Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Secrets to Growing a Strong Personal Brand as a Resume Writer

Hey! This is my 600th blog post! So I want to spend this post talking about one of my favorite topics -- personal branding!

This post on my Facebook page yesterday got six "likes":
Potential customers don't want to work with you if you're only so-so at what you do. Wow prospects with case studies of your current clients, with testimonials, and show them EXACTLY what you can potentially do for them. Never be mediocre when you can be great!

As I write this blog post, I'm listening to a teleseminar from Susan Friedmann, author of "Riches in Niches." She's talking about how people like to work with experts. Part of being recognized as an expert is identifying what you're good at -- and then becoming known for your work in that area!

As clients increasingly look to find a careers industry professional online (versus their local Yellow Pages), your personal brand is becoming increasingly more important. You need to stand out from the crowd. People are sharing things about you, videos of you, articles written by you day in and day out. There's no way to really know who's being exposed to you and your work.

We emphasize the need for clients to think of their personal brand as a job seeker, but it's equally important for careers professionals! Think of your personal brand as the most important investment you'll make in your resume writing business. You need to put time, money, and energy into this investment. You might not see payoff right away, either.

Here's how to build your personal brand.

Clarify Your Brand
Before revealing your brand to the world, you first need to get clear on what exactly your brand is to yourself first.

You can begin by answering these questions:
      What kinds of clients do you most enjoy working with? (New grads? Finance professionals? Engineers?)
      What training do you have to qualify you to specialize in a specific area? (Are you certified in a special job search technique? Do you have a proprietary method you use with clients?)
      What life experiences have you had that would be valuable to others? (Were you a stay-at-home mom who successfully transitioned back to corporate America at one point?)
      What makes you different from other resume writers? (For example, English isn’t your native language or you’re hearing impaired)
      What do you see as possible for your clients? (find a job in 28 days or less)
      What role might you play in helping your clients achieve those results? (a guarantee?)
      Is there an area where you are better than others? (you're an award-winning resume writer?)
      Is there an opportunity to serve a specific market that no other resume writer is reaching? (professionals in the equine industry)
      Where could you be the first in the market? (introducing a new job search technique, for example)

Make a list of words and phrases to help you identify one or more areas of specialty for your careers industry practice. Write down whatever comes to mind — the purpose of this exercise is to help you identify areas that will help you stand out from other resume writers.

Ask yourself:

* What unique value do you bring to the table as a resume writer? This should be something that you alone can provide. It can be a unique twist on something already existing, or it could be something completely brand new.

* What problems can you solve better than anyone? Specializing often helps. It's better to specialize in "working with IT professionals in career transition" than to specialize in "white-collar workers."

* What are you deeply passionate about? Pick a topic that you could talk about for hours and hours and hours. Clients and prospects can sense passion or lack of passion in your voice in an instant.

Convey Your Personal Brand

Once your personal brand is established for yourself, the next step is to convey it to the world.

Step one is to express your brand in a clear and concise way. What you do and who you are should all fit into one clear sentence.

For example, "I help stay-at-home moms successfully transition back to full-time employment" is a great pitch. Another example is "I help CFOs identify and target six-figure job opportunities." What you do should fit in a short, easy-to-convey sentence.

This makes it easy to remember who you are. If they know someone who can use your service, it'll pop into mind immediately. If you took two minutes to get to what you actually do, they may not actually remember what you talked about next time it comes up.

Once your branding and messaging is clear, put it on everything. Put your branding on your business cards, on your website, on your stationery, on anything that's associated with you. Make YouTube videos, post articles about the subject, and give talks and speeches if you can get in front of your target audience.

The secret to growing a strong personal brand is to first come up with a crystal clear value proposition, then refine it into an easy-to-convey idea, and finally to push that brand into the world in every conceivable channel.

As Susan Friedmann says, "There is big profit in small markets. The key to success is for you to be an expert, and to become known for that."

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