Know What Differentiates You

brand messageRecruiters tell us they are seeking candidates with skills related to experience and judgment – traits most often found in people who have been managing for a long time, through all kinds of market upheavals and economic ups and downs.

They want experience and judgment. They also want those things packaged and presented to them in a way they can easily recognize. Meaning, you’ve got to package yourself – have a clearly defined brand message, a unique promise of value – to attract attention in the job market.

Those who are successful have a thought-out, practiced, and consistent brand message, one they have refined over time. Simply talking about your experience won’t cut it. You need to highlight specific skills that make you valuable and set you apart, skills which can only be cultivated with long-term experience. Your personal marketing materials, it takes more than a résumé these days, must contain prepared stories with clear examples of the following strengths:

  • Problem Solving: What challenges have you faced? What actions did you take?
  • People Management: How have you assessed talent and strengthened your team?
  • Judgment: What are some good decisions you made as a result of your extensive experience? Have metrics to support your success.
  • Leadership: How have you developed over time? This means sharing a failure and how you’ve grown from it.

You’ve got to be able to tell your story in a succinct way that captures your value and presents it to the recruiters in a way they can understand easily. Your story will be unique to you as an individual and should not change based upon the position you are applying for at any one particular meeting. Sure, you can highlight parts of your story that show how you are a great fit with an interviewer’s company, but that’s not your brand. Your brand is a message, a promise, that can be found in every story and every interaction one has with you. It must be consistent in what you say, your résumé, online profiles, and what people say about you.

Consistency equals credibility, so building a brand persona that is consistent across all platforms, is critical to your career and is essential to get noticed. Sam Mehar, an ExecuNet branding strategist, made this observation about executives developing a personal brand:

“One critical area that is overlooked in many executive personal brands that I see today in my role as a branding expert at ExecuNet is the absence of a forward-thinking message. What I mean by forward-thinking is not just about what you have done, but what you would ideally like to be doing as next steps. We have all done a number of great things through the years with amazing results. We are also very attached to our past because each of those great accomplishments helped us get to where we are today… and we remember every last detail of the journey.

Herein lies the problem– trying to figure out how much detail to include, or leave off, in order to get our brand message across in the most meaningful way.”

Trying to distil decades of experience into a clear, pointed brand message can be overwhelming. It’s easy to see why… it’s all good stuff and it’s what went into making you who you are. But you’ve got to have a vision for what you are today and where you plan to be soon. Your brand needs to be forward-looking. The key is to wear a marketer’s lens: know what it is about the product (yourself) you are looking to sell, and craft your message around your promise.

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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