By Michael D. Brown
We have all been weathering an “economic tsunami” for the past several years, and although it appears the worst part of the storm is behind us, the seas have hardly calmed. The unemployment rate hovers around 8 percent for unemployment and around 18 percent for underemployed. Companies and organizations are still in pain (they want to deliver exponential growth to the top and bottom line) but they are only willing to invest in a fresh and proven branded product (YOU) with a track record of delivering results- if you are not in this category you will not be the sought after solution provider.
In today’s competitive, roller coaster world, you’re either a distinct and competitive brand or an extinct generic. In order to survive, prosper and achieve great success you must become a distinct and competitive personal brand (yes, you need to become a personal brand). It is when you develop this brand that you will be able to deliver the experience that people are willing to invest the time and money it takes to recruit, hire, promote train and pay an employee in a high-skill, high-wage job.
There are still great opportunities for unemployed and underemployed individuals to improve their personal, professional and economic situation by mastering the formula 4P’s + 3W + 1FP and standing out. Failing to master this formula will render you generic and receiving anemic to no attention, opportunities or investment. The proven formula to standing out and be the chosen solution provider is 4P’s + 3W + 1FP.
- Product – Prepare yourself for a new/better job through professional development (continued education, research, networking, and so forth). Ensuring you have a branded product (you) that is fresh and relevant for today’s marketplace and or customers.
- Price: Sell your value to prospective/current employers – it’s not about how great you are, but how great you can make the person or entity purchasing your branded product. Not knowing and successfully selling your value with conviction can result in a Ramen Noodle compensation package.
- Placement: Aspire for the right job – to truly build a brand and a rewarding career, you need to select jobs that you can be passionate about and one that helps you reach your goals and dreams. Cleary understand the market and company you want to work in and place your branded product (you). Remember selling great beef at a vegetarian convention is useless.
- Promotion: Devise a plan to get the word out about the great you – your branded product. Be sure to promote your brand in places, environment or events where the prospective buyers are most present.
The 3 W’s
Now that you understand the critical 4P’s that are needed to begin erasing unemployment and underemployment by becoming a branded product– let’s answer the critical question – how do I begin to create and or enhance by brand? The solution for accomplishing this is the 3W’s
- Who – Who is my target audience? What company or organization do I want to work for? Who are my target customers? Do I really know my current employer?
- What- Now figure out what the needs, wants, desires, aspirations, strategies and goals of your target audience. What are there pain points? What does success look like for the company or organization?
- Why- Why me? What am I am able to competitively do to solve their problems and pains? What am I able to do that will deliver a return greater than anyone else? Why should they hire and invest in me and what will they get in return?
Closing the Gap and standing out – The 1FP
Now it’s time to perform a skills assessment and gap analysis on your product (you). Will my skills, background, education and expertise provide a competitive solution to the identified, goals, aspiration and “pain” of the company or organization? Am I considered the freshest and best in the marketplace? Would I be considered the undisputable candidate of choice? Will my past results, skills and background make me the undisputable candidate for a promotion, lateral promotion or exponential increase? Answering these questions should render a few areas that you can develop and or enhance to make you the freshest and undisputable branded product that employers and or customers will reach to hire, invest exponentially in and promote.
The critical part of the formula to helping you develop and or enhance your brand is to ensure you have a product (you) that is fresh, competitive and sought after. You can’t deal with pricing, placement or promotion until you have a fresh, relevant and competitive branded product (you) first. It’s often the missing link between ending unemployment and underemployment. I call this part of the formula 1FP (Fresh Passion). So let’s look at the 1FP as it’s the proven solution to developing, closing the gaps and enhancing your brand.
The Freshest Candidate Wins the Job
“Fresh” means doing something every day to enhance your brand so that it stays fresh – keeping your skills sharpened, packaging yourself well. It’s no secret that employers do not have much time or budget to train new hires. Therefore, if you can come through the door already up to speed on the latest practices, strategies and trends happening in your chosen field and/or role, that gives you a huge competitive edge over other candidates who may need some “fine tuning.” Having a fresh brand also means generally being familiar with the latest technologies and methodologies occurring in business today – you probably won’t have a personal assistant, so you should know how to create an interactive presentation all by yourself!
Prepare Yourself for a New/Better Job
“Preparing yourself” means continuing your education through classes, professional development, building and contributing to formal and informal networks, and simply maintaining an active intellectual interest and knowledge capital in your career and your life. Jobs are scarce and only the most qualified candidates are getting so much as an interview. Once you get that interview, you will find that your competitors also have impeccable educational and professional pedigrees, know lots of influential people, know how to engage in lively and interesting conversation, etc.
So preparation will make you stand out even in this rarified group. Do extensive research on the company you are applying to, and if possible to the person/people who will be conducting the interview, and then display the knowledge you have gained through insightful questions (when asked to give them, as you surely will be) and conversational points. Well-prepared candidates always impress interviewers, because they believe usually that meticulousness carries over to the job.
Aspire to the Right Job
The temptation exists in today’s tight labor market to jump at any job that is available. But this is a mistake, especially for currently (under-) employed individuals. To truly build a brand and a rewarding career, you need to select jobs that help you reach your goals and dreams – your aspirations. Your entire brand should be built around your aspiration, whether it is to be the world’s best salesperson, a successful journalist, or a developer of world-class technology. Jobs that don’t match your aspiration will leave you frustrated, detract from and dilute your brand image, and generally prove counterproductive in the long term.
Staying Laser-focused on Your Brand
“Staying laser-focused” means intently focusing on each area of Fresh PASSION, otherwise you’ll miss the mark and not deliver your brand. While searching for a job you must constantly focus on all the areas of Fresh PASSION, or you will find yourself stumbling through interviews for jobs you may not even want, resulting in other, more focused candidates obtaining the jobs that would have been perfect (and obtainable) for you.
Selling Your Value to Prospective Employers
Let’s face it, job applications and interviews are sales pitches. You are trying to prove the unique value your personal brand brings to an employer who hires you. You must constantly sell yourself, your value, and how you can make things easier for those who hire or do business for you. A huge mistake many candidates make is focusing on why they are so great and how much they have accomplished. It’s not about how great you are, but how great you can make the person or entity purchasing your brand. Today’s employers are looking for team players that sacrifice for the greater good of the company, not egomaniacs looking to bathe themselves in glory.
Invigorating Yourself for a Long, Challenging Search
“Invigorating yourself” means having the tenacity and discipline to go the distance and secure your personal and professional success. Even for candidates with outstanding personal brands, the reality of searching for a job today means you will probably have to apply to numerous positions, attend many networking events, talk to everyone you know, and sit through three, four or even five interviews and still not be guaranteed of getting the job. And if you currently hold a job, you cannot let all this effort affect your work performance or you risk damaging your brand. So remember to always stay invigorated and never lose faith in your ability to persevere and overcome – fan the flame within and catch on fire!
Omit the Negative
“Omitting the negative” means learning from the inevitable negative experiences you will encounter during your job search without dwelling on them or letting them consume the valuable real estate in your head – you have so much more ahead of you! You may encounter rude or hostile interviewers, be promised a job only to have it pulled away at the last second, or be kept waiting for months to hear a final decision. And well-meaning friends and relatives may consul you to accept the fact that the economy stinks and things are out of your control (underemployed folks are especially likely to be told “just be happy you have a job at all.”) Others who have given up in the face of difficult times will do their best to drag you to their level. Remember” tough times do not last, tough people do.
Nailing the Brand Secures the Job
And last but surely not least, “Nailing the brand” means successfully packaging your substance (your core) up and putting a bow on it so that you become a fresh brand that can successfully compete and WIN, even in this difficult job market. Think of nailing the brand as like following through on a baseball swing – it can make the difference between a single (getting an unsatisfactory job for the sake of having a job) and a home run (getting the job you really want that offers advancement opportunity, professional and personal growth and exceptional pay). When you walk through the door for a job interview, prospective employers should immediately realize you are someone who can provide them exponential value. Nailing the brand will let them know who you are and what you bring to the table. Otherwise your interview will probably be over before it begins.
Michael D. Brown is a globally recognized authority on customer service leadership for developing this customer service strategy that delivers to the frontline and three levels up in the user’s organization. This work was later turned into the best-selling book Fresh Customer Service—Treat the employee as #1 and the customer as #2 and you will get customers for life. Website: http://www.myfreshbrand.com
Fresh PASSION: Get a Brand or Die a Generic is available for purchase from www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and through all major booksellers