Developing a Personal Brand for Your Job Search

An out-of-work IT infrastructure director works with a career coach to identify her personal brand and improve the effectiveness of her job search.

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Tue, February 23, 2010

CIO — For 25 years, Kim Seltzer always had a job. But Seltzer's long tenure ended last spring, when she was laid off from her job as the IT infrastructure director of financial services company IHS Global Insight (IHS).

Seltzer, though, didn't panic. "I'm a smart woman. I can figure this out. I know how to network," she thought. Figuring she didn't need professional assistance, Seltzer began her job search in earnest.

But by June, only a handful of employers had responded to her résumés, and she wasn't getting much beyond initial phone interviews. Like many job seekers, Seltzer hadn't anticipated such a tepid response from employers, given her skills and experience.

So she turned to a career coach for help in résumé writing. "It took me a few months to realize that I needed to rebrand myself and market myself differently for this marketplace," Seltzer says.

Enter Randi Bussin, a Boston, Mass.-based career coach. During their initial call, Seltzer says Bussin asked her some questions about her career goals. Bussin's questions made Seltzer realize she needed more than just résumé writing help. She signed on for Bussin's career coaching and personal branding expertise.

[ Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Career Coach ]

Career coaches have promoted personal branding as an effective way for job seekers to stand out to employers during the worst job market since the Great Depression—and for good reason. Personal branding provides job seekers with a process for identifying their unique value and the types of employers to which they'd be best suited. It helps them run more effective and targeted job searches, and it can help them tap into the "hidden job market" more easily.

In this profile, Seltzer shares how she created her personal brand and put it to work in her job search.

In Search of a Personal Brand

The first part of Bussin's personal branding process required Seltzer to home in on her career and life goals and to articulate her values and passions.

"Most of my clients who come in for personal branding help are unclear on what they want to accomplish," says Bussin. "If you don't know what your goals are, how do you know where to point your brand."

Seltzer identified short- and long-term goals that align with her values and personal and professional interests. In the short term, Seltzer wants to continue to work in IT infrastructure management. Though she's always worked for big companies in the financial services industry, she's interested in the pharmaceutical and green technologies industries, as well as startups. She says she'd like to apply her knowledge and skills to industries that impact the health and well-being of communities.

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