When you think of someone with an amazing and captivating personal brand, who comes to mind? For me, it’s Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is well… Oprah. It doesn’t get much better than her for a personal brand!
I love how Oprah owns every aspect of her being. She goes where her passions lead her, and she’s not afraid to try new experiences. She doesn’t hide her struggles, but instead weaves them into her personal narrative. Her authenticity is relatable, reliable and inspiring. She has an immense and consistent desire to do good, be positive and touch people’s lives.
As Oprah demonstrates, a personal brand reflects what you’re all about. It’s what people remember about you and goes beyond a trademark quality or “shtick.” Sometimes, we get a lifetime to express our personal brand. Other times, like in a job interview, we get only 15 minutes (or less!) This makes knowing your personal brand and how to use it even more essential — especially for women who are still less likely than men to get hired and promoted beyond entry level positions.
While confidence is a huge component of a personal brand, it is not the end all and be all. Awareness and vision are also critical. You need to know what is important to you, where your passions lie and where you shine. This is part of your brand – put it to work for you! If you are always poised and calm, proactively discuss how your poise and calm nature have helped guide teams through stormy waters. If you are energetic and well spoken, discuss how those traits make you a magnetic and dynamic presenter or business development superstar. If you are organized and soft spoken, discuss how your focus, concentration and quiet resolve have helped you tune out distraction and complete projects on time and on budget.
Leveraging your personal brand and knowing what makes you uniquely you will give you an advantage over other qualified candidates who may look great on paper. It allows you to showcase the special characteristics that spark the interest of an employer. This is crucial in a cluttered job market, especially if you have a career gap on your resume or are looking to make a change. This is an opportunity to let the real you shine. Doing so will attract you to the jobs that will bring you the most happiness, and in turn, attract those employers to you.
So what’s your personal brand? Start by thinking about three words that describe you both in your personal and professional life. When we try to be an entirely different person at work than we are outside of work, we are not authentic to ourselves and our personal brand falters. It’s far better to build a career on the real you, and what she wants.
Once you have your three words, write down three actions or activities that exemplify them. How have you put them into action? How are you putting them into action today? Keep building on your words, actions and impact and before you know it, you’ll have the foundation of a personal narrative and brand that belongs to you, and only you.