If you’re in the job market and apply for a position, what will make you stand out from the crowd? Did you ever consider that you could differentiate yourself through branding, just like companies do?
Branding is not new: livestock owners have used branding – and red-hot irons — for centuries to identify stray livestock easily. Corporations have ditched the irons but kept the concept, differentiating their products to attract customers. The best branding identifies a quality that appeals to people’s emotions. For example, Mentos� sells a mint-flavored candy that has ingredients similar to competitors. If the company were to brand its product as “mint-flavored candies,” where do you think it’d be today? Non-existent, likely! Instead, the company tags its products with a memorable slogan that emphasizes a benefit people can relate to: “The Freshmaker.” It’s not merely candy anymore. There are thousands of similar examples of companies that have used branding to differentiate themselves, especially in markets where real differences are not very great. Some examples include Burger King�, whose “Have it Your Way�” slogan gives the impression that despite its fixed menu, customers can state their preferences, unlike arch rival McDonald’s�; Avis�, whose now legendary “We try harder�” slogan created instant customer affinity when it challenged the Hertz� “We’re #1”;
You can apply the same kind of branding to make an unforgettable impression of your own. To treat yourself like a brand, focus on YOU: identify the key characteristic that provides your “customer” – the prospective employer – with a reason to take a second look at you. What work do you do best? What do you have that others lack? Don’t think that flaunting your specialty is immodest: after all, when you think about the various things you know how to do well, nobody does them better than you!
Some examples of ways to brand yourself
*A programmer who can find bugs and “fix” them quickly can be called “the bug zapper.” It may sound whimsical, but prospective employers will remember that programmer, because she differentiated herself.
*A telemarketer whose melodious intonations keeps people on the phone can call himself “the million-dollar mouthpiece.”
*A technical writer who can write user manuals under tight deadline schedules can say: “I write with the speed of light” or “I get it deadline right.”
Melinda was looking for a job as a marcom coordinator, after having worked in customer support. She realized that her excellent organizational experience was a compelling draw for her services. Melinda redid her cv, emphasizing this skill, and wrote a cover letter, saying: “I’m in the detail business.” She got the job.