The Job Search: Sell yourself by creating a brand

Lenroy Jones, Stuckert Career Center's associate director for employer/corporate relations.
Lenroy Jones, Stuckert Career Center's associate director for employer/corporate relations.

With billions invested in marketing their brands, companies like Apple, Google and IBM are known the world over, but branding isn't limited only to businesses. Creating your personal brand is important to successfully landing the elusive job.

Your brand conveys unique attributes and qualities you offer and helps shape perceptions about the value you would bring to prospective employers.

"As any job seeker should understand, their number one product is themselves," says Kevin Hession, a human resource manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Jacksonville, Fla. "That's all they can sell. Their brand includes their attitude, experiences, work ethic, et cetera."

If you understand that you alone are responsible and "own" your individual brand, you already are on the right road for a successful job search.

I suggest you have a clear understanding of some of the components of personal branding, all of which are aspects employers look for in workers. Among them are:

■ Good communication skills.

■ Ability to lead but also get along in a team environment.

■ Seek clarification when you receive unclear instructions.

■ Work with passion and adapt when necessary.

■ Embrace assignment with a strong work ethic.

■ Remember that while you might not be the boss, it's your company as well.

So how do you convey your brand? Online networking tools can be an inexpensive way.

Christina Mapes, one of the University of Kentucky's recent graduates, used them to help land a job with a Fortune 100 company in Lexington. "I marketed myself through a Twitter account I created just for (my) job search. I would 'follow' employers and career-engine Twitters," she said.

A word of caution, though: If you're going to use these online tools, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, you will want to present a professional look, feel and content for the world to see and read. Do your research about how these sites operate before launching into them heavily. For instance, you'll want to know who has access to your profile, can see photos you post and so forth.

Branding is essential to the success of companies of any size. So why are you overlooking such an important strategy in your job search? Having coached thousands of job seekers, I am amazed that the overwhelming majority are focused on their résumés, cover letters and job locations. Only a few times in my past 15 years of experience has a job seeker placed emphasis in personal branding, but that's what companies desire.

"It is imperative for graduating students to present a clear and consistent image that will distinguish them from other applicants," says Stephen Cole, executive director at Marist College's office of career services.

Added James Gregware, president of "One of the largest problems students face is even if they have an outstanding résumé, they lack the branding necessary to get to the next step; making a presentation to the client."

Companies spend billions to grab and keep our attention to purchase their products. Clearly it's worth it in your job search to devote time to developing your own personal brand that will grab their attention, too.