U.S. Markets closed

Personal Branding Is Not Hocus Pocus

Hannah P. Morgan

There has been a lot of talk about personal branding over the past few years, and it all started with the popular Fast Company article written by Tom Peters, "The Brand Called You." But what is personal branding, what does it really mean, and why is it important? If you read Peters' article you will begin to understand.

Defining and refining personal brand. This month, Quintessential Careers launched its fifth-annual Job Action Day and dedicated to empowering job seekers to create, build, and enhance their personal career brand. During this initiative, Quintessential Careers collected posts from numerous career and job search authors explaining the power and importance of personal branding. If you need clarification or help defining and refining your personal brand, visit its website at www.quintcareers.com for more than 20 articles on the subject.

Personal branding isn't hype. There are some career professionals, recruiters, and other experts that claim your personal brand doesn't matter. Maybe the term is misleading or is not interpreted correctly. If your personal reputation didn't matter, then why would an internal candidate get hired over external candidates? Why would employee referrals be so important? Why is it that CEO job postings seldom, if ever, go public? The answers lie in the power of someone's personal brand. Personal branding is much more than a slick tagline or elevator pitch; it is the part of the reason people get jobs.

Employers are consumers. Branding has been around a long time and is one of the methods companies use to differentiate themselves from the competition. In today's job market, employers are consumers. They're looking for the best value when they hire an employee. They're searching for someone who will solve their problems, make them money, and be a valuable asset to their team. Therefore, as a job-seeker, having a brand allows you to present yourself as a valuable solution to an organization. This is why having a verified and authentic brand is key to standing out and being selected. Take note, however: Your brand may not be a fit for all consumers. By conducting market research and understanding the needs of targeted companies, you are much more likely to ensure your brand matches up with what they are looking for.

Money-making venture or real help? It may appear as if some people are trying to take advantage of the misfortune of others by selling personal branding tools and help. If you look at it this way, of course it will seem like hogwash. Instead, look at the real meaning behind the concept. Personal branding evolved as a concept to help people understand how they could control their professional destiny. The reality of our new economy, short-term assignments, down-sizing, outsourcing, and invisible career paths demands we take control.

Stop fighting it. For all the naysayers out there, think about this: There were approximately 12,300,000 unemployed people in the United States in October. All of them are competing for jobs. The chance of a job landing in your lap is as slim as winning the lottery. If you are serious about securing your next job, it is going to take more work on your part to make that happen. Your personal brand is one way you can take control and stand apart from the sea of seekers and protect your longer-term career.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

More From US News & World Report