What a Recruiter Taught Me about Personal Branding

A recruiter is forced to make decisions on personal brands in a very short period of time. Decisions aren’t made over the course of a year or months; like us judging the brands we choose to buy from, its quick. The context is a bit different, being mainly based on resumes and interviews, I still gained a lot of value and learned a different framework for making a good impression and having a strong personal brand. Whether you use this to get ready for your next interview, or to be a catalyst for your career path, or like me, developing a personal brand that I can leverage in the future, this advice is coming straight from someone who measures people every single day.

Be Authentic

Yes, its expected that we wear many different hats. Its true that conversations with our parents can be worlds apart from how we talk with our friends. But, in every situation there’s an authentic version of you. Work at having that version more consistent, more transparent, no matter the situation. It shouldn’t be confusing for someone to figure you out, no matter how complicated your life is.

Stitch the pieces together, all the pieces matter

First off don’t leave any piece out. Don’t make your own judgement on what is relevant and what is not. Some things might feel less important or could have ended by being fired. We all go through bad breakups, and there’s a good chance theres a job or two on our resume that we’re not proud of. Each situation we learn something or have a take-away that will be valuable in the future.

How do those career pieces, good and bad, come together to create the full version of you, today?

For example, I thought my experience in retail was irrelevant being over 10 years ago, but the skills I learned there were the foundation of my sales abilities, and I’ve reflected back on while doing real estate sales training. How you interact with a customer walking into a store is very similar to how you interact with a prospect walking into a presentation centre or open house.

Work on your pitch

Salespeople know about elevator pitches. So should anyone who is networking. Now, take out the company part. What do YOU do? Who are YOU?

Often, the elevator pitch is about our position or company. That’s not the case with your personal brand. You’re looking to make a real connection with someone who is trying to find a fit for you in an organization. Its really important for you to be able to give a strong introduction about yourself. Then being able to answer questions about specifics in the same manner. You can’t prepare for every single question, but you should be very clear about who you are, what you have accomplished and how you did it.

Know your metrics. What you have accomplished should be easily quantifiable.

Did you increase sales by 10% or 90%?
How was that accomplished, what tactics did you use?
How long did it take you to meet that accomplishment?
Was that above or below your assigned task / goal / quota?

Getting nervous, pausing, fumbling are all natural reactions when you are in a tough environment. By working on your pitch and figuring out your key talking points, you can make it a bit easier. Look at each situation you were in. Your resume is a roadmap for the conversation, look at each position you’ve had and think about what you did and what questions might be asked. Its not good enough to say, “I was awesome, really awesome,” and not except a follow up question.

Be confident about specific skills

Confidence is key to any moment in time when you’re being tested. I think we can all relate to getting a great grade on an exam after studying and going in with confidence. However, in this situation, your brand needs to be very specific. Play to your strengths by being very specific about your skills. Its not good enough to say you are good at sales. It matters to say you are, “extremely good a qualifying prospects.” And be ready to support that with an example.

Here’s a formula I picked up:

Look at your skills > Look specifically at what you do within those skills > Find a metric that came from that specific skill > Build a mini case study about that metric > Outcome

Here’s an example:

I’m good at marketing > Really good at marketing strategy and identifying opportunities > I built a email list for a client from scratch to 1,800 people in 2 months. > This was accomplished by focusing on community partners and leveraging their brand > The client was very happy as this list lead to a successful sales campaign converting at 10%.

Its specific (narrowed from “marketing” to email marketing/crowd sourcing) and measured against client expectations both in raw numbers (1800 subscribers) and success (10% conversion)

Self Awareness

I was surprised to learn how important self awareness was tested with one question, “What would your colleagues / employees / boss think of you?”

This can be phrased for any situation; hiring, day-to-day, hitting milestones, dealing with challenges, and exiting.

Thinking about how you are perceived by others is a skill that is too valuable, yet under utilized by many. Take a look from the other side in any situation. How are you impacting a situation? How are you adding value? What is your chemistry like with your team? In the moment, how can you stay self-aware and improve the situation?

If there is a skill that we all can work on, its self awareness. Gary Vaynerchuk spends a lot of time talking about self awareness. Very important for everyone, even more so if you’re working with a team or interacting with a lot of people on a daily basis.

Tell your Story

Work on your story. Make it interesting. Your failures can be a very colourful part as it gives you the opportunity to show your resilience, how to adapt in bad situations and your overall attitude. Practice by thinking of beginning-middle-end and the audience that you are telling the story to. Pick one part as the central theme and build around it, making the relevant pieces play a bigger part. If you’re looking for an amazing storyteller, checkout Casey Neistat.

If you’re on a first date, you’ll probably tell a different story that sitting across the table from a recruiter, but either way all of the above points play a key role in your story. It can change, you’re still writing the next chapter.

Chris Milton is a guy who loves marketing so much that he co-founded @lets_tangle, a full service marketing agency based in Vancouver BC that works with small and medium sized business on brand strategy. He’s got a lot of catching up to do building his personal brand and you can follow along on social media or his website chrismilton.ca for more of his experiences in business.

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