The legendary rock band The Who posed the immortal question: “Who are you?” They aren’t the only ones who want to know. Potential employers and network connections will ask you the same thing and you need to be ready with an answer that makes you look good and stand out from the crowd.
Here’s what typically happens at networking events. I was the keynote speaker for a group of financial leaders, primarily Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). Before my presentation, individuals were asked to introduce themselves briefly. The introductions sounded like this:
“Hello, I’m John Smith, and I’ve been a CFO for 25 years…”
“Hello, I’m Mike Miller, and I’ve been a CFO for 17 years…”
“Hello, I’m Fred Jones, and I’ve been a CFO for 22 years…”
While I’ve changed the names and varied years of experience, the introduction phrases are real. If an employer wanted to hire one of them, they’d sure want to know more information.
Sometimes when we’re in a group or working with fellow professionals, colleagues or students, we fall into the “group think” mode: “Well, John said his name, title, and years of experience, that’s what I should do.”
Instead, think about what sets you apart. When all things are nearly equal (like years of experience, education, job duties), it’s your personal brand, who you are, that sets you apart, and those are the reasons an employer will hire you.
As one Staffing Industry CEO told me, “Companies want to know what kind of contribution you can make to their success – not how many years you’ve been working.”
Not only do your achievements with quantifiable results set you apart, soft skills do too. One Labor Relations Director told me she hires for attitude over skill every time. “You can always teach a skill, but never an attitude,” she said. And she is not alone.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to help you identify your differentiators:
• What makes me a star? Translation for employers: “Why should I hire you?”
• What are my greatest strengths? If you’re not sure, go on an Attribute Treasure Hunt™. Survey your closest friends, family, and colleagues and ask them what they feel are your greatest strengths. Then ask them what three words come to mind when they think of you. Their feedback will give you a great head start on identifying your brand attributes and differentiators.
• What are my top five greatest achievements of all time? What are the skills, abilities, and values used to achieve them? What’s the common thread running through each?
Answering these and similar questions can help you identify your personal brand. By knowing who you are, what you want, and what makes you unique, you will be able to clearly communicate your goals and unique value to people in your network and to potential employers. (For more questions to help you uncover your brand and other job-getting tips, check out “Rock Your Job Search™”.)
As for my group of finance executives, luckily, my presentation was about how to create an effective sound bite (elevator pitch). Needless to say, attendees took action. I look forward to hearing about the personal branding action you take next and your results. Go get ‘em!
® 2011 Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved.