by Kristy Amburgey
Branding is a hot topic right now. There are websites, blogs and online resources devoted to branding and telling you how to brand yourself. You have this buzz word floating around in many articles and in some of the career advice you might hear. Branding is really a brand all to itself! The take-away from this hot topic is that branding is important for both your job search and for furthering your career. Branding is more than a buzz word, and there are many reasons you should jump on board the branding bandwagon. Over the next three weeks, branding and several of the supporting ideas will be discussed.
What is branding? For a job search, branding is identifying ways to market your skills, qualities and accomplishments to a potential employer (the same concept applies to people seeking to grow their businesses or draw attention to products they produce). This concept may sound like something you already do, right? You may already find ways to communicate your value to employers, but branding is taking that communication method several steps further and allowing you, the brand, to create a targeted message, to establish your expertise, to control your brand, to be more easily found and to go where the employers are.
One of the primary responsibilities of a branding specialist (you) is to create an image or concept that appeals to a specific target market. Just like any marketing professional would do, you have to create a message through wording and imagery and by selling an idea to a specific group, which appeals to their sense of self identity and their needs. Branding is very similar. You want to create a concept about you that appeals to your target audience. Develop a strategy that grabs the attention of hiring managers or recruiters and then appeals to their image of the ideal candidate.
Along with creating a targeted message, branding is also about establishing your expertise and uniqueness. Through branding, you want to communicate your professional savvy and value to an identified target audience through evidence-based information. Showcase your brand by relating your experiences (academics, projects, writing, research and jobs), accomplishments (quantifiable details) and uniqueness (what makes you stand out from the competition) to what an employer needs.
Creating a brand is also beneficial in that you can more easily control what people perceive about you and what they find about you if you are carefully protecting your brand. In an ideal world, you would only have glowing recommendations about you wherever an employer might look, but the reality is that your online reputation may be different from what you want an employer to see, unfairly or not. With branding, you can project the image, through accurate evidence-based information, of the professional you are and not rely on other people’s interpretation of your background. Controlling your brand is even more important if you host a blog or website that allows open comments.
Branding is a necessary tool in your job search repertoire because you can make it easier for someone to find you and understand your value. Potential employers may be able to see your expertise via a resume, cover letter or recommendations, but what if you are never able to reach those potential employers to share with them the traditional methods for establishing your expertise? Your goal should be to create a brand where potential employers can find you. This is the value of branding…establishing ways for more people to more easily identify who you are.
Additionally, more and more employers are using social media to search for and vet the candidates, so, as a job seeker, you must go where the employers are! Be present through your well-established brand where you know that employers in your industry go to find candidates.
Finally, as more and more people are creating brands for themselves, it is important that you not get left behind or be seen as using outdated job search methods. You may not like the idea of branding or exposing yourself to the worldwide web, but it is becoming more expected that professionals and job seekers alike have an online presence. It is important for you to ensure that your online presence is what you want to communicate and what you want to be found.
Come back next week for How to Create Your Brand: Part One.
Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department. She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.