I attended the funeral of a close friend last week and, as those things often do, it caused me to reflect. I thought about the question, “How do you want people to describe you?” There have been many articles written about what you want on your tombstone, what kind of life you want to lead, etc. My favorite, from my favorite professor and one of my heros is Clayton Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life? You can watch a Ted Talk video of it here.
I can hardly compare to Dr. Christensen. So I won’t even try. I would like to think about it from a slightly different angle. I would like to reflect on your personal brand? So let’s briefly look at my experience at my friend’s funeral to explain what I mean.
I knew her well and had seen her actions and choices over the course of a couple of decades. So, if someone were to ask me to describe her, I could do it. What I heard from the eulogies and discussion with others close to her as we reflected on her life was very consistent with what I had observed.
In her case 2 elements stood out and were often repeated:
- she was always cheerfully serving others
- she was very family oriented and devoted to her children
We learned this about her from knowing and interacting with her for years. I don’t know what a stranger would find if they tried to ‘research’ her without talking to one of us. What people perceive about you is your personal brand. As it relates to your career, your personal brand is critically important. Employers are going to make a decision on interviewing you and ultimately hiring you based on their perception of you.
So, 3 key questions to ask yourself as it relates to your personal brand are:
- What are elements about you that would be clear to those who know you very well?
- What would those who don’t know you conclude about you based on what they could find out about you?
- How do you close the gap? Meaning how can you convey the real you to those who don’t know you?
Obviously in an ideal world people would get to know us and work alongside us to get to know us and that offline reality would shape our personal brand. However, today’s world makes that nearly impossible. People move around geographically more, people change employers/careers a lot more, and decisions get made much quicker. People are gathering information about everything quickly and from multiple sources and much of the information gathering today is done digitally. People are using online to become more knowledgeable. Employers are no different and in fact are using online to add to their teams like never before. Kredible’s research shows that more than 90% of recruiters are using online to find and evaluate candidates and 88% say that the online presence of a candidate is ‘important’ or ‘very important.’ This means we can bury our head in the sand or we can deal with the reality.
What would someone find if they tried to research you online? What is your personal brand online? So how do you close the gap in terms of what someone might learn, or think they learned, about you? You need to be proactive in terms of building your online brand. It does not need to be time consuming or like taking on a 2nd job, but you do have to do something. With a little investment of time up front and the right tools and guidance it can be easy and will pay big career dividends.
So take a look at yourself online through the eyes of a stranger who happens to be looking to fill a role and think about how they will find you and then perceive you based on what they see.
Now imagine what they are looking for in their “perfect candidate.” What traits does that person have? What does that person look like to you? How do they carry themselves? What skills do they have? What experience do they have?
How can you take your experience, skills, and expertise and fit yourself into that role? How do you need to present yourself? What do you need to show up in Google search results so that person sees the important, relevant parts of you?
Hopefully you’ll like what they see in you. If not, it’s a new year, so what better time than the present to work on changing it?
Paul Sims is a serial entrepreneur and Chief Operating Officer of Kredible, the leader in credibility management. You can learn more about Paul on his KredCard.