Personal Branding: A Recruiter’s Perspective

Having just sent out the March issue of my monthly career newsletter, I was pleased to receive an immediate positive response from my good friend Jim Krouskop, a Partner over at The Laurel Group recruiting firm.  Jim had written to compliment me on some of the recent thoughts I shared on the importance of personal branding, and with his permission, I’m reprinting the comments he submitted since I think it’s always enlightening for job hunters to hear certain key concepts validated both by career coaches like myself, as well as the recruiters who sit, more or less, on the other side of the desk.

Here’s what Jim had to say on the personal branding subject — i.e. the importance of professionals getting laser-focused on their goals and working hard to identify the unique points of differentiation they can offer over other candidates:

“Your newsletter is brilliant, as usual.  I was particularly happy to see a couple of articles re: personal branding.  As a recruiter, it has to be my #1 piece of advice to candidates.  Establishing a personal brand, managing and marketing that brand is so critical in getting a seat at the interview table and also ultimately getting hired.  I see so many resumes and meet too many candidates that have not grasped this concept and established their own brand.

I am a car enthusiast, so I like to use the analogy of candidates and cars.  First, we all have to decide what kind of car we are: truck, family sedan, sports car?  It is all very similar to the functional role that we can play within an organization.  Once a candidate figures this out, they can work on polishing their unique brand (reliable, sporty, safe, economical, etc).

So many candidates do not understand that an organization will not buy a pickup truck when they are shopping for a 4-door sedan.  Yet they try to sell the truck.  They wonder why they don’t get callbacks for a Director of Marketing role when they’ve been a Product Manager, Project Manager, and Analyst in the past.  Seems so simple.  But even if candidates understand what functional role they have, it is also important to differentiate themselves and the personal stories you told about Jill, Anthea, and Janice are spot on.

The disturbing trend I am seeing now is that candidates and resumes are trying to be all things to all hiring managers, otherwise known as generalists.  Most hiring managers do not shop for all-purpose cars, they always have a specific type in mind.  The generalists in particular are destined to set themselves up for failure going after roles that they realistically do not have a chance of obtaining.  This leads to a vicious cycle of rejection and frustration, which can be avoided.  If a candidate is a fully-optioned car, they need to understand to only market the options that the prospective buyer is seeking.  The rest is superfluous.

Please continue to emphasize brand management and marketing with your clients.  It is one of the best things they can do to increase their marketability, particularly during these difficult times.  If anything, employers are becoming even more particular with their shopping, not less.”

Great input — thanks, Jim! 🙂


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