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Your Own Personal Brand, Part I: Authentically You

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Two people I coach, one a woman, the other a man, have recently emailed me saying essentially the same thing: "I need a job; attached is my CV/resume. Could you please send this to your contacts? Thanks!"

Now, although I am a coach, and I do have a lot of contacts, the only question worth asking in this situation is, "Why should I help you?" Or better yet, "How the hell can I possibly help you?" Meanwhile, all of the busy HR managers and executives on my contact list would, if I sent them these two resumes, rightfully ask, "Why should I take a look at their CVs? Why should I even meet them for a coffee?"

For job seekers, such questions are vital because overworked managers at large corporations such as Siemens or Google can only spare around 35 to 45 seconds to scan your CV and cover letter. Equally busy HR officers, confronted with stacks of CVs numbering from 20 to 800, depending on the position and the company, often see their job as one of filtering out applicants and reducing that pile rather than searching for the perfect candidate.

Thus, the key question for job seekers remains: why should anyone have a coffee with you? "Because my qualifications match the job description perfectly!" reply some. "Because it's my dream job!" assert others. "My vast experience," maintain still others, "is exactly what the company is looking for!" And they have a point -- the right qualifications, experience and passion are all important. But in today's intensely competitive job market, where the candidate pool -- Russian IT specialists, Indian managers, Egyptian engineers, Chinese mathematicians -- are global, these qualities, possessed by all of the most attractive job seekers -- are not enough to induce someone to sit down and share a cup of coffee with you.

To achieve this modest yet essential goal, the winning element is your own personal brand. Think about it. What do you do before buying a new product? Whether it's a book, a bottle of wine or a tube of toothpaste, you read the label informing you how this product stands out from the competition because of what it offers you -- improved taste, an essential source of information, etc., -- some quality that will enhance your performance or your life.

Similarly, managers who are confronted with hungry job seekers squawking, "Choose me!" will hear above the din those voices proclaiming, "I have something special to offer you. I can add value to your company." Such people know their brand.

Your brand is your unique and special skills, talents and know-how that raise you above the swarming masses of job seekers. Perhaps your talents are languages or creativity, social media research experience or pro-active listening skills. It is something real, something not only contained in your CV but also in your heart and soul. It is authentic. And it is something you can offer potential employers to help them achieve their classic goals: reducing costs and increasing revenue.

Your brand is no place for modesty (but not boastfulness). Do you buy a product labeled, "not bad" or "okay"? Or do you purchase the one using vocabulary such as, "excellent," "superior," "extensive," "quality enhancing"? -- which are exactly some of the words you should utilize when describing your skill set and experience. Your claims, however, must be true. If you lie, you'll soon be found out and fired.

Nothing succeeds like being yourself; nothing fails like falsity. Your own personal brand is exactly that: you -- lovely, authentic you.