Marketing a brand called YOU
Making an impression and getting hired requires marketing and it also requires branding. What are these things and how do they differ? These two terms are tossed about with great abandon, used interchangeably and also used with some degree of pretentiousness – so I run the risk of sounding pretentious by even using them. But I’ll try and dispel that by clarifying the two concepts in a down-to-earth fashion.
Very simply, branding represents what you ARE whereas marketing is something you DO. They go hand in hand and overlap to be sure; marketing is a specific activity and branding pervades every part of a business or endeavor.
Marketing would encompass your promotional activities, how you go about reaching new people, getting the word out and acquiring new customers. Sales and marketing are also used interchangeably but are distinctly different functions.
Branding establishes your uniqueness, your core values, your standards, what sets you apart from all others; in branding you are not really selling so much as stating or demonstrating who or what you are. That’s the short version.
A Perfect Example
A great example of branding for an individual is Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington. Whether Denzel planned it this way or not, as far as I can tell, he has never made a bad movie. Not only are his performances excellent, he never seems to be associated with a bad film. Granted, it’s subjective and I haven’t seen all his movies, and some are better than others, but so far I have not seen one bad one. He just seems to pick his scripts, directors and projects in such a way that the final result is anywhere from good to a masterpiece. How he presents himself as an individual also appears utterly flawless. While we all can’t be Denzel Washington, we can learn from such a stellar example.
Who are YOU anyway?
What does any of this have to do with getting a job? When you are networking, hand-shaking, applying for positions, you are essentially marketing. How you present yourself, who you are, your experience, your standards, and what you have to offer all represent your brand – the brand that is uniquely YOU. It’s pretty simple. Who are you? What do you have that an employer wants? How can you help that company do better? Are your values similar to the values of the employer in question? You should establish these things and they should reflect in how you dress, your resume, and how you communicate to others.
Job Hunting Tips
That said, here are some other practicalities that should help you land a good job:
A resume should of course contain a summary of your skills and experience. Employers see a lot of resumes, so it is a good idea to make yours stand out. A resume can exist online or as a hard copy. A bold and attractive font and high quality paper can help. Depending on the type of position, you want to keep it short and sweet; an executive position would require more information. You can also include a couple comments about you as a person, describing who you are and what is important to you. You need not mention your religion, etc. – it’s illegal for them to ask you anyway. A resume is often the first point of contact; it should be factual and designed to elicit a response.
I ran across a statistic the other day that 70-80% of jobs are obtained through networking. I believe this to be true. Most employers would rather interview someone they already met and like, as opposed to going through a mountain of resumes. This is why you absolutely must network. Networking is an infinite activity; there is no shortage of ways for you to network. That is why it is a good idea to have a business card even if you are unemployed; it indicates you are serious about what you are doing.
You can network at a wine tasting, a barbeque, a wedding, a baby shower, at church, in a coffee shop, standing in line at the supermarket, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on other social networks, and anywhere else you can think of. You just keep putting your name out there (without being self-aggrandizing); you’ll get interviews; you’ll get opportunities. Be sure to indicate to people what you can do for them, rather than what they can do for you. Be interested in their company and if you feel you can help them, tell them so. Businessmen and entrepreneurs have problems; one of their chief problems is hiring people that are loyal, do a good job and stay with the company. While you may not be able to promise how long you’ll work at a given location, if you have a good track record you can indicate this.
A job interview can be nerve-racking but it doesn’t really need to be. Your emphasis again should be on what you can do for them and not the other way around. Find out what they need and what they want, and present yourself as a solution for that. They may not have much time so you’ll often have to keep it concise. Some employers aren’t exactly sure what they want and you may be able to help them with that too. Most employers are also looking for “harmony” – they want someone that is going to work well with their other employees. That is why in many businesses, a series of people (usually managers) must all sign off on someone and one negative vote acts as a blackball. So just being friendly and sincere can go a long way. Some people have the gift of gab and some don’t – emphasize the positivity and uniqueness of you.
There is a slogan that states “you must work in order to find work,” and this is true. In order to get a job that you WANT, you may need to pound the pavement and talk to a lot of people. Consider it a test of your branding, marketing, and sales prowess. Good luck!