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VOL. 130 | NO. 35 | Friday, February 20, 2015

Angela Copeland

Personal Brand Building

By Angela Copeland

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When’s the last time you thought of yourself as a brand? If you were a car, would you be a Ford or a Mercedes? Would you be a SUV or a convertible?

When you’re job seeking, it’s strange to think of yourself as a brand or a product. It would make the most sense if all hiring decisions were based on your abilities and whether or not you could do the job.

Unfortunately, you’re typically not the only one who can do a particular job. So, you need to look for a way to differentiate yourself. Your personal brand can help you do just that.

One of the first places to begin is your appearance. First impressions happen within seconds of meeting, and judgments made impact your chances of getting hired. Have at least one suit that fits well, along with one nice-looking pair of shoes. If you’re on a budget, search for sales and have a less-expensive suit tailored to perfection.

Next, focus on details like your handshake, posture and eye contact. These send nonverbal cues about your interest and confidence. Ensure your handshake is firm but not bone-crushing.

What you say can be just as important as what you do. Take the time to perfect your elevator pitch. Explain quickly and concisely who you are, what you do and what you bring to the company. And, keep family and personal details to a minimum. When asked, “Tell me about yourself,” many job seekers begin with something along the lines of, “I have two children, and my spouse and I live in a suburb of the city.” Your future employer is asking for details as they pertain to your professional experience and work, not your personal life.

Another part of your brand is what is written about you, whether it’s your resume, cover letter or online presence. Your resume and cover letter should tell a consistent story. They should also focus your brand in a particular direction, much like your elevator pitch does. When these materials don’t paint a clear picture of what you do, the hiring manager will be confused. They won’t know for sure what you bring to the table.

Online, focus first on LinkedIn. Use it and keep it up to date. It should be consistent with your elevator pitch, resume and cover letter. Include a professional-looking photo of yourself, with no one else included. Once LinkedIn is in good shape, it’s time to evaluate your other social media. If a future employer were to search for you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you don’t want them to be surprised at what they find.

As you can see, building a personal brand involves many components and takes time. In preparation for the upcoming Multicultural Career Expo, I will be presenting a free “Building Your Personal Brand” workshop that is open to the community. It will be held at Christian Brothers University in Buckman Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.CareerExpoMemphis.com.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” She also hosts the Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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