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Career branding for your next top job

Career branding for your next top job

Career branding is about positioning you as an industry expert online and offline, tailoring your message to recruiters, and promoting yourself consistently. Find out how career branding is changing the way companies are hiring.

Meet Anna the planner

Graduating in the depths of a financial recession pits you against some pretty fierce competition. When I had tipped the 200+ job rejections mark and spent nine months without any full-time job offers, I knew it was time to step back, take a deep breath, and Google my competitors.

What I discovered was shocking - both heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time. As an urban planning graduate with no planning experience, technical skills or industry references, a nightmare scenario is to discover your competitors have created compelling online resumes, animated personal websites and... worst of all... a name that rhymes with their occupation...

Meet Anna The Planner. Anna Lunjevich, a New Zealand-born postgraduate environmental planning graduate, showcases her career history, education and references at ‘Wow,’ I remember thinking, ‘How can you beat that??’ Anna was smart, and she clearly understands the value of career branding.

Personal branding matters. If you want to get noticed, be different. Promote yourself online and offline. Those that grab their brand by the horns will enjoy riding a wildly successful career. Those that don’t will sink and disappear beneath a dark and unsympathetic ocean of job search competitors.

Born profile builders

Gen Y has been branding themselves since selecting their first Hotmail email address and Instant Messenger name in primary or high school. They have probably migrated their brands to Gmail, Skype and Facebook since, but the profile-building principle remains the same: Gen Y are born profile builders and they are intuitively self-aware. This gives clever graduates and young workers a blazing opportunity to craft out a unique niche, build a powerful personal brand behind it, and let their job offers flourish like wildflowers.

According to pyschologist Jean Twenge in ‘The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement’, Gen Y’s preoccupation with Facebook and other social networks demonstrates their high-levels of narcissism. In nicer words, we probably know what we like, what we’re good at - and who we like doing it with. Gen Y, it’s time to translate your narcissistic self-attention into a generationally-appropriate personal brand.

In the business world, regardless of your position, you cannot escape being branded. “It’s a new brand world…”, says Tom Peters, management consultant and writer. “You’re branded, branded, branded, branded.” With a ‘career branding plan’ laid out in front of you, hiring managers and the community at large will know you as an expert. Your message will be simple and clear: you rock at something - and you deserve a bankroll that could choke a bull to do it.

Me 2.0 and Career Branding


Earlier this year Dan Schawbel, whose personal branding blog ranks #2 in Google for ‘personal branding’ (after Wikipedia), published his first book, ‘Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success’. In this book, Schawbel claims, ‘Personal branding is about unearthing what is true and unique about you and letting everyone know about it.’ The interesting thing about Schawbel’s Me 2.0 is that it is intrinsically career- and career-transition related: it’s not just a personal brand - it’s your career brand.

‘As a brand, you are your own free agent: you have the freedom to create the career path that links your talents and interests with the right position,’ says Schawbel. No job comes with a fixed lifetime duration, and flexibility is tantamount to the Gen Y condition. To achieve flight and navigability in your career, you must constantly reinvent your brand. yet again, Gen Y gets it good: try a bunch of different things, while growing and adapting your brand to suit your current mood.

Schawbel goes on to provide advice to people at various stages of the career transition process; if you’re on a career path that makes you happy - work it; If you’re on a career path that does not make you happy - change it; If you’re unsure about that future - define it. This is a real-world motto for those in career transition, and the first place to start is by getting a WorkLifeGroup account to do a 360 degree introspective analysis of yourself.

Online, offline and inline

“It’s all about connection”, says Luke Harvey-Palmer, Australia’s authority on personal branding. “You need to build an online and offline personality, that is inline with your target audience.” If you’re in career transition, your target audience are the gatekeepers and hiring managers standing between you and your dream job.

“People want to be connected to people,” he says. “Not a business. Not a philosophy. You.” Building an online resume based on your offline achievements is the fastest way to align your personal brand with your job search campaign. “If people don’t know what you do – they can’t connect with you – so you can’t sell to them”, says Harvey-Palmer. You need to make your career brand so clear that hiring managers think the heavens literally opened and delivered you to their inbox.

Knowing your skills, talents, interests, knowledge and achievements will help shape your personal brand. What are your strongest skills and the skills you enjoy using the most? What are you naturally good at, that you would like to develop further? Where do you have unique and specialised knowledge, that is rare and valuable? What have you achieved in your life so far, that you are most proud of? 

These questions and many more can be discovered, explored and developed by getting yourself a WorkLifeGroup account.


Guy's photo

EARLY CAREER: Gen Y, Graduates and Early Careerists

Guy has worked as a business journalist, urban planner, slow food chef, denim salesperson and digital media manager, and shares original insights on diverse Gen Y career experiences.

Guy holds a B. Urban Planning & Development (Hons), has worked in 5 different industries and knows what its like to face the challenge of graduate transition. New career choices, personal branding and balancing passions with money are all part of the mix.

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