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Build Your Brand For Career Success

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Your "personal brand" is your unique promise of value - what those around you expect from you - what you are known for. It includes your credibility, visibility, personality & personal style. It is the MOST effective and innovative strategy you can use to achieve professional success and career satisfaction. It allows you to distinguish yourself from others and demonstrate your value to employers. Your success will depend on the personal brand you create and your ability to nurture and manage that brand.

Building your personal brand takes time. Think of brands that are familiar to you (ie, Coke, Apple, Microsoft, Nike) - these brands didn't happen overnight - it took time to build the reputation of quality and excellence. And these brands are constantly improving their products and strategically positioning themselves in the marketplace. You should be doing no differently with your personal brand.

To define and develop your personal brand you must first know yourself. This process of self-evaluation helps you to identify your values, strengths, passions, and clarify your goals. In addition to knowing yourself, it is important to know others' perception of you, because in today's world success means consistently demonstrating your value not only to your boss, but to your colleagues as well. And knowing others' perception of you gives you insight to your brand attributes - the adjectives people use to describe you - both positive and negative. Your personal brand ultimately exists in the hearts and minds of other people - so perception is reality.

Be sure that your personal brand is evident in all of your marketing materials - your resume, job search letters, your online identity. You should also be able to clearly articulate your brand in a job interview.

Personal branding requires you to shift to a new mindset - to see yourself as your own career manager and understand that career management is an ongoing dynamic process. And remember that in today's fast-paced work environment your reputation is your most valuable career asset - and your reputation is your personal brand.

Pam Folger
Director, Career Center
Millikin University
Decatur, IL

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