Book Review: Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand (William Arruda & Kirsten Dixon)

Looking for a thorough book on the emerging subject of personal branding?  If so, you’ve found one, as this work by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixon is packed with detailed checklists, creative ideas, and compelling examples that showcase the power of applying corporate marketing and branding concepts to one’s own career.  The book is so comprehensive, in fact, that we couldn’t help wondering aloud when we finished it: “geez, does anybody actually do all of the stuff this author suggests?”

All skepticism aside, however, this book certainly leaves no stone unturned in its attempt to show people just how aggressively they could promote themselves–and their capabilities–if they were willing to invest a considerable chunk of their life to this purpose.  After first presenting a series of impassioned arguments for why “standing out from the crowd” has become essential to career success in the changing, attention-deprived job market, the authors move on to offer some quality advice (including an assessment test) to help people identify their unique strengths and differentiators.  Once this foundation is laid, they then shift to the execution portion of the equation, delivering a number of chapters outlining the different methods that individuals can use to trumpet their key strengths effectively throughout the land.  Revolutionary stuff?  Not necessarily, since much of this material has been floating around the web for years, but you’ve got to give the authors credit for assembling it all in one convenient place!

Like many of our favorite books, too, the authors share some original and thought-provoking ideas on where the entire world of work might be heading in the future.  In the section that discusses how to drive one’s personal branding message across the on-line spectrum, for example, the authors pose the chilling but tantalizing question “If you don’t show up in a Google search, do you even exist?”  Clearly, the literal answer is no.  But in the sense of “existing” as a job search candidate, and becoming noticed by recruiters and employers, the answer might be skewing increasingly to the contrary!  In fact, the authors even provide a mathematical formula they claim reveals the number of accurate, relevant Google “hits” a professional should be able to find on themselves in this day and age — but since it’s pretty detailed, we won’t steal their thunder.  You’ll have to read page 122 of the book to see for yourself!

In closing, while we recommend this book for anybody interested in the career management field, or who may be pursuing a career path where cyber-visibility is an indispensable part of success, we’ll confess our belief that personal branding (at least the no-holds-barred version) is still a bit bleeding-edge for most working adults — and that as a substitute, people can practice an old-fashioned method which can be summed up as: “strive to be very good at what you do — and people will notice!”

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