Creating Value: Your Brand as a Career Counselor

By Janet M. Ruck

What do you have in common with Starbucks? Perhaps you've never equated yourself with a latte, but, like Starbucks, you convey an image. Generating your own personal brand requires that you determine what you stand for, what you want people to believe about you, and what message you want to transmit about YOU.

What is a Personal Brand?

Branding is the "image" created in the minds of people when they see or hear a name, product or logo. A personal brand is the public projection of certain aspects of a person's personality, skills or values. It is the enduring perception of the person. Personal Branding is taking control of the processes that affect how others perceive you, and managing those processes strategically to help you achieve your goals. The concept of personal branding is based on the premise that every individual is founder, CEO, marketer and stockholder of their own company. It is about the creation of You, Inc. At the NCDA Chicago conference (2006), Rebecca Dedmond and Michael Frank presented on what's new in career counseling. During the explanation of the state of the working world, it was made clear that in our knowledge economy, workers are engaged by employers as individuals - as individual CEO's of their own corporations. To succeed, workers need to take ownership of CEO of You, Inc.

How Do You Develop a Personal Brand?

An authentic personal brand is about living out positive, life-sustaining values. It is about having the character to act on those values, the commitment to deliver those values, the spirit to serve others with those values.

Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you different from everyone else. For example:

  • What have you done this week to make yourself stand out?
  • What would your colleagues say is your greatest strength?
  • What do you do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value?
  • What do you do that you are most proud of?
  • What have you accomplished that you can unabashedly brag about?
  • What do you want to be famous for?
  • Assess who you are. Where you want to go?
  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses.
  • What is unique about you? How do you differentiate yourself?
  • List your top 5 passions - do they relate to your work?
  • Write an ad promoting YOU in the Yellow Pages.

Marketing Brand You

If you believe in your talent, skills and ability, it is easier to sell your product - YOU. By selling a unique experience, by clearly articulating what you are offering, you are creating a coherent brand grounded in your greatest asset - YOU! How do you articulate your uniqueness in a crowded marketplace?

  • Create a representative and professional name, email, URL, username
  • Use a signature file to enhance your brand by providing more information
  • Use a tagline to describe your uniqueness
  • Enhance your profile:
    • sign up for an extra project
    • get on a panel discussion
    • make a presentation
    • take on a freelance project
  • Revise your marketing brochure - your resume. It brings to life the skills you've mastered, the projects you've delivered, the "braggables" you can take credit for.
  • Write your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of You, Inc. Include your personal definition of success.

According to branding expert Lesley Everett, first impressions are made during the first five to seven seconds of contact. It takes another 20 further experiences with a person to change a first impression. So, it makes sense for to determine, develop and deliver that all-important first impression - through branding. Inside you exists a powerful voice that is your own unique inner trademark and imprint on the world. By identifying who you are and what you stand for, you have attained authenticity. You'll attract to yourself that which reflects your appearance, your presentation, and the conviction you have in the message you communicate. Think about what you can do to become more in alignment with who you really are. By focusing on what Brand You specializes in, you will find work that fits you and provides you with satisfaction and purpose.

For more information about this topic, you can easily search the Internet, or look at one of these sources:
www.marketing.about.com - articles by Laura Lake

Branding Gets Personal, Drew Becker

Walking Tall: Key Steps to Total Image Impact, Lesley Everett

Peters, Tom. (1997) The Brand Called You. Fast Company from http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/10/brandyou.html

Janet Ruck M.A., M.B.A. is a Career Counselor and trainer at a federal government agency. She can be reached at janetruck@yahoo.com

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