Personal Branding: Who You Are vs Who You Want to Portray

September 1, 2016

Every day, through actions, deeds and accomplishments you are building your personal brand. Whether that brand is negative or positive, good or bad, you are building a brand that employers will notice. 

It is not so much what you say about yourself when you are in the room, rather it is what others say about you when you are out of the room.  Who you are and how you are perceived resonates loudly over time. 

All brands, including yours, have two major attributes. They must be authentic and they must be consistent.  If not, your brand will not be trusted. 

The most important accomplishment you will attain during your college years is multiple job offers prior to the holiday break of your senior year.  That is a homerun. 

So let's look at personal branding this way:  Say you are on an interview for the job of your dreams.  It is highly sought after by others (the great roles always are), and you want it badly.  It aligns with your passion and is a great first step to launch your career. 

What do you want to leave as the lasting impression to the interviewer?  After all, virtually all campus recruiting is a screening process where the interviewer sees a broad array of candidates and develops a shortlist.  They report back to the company with what they find. 

What do you want that interviewer to say about you? What are the 5 adjectives do you want relayed about you?

Exercise: Take a moment and write down the brand you want to convey (to an interviewer).  What are the 5 adjectives that you want them to use to describe you to others in their organization? 

You can pick your own adjectives, but here's an example: "She or he was extremely well prepared for the interview, was a team player, had a tireless work ethic, is quick to learn, never quits, and seems to be fun to work with.'

That is an example of the brand that you want to convey.

Now there is another brand; the one you portray on a daily basis. What five adjectives would the following people use to describe you? 

  • Manager at your summer job 
  • Your toughest Professor 
  • Members of your last 3 work-group assignments 
  • Leadership in a campus organization that you are a member of 

That is the brand you portray on a daily basis.  It is what other would say if asked and you are not there. Is there a variance? If so, close it. 

If the brand that you want to conveyto that dream employer is in variance with the brand that you portray on a daily basis, fix it now.  Reverse engineer from the vision of what you want to become, and get to work. 

Don't forget: high school was a dress rehearsal. College is the real deal, and your brand will affect the opportunities that are about to come across your horizon. 

Good luck, now get moving, 

by Alan J. McMillan 

sculpture in front of the Thompson Center
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