Personal Branding Without Purpose: A Job Seeker Failure Story

Failure StoryThere’s so much emphasis personal branding as a “critical” job search skill. Yet so many of us genuinely suck at branding ourselves.

And for most of us, there’s one simple reason for our shortcomings: our endgame is unclear. We haven’t identified – and in some cases, even thought about – our goals for why we want to engage in personal branding.

We have… no clear purpose.

“Simple,” you may say… “my ‘purpose’ is to get a job!” So you create a Linkedin account, and lurk on twitter chats. You get an About.me page and join BeKnown and Google+. Depending on your chosen career field, you may even develop an online portfolio to show off your work, blogs and your smiling face in a professional headshot. You are the perfect personal brand. Right?

And yet… you don’t receive a single job offer. Fail.

Here’s what you may not realize: The purpose of personal branding is NOT to get a job. Not one recruiter ever said, “Ooh, this guys’ personal branding is really good. I’ve never heard of him, but I’m going to call and offer him a job!”

With that in mind, here are three tips to getting the most out of your personal branding efforts:

1. Determine What You Want to SELL

If you don’t know what you want to sell – no one is going to buy. And, despite what most people seem to think about personal branding, you are NOT selling YOU.

You are selling your ability to do a specific job within an existing company culture.

Try to be everything to everybody, and your personal brand is doomed for failure. Be too specific, and you’ll be seen as rigid and less than a team player. Find the right balance. Include a conservative yet professional picture. Most important, SELL how YOU would help accomplish the goals of the employer.

2. Know that Personal Branding is NOT a Standalone Task

You can have the best possible branding… and if no one notices you’re just getting sucked into yet another round of false expectations and disappointments. Just like those hundreds of resumes sent through that mega job board without a single call back… you’re wasting your job seeking time.

Personal branding is only effective when combined with networking and hard work!

No matter how introverted you may be, or how uncomfortable you may feel in public arenas meeting new people, you must take baby steps toward becoming a networking phenom – or your personal branding falls on deaf ears.

3. Set Quantitative Goals to Drive Eyes to Your Brand

It’s easy to set goals for your personal branding – and networking. Todd Herschberg, one of the most connected people on Linkedin, says it really comes down to working a plan: “Add two or three new Linkedin contacts a day. In three to four months, the absolute minimum time frame of an average job search, you’ll add 200 to 300 new contacts and influencers who may be tempted to recommend you next time they hear about an opportunity.”

Goal setting can apply to just about every other aspect of your job seeking efforts including twitter, face-to-face networking, and building mentor relationships – all critical tasks that will result in more views of the personal brand you’ve worked so hard to create.

Despite the hype by buzzword chieftains, and the strong emphasis placed on personal branding, this is not some golden ticket to getting a job. Instead, personal branding is just one more important weapon in your candidate arsenal.

Determine what you want to sell, incorporate networking and a little elbow grease and set achievable goals. Now, your personal branding will soar above your job seeking competition – and you’ll avoid yet another job seeker fail.

 

IP_TwitterTo learn more about about personal branding, join us on Twitter tonight, March 4th at 9pm ET for #InternPro Chat! The #InternPro community, along with our friends from NPPRSA will discuss “Is your Personal Brand Lonely? Understanding Marketing vs. Branding”!

 

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Mark_AuthorAbout the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, Switch and Shift, The Daily Muse and Under30CEO.

Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” and was recently featured on HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and several top blogger lists, including JobMob’s “Top Career Bloggers of 2012”. Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!

 

 

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  • http://www.recruitinginferno.com/ Steve Levy

    Your “brand” is what someone thinks of when they hear your brand name (could simply be your name…or your twitter handle) — it is both objective and emotional. The objective piece can be a picture (why we suggest you use the same picture for all platforms) but the emotional piece exists nowhere else but in someone’s head.

    Networking alone will not create a great brand; for instance, having thousands of followers on Twitter is a bit weak when all you do is RT stuff. Where’s the interaction? Where’s the collaboration? Where’s the emotional connection?

    Most folks don’t realize how much work goes into building their brand – or as I prefer calling it, their reputation…

    • http://twitter.com/YouTern YouTern

      Very well said, Mr. Levy. Very well said.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterSterlacci Peter Sterlacci

    Good stuff Mark. I love what you say here about personal branding is only effective when combined with networking and HARD WORK! bingo!

    • http://twitter.com/YouTernMark Mark Babbitt

      That is quite a compliment coming from you, Peter… thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/JenniferBulman Jennifer Bulman

    Mark,
    Thank you for torpedoing the mindless pursuit of “branding”. As a job seeker, self marketing, as you so rightly, say is “,,, selling your ability to do a specific job within an existing company culture.” We used to talk about telling a coherent, believable “story” until that got emptied of meaning by the buzzword artists. If only we could convince job seekers that finding the right job is not a matter of magic keywords, but of determining where you want to work; why you are a good, or the best fit, for a job; and convincing the person with the power to hire you of that.

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