Is Your Client’s Personal Career Brand Authentic?
Ever met someone who says one thing, but acts entirely differently? How about someone who pretends to be an expert at something, but clearly is not? What about a team member who “kisses up” to the boss whenever she enters the room? Because these people don’t seem to be authentic, you may feel cautious about believing anything they say or trusting anything they do. How does this behaviour play into their personal career brand?
Some people think that a personal career brand is an image that they create for the external world. In fact, the opposite is true. Your client’s personal brand reflects how the external world already perceives him or her. An authentic brand is not something a client makes up and presents to others. Rather, it is about reaching inside and articulating what that person values and already has to offer.
Helping a client to reveal their authenticity is easier than you think. Your client’s personal brand is not about “acting” a certain way; it is about “being” who he or she truly is. Here are some tips you can discuss with your clients:
Being authentic is easy
It is much easier to lead an authentic life than to try and be someone or something you’re not. When you are allowed to be yourself, you can lead a much more peaceful existence. When you are comfortable in your own skin you tend to be happier, and this will translate into a much more enjoyable life and career.
Be who you are
Many people struggle to construct a “brand” based on what they want rather than who they are. This can be a mistake. Your personal brand is a natural outcome of your interests, talents, and achievements. You become known for what you do. Rather than trying to fit a job description, define your own strengths and differentiators. Before you ever accept a position, make sure that your passions match the organization’s goals. If your personal attributes fit the opportunity, you are much more likely to succeed in your role.
Speak in your own voice
Don’t think of your brand message as a unique and separate speech that you make up and modify for each job or opportunity that arises. Rather than changing your pitch based on what you think each person you meet wants, speak in your own voice and from your own being. If you are authentic, your message will resonate with your target audience.
Gain trust through honesty
An authentic brand is about your moral values and what you aspire to be. There is strength in truthfulness and vulnerability. Rather than making up a story about yourself, consider being honest about what you have to offer and keeping to your word. Having a sincere brand helps you create professional allies. When people know that you mean what you say, they feel more comfortable being open with you and supporting you.
Keep your promises
When it comes to your career, your personal brand is your promise to your next employer. It can differentiate you from your peers, but it also needs to be true to what you offer. Your intention should never be to deceive anyone. If you are genuine about the value you bring, your colleagues will know what you can and cannot do for them. You will not have to struggle to succeed in a role that expects something different from you.
Be open but restrained
In order to create a professional brand that is meaningful, you need to have some filters. Having an authentic brand is not about giving away everything. You don’t need to talk about your personal life. You certainly don’t need to disclose everything about yourself on Facebook or elsewhere. In fact, if you show restraint, people will often open up to you and trust you with information that they may not share with others.
Be diplomatic and kind
Your personal brand is not about your ego. Find a way to voice your personal brand message diplomatically. Nobody appreciates someone who is self-indulgent and always needs to be the centre of attention. If you are self-centred or “brutally honest” in your messaging, you will harm your relationships and your brand. So when you craft your brand statements, consider how others will receive them.
Embrace your weaknesses
In order to be authentic, you need to self-reflect. Have an honest conversation with yourself. Don’t just identify your personal and professional strengths. Figure out areas that are weaknesses. You don’t need to feature your weaknesses, nor do you have to pretend they don’t exist. When people get to know you, they will figure out your weaknesses — and that’s okay. Accept your weaknesses for what they are and you’ll be able to work towards improving them.
Let your brand evolve
You don’t need to force the development of your personal brand. Your brand is constantly evolving — just as you are. As you progress in your career, you will develop new interests, talents, and achievements. As you infuse authenticity into your brand, it will also naturally evolve. People will soon learn that you always “walk the talk.” As your career develops, you will gain immense admiration, respect, and support from everyone you encounter.
Want to learn more about how you can become a more authentic career professional?
Review Career Professionals of Canada’s Code of Standards and Ethics. Then, complete CPC’s next Career Development Foundations Certificate Course. Our full course schedule can be found at CareerProCourse.ca.
Sharon Graham is founder and executive director of Career Professionals of Canada. Committed to setting the standard for excellence in the career development profession, Sharon has authored top selling paperback publications and textbooks, and has established a range of certification, professional development, community development, mentoring, and award programs. As executive director of CPC, she provides foresight and leadership within the sector and ensures that the mandate of this national organization is upheld with integrity.