One of the best parts of my job is seeing clients be successful. Especially when their success comes as a bit of a surprise to them - unexpected or unintended success. That's what happened to Rob, one of my Brand You Boot Camp participants. What I love about his story, and why I asked him if I could share it with you, is that Rob was a bit skeptical about personal branding. You know I love a challenge!
Rob has a background in insurance. He'd done sales, underwriting and claims. But he'd been out of work for several months when he did the Boot Camp. He was getting interviews in the insurance area, but no job offers. He was beginning to wonder if he should be looking outside of his field - or worse, if he was too old and unemployable. He instinctively felt that if he could get clearer about his personal brand, he'd have a better chance at not only attracting the right opportunities, but how he presented himself during the interview process.
But there was a hitch...
Rob wasn't sure that he had a personal brand. He's not one to brag about his contribution and he uses the word "we" way more than "I." He's uncomfortable with anything that feels like self-promotion, and he was a bit skeptical that a personal brand could be non-flashy. (His first homework assignment was to come up with a list of 10 non-flashy brands. Sears, Caterpillar, Craftsman, Campbell's, Dockers' he had no problem coming up with 10.)
"All of a sudden, I had all this great content for interviews, and I'm sure I came across as more confident," Rob shared with me.
But as Rob got clearer about his professional reputation - it makes more sense for Rob to refer to his brand as his professional reputation - the light bulb went off for him. His biggest oversight had been his assumption that his professional reputation spoke for itself.
Rob is a steady, reliable professional. He joked with me that he wasn't even sure if people would remember him if he reached out to them - he's pretty low-key and unassuming. But going through the personal branding process, he got a lot of content and input about his brand. He made sure he incorporated this information into his resume and LinkedIn profile.
For example, he helped salvage two notable "lost cause" projects by leveraging strong relationships from outside resources; he has the ability to handle really challenging client situations and find a solution; and he proposed a simple (but creative) solution to an underwriting problem, which was adopted company-wide.
One of the exercises we do in the "Brand You Boot Camp" is to get clear on how your experience, skills and exposure combine in ways to help you stand out. Rob assumed, like many do (I'm talking to YOU here), that his career story was typical of most people doing his work. Was he wrong!
One of the themes that emerged for Rob is how he's an effective leader when a unifying approach is needed. He's great at getting people to work together. He's got a knack for logical, clear processes. Incidentally, he's lousy at making radical changes, including firing people. He used these themes to help craft his career story.
After he created his compelling career story, he had a really unique way of talking about his background that was totally 100% Rob. He used it when his networking contacts introduced him to others. It became the foundation for the "tell me about yourself" interview question. Rob said he actually felt more relaxed as he continued to look for work. "All of a sudden, I had all this great content for interviews, and I'm sure I came across as more confident," Rob shared with me.
No surprise, Rob recently landed a job to help lead two departments that were merged together and need to find a way to work together. The departments aren't sure what they're supposed to be doing, and there's a lot of fear and anxiety about the change.
During the interview process, Rob learned he would be replacing a manager who had lasted less than 60 days. The failed manager was a "Real go-getter. She was outgoing and very fun. She was super-creative and had lots of ideas on how to make things better." Unfortunately, she wasn't effective with the team. She created more chaos than she resolved. She wasn't what they needed. Rob is what they need. Rob and his reliable, unassuming, logical approach.