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Aligning your personal brand with an employer brand

In "Employers Study Applicants' Personalities," the Associated Press reports on a new trend in hiring: keeping jerks out.

“Despite a labor shortage in many sectors, some employers are pickier than ever about whom they hire. Businesses….are stepping up efforts to weed out people who might have the right credentials but the wrong personality.”

Or to put it in brand terms, aligning job candidates’ personal brand with the employer brand.

Says Tim Sanders, former leadership coach at Yahoo Inc. and author of The Likeability Factor: " If you have a bunch of jerks, your brand is going to be a jerk.”

Job interviews at Rackspace, for example, are all-day events, so that interviewers can wear away “fake pleasantness” and get at the applicants’ real personality. CEO Lanham Napier says, "We'd rather miss a good one than hire a bad one."

What can you do to make sure your personal brand is aligned with a potential employer?

  1. Study your own personal brand. Develop a short list of 3-6 key characteristics that genuinely describe your personality.
  2. Put it on your resume. Put your brand characteristics on the profile section of your resume. This will allow potential employers to either choose you if you are a good fit or not waste your time by calling you in for an interview.
  3. Research potential employers. Find out as much as you can about the company that might be hiring you. Study its website; often you can learn a lot about the company’s personality from the way it presents itself online. Review its press releases; find out what kind of achievements it thinks are noteworthy. Finally, look up news about the company; what is its brand in the media? If possible, look also on sites like Vault.com to get insider information about how it treats its employees.
  4. Describe yourself according to your characteristics in person. Be ready to elucidate your personal brand to a potential employer, giving examples of how, very generally, you “live” the characteristics that you say you have.
  5. Start a professional blog if you haven’t already. Writing a blog is a good way to demonstrate to others what your personality is like. It is like an extended job interview, and you can save yourself a lot of time explaining yourself if you simply direct people to your blog as part of your resume.

Although there are arguments to be made pro and con branding yourself, if you take the time to at least understand your personality, you may save yourself a lot of time choosing the wrong employer or even the wrong profession.

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