Year-end Checkup for Your Personal Brand

In a tight economy, your personal brand becomes an important part of your job search.  In fact, it’s essential.  Some experts estimate that as many as 70% of all available jobs are not posted on job boards.  Many recruiters and small business owners want to control the quality – and quantity – of candidates that they see.  Forget about crafting a better resume; your personal brand – what others say about you – becomes the real way people get to know about you and what you can do.

The beginning of the calendar year is a natural time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you’d rather change about yourself.  Here are some questions to ask about your personal brand.

  1. Are there commitments you made last year that you didn’t fulfill?  Follow through is a valued  – and rare – skill.  People who do what they say stand out from the crowd.  You may have had a great reason: family matters, a change in employment, or your own health issues.  Did you offer to find your replacement?  Did you offer to take on a smaller role? Did you execute a thorough turnover for the project?  Or did you leave a voice message one night after missing a series of important milestones or meetings? There are ways to step down that still show your commitment to professional behavior.
  2. Did you exemplify your values over the past year?  If you say you hate gossip, can you also say that you never participate in or listen to it? If you claim to be working toward a goal, can you point to any real progress?  If you want your family to be healthier, are you demonstrating healthy habits? If your ‘walk’ is different than your ‘talk,’ you can’t blame people for watching what you do instead of what you say.  If you feel you’ve been passed over for opportunities this year, take a look at what your behavior says about you.  It might be different that what you say about your behavior.
  3. Did you display grace under pressure?  It’s one thing to do what’s right; it’s another to do it with a smile.  Your great attitude will be noticed and may even be passed on; studies have shown that moods are contagious.  If you begrudge every small favor that’s asked of you, people will notice. Even if you complied.  Someone once said: “Happiness is doing with a smile what you have to do anyway.”  Happiness can be part of your personal brand, and like follow through above, it’s a very rare commodity.
  4. Did you take time to help others?  Whether it’s mentoring, volunteering, giving to charities, or taking time to help people you know, giving back is rewarding.  You know that it makes you feel better; you may not know that it also helps your personal brand.  Doing work in the community is one of the best ways to let people see your skills and expand your network.  You never know where your next job offer will come from.  Too busy to do any more? You have access to the same 168 hours in a week that Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and the guys that started up Google had.  It’s how you use them that matters.

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