Sunday, November 27, 2011

Standing Out in the Crowd: Creating Your Brand Statement: Part II - Core Competencies

In previous posts about the importance of a personal brand, we concentrated on how to create a personal brand using web tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Now it’s time to create your own personal brand statement. A brand statement will help your cover letter or resume stand out from thousands of others! In the next several blog postings, I will share information with you taken from leading personal branding expert and career advancement coach, Robert Allen Paul, and his “Company Of One” presentation at Buena Vista University. I would recommend his valuable message to every student. (Part I: Your Brand.) Part II: Core Competencies:

What do you do? What you do is best explained as a summary of your accomplishments. Just as on a resume, you skip the list of responsibilities and lead with accomplishments instead. If you think you haven’t done much yet, you need to change the way you think about what you’ve done – shift your perspective!

Defining your professional core competencies is all about discovering your personal strengths; you need to look beyond what you’ve done in school. Consider everything you’ve done in the rest of your life – college and childhood - what other people think you do well. Those things form the foundation of your core competencies.

Are you a sympathetic listener? A great planner? Well organized? A master at getting others to do what you want? There are professional applications for all these personal aptitudes. Think of several things you do well. Ask others who know you what they think. What do your friends and family see as your personal strengths? How about your professors, counselors, or advisors? Now just identify the common denominators.

Are you hearing your strengths as “you always get your work in on time, or early” or “you have odd ideas” or possibly “you seem to like to argue”? Whatever the common denominator might be, consider it a core competency. Regardless of what your personal skill turns out to be, you can turn it into a professional talent. And no matter what your talent may be, there are hundreds of employers who would love to put it to work. Change “odd ideas” into “a talent for delivering unexpected results”. If you like a good argument, then say you have a talent for critical thinking. If you usually beat deadlines, then you have a talent for exceeding expectations.

Discovering your core competency not only provides you with some personal direction, but some professional confidence, too. So, start making a list of all your strengths and successes, and then look for the common denominator. Once you’ve done that, there’s only one thing left to do: Pick one. But only one.

Focus. It’s critical that you focus your core competencies on a single business category and then do everything you can think of to own it. No matter how many things you do –or how well you may do them –people are likely to recognize you for only one.

You can’t be all things to all people. And when you try to promote yourself as a jack of all trades, you come off as the king of none. People (including employers and recruiters) have very specific needs; they don’t want generalists, they need specialists. So, if you want them to believe you can actually solve their problem, then you’re going to have to focus on it. The real impact of focusing on one core competency isn’t exclusion; it’s inclusion. Summarizing your key talent helps everyone who can really use it find you and add you to their list of candidates.
Make that list of achievements and accomplishments; of personal strengths and skills and successes. Then make a note of any common denominators that might point to a central theme. Are you an instigator or instructor? A promoter or problem solver? What seems to happen with projects or positions you make your own?

In 20 words or less, write down what you do - I have a talent for (so the next word should be some sort of active verb like “developing,” “helping,” “creating,” “delivering). Write down a number of different summary sentences. Read them aloud and think about what they really say. Whatever you decide will be fine – as long as it is clear and concise and true.

Next up: Creating Your Brand Statement – Brand Attributes

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