Build a Personal Brand to Level Up Your Career Opportunities

I recently coached a highly accomplished client with a picture-perfect resume.  She’d held her last professional position at a big-name company for 12 years, during which she’d advanced in her position 4 times.  In addition to her marketable skills, this client, whom we’ll call Andrea, had a work history which demonstrated loyalty, growth potential and initiative.

During our first meeting, Andrea expressed concern about her salary requirements, which she hoped to match with her most recent position.  She’d been interviewing, and when the final decision came down to her and another candidate with similar qualifications, she felt she may have been pricing herself out of a job.  She assumed the hiring manager would see them as equally qualified and hire the candidate they could pay the least.

I explained that a track record like hers is considered highly valuable to hiring managers. Her history of advancement within a 12-year tenure clearly displays attributes important beyond her skill set. In fact, studies show a candidate’s personality traits can matter as much as technical skills in hiring decisions, and that her demonstrated flexibility along with an eagerness to learn and grow are top among them.

This conversation came as a timely reminder to me of the value of developing a personal brand to meet career goals.  We get so focused on keywords and referral networking in order to land the interview, we sometimes forget that what really gives us the edge goes beyond what you read on a resume.

The reality is, most people can learn most things.  So if you have the core skills the position requires, hiring managers know you can learn the rest, especially when you have the work history to prove it.

The Right Personal Attributes Open the Door to Career Opportunities

When selecting the best employee for an open role, hiring managers look for certain personality attributes that may not be visible on your resume.  While lists of these attributes vary, most common among them are the following:

  • Ability to get along well with others
  • Positive attitude
  • Flexibility
  • Eagerness to learn, growth potential
  • Willingness to take the initiative, problem solve

Think of how important these attributes are.  If as a hiring manager, I offer you the job and you complain incessantly, refuse to collaborate, or treat others poorly, I’ve made a poor hire, no matter how technically skilled you are.

So, back to my qualified client and her dilemma with communicating her value beyond her stated qualifications through her professional brand.  By sharing examples or third-party endorsements, she can highlight the valuable attributes she’s known for contributing.

Conveying what you’re known or recognized for by others, in a way that enables potential employers to envision how you’ll work within their culture, makes the difference.   Hiring managers face multiple risks related to their decisions, and they’re looking for indications that prospective candidates will:

  • stay with the job for more than 2 years rather than leave for a “better offer”
  • get along well with colleagues
  • be conscientious about their work
  • deal with problems without constantly asking for help

Do any of the above attributes sound like you?  Maybe you’re recognized as a mentor, acknowledged for  artful diplomacy or known for your willingness to see a problem through to resolution when everyone else has given up.

You can use your personal brand in your summary statement on your resume, on your cover letters and in your LinkedIn profile to address the risks inherent to any hiring decision. 

After our conversation, Andrea updated her resume and LinkedIn summaries to highlight her brand: “recognized for flexibility and growth potential, selected for multiple promotions” calls attention to these valuable characteristics, which she can continue to emphasize during her interviews.

This shifts the conversation from a strictly skills-based discussion to focus on the qualities that really matter in a hiring decision; compatibility, competency and commitment.  An effective brand illustrates how you’ll contribute to the company culture in ways beyond skill set, conveying your value you need to generate the best offer and ultimately land the job.

About the author

Elizabeth Borelli is a professionally trained career coach, curriculum developer and workshop facilitator.  Frustrated by a lack of resources for candidates ready to return to work after a career break, she created CareerBuilder’s Bootcamps; a set of interactive, online courses to accelerate job search success.

Engaging, online courses combined with one-to-one coaching calls prepare job seekers to find the right new career opportunities, helping them to stay positive and engaged throughout the process.

Are you considering returning to work after a career break in 2019, but not sure you’re ready?  Take the quiz!

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