Liz Ryan: 10 things that aren’t your brand
“I’m working on my personal brand,” says Anna.
“What’s your brand?” I asked.
She said, “I’m in my first job, doing medical coding and billing, so my brand is Medical Coding and Billing Specialist.”
“You’re thinking about changing jobs?” I asked.
“Yes, I need a change,” Anna said.
“So you intend to do medical billing and coding in the new job, also?” I asked her.
Anna thought a moment. “I have a choice about that?” she asked.
“You have a choice,” I said, “of course.”
“I figured my brand is what I’d done already,” Anna said. “What else would anyone hire me to do?”
“People will hire you to do all sorts of things,” I said. “What do you want to do next? If you can start thinking about what you like to do and what you’re good at, that will be a great next step. You can use Indeed.com to check your like-to-do and good-at lists against real job postings. That way, you’ll know that your chosen career direction is something employers need and will pay for.”
“What would my brand be, apart from my work experience?” Anna asked.
“You’ve had one job. Why should that job dictate your brand going forward? Your brand will convey what you care about and why you come to work. I predict you’ll have fun figuring it out!”
Your work experience is not, by itself, your brand. Here are nine other things that are also not your brand:
— Your degree is not your brand.
— Your past employers are not your brand.
— Your ACT or SAT score is not your brand.
— Your job titles are not your brand.
— The size of your budget and staff are not your brand.
— The number of years you’ve been working are not your brand.
— The industries you’ve worked in are not your brand.
— Your tasks and duties are not your brand.
— Your primary responsibilities are not your brand.
If we reflect on these things that are not your brand, we can instantly see what’s wrong with a personal branding statement like, “Marketing pro with 15 years of experience in law, aerospace and pharmaceuticals.”
This is the epitome of a non-branding statement, because the person who wrote it has told us nothing useful about him- or herself. Here’s a branding statement that puts more useful information across:
I was a classroom language arts teacher until I started advising our school newspaper staff and got involved in the advertising sales and marketing. I found that I loved marketing and made a change into the advertising realm, where I help clients tell their stories in simple, compelling ways. I specialize in sales-pitch creation, channel strategies and marketing projects that are directly linked to sales from new markets.
We don’t get degrees or certifications or tools in this statement, or years of experience or certifications or any of that claptrap. We get a story of a real person who knows what she or he does and why she or he does it.
Isn’t that what the best hiring managers want to know, anyway?
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