What is a brand? When you see a familiar company logo, you immediately know what the brand represents. A successful brand inspires trust and helps sell products.
For job hunters, a personal brand is a powerful marketing tool. A brand points to your key talents, achievements and passions, and says clearly, "This is who I am and what I do."
How can personal branding help you in your job search?
1. A brand adds the "wow" factor. It helps you stand out in a crowded field of applicants. Start by asking yourself, "What unique skills do I offer to an employer? What makes me a good fit?" Jot down personal success stories that show the qualities you consider part of your brand.
2. A brand shows you are job-ready. Some 50+ workers ask, "Why do I need a brand? My experience speaks for itself." Years ago, that was true. But in today's job market, you need to show what you can do now and in the future.
3. A brand gives focus to your resume. Let's say you want to brand yourself as a tech-savvy worker who gets things done. If your resume is just a dull list of job duties, you're selling yourself short. Instead, show your dynamic qualities. Use action verbs, cite clear achievements, and highlight your technical skills.
4. A brand builds self-confidence at the job interview. Personal appearance, body language, and attitude are all part of your brand. Know what you want to say at the interview, rehearse answers to potential questions, and smile.
5. A brand makes networking easier. Once you know what message you want to send about yourself, you can create an "elevator speech" to use in any networking situation. Use your brand to shape the profile you post on online social networks.
A few tips about elevator speeches
The common explanation of the term "elevator speech" is that it's a brief commercial for yourself that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride the elevator from the top to the bottom of a building. It consists of a few well-chosen sentences that tell your work story, including:
* Who are you?
* What do you do best?
* How have you made an impact?
* What are you seeking?
Start your elevator speech with a "hook" or tagline to engage the listener. For example: "I'm Sandra Green, and I make things grow. For the past five years, I've helped 10 schools and four senior centers create community gardens. My goal is to make neighborhoods bloom by bringing people of all ages together around gardening."
Next steps: What can you do now to build your own personal brand?
1. Make a list of the key skills, achievements and qualities that make you who you are.
2. Work on your elevator speech. Test it out on friends and colleagues.
3. Revise your resume to make sure it reflects your brand.
Learn more about personal branding and elevator speeches at www.aarp.org/jobtips.
Blog written by Deborah Russell, Director of Workforce Issues at AARP. Russell leads the educational and outreach efforts aimed at improving employment options and the economic security of individuals who are over the age of 50. This includes working with the business community to create employment opportunities that are fair, flexible and that capitalize on the wealth of knowledge and expertise mature workers bring to today's workplace.