There are many misconceptions about why personal branding is important and how to create personal brand. There are tens if not hundreds of articles, books, and YouTube videos on creating a personal brand, but many fail to explain the full story and the strategy behind building a brand, especially if you are over 50 and want to compete against those much younger than you.
While many have some merit and some good advice, I want to give you the FULL insight into why personal branding is important, especially for those of us who are in that “mature” over 50 age and experience bracket.
What Is Branding Anyway?
When people think about branding, they often think of business and that it is just a marketing plan to increase sales or just a pretty logo for a company or product, but there is more to a branding strategy than just marketing materials and campaign collateral.
When you think of McDonalds for instance, a recognizable image of the company (logo) immediately comes to mind, and so does your expected experience of the service, food, and atmosphere. You know when you see that logo (brand symbol); no matter where you are in the world, you know what to expect.
Think of branding as a company’s personality. It is the traits and features you expect. It is their market differentiator from the other fast-food places.
Now how does all this apply to me?
Creating a personal brand for a job search is what drives your value to a prospective employer and helps them get a feel for what they can expect from you – much like you know what to expect when you walk into a McDonalds anywhere in the world.
It is what sets you apart from the competition.
In today’s job market, especially for us over 50, there is no room for being just another face in the crowd or another resume in the mail. You HAVE to separate yourself from the competition and using a strong cover letter is a great tool in our arsenal and not just a formality.
You have to be more appealing to your target audience and you can achieve it by creating a recognizable personal brand – and we need to smash that “dinosaur”, “their too old”, “outdated”, perception that many younger hiring managers may unfairly be harboring.
We need to bring forward and emphasize our skills and experiences and that “been-there-done-that” attitude and knowledge and confidence.
Building Your Brand for Those Over 50, and Why
Building a recognizable personal brand opens professional opportunities. Creating a vision for your future and implementing that vision can lead to…
- A better job
- Creates a must-have image that will set you apart from the competition
- Creates a better perception of you…your skills, and what you bring to the table
- Distracts focus away from your age, and instead draws attention to the value that ONLY you can deliver
In a competitive business environment, if you do not understand the value that you bring, or how to demonstrate your unique value proposition to decision-makers, you may not survive – to create a brand for yourself that will be sought after and get you – selected and hired!
Look at the steps in the graphic to the right of this page. It lays out nicely what a (your) unique value proposition should address…it is part of building your brand.
Personal branding is marketing yourself and the skills you bring, and it is not just is not for the Gen-X, Gen-Y, or Millennials – it also applies to those of us who are Baby Boomers.
The only difference is that they are not talking about it; they are blogging about it, living it, and using it more than us Baby Boomers, so not to look outdated, learn to bring it into your strategy as well…do not let the times and new job search methods leave you outdated and looking irrelevant.
How to Create Personal Brand in Eight Steps
- Get a clear view of what kind of job you want, which companies and organizations will provide you the best opportunities you are looking for and need your expertise
- Determine how you are uniquely qualified to help them meet their needs, and how you can be a valuable asset
- Know who your competition in the marketplace is, and what differentiates you from them, rise above the crowd
- Define what characteristics make up your unique personal brand (values, passions, core strengths, personal attributes, etc.) …and how these can be packaged into a brand, and illustrate how YOU can be the answer to their prayers
- Develop brand-reinforcing content for your marketing collateral (resume, biography, and other materials like a great cover letter) designed to generate chemistry and resonate with your target employers
- Move these brand communications materials online to LinkedIn and other social media platforms, and work on building a diverse, vibrant online presence – to keep pace with younger competitors — maybe even start a website or blog?
- Put your online and offline brand communications to work in all you’re networking efforts. Work on circumventing the gatekeepers at your target companies and connecting directly with the key hiring decision makers and other employees, where they hang out online and offline.
- While building your branding platform…be aware of the story you are telling and what picture you’re painting of yourself – focus on creating an online image and circle of influence in which you have credibility, credibility that will help build social capital
Marketing Yourself Is All About you, You, YOU!
The definition of marketing, (or in the context of this article of marketing yourself), is the action or business promoting and selling products or services to a specific or targeted consumer/ buyer/ audience.
How do you apply the principles of marketing to build your brand?
Telling YOUR story in a compelling manner that will make recruiters and hiring managers want to call and find out more about your story (achievements and your accomplishments) and what insights you bring to the table (after all; you’re the authority, and that is why you MUST market yourself to bring that to the forefront).
Just like the leaf of a book cover, it teases, but DOES NOT tell your full story!
Why Is Marketing Yourself Important?
In today’s extremely competitive job environment, it is increasingly important for each person to create a brand so that any prospective employer can easily understand who you are, what professional skills you offer, and why you are the best candidate for the position.
Those beyond entry-level positions who have a collection of experiences gleaned over the years through various assignments and have developed a variety of marketable skills. Building a marketable brand will make what you can bring to the table more easily recognizable by employers.
By marketing yourself you will highlight your skills and experiences and how you have bundled all that into a world of knowledge that your younger, less experienced competitor, cannot compete with.
This will help create the image of this…
4 Steps Using Your Age to Your Advantage:
Step 1: Identify Your Audience
Who is it that you will be talking to (outside recruiter, inside HR professional, the direct hiring manager)? Know as much as you can about whom you will meet. Will it be face-to-face, via a Zoom video chat, or on a phone call?
Construct a story that will captivate them.
Step 2: Look at Your Experiences
Make a list of your major professional and personal milestones. Brainstorm a list with 2-4 ways that these accomplishments can benefit the prospective employer. You know what you can offer, now make them WANT that offering.
Step 3: Identify Trends…and Required Skills
Your story should highlight and focus on what enabled you to learn new skills and tackle challenges. Growth can be a trend — as can any type of work, use your long list of experiences to your advantage. Read what is relevant in your field on LinkedIn — or write an article and publish it on LinkedIn
Step 4: Captivate with Strong Communication Skills
A huge advantage that you have over many young professionals that you may be competing with is that you can communicate clearly with deeper details – many younger folks grew up texting and do not have the best direct, face-to-face communication skills, and often don’t do the basics…like make direct eye contact, or properly make acknowledgments during discussions, or even hold an intelligent conversation for more than 5 or 10 minutes.
One stigma that haunts those of us over 50 is that we do not use or understand modern technology or understand the ways of today’s world. Show them you do, communicate in a way that THEY understand, and use THEIR language and methods.
Amazon has many amazing books, programs, and training materials that you can use in your job search – here are some tremendous materials and additional resources available to you at Amazon!
Is there something specific I can help you with?
This site’s success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors open.
I invite you all to share your stories of challenges and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped – so please add your comment or insight!