To ensure executive job search success, there are many essential elements you must consider and questions to answer:
- Why am I searching for a new executive role?
- What strengths do I have that employers will value?
- What title(s) am I seeking, in which industries?
- What compensation package do I desire?
- What does my desired workplace look like?
Yet one of most important, but frequently overlooked elements of your executive job search is your personal brand. The ‘brand called YOU’. Most job seekers still aren’t harnessing the power of their personal brand, so use it to your advantage to differentiate yourself from your peers.
What is personal brand?
First coined back in 1997 by Tom Peters, personal brand refers to the skills, expertise and qualities that define us. Our personal brand is reflected in our every action. It showcases who we are, what we stand for, what makes us unique, what value we offer, where we’ve come, and where we’re heading.
Your personal brand is as distinct, unique and reconcilable as you are. In the same way that we evaluate products and make purchasing decisions based on corporate brand; when we interact with others, they make decisions, both consciously and unconsciously, about who we are and what we represent.
Personal brand is a synonym for reputation. It is:
- Unique to you
- Intangible, not physical
- Can be shaped and strengthened
- Exercised in your every action
- Distinct from your employer
In short, it’s your personal story. With the right narrative, your personal brand gives hiring managers, clients and your peers a holistic impression of who you are and what you represent. When you are looking to differentiate yourself from your peers, in an interview setting perhaps, showcasing your personal brand through carefully prepared and “branded” success stories can pay dividends.
However, leaving it to the interview to demonstrate your personal brand is too late. Any activity here should reinforce, not introduce, your personal brand. That’s because your personal brand proceeds you. It is woven throughout your job search touchpoints; CV, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and elevator pitch. It shines in your achievements, is strengthened through skills, and reinforced through experience. To reap the benefits of your personal brand, you must sew the seeds early, and tend to them regularly. Personal brand is earned, not fabricated.
5 ways showcasing your personal brand leads to job search success
It might be a candidate-drive market, but competition for top executive-level roles is intense. Your personal brand represents the best way to set yourself apart from the crowd. Here’s how.
1) It helps advance your career
You are not the same person you were five years ago. Heck, you are not the same person you were 5 weeks ago. In this fast-paced world, you must continually evolve to stay ahead of the pack. That means honing new skills, embracing new experiences and continuously pushing the goalposts. Every achievement represents experience gained. If it is a significant accomplishment, one which could potentially further your industry, or at the very least, serve to offer insight and learning to your peers, publicise your achievements through articles, blogs and social media updates.
It’s a classic example of a positive feedback loop. The more you put in, the more you get out; every achievement fuels your desire for the next. Your drive, resilience and desire to learn will make you a strong contender for promotion and other career-enhancing opportunities, which in turn increases the likelihood that you will get headhunted or secure a referral. A win-win.
2) It helps build your network
A large vetted personal network is an asset, both during your job search and in your career. For some executives, especially those in sales and marketing fields, it can be a differentiator.
As we alluded to earlier, a strong personal brand will draw people to you, making building your professional network less of a burden. Providing you are proactively positioning yourself as a thought leader, or at the very least, keeping your job search touchpoints up-to-date – CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile – headhunters and hiring managers will want to find out more about you and crucially, whether you would be a good fit for their organisation. Likewise, coworkers and peers will ask questions and want to associate themselves with and learn from you.
The more you learn, achieve and help others, the stronger your personal brand. Like a ripple, these good vibes will spread, providing you stay true to your morals. It is an age-old saying that reputations take years to build but seconds to destroy. Stay true to yourself and treat others how you would like to be treated, and you shouldn’t put a foot out of line.
3) It helps you stand out
For many, personal brand starts with, but should not be restricted to, your job search touchpoints. However, tailored cover letters, CV’s and Linked profiles are prerequisites these days, not the gold standard. If you truly want to be memorable, you must go above and beyond and position yourself as a ‘subject matter expert’ or ‘thought leader’ in your field.
According to research by LinkedIn and Edelman, thought leadership enhances brand reputation, builds trust, starts conversations and helps close business. All four of these factors are crucial to your executive job search, especially when you consider that negotiating and securing a job offer is similar to closing a sale. (You delivered your sales pitch during interview).
Positioning yourself as a thought leader won’t happen overnight. Just like your personal brand, you must nurture it over time. Writing in Forbes, Parna Sarkar-Baa, CEO of Brand and Buzz Marketing, provides the following guidance: “Find your niche. Provide content and best practices to build trust and authority and help support your company’s goal or your career advancement”.
4) It helps paint the full picture
First things first, keep your executive CV succinct. While you might be tempted to tell the hiring manager your life story, you need to pucker their interest by positioning yourself as the solution to the hiring managers pain – the reason they are hiring. To keep your CV short and on-point, omit anything that can easily be found online via your personal website or LinkedIn. Rest assured that the hiring manager will look. According to a Careerbuilder survey, more than 40% of hiring managers are less likely to interview candidates if they can’t find information on them online.
That’s where your personal brand comes in. It helps hiring managers paint a complete picture of your career, interests and expertise, and how this translates to their organisation. For this reason, it’s essential that your job search touchpoints – CV, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, elevator pitch, personal website and social media profiles – are aligned and updated to build credibility and trust.
5) It helps you get hired
According to Meg Guiseppi, renowned executive resume writer, personal branding specialist and executive job search strategist, “…successful job search is all about differentiation. When you clearly stand apart and above others competing for the same jobs, you generate interest and are much more likely to land interviews. Personal branding makes this happen”.
Personal branding in your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile can influence hiring authorities to consider you for a position or convince them you might be a fit. Once you have secured an interview, reinforce your personal brand with carefully prepared elevator pitches and branded “success stories” which demonstrate how you have added value in your previous tenures.
Remember to ‘live’ your personal brand throughout the hiring process. Your personal brand will help make you more memorable while building rapport with the hiring manager and members of the hiring team. However, it is important to remember that if hiring authorities believe it to be fabricated, you will instantly loose credibility, and with it, the offer of the job.
For more hiring advice tailored to hiring managers in the life science industry…
* Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating exclusively across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-up to established leaders – since 2013.