• Learn How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand That Will Differentiate You and Allow You To Compete in the Global Marketplace.
  • Personal Branding Interview: Susan Whitcomb

    Today, I spoke to Susan Whitcomb, who is the founder and president of The Academies and author of the new book, The Twitter Job Search Guide. In this interview, Susan explains what her own branding model is as a career coach, what you should and shouldn’t include on a resume, and brand consistency for job seekers.

    If someone is unclear about their own brand, what are a few things he or she can do to establish it?

    Start by getting clear on these three “A’s”:

    • Authentic Image: This is “the genuine you”—not costumed to play the part of someone else, but cast in the right role… a Master F.I.T.™ role (see below) that allows you to be radically rewarded and enthusiastically engaged in work that adds value to others.
    • Advantages: This is synonymous with benefits and value. Identify and articulate advantages by writing Success Stories that capture a numbers-oriented, bottom-line value to employers.
    • Awareness: The final “A” refers to communicating your brand in a manner that makes people drawn to, attentive of, and responsive to it. Of course, this step only comes after you’re clear on the brand.

    These “Building Blocks of Your Brand” may be a springboard for discussions around branding:

    • Adjectives: How would others describe you? What do people admire/love most about you? (including your boss, coworkers, colleagues, friends, family members, etc.) For instance, “ethical, experienced, intellectual, level-headed, methodical, productive.”
    • Nouns: What titles are typically associated with who you are? What reputation are you most proud of? What products/services are you most passionate about? What roles or titles do colleagues most associate you with? For instance, “strategist, troubleshooter, turnaround artist, or ops expert.”
    • Verbs: What is your value proposition? How have you: made money; saved money; solved significant problems for your employers? If you could have just one impact on your work-world, what would it be? What’s your value proposition? E.g., I make money for my employer/clients by __________________ [fill in the blank]. For instance, “resurrecting failing or fledgling ventures” or “bringing concepts to reality and winning first-to-market revenue.”

    It’s important to both ask yourself these questions, as well as get input and feedback from others, whether directly or anonymously.

    Tell us about the Master F.I.T. and how it can help you zero in on your authentic image.

    Master F.I.T.™ is an umbrella for your brand. The model captures six elements essential for career satisfaction. There is an External F.I.T. and an Internal F.I.T. to consider:

    External F.I.T.

    • Function: What you do—your innate strengths, passions, talents, and skills.
    • Industry/Interests: Where you’ll do it—industry, company, specialty sector.
    • Things that Matter: Which values and priorities are top of list (for example, compensation, organizational culture, commute, travel, good boss).

    Internal F.I.T.

    • Fulfillment: Why you work—your purpose for being on this planet! Linking your work to purpose will take your job from a career to a calling . . . giving you purpose, plus the paycheck.
    • Identity: Who are you? Identity is essential to brand; it captures the essence of who you are, how you want to be perceived, and how you bring value to your work-world.
    • Type: How you work best based on personality type (such as introverted vs. extroverted, and more). When your work complements these preferences, you’ll be energized, creative, productive, and in-demand.

    You can download a Master F.I.T. form at susanwhitcomb.com/resources to complete this exercise in more detail. Consider writing one 140-character tweet for each of the six elements. The clearer you are on who you are and what you want, the easier it will be for you to write your resume and for your network to help you in your job search.

    What bits of information are resume-must-haves, because they are instrumental in communicating a job seeker’s brand to recruiters and human resource professionals?

    Here’s a quick list, many of which would be extracted from the “Building Blocks of Brand” and/or “Master F.I.T.” It’s important to filter your brand through market realities.

    • Functional Experience with relevant job titles
    • Industry Experience
    • Tangible/$$$ Results
    • Competencies (soft + hard)
    • Degrees/Specialized Education
    • Technical/Technology Skills
    • Your Network (strategic alliances, connections, customers, clients)
    • High-Potential/“A” Player
    • Organizational/Cultural Fit

    What bits of information do job seekers often include in their resumes that may undermine or alter the brand they are trying to present?

    Ask yourself, which of my brand elements align with the employer’s needs? And, just as important, which brand elements to NOT align with, or are missing with respect to the employer’s needs? More than anything, I see job seekers listing too much detail about irrelevant experience and sometimes even too much detail about relevant experience. Think tweets! Present information in bite-size, salient segments with plenty of white space to draw attention to the juiciest information. And strategically position the most important information front-and-center in the resume, near the top.

    How can job seekers maintain a consistent brand throughout the entire job search process without seeming one-dimensional or repeating themselves over and over?

    As much as brand is about the “authentic you,” it’s useless unless it intersects with the employer’s needs. Job search is relationship-based. Stay focused on the other person (whether a networking contact, hiring manager, human resources professional, recruiter) more than you. Be ready with as many as 20 SMART stories (stories that describe the Situation and Metrics, Action, Results, and Tie-in or Theme) that you can use to respond to behavioral interview questions or questions that come up in networking.

    Always ask about the other person’s needs and future plans, and then be an S.O.S. worker. S.O.S. stands for Serve Others Selflessly. I’m not advocating being a doormat or a candidate for abuse. I am advocating that you “find the need and fill it,” without an agenda or expectation of a payback. Trust that it will come to you. Those who persevere, prosper.

    Susan Whitcomb
    is founder and president of The Academies, including Career Coach Academy, Job Search Academy & Leadership Coach Academy. She brings two decades of experience to her work as an author and speaker. Susan is the author of the best-selling “Magic Series,”  including Job Search Magic, Interview Magic, and Resume Magic, now in its 4th edition.  And, coming 2010, Susan’s newest book is called The Twitter Job Search Guide. Susan is also coauthor of eResumes: Everything You Need To Know (McGraw-Hill). She has been a careers columnist and featured chat guest for Monster.com and America Online and, as an industry expert, has been cited in U.S. News & World Report, CBS Marketwatch.com, the Dow Jones’ National Business Employment Weekly, and numerous national publications. She serves on the board of, and was former Executive Director for, Career Management Alliance (formerly Career Masters Institute).

    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Book Reviews, Career Development, Interview, Job Search, People, Personal Branding, Recruitment, Success Strategies
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