Being clear about your personal brand is so important as you return to work. But what exactly is ‘personal brand’, and how can you build it? Karen, Women Returners Head of Coaching, talked to Steph, Senior Coach at Women Returners, about how to build an authentic personal brand in a recent webinar for our professional network. Karen summarises Steph’s key points below.
Personal brand is your reputation. It includes what you have to offer – your strengths, skills, experiences – and what you stand for – your values and your purpose. It’s the experience that people have when they’re with you. So ask yourself the all-important question: is how you’re perceived consistent with what you want your personal brand to be?
Having a clear and authentic personal brand is so valuable when you return to work. Being able to articulate your strengths, values, motivations and purpose can make you feel more confident, enable successful career conversations and drive decision making.
Building your Personal Brand Pyramid
Steph introduced the idea of a Personal Brand Pyramid. At the foundation lies your values. Your purpose comes above that, then your skills strengths and experience, your behaviours and image, and finally at the top your reputation which is built upon all the layers beneath it. Each layer is important and feeds into the overall experience that others have of you.
Your Values and Purpose
Knowing your own values helps you to make decisions and can become the guiding compass for your life. Sometimes, it’s hard to capture what our values are. One simple method is to reflect back on the ‘golden moments’ of your career – activities you most loved doing – and consider what made them so special.
For me, working on our podcast ‘Career Returners’ has been a real golden career moment. It has stretched me, allowed me to be creative, and enabled me to connect deeply with a number of fabulous returners! From this, it’s clear to me that growth, creativity and connection are key values to me, so I look for opportunities that enable me to live those values. If you can choose work by your values, that will lead to more contentment and achievement.
Many people struggle to identify their specific purpose. To help you uncover yours, think about the difference you want to make in the world: what is your ‘why’?
When you’re thinking about whether a role is the right one for you, coming back to your purpose and values can really help.
One element of personal brand is the strengths you can offer, so being able to articulate them in an evidence based way will be key. If you’re not clear on your strengths, you could:
- Look up past work reviews
- Speak to friends and family about what they think your strengths are
- Consider what comes naturally to you
- Reflect on your proudest achievements, both before and during your career break, jotting down what strengths were in play during those times
- Use a strengths assessment tool to help you, eg Insights discovery, spotlight, Strengthsfinder, jobmi.com, or principlesyou.com
Your Behaviours and Image
To live your personal brand from the inside out, your behaviours must match who and what you say you are. One way to demonstrate this at interview is to think about the stories you can tell. These stories can make you memorable, while illustrating your strengths, where your values come from and why they’re important to you.
Body language is important too. Smiling helps build rapport and trust, particularly in online interviews where tone and speech are often ‘flattened’ on a 2D screen. You may also want to use more hand movements to illustrate what you’re saying and become a little more ‘3D’! Do also think about your online background, ensuring the image you portray reflects the type of role you’re going for.
Other ways to express your Personal Brand
In addition to how you physically show up, your online presence can also reflect your personal brand. Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to showcase your strengths and experience in your chosen style, while your posts can reflect your interests, values and thought leadership. The activities you choose to engage in and talk about, from hobbies to volunteering, also speak volumes about your motivators and values.
So, as you return to work, remember to be clear about your personal brand. Live your values and play to your strengths in what you do and in your interactions with others. It will help build your inner confidence, consistency and trust with others.