Build Your Own Brand

Apple. Nike. Starbucks. What do these companies have in common? They’re all successful brand builders. Consumers associate these brands with quality and style. And that brand-based enthusiasm helps to drive increased sales.

Individual job seekers can also capitalize on the idea of “brand,” when marketing themselves to potential employers. Career Coach Michael Cushman suggests that everything about you — your clothes, your conversation, your online profile — should positively represent your personal brand. The end game, of course, is to attract an employer who’s ready to buy.

Create an Ideal Vision

When asked to identify the biggest mistake today’s job seekers are making, Cushman extends the question to include most professional adults — some of whom are already employed. “People don’t put enough conscious effort into guiding their careers,” Cushman offers. “Only when they are unemployed or miserable do they give it any thought.”

Developing a brand will force you to think about your career in terms of long-range goals and ideal outcomes. “It’s your life, and there’s no rewind button,” says Cushman. “Create a vision and make it happen.”

Harness Clarity and Passion

Stability can actually be a liability. Too often, our clearest and brightest ambitions are the ones we shrug off in favor of “practical” routes. If you get complacent in a ho-hum position, or you let yourself drift through a succession of mediocre jobs, you’ll never establish a real foundation to build on.

It’s OK to develop a brand that makes a bold statement. Genuine passion and aptitude will always outshine a forced-fit mentality. In other words, if you love landscaping, don’t pursue nursing. “Follow your natural talents,” Cushman urges. “Do what comes easily and joyfully to you. You’ll become great at it, and no one will be able to out-compete you.”

Follow Through

Few people enjoy job interviews, but the experience is much easier if you’re prepared to speak about yourself in a smart, memorable way. Once you’ve established your brand, you’ll find it’s easier to describe yourself, your admirable qualities, and what Cushman calls your “natural genius.”

Remember to maintain your brand in all the places you can be seen — including online. Everything is accessible on the Internet. Every picture, screen name, and blog associated with your profile has implications about your beliefs and your character. “You are your brand,” Cushman reminds his clients. “And your brand is significantly affected by your digital life.”

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