News Column

Branding Yourself in Times of Uncertainty

Feb. 2, 2009

Ivonne Chirino-Klevans, Ph.D., Program Director, International Programs, Walden University, for

self branding, job seekers, workplace diversity

The economic downturn has reached organizations all over the United States, causing companies across industries to struggle to keep their operations going. Consequently, jobs have become scarcer.

We see a similar scenario in different regions of the world. For example, the latest figures show that Spain is facing a 14 percent unemployment rate. This tells us that the job market is now inundated with many talented individuals who are competing for jobs at a time when fewer jobs are available even to the very talented. And just like companies try to become more competitive in their markets, we as individuals must make ourselves more competitive in the labor market. Some of the marketing strategies that organizations utilize to position themselves can be used by individuals to open up more job opportunities for themselves. Branding is one of those strategies.

Organizations have used branding to differentiate themselves from other competitors, first by identifying a brand footprint and then a branding value chain. Let's start with the idea of using a brand footprint to become more competitive in the job market. In order to create a brand footprint, it is necessary that we identify the following traits:

1. Your "Brand Attributes":
That is, descriptions of brand priorities. You can identify your brand priorities by asking yourself, "What special skills do I bring to the market that no other candidate may bring?" These skills might include the ability to work and manage virtual teams, work across cultures, or lead and motivate a team of individuals under pressure.

2. Your "Brand Personality":
How other people see you and which terms best describe your personality. These personality attributes need to be related to your skills and the position you are looking for. Examples of distinct personality attributes are being a high achiever and having a tolerance for frustration.

3. Your "Brand Essence":
This is the key issue in your interaction with the organization where want to work. You can only identify this if you understand your key differentiators from other candidates in your field. Essence is not a skill; it is what characterizes you regardless of what type of job or position you have, for example, authenticity.

4. Your "Brand Benefit":
Think in terms of cost benefit. What would a company gain, achieve, avoid, and/or increase if it hired you?

5. Your "Branding Value Chain":
What needs to happen so that the brand benefit can be realized. Think about:

-- What resources would you have to identify and utilize to notify others that you are in the job market? For example, it might mean joining professional online networks.

-- Are there any skills/certifications you need? You can only identify this if you understand your key differentiators before you become an active job seeker. For example, you might have to become certified in business coaching if you are applying for a position in human resources.

-- If you have considered changing careers, do you need to revise your values/priorities to identify a new career that is compatible with those values/priorities? And what steps do you need to take in order to change careers?

Difficult times are opportunities for growth, for making us more resilient, and for uncovering and developing skills and abilities that we did not have time to develop before. So, take advantage of these turbulent job environments and become stronger in your own profession. Sometimes it takes getting us out of our comfort zones to discover that there is always something new to learn about ourselves.

Dr. Ivonne Chirino-Klevans joined Walden University in 2005 as a professor of organizational psychology and currently serves as Program Director for the Center for International Programs. The International Management Certificate is a post-bachelor business certificate designed to give business professionals in Latin America international business acumen and English language skills.

Her extensive experience includes years of working with Fortune 500 companies in designing training and development programs and serving as Program Director for Duke Corporate Education.

Dr. Chirino-Klevans received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Universidad Iberoamericana, and also holds an MBA from Universidad de las Americas, and a Masters in Psychology from Georgia College and State University. Earlier in her career, she also served as the psychologist for the Mexican national rowing team, and contributed to the team winning a silver medal at the 1991 Pan Am Games. She herself is a Pan American games medalist in gymnastics.

Source: (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters