You’ve been developing a personal brand since the day you first stepped into a classroom. Those bright white socks and new shoes. The backpack with the cartoon-character theme you hand-picked. And remember when the teacher asked you to stand up in front of your peers to describe yourself in three words? Even then, you carefully picked the adjectives that described you best with hopes of leaving a good impression on your teacher and peers.
Your response now to the same question has likely evolved into something more sophisticated than it was back then (“silly” shouldn’t make it into your cover letters), but the end goal remains the same: to broadcast your strongest attributes and interests so that the people around you have a clear idea of what you bring to the table. Branding yourself requires that you identify the unique value you can offer an organization and communicate a memorable and consistent message to all current and prospective parties vested in your career.
There are countless career benefits to becoming associated with certain interests and characteristics, such as solid leadership skills, environmental activism, a great sense of humor, or public speaking skills. A strong personal brand makes you stand out from other job applicants or colleagues with the same educational and professional background. A successful personal brand also leads to more unsolicited job offers, as recruiters looking for someone just like you hear about you through word of mouth or read your blog. It can also raise the confidence coworkers, clients, bosses, and potential clients have in you. By knowing your passions and strengths, you’re more likely to find greater job satisfaction that someone who hasn’t spent enough time thinning about who she is and what she can offer.
The point here: A strong personal brand is an essential tool when it comes to opening yourself up to new opportunities and a more satisfying career. Defining your brand isn’t an easy process: It requires some serious introspection and an understanding of how others perceive you. Be true to yourself. Although you can certainly evolve your brand to fit certain skills and interests, you won’t find success without being honest with yourself and others.