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Job Search: Personal Branding Tactics That Scream 'Hire Me!'

By Catherine Kaputa, CIO
April 13, 2010 05:23 PM ET

CIO - Zeroing in on your unique personal brand and communicating it consistently and effectively in your job search is a surefire strategy for attracting employers' attention and landing a new job. Here are four personal branding tactics that will make you irresistible to hiring managers.

1. Brand yourself in a sentence.

Effective brands are defined succinctly and competitively in a single sentence. The sentence should declare what's different about you and why it matters. It should be short enough to write on the back of a business card and definitive enough to describe the brand's purpose. For example, Google defines its brand this way: "Google organizes the world's information and makes it universally accessible and useful."

When you are composing your brand sentence, think of how you can label or position yourself differently. For example, rather than calling myself a career coach like others do, I call myself a "personal brand strategist" and go on to say, "I use the principles and strategies from the commercial world of brands for the most important brand--Brand You."

For an IT professional I worked with, we devised this brand sentence: John Doe: A technology solutions pioneer developing new revenue streams through technology in the converging worlds of Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

2. Get feedback on your 60-second elevator speech.

Brands hire experts to create their ads, then test them to get feedback.

There's an easy way for you to get feedback: Just grab a video camera and record yourself giving your elevator speech or your answer to the most popular interview question, Tell me about yourself. Then sit down and evaluate your performance. The only way to get good is to practice, make a video and rate your performance.

Your personal commercial should elaborate on your brand sentence in an interesting way. Take another page from the branding playbook and include a memorable phrase that embodies your brand purpose, like an ad slogan does for a brand. Try an analogy: Put two different ideas together to express who you are, such as "I'm a cross between X and Y" or "I'm like A meets B. Tazo Tea, for example, defined itself as "Marco Polo meets Merlin." I sometimes say, "I'm a cross between a P&G brand manager and a career coach."

Even though you've practiced and videotaped your delivery, your elevator pitch shouldn't seem wooden and rehearsed. The key is to practice, but to avoid memorization so you don't sound like you're scripted.

3. Create branded marketing materials that break through the clutter.

Every brand has marketing materials: advertising, a website, brochures, business cards and other collateral that are all designed with a distinctive look and feel and a message focused on the brand vision--the best brand story possible.

You should do the same. Your marketing materials are your business card, cover letter, email address, voicemail message and resume. Later you can expand your brand's marketing materials to include online social networking profiles, a website and a blog. It's easy to do them for free or economically though a service such as VistaPrint. But don't use their free business cards with their logo on the back (that will brand you as cheap!) or use a template design. You are a brand, after all.

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