I have been struggling for the past year to determine my personal brand. I am somewhat of a perfectionist and I wanted something that was clever and would define me at the same time. This is ironic because I consider myself pretty witty, but I have a hard time talking about myself. I cannot stand someone who is an over-the-top self promoter so I often down play myself to avoid being perceived as one of those types. But as I began looking for internships and started thinking about interviewing for my first “big girl” job I knew I would have to stand out.
I have read countless articles on personal branding to aid me through this process. I have found some to be very helpful and they offer some very clever ideas, but a lot of them say the same thing: pick 4-5 traits or qualities you have, are proud of and want to be known for. I was reading an article on Mashable by Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. The article was written in 2009, but it was still relevant. Schawbel says that your self impression is how people perceive you. This is something we all know, but need to be reminded of at times. If you think of yourself as a optimistic, others will see that in you, but you must be honest with yourself.
So as I attempted to brand myself I became discouraged because I felt that it should be natural, but that is not the case. I started by doing as suggested and picked 4-5 of my best traits: time manager, organized, perfectionist, professional and expert in communication. Then I was stumped. I didn’t want to just say I had all of these qualities, I wanted to be these qualities. This is where my wit comes in.
I knew I had to narrow down the 5 traits I picked. I started with process of elimination. Perfectionist and organized are one in the same so I condensed that into “attention to detail.”
Next I wanted to focus on my role in communication. I’m proud of my professional communication skills and knowledge. I have learned a lot in my time as an undergrad, but I had yet to land a job so I also did not want to lie. I tossed around words like “developing” and “maturing.” In my search for the perfect word, I stumbled upon the word “flourishing.” When I asked my friends how they felt about the word, they said it made them feel like something was promising and developing in a healthy way. That lead me to decide on “flourishing communication skills.”
I had it narrowed down, but it did not feel good enough. I was missing something. I asked myself what I am most proud of and right now and the answer is the fact that I am graduating in three and a half years after I spent three and a half years working and attending school, both full-time. This is where my time management skills come in.
I jumbled my power qualities up in various different forms and I researched other ideas. I finally formed the beginning, “The Time Manager.” Since I was most proud of this quality, it made sense to start my self branding with it. So I was a “time manager with an acute attention to detail with flourishing communication skills.” Although that sounds great, I knew it just didn’t sound right. By simply adding a “the” to the front of my branding slogan, I was displaying confidence without having to come right out and say that I am proud and certain of my skills. “The Time Manager with an acute attention to detail and flourishing communication skills” is strong and bold, yet not too flashing or arrogant. It was just what I was looking for.
I’m sure that as I enter the professional world and gain more experience my personal branding will change, but I am glad that I took the time to figure out who I am. I know that I am a hard worker and will be a great asset to any team, but before I begin applying for jobs and going on interviews I needed to determine what angle I would use to make myself stand out from other candidates. Now as I move forward in my search, I will use my personal brand as a guidelines for my job searching strategies.