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Saturday, December 12, 2009

What is still unanswered by the Personal Branding Movement

I learned about the notion of creating your personal brand on-line through web surfing and mainly perusing Brazen Careerist where apparently helping someone develop a personal brand can be a profession. The way that it works is one should develop a niche area of expertise and make comments, write blog posts, tweet, or other things to indicate your expertise in a certain area. The issues one faces is focusing on 2-3 key messages that reinforce that brand and resisting being a little wild on the internet by posting pictures involving jello and farm equipment with the accompanying explanation.

One reward of developing a strong personal brand is that employers will find you on the internet. Another is that when you do apply for a job, your future employer will find all of this wonderful content that shows what a strong contributor you are in the field of farm equipment and fruit flavored instant desserts.

As you can guess from the picture at the beginning of the post, I am skeptical about the notion of on-line personal branding. I think that it's really funny to bring up cows when every anyone talks about branding. By the fact that I blog under a pen name and I do not stay in one established niche shows that I don't follow personal branding 101. While my focus is on health care and MBA admissions, I indulge myself by dabbling in posts on climbing, knitting, social media, and colonoscopy and animal husbandry jokes.

The main reason for my skepticism is the one question that on-line personal branding has yet to answer. Hiring managers or recruiters can realistically spend one minute screening a candidate. Why would they spend any additional time perusing anyone's on-line brand? The real value to a recruiter or hiring manager is speed to learn specific skills or background for a specific job. Linked In works very well in that regards. Perusing the empire of a candidate's thoughts through multiple websites does not.

A recruiter will probably do a quick Google search or use the Bing. However, keep in mind that's part of the one minute spent on an application and is likely more a rule out function. The goal is to try and find out if you can write more than 2 sentences without dropping the f bomb or if you are an active contributor to Farm Animals Gone Wild (which returns 342,000 search results if anyone is interested). The search is mainly used to find a reason to exclude.

If someone indicates that their blog or website on a resume, it will get looked at. However, I felt that a partner at a public relations firm summed up the role it plays in a hiring process nicely when he said, "I looked at her blog, saw that she could put 2 sentences together and had no major typos. That showed me that she knew how to write." As you can tell, there was not a lot of time spent reading a post on the careful deconstruction of the value of Twitter.

In later rounds, someone might get asked for a portfolio, especially in certain fields. It's probably expected that portfolio will be on-line. However, a brand and a portfolio are two different things that shouldn't be confused.

Otherwise, I see this one minutes time frame as a question that branders have yet to address in all of their How-to-brand posts. What would you say in response all you career personal brand advocates and coaches?

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