To Be Differentiated, Blend Personal and Professional

Many job seekers—your competitors—have been advised by friends or career counselors to hide the personal dimensions of their personal brands.

Job seekers are admonished to set their Facebook settings high so others cannot look over the wall. Some Twitter newbies protect their tweets so strangers cannot follow them. Too many job seekers have been programmed to fear the unknown evil lurking in the shadows of the Internet.

Here’s your opportunity to differentiate yourself! The more your competitors hide themselves, the greater advantage you have to establish your brand. By being transparent and open, you can stand out from the herd.

For any job opening, you’ll likely compete with dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of people who have work histories, job titles and career accomplishments very similar to yours. From the vantage point of a prospective employer, it looks as if everyone was shaped by the same cookie cutter.

How can you stand out from those who naively believe they can effectively sell themselves in a one-dimensional way? One effective method is to be real. Show others that you are a real, multifaceted person. Show others the splendor of your multidimensional brand.

If you present only your professional persona—as impressive as it might be—you are branding yourself too shallowly. Our 2.0 world requires authenticity and transparency. Being authentic and transparent will definitely help you differentiate yourself and your brand.

People like doing business with people they know, or at least with people who present themselves as real-life human beings. A resume or even a LinkedIn profile is usually a sterile, sanitized description of one facet of your brand. Seldom does a resume portray you as a real, multidimensional person.

You need every available tool—including social media—to differentiate yourself in a crowded job market. Others may be afraid of using social media to reveal who they are personally. Their trepidation can work to your advantage. Their timidity gives you a great branding opportunity.

You can differentiate yourself by presenting yourself as a real person, not just a professional silhouette. You can differentiate yourself by opening up, by being real and by being transparent.

Deliberately look for opportunities to blur the lines that separate the personal and professional compartments of your life.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH

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2 Responses to To Be Differentiated, Blend Personal and Professional

  1. Your PR Chick says:

    Interesting article Duane. I admit, I’ve always gone the other direction with my job interviews, etc. But then, perhaps I have so much personality it just seeps out thru the cracks. Perhaps you could write your next article on some specifics, the do’s and don’ts of branding yourself in social media?

    • Duane Hallock says:

      Jill, you already do a great job of branding yourself personally and professionally. You are one of those cool people who is already authentic and transparent, and that attitude seeps through the cracks.

      Interestingly, when I presented this workshop several weeks ago to university students from all across the country, this was the one area where they felt most uncomfortable. They pushed back at the idea they might have to reveal something personal about themselves to a prospective employer. It has been so ingrained in them by professors, parents, friends and others that their personal lives are private that they don’t know how to blend the two.

      Great suggestion on providing specific examples of how to do it right! Thanks.

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