How To Dodge These 8 Personal Branding Mistakes That Job Seekers Make

Nothing is more frustrating than working harder and longer than everyone else in the office only to be passed up for new opportunities.

If that’s happened to you, then you just might have made one of these eight personal branding mistakes. Learn about them here and get the promotion you deserve.

Thinking a Reputation for Hard Work Is All You Need

You can work hard all you want, but people need to see what you’ve done if you want to make career progress. Getting eyeballs on your work isn’t about doing a good job on its own—you need to put your work where the right people will see it.

It’s not cheating or dishonorable to promote yourself strategically. Touting your own work with tact is both a staple of personal branding and the new norm for career advancement.

It’s a competitive job market out there, and employers won’t go out of their way to comb through the details of everyone’s resume.

Being a truly hard worker is great for personal branding, but being known for that alone just makes you a workhorse. Wouldn’t you rather be known as a technical expert, a leader, or just plain talented? You’ll only develop a positive reputation if the right people see your accomplishments.

Don’t become someone else’s workhorse—become indispensable to success by highlighting your accomplishments outside of late work hours.

Assuming People “In the Know” Understand Your Purpose Already

You still need to explain why you do what you do to people who should “get it” right off the bat.

Building a personal brand includes explaining what you do to a growing audience, but most of that audience won’t have the experience or skill to understand exactly what you do.

Cut out the industry jargon from all personal branding channels, which includes these:

● Talking with other teammates
● Writing reports for your supervisor
● Communicating with clients
● Writing internal communication materials

Don’t assume that you only need to cater to people who already speak your language. Instead, distill your message into the essence of “why,” “how,” and “what” for people who lack your expertise.

Those people could include bosses, executives, clients, or referrers in your network—and they all hold some kind of value for your career development… if you can communicate your value to them clearly.

Broadcasting Too Many Messages at Once

The human mind only remembers one or two main points from any given encounter. It’s called “gist-based memory.” What does that mean for advancing your career?

It means that good personal branding will keep you in people’s minds for a while… but great personal branding will keep you alive in people’s minds for a specific purpose.

Pick a single purpose (and/or area of expertise) and emphasize it in every conversation.

Don’t be a life coach, a programming wizard, and a legal expert all at once. People won’t remember exactly what you do, and you’ll fade from memory (at best). The competing messages will cancel out each other.

At worst, branding yourself with multiple “hats” could backfire. Professionals can spend their entire lives practicing one of those areas without becoming the best in their field. Don’t expect people to believe you’re great at everything.

Focus on one purpose for your branding, one process to further that purpose, and one result that people can expect after working with you.

Skipping the Hard Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask high-level questions during interviews and networking events. It shows that your thought process starts with goals in mind before diving into details—and that alone will set you apart from 90% of the room.

Shying away from the “hard,” high-level questions also cuts off worthwhile business discussions at the knees. You could be missing out on tangible opportunities for advancement by playing things too safe.

Inquiring about others’ business goals and strategies lets them talk about what’s important to them (incredibly useful for establishing personal relationships, by the way), and frames everything else you want to talk about as a solution for their problems.

Adopt a personal brand that puts others first with thoughtful questions.

Worshipping “The Hustle” Without a Strategy

Selling yourself as an “always on” professional doesn’t score as many points as it used to.

For one, being attached to your inbox means that you’ll never give anything or anyone else your undivided attention—and people will pick up on that right away. Why would a hiring manager bother with someone like that when a dozen other people are lined up for a job?

Professional burnout no longer holds the same kind of taboo status that it did 15 years ago either, giving you some room to talk about topics outside of business. No one’s immune to it, and you don’t need to cover up personal interests with workaholism.

Communicate interests outside of work, and express enthusiasm for others’ interests as well. Besides, travel and hobbies reinvigorate us in ways that inboxes don’t.

Let your human side complement your personal brand rather than shying away from it altogether.

Focusing Only on Reputation Management (Damage Control)

Many people think that limiting their public exposure works best in case they accidentally post something on social media that a future employer wouldn’t like.

Keeping your personal brand clean should go without saying, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay in the shadows until something goes wrong. Frankly, treating your personal brand like a fire that needs to be extinguished won’t open doors in the short term or the long term.

Build your brand proactively instead. You don’t need to publish a blog every week, but you can do small things to build your brand at a steady pace:

● Provide productive, insightful comments on LinkedIn posts.
● Email acquaintances with articles, saying “I saw this and though you might like it.”
● Attend networking events once every month or two.

Eventually you will become a known, trusted entity on your network’s radar with a reputation for being active, driven, and thoughtful. That’s the kind of brand you want to develop.

Ignoring How Everyone Else Sees Your Brand

Don’t discount the opinions of non-experts for your personal brand. They’re the ones you need to impress at some point down the line.

Getting advice from people outside of the groups you want to impress is actually a benefit in disguise. Most people you need to convince won’t walk in the same professional services as you.

Leverage these industry outsiders to get a fresh perspective on your brand. That kind of communication will open doors to new opportunities for your career.

Don’t make these mistakes with your own personal brand. Talk to our experts at the Career Path Group to build your brand with confidence.

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