s quick and easy to do. If you listen to yourself, you will soon hear which bits sound stilted or make you cringe. Keep editing until it feels like you and sounds like a real person has written it (not a robot!).
- Write your Personal Summary in the ‘first person‘ for LinkedIn. This means that you use pronouns like “I” and “my”. Write your Personal Summary for your CV with no pronouns ideally, or using ‘third person’ (“she”, “he”) pronouns if you must.
- Do not put a heading on your Personal Summary in your CV. We know what it is because of where it is on your CV. It doesn’t need a heading or any other explanation.
- Remember to use the “three word brand” approach for covering letters and interviews as well as on your CV and LinkedIn.
Find out more about the January Jump, and see previous tasks, on the January Jump homepage.
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