Friday, March 22, 2013

Personal Branding: An Interview with Susan Chritton

What makes you stand out? How will people remember you?

Personal Branding for Dummies
These are important questions for resume writers to ask clients -- and ask ourselves! I had the opportunity to chat with/interview Susan Chritton, author of "Personal Branding for Dummies" in a Colleague-to-Colleague discussion series as part of the Career Thought Leaders Virtual Conference earlier this week, and I wanted to share some of her insights into personal branding, and how a few simple questions can help resume writers more easily create a theme for their clients' career communication documents.

Chritton is an Executive Career Coach and branding strategist who was mentored by the "godfather" of personal branding, William Arruda. She says her personal mission is to "educate and empower others to use their gifts in the world." I am confident she will reach this goal, as the information she shared during her presentation at the CTL conference — and her willingness to share her ideas with me during this call — was both informational and inspirational.

Question: As a resume writer, I don't often have a lot of time to explore a client's personal brand like a career coach would. How can a resume writer quickly ascertain a client's personal brand?

Chritton: Personal branding can be distilled into two concepts: "What do I think of me?" and "What do they think of me?" So one way to get to someone's personal brand is to ask them this: "Give me five words to describe yourself," and then "What are 2-3 words someone else might describe you as?" People are generally harder on themselves than others would be, so this gives insight into how they want to be seen (by others).

Chritton noted that if clients are receptive to this kind of work, you can give them homework (or a self-study assignment). In chapter 4 of the book, there is a personal brand profile worksheet (pictured) that they can use to develop their personal brand statement. You can then incorporate that into the documents you create.

She also said that one key is getting the client to "get out of themselves" and get a different perspective on how to articulate their brand. Two good questions for this, Chritton said, are: "Who are your competitors (for the job) and describe the qualities they possess." And then follow up with, "Which of those qualities do you have?" Chritton finds that often what clients say in response to these two questions "describes (the client) at their best."

Question: You talk about being authentic in personal branding. How might we get to someone's authenticity (again, quickly!)?

Chritton: Get people to "light up" and talk about themselves. Ask them, "What do you do that is different than others (who do what you do) — maybe something that people don't know about you, or that doesn't seem relevant."

She shared the story of a recent client, a business analyst who, she discovered, is also an accomplished drummer. Once she discovered that fact, she was able to use more colorful words to describe the client. The patterns in music mirrored the patterns the individual was able to see in data analysis. This was a key component of the client's personal brand.

Chritton said resume writers can use their "B.S. meter" to make sure that the client's brand that they are articulating is authentic to them. She shared the story of one young client, in his mid-twenties, who had crafted a personal brand that wasn't authentic. This became clear when the candidate would land interviews, but no job offers. Hiring managers quickly saw through the "style" of his brand and found there was no "substance" to back it up. "If you haven't been completely honest (in developing your personal brand), you won't get the response you're seeking," Chritton noted.

Question: Where do you see personal branding going next?

Chritton: "I hope more and more people use personal branding, because it humanizes people, and helps companies find the right people."

More and more companies are using personal branding, which gives her "a lot of hope" because "personal branding is the ultimate diversity" tool.

Half of the work Chritton is currently doing involves corporate coaching and personal branding consulting within organizations — she is often hired by the company itself, but sometimes by executives directly to work with them. She says the hardest part of this work is the diverse skill set it requires. "In working with corporate clients, you have to be a good coach, a good writer, you have to be social media savvy, and you have to have experience with video," she noted. (Video is an emerging area. She sees more and more of personal branding moving to video.) Chritton points to the video on her LinkedIn profile as an example of this in action.

No matter what the format — resume, LinkedIn profile, video — Chritton says the essence of personal branding work is "representing the client in the best, most honest way."

3 comments:

  1. Great article. I like the point of asking a question two different ways. "Give me five words to describe yourself," and then "What are 2-3 words someone else might describe you as?"" I often ask, "If I were to call one of your references what would they say about you." It gives a lot of insight when I find out who they picked and what they would say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. a career coach would. How can a resume writer quickly ascertain a client's personal brand?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chritton is an Executive Career Coach and branding strategist who was mentored by the "godfather" of personal branding, ivory research illegal

    ReplyDelete

ShareThis

Facebook Like