You have a reputation among the people who know you. This can either happen as an outcome of purposeful actions or accidentally. In today’s volatile workplace and socially inter-connected web, the choice of whether or not to you should manage your personal reputation is no longer an option. Projecting the right image and making the right impression is critically important to your career. The secret to success in the short term (job search) and the long term (career management) is through communicating who you are and what you do beyond your immediate circle of friends and colleagues.
Today is Job Action Day, an initiative started five years ago by Quintessential Careers. You will find expert and empowering articles, tips, and blog posts that give job-seekers information, ideas, and concrete steps that you can take to tackle your career brand. I am happy to be participating and celebrating this important topic!
Miriam Salpeter and I have put our heads together to re-name the term “personal brand.” In our experience working with job seekers, we have found that individuals do not necessarily want to be defined as a brand, don’t understand what personal branding really is, or just reject the concept all together. We have also found varying views and beliefs among career professionals around the definition of a personal brand and how “branding” applies to individuals. Some professionals go as far as to say hiring managers don’t care about someone’s personal brand. By giving the concept a new name, we hope to build a greater understanding and more acceptance for how an individual can be a brand.
We would like to introduce to you the term VIV-id. The word vivid means (according to Collins English Dictionary referenced on dictionary.com):
- forming distinct and striking mental images;
- conveying to the mind striking realism;
- remaining distinct in the mind;
- making a powerful impact on the emotions or senses,
- full of life, strong, distinct, or clearly perceptible.
When used as an acronym, it stands for Virtual Individual Verified- id. Using key words from the definition above, let’s further refine the concept behind VIV-id.
You are one of a kind. It isn’t necessarily a single skill, quality or ability that makes you appear unique. It is the combination of everything you bring to the table or the melting pot of your experiences. For example, a project manager is not distinct. However, when the project manager weaves in her diverse background in education, engineering and customer service, the message becomes more unique. It is the combination of these experiences that shape or form how this project manager approaches a situation, how she goes about solving problems, how she delivers her work and how she interacts with internal and external customers. By calling out your diverse or varied combination of skills, experience, traits, or abilities, you can create your distinction.
Emotions shape your VIV-id and your VIV-id should stir emotions. In other words, your passion for the work you do should come across in your actions and your message. Equally important is how you make people feel when they interact with you. When you communicate in writing or in person, what is the emotional imprint you leave? Your awareness and ability to read the emotions of other people and manage your interactions are key factors in determining personal success. People are much more likely to remember someone they like over someone they feel no emotional attachment to.
Everyone needs to understand your VIV-id, not just industry colleagues. When you communicate your VIV-id, it must be simple enough so that just about anyone will know what you are talking about. However, don’t confuse simple with general. Be as specific as possible. One of the best ways to convey a message is through stories. Use carefully selected stories to support your VIV-id. These stories can be told in summaries, “About” pages or in bios. Your VIV-id should also be recognizable outside of your current company. Being clearly perceptible also pertains to being known in your industry, community and beyond.
Authenticity is important. Your VIV-id cannot be a façade. It needs to accurately reflect who you truly are. People often say they can spot a fake when they see one. Your style and your personality, yes, even the quirks, shape this element of your identity. To be real, your thoughts, words, and actions need to be aligned and sincere. But don’t stop there. Real also means that your VIV-id has a place in the real world. You have tested it and validated there is a need for your VIV-id.
You want to be remembered and for the right things. When people read what you’ve written or see what you’ve said online, what will they remember? All of the elements mentioned above play a role in making your VIV-id memorable.
Build Your Impression with Awareness and Purpose
As you can see, your VIV-id is complex. This is why it is so difficult to summarize or condense it into a bio, tagline or branding statement. Luckily, it isn’t just what you say about yourself that leaves an impression. Your actions determine and support your VIV-id online and in real life too. Be purposeful and thoughtful about how you interact with others.
Start a buzz by sharing this post and use the hastag: #JAD2012. Please, visit Quintessential Careers for great insight, ideas and information on career branding!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.