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How to get hired and get ahead / Personal branding tips

March 6, 2012

Do you think of yourself as a product? You should. Today success is all about personal branding.

And who knows more about building a brand than PR pros? Luckily, you don’t have to hire a public relations firm to get personal branding advice. We asked them for you.

First we asked for a few suggestions on how women can create a personal brand when they’re looking for a new job and second, when they’re trying to get promoted. Finally we asked them for one idea that every woman can use.

Several PR pros stepped up, generously sharing their expertise on personal branding. Here are their responses.

Kat Gordon, Creative Director, Maternal Instinct

Suggestions for women who are looking for a new job

Build or expand your digital footprint. Google your own name. If nothing comes up, get cracking. Find places to write/comment/speak/share whatever it is you know most about. Use the Questions feature in LinkedIn to answer queries others have posted within your area of expertise. If you don’t have a website link to add to your online submissions, at least buy the URL for your own name and post your resume there.

On being promoted

Write a positioning statement for yourself. Pretend you are a product, because you are, and you are competing in a marketplace far more crowded and cut-throat than even a supermarket shelf. Detail what single thing sets you apart from others and back it up with three proof points. Write it for the job you want, not the one you have now. Print out three copies and laminate them. Tape one on your bathroom mirror, tuck one in your car’s visor, and put the last copy in your most frequently used desk drawer at work. Read it, rehearse it, believe it, embody it.

The one tip I would give every woman

Women downplay their abilities. Whether it’s nature or nurture, it’s proven that women are far less likely than men to sing their own praises and take their fair share of the spotlight. Developing a personal brand is like having a PR firm working for you, consisting of everyone you come in contact with. Make the same strong impression over and over and people will remember you, recommend you, and promote you.

Astrid Sheil, Associate Chair of Communication Studies, California State University, San Bernardino

Suggestions for women who are looking for a new job

When you’re looking for a job remember: There are three things that all employers want:

  1. They want to increase their revenue and/or market share
  2. They want to reduce the costs associated with gaining more business
  3. They want to reduce the risks associated with gaining more business

A woman who is applying for a job needs to understand that it’s all about increasing market share and reducing costs and risks. All applicants should frame their answers to reflect how they would achieve these three goals.

On being promoted

First, before you can get ahead you must be firmly situated in your current job. You have to be successful in the position you have before anyone will promote you to another job. Second, it is generally easier for a manager to hire a new person rather than promote a person in-house. Why? Because if the manager promotes a person, then he is training two people at the same time–the person promoted (you) and the person who is now replacing you. The key is to make the manager’s job easy. You want a new position in the company? Then train your replacement. Find someone who wants your job and train them on your own time for a month. As long as there is someone who is trained and ready to go in your position on day one, a manager will be more inclined to promote you to the new position.

In terms of branding…pick a few attributes that you would like to be known for: capable/great attitude/superior results. Then, at every staff meeting, demonstrate those attributes by contributing ideas, offering to help others, and following through on assignments. When you see yourself as capable with a great attitude and an ability to produce superior results–others will see it, too… but it doesn’t hurt to remind them, as well!

The one tip I would give every woman

Whether it’s a brand for a product, or a brand for yourself, a brand is the thing that helps people remember you and your attributes. For example, if someone says, “Just do it!” you immediately know they are talking about Nike®. By establishing a track record of competence on the job and reinforcing that idea in staff meetings and with your immediate superiors, you will be the person they think of when the company has landed an important project.

The one thing I would recommend to any woman: don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. You can do more than you think you can do and you are worth more than you think you are–always negotiate for what you want and need before you accept a job.



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