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Personal Branding is Practical

Expat Coach Megan Fitzgerald explains why personal branding is highly practical and is the best way to accelerate a person's job search.

Sometimes an expat will come to me and say that they need a job quickly in their current location or country of choice.  After explaining my approach to building a career abroad based on personal branding, some of them tell me they are not looking for a comprehensive look at managing their career.

They tell me that personal branding sounds like a great idea, but they are trying to be "practical" or "realistic" about their situation and don't have the time for anything but getting their CV or resume in order so they can get on with their job search.

After asking some questions, I usually find that they:

- have some pretty good ideas, but are unsure what they really truly want to do;
- feel they should pursue which jobs "make sense" based on their job history rather than pursue what they are passionate about;
- are somewhat clear on what they offer but could not concisely and confidently communicate their unique value verbally or in writing;
- don't know exactly how they stand out from their competitors
- may have a few names, but are not sure who their top target employers are, where they are located, or their primary needs
- are uncertain what they would say in an interview to definitively convince an employer that they were the one for the job
- will depend solely on recruiters, online job listings and their immediate (and often underdeveloped) network to learn about jobs opportunities for which they will apply

In a nutshell - they have no specific goals, less than optimal level of self-awareness for a job search, no real commitment to professional fulfillment despite a high level of dissatisfaction in their current job, and little ability to communicate or demonstrate their value in a compelling way to their unknown target audience.

Practically speaking, how realistic is it to think that someone like that is going to be able to secure a job quickly with just an not-targeted, not particularly differentiating CV or resume? In my humble opinion - not very.

Despite common protestations to the contrary, personal branding is highly practical and is the best way to accelerate a person's job search. It is true that uncovering your personal brand can take time.  It requires self-reflection and looking at how others experience you in the world. It takes doing the research to truly understand the market and your target's needs. And it means looking at yourself and what you offer in a completely different way.

But the clarity, focus, understanding and power you get from clarifying your personal brand saves so much time, energy and frustration you would have otherwise encountered in your job search that it makes no sense not to do it.

How can personal branding can save you time and energy?

Here are just a few ways

Personal branding gives you clarity on your unique value.  This clarity equips you to better choose - based on what you value, what you are passionate about and what you have to offer - which jobs and employers are right for you (and which are not).

As a result you do not waste time or energy pursuing opportunities that are not a good fit or would end up making you unhappy. You don't spend hours sending out CVs or resumes for every job that, for example, has the words 'marketing' and/or 'director' in the title. Or hours contacting every recruiter you can find to ask for their assistance, many of whom specialize in areas not relevant to your pursuits. Or start applying for jobs in countries that are truly not going to support the personal or professional life you desire, simply because a job profile and the salary look attractive.

Focusing all of your time and energy on only those things likely to bring about optimal results will naturally get you results faster.

The process of personal branding requires setting goals. With these goals we can create an actionable plan and set priorities. Plans and priorities help us to act with intention and know that each action we take is a step towards reaching our long term goals.  They help us avoid taking action based on a perceived short term return that make actually take us off track or even thwart our efforts at achieving what we are ultimately looking to do.

And following a plan and tracking progress can keep us motivated and moving forward during the sometimes difficult job search process.

When our goals are top of mind, we are also more equipped to be proactive versus reactive in a job search. We are more likely to recognize a situation where taking action (or not taking action) in the moment could have a positive impact in the long term. Seeing how things in our daily lives can connect to our bigger picture of professional success helps us be more strategic and not miss opportunities to build or serve our network, communicate our compelling message of value, or learn about our target audience's needs.

In sum, without clear goals, it is difficult to create a map or plan of action to reach them.  Without a clear plan or map, getting from where we are to where we want to be efficiently is extremely difficult. And without goals and focus we wander - unnecessarily losing time and energy - and are relegated to being reactive as opposed to proactive. We give away our power and miss opportunities to impact real change in our careers.  


The process of personal branding not only helps you get clear on your value, but gives you the tools to communicate it effectively verbally and in written form - both on and offline. If your communications with employers and recruiters lack the power of clarity, purpose and a differentiating message, no amount of time and energy will give you the results you are looking for.

You can spend countless hours or days preparing your CV or resume, applying for jobs and waiting to hear back from employers or recruiters. Unfortunately, all of that time could be for nought without a powerfully communicated, differentiated message. Even if you are the perfect person for a job, if an employer cannot easily see in your CV or resume why you can give them what they need - why they should choose you over other applicants - they may not choose to ask you in for an interview. If this is the case, then not only was preparing application materials and applying for that job a waste of your time and energy - but possibly a waste of a precious opportunity as well.

But let's say that you do get an interview. How will you communicate your qualifications and experience in a way that is going to get you the job?  Again, without the ability to effectively communicate your unique value proposition verbally, interviews can be a waste of time and a lost opportunity.

And lastly... let's say you get an interview that leads to a job offer. It's now time to negotiate your salary. How will you communicate your value in a way that is going to motivate an employer to pay you the salary you want and deserve? Not having the ability to communicate your value effectively at this juncture could mean a significant loss of income.

Effective communication is not only crucial to an efficient job search, but is it essential for a successful one.


And there is also your network - your most powerful tool in your career management toolkit.  In order for your network to be able to help you, they need to understand your goals, how they should advocate on your behalf, and who would be the best people to connect you with. If you cannot clearly articulate these things to your network, how would they know?

It almost goes without saying that leveraging the power of your network in most cases will help you get connected to the right people faster than you could ever could on your own.

But using effective communication to empower your network also means using clear, powerful messaging to advocate FOR your network.  An important part of building your personal brand is building a network based on GIVING, not taking.  So making it your business to know how you can help others and what you can say or do to assist them is just as important.

If you are an expat entrepreneur, all of these principles still apply. Just replace the term employers with target market or prospective clients, career with business, and CV or resume with marketing materials and you can clearly see that personal branding is just as practical for those running a business as it is for the expat in the midst of a job search.

YOUR THOUGHTS? Are there other ways that personal branding is more practical than the more traditional approach to a job search?  Or do you disagree with what's been written here? Please share your thoughts.

YOUR EXPAT SUCCESS TIP: If you are in the middle of a job search, or anticipate starting one soon, consider investing time in clarifying your personal brand.

If you are ready to take your first step, email me (include in the subject line: expat success tip) and I will give you free access to an online personal branding assessment. This assessment will give you a portrait of your current professional reputation and will help you get started on your journey to understanding and communicating your unique value for more professional success.

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