Why New Immigrants Must Personally Brand Themselves?

Guest Blog Post by Paul Copcutt

“The great news about personal brands is that everyone already has one. The key is understanding what that brand is and communicating it to the people that need to know” – Paul Copcutt

To many new immigrants to North America or Europe the whole concept of personal branding can appear not just alien but perhaps offensive. Whilst in North America and to a lesser extent in parts of Europe, personal branding has been around as a concept for more than 10 years, it has only been in the last few that it is being accepted as a legitimate and in some cases critical part of job searching and career management.

As a new immigrant you have to put yourself in the mind of the average hiring manager, someone who has likely grown up with the whole concept of brands, watched far too many commercials and made buying decisions all the time based on the influence of advertising and brands. To brand yourself like a pair of sneakers or a cereal packet might seem false or even simple, but it makes absolute sense particularly in a consumer driven societies. Also be mindful that this is now a global market, so the exposure goes much further than ever before.

Think for a moment about brands that have had an impact on you.

What was that brand?

What was the situation that made you consider or interact with that brand?

How was the experience?

What did that experience cause you to do about that brand?

What are the words that you associate with that brand?

What feelings did you have?

The experience that you had with that brand might have been negative (poor taste, bad service, broken down) or positive (really reliable, great image, positive reaction from others), but that exposure has left a lasting impression with you and now every time you are exposed again to that brand the same words and feelings (emotions) come back.

An employer is looking for the same when they consider you (read your resume, experience your brand in an interview) for a position and then continually as you perform the job they hire you for (buy your brand and feel good about their decision).

This approach very likely is not something you are familiar with, or even comfortable. You may have grown up in a culture where to ‘push’ yourself forward on to or in to something would be seen as rude or arrogant.

Do not worry – you are not alone.

Even for new immigrants coming from other consumer driven societies have found this form of marketing yourself a very ‘north americanised’ way of doing things.

There are certainly many examples of people who are ‘branding’ themselves in ways that appear in bad taste, that is not what is being suggested here. Personal branding is NOT about trying to be someone you are not, presenting a false image or spinning a message that is a lie.

Personal branding is giving you permission to be yourself, highlighting the skills and strengths that make you unique and effectively showcasing them in a way that feels natural to you and is received positively by the people thinking of hiring you.

Understanding your personal brand

Here are some steps for you take to understand and communicate your personal brand for job search success:

1. Identify your strengths either using self analysis, former employer feedback or assessments such as Strengthsfinder.

2. Ask a group of people who know you – friends, relatives, colleagues, managers – what their perceptions are of you.

a. What words would they use to describe you?

b. What strengths do they think you have?

c. What weaknesses do they think you have?

From that look to identify common themes that you can highlight in career marketing documents such as resumes and cover letters as well as in any other form of communication including elevator speeches and at interviews.

3. Consider the role you are applying for and who else might be competing for that job. What are the elements that you have and they will have too? What is that you offer that perhaps others will not possess? Make sure you are communicating those differences throughout your application.

4. What do you know about who you are applying to? What are they looking for in someone for the role that you are best suited for?

5. Can you capture in an easy to understand phrase or few sentences a culmination of all the above points?

e.g. I use my (strengths) to help (hiring manager/company) effectively (what your job role does) by (your unique differences).

Communicating your personal brand

Once you have a clear brand statement you can then focus on communicating it in a way that feels genuine and comfortable to you. Identify the various ways that people can be communicated to and choose the ones where you come across most effectively and that can reach the hiring managers you need to impress.

The critical part of communicating a personal brand (apart from being clear and authentic) is to work at sending that message in a consistent way, regardless of how it is communicated and to be sure it is being done on a regular basis.

Identify what you want to be known for and then set out a plan that ensures you are getting that theme or themes out to the people who know. Be sure to try several methods in different ways at different times – do not feel you are bothering someone or over communicating, people are busy and are influenced by many different messages every day so it might take more than a few times for you to get noticed.

Living your personal brand

Once you have been noticed it is critical that you deliver on what you have been saying is your brand. Every interaction that a potential hiring manager has with you has to re-enforce their perception of the brand they have been hearing about. You cannot afford to disappoint them, if you do they will move on to the next candidate.

Again consider how you want to stand out from other candidates they may be looking at, pick a way that again reflects who you are but is also memorable. Sometimes leveraging your nationality or culture can be very effective for example and in a multi-cultural country, global experience and understanding of others is seen as a positive employee skill.

Also when you finally get to interact in person there will be a number of pre-conceived thoughts about you and your brand – again ensure that your image, behavior and actions all reflect the brand what you have communicated and want to be known for.

A word of caution

On occasion what is looked for in a candidate by the employer is not something you are able to offer, or sometimes it becomes evident that your brand and their expectations are not a match. When you are very enthusiastic about getting employed and starting your career in a new country it can be tempting to adjust your brand to suit what they are looking for, try to resist this. If you end up getting hired, the brand that you communicated is not actually you, that means the employer is expecting that person to turn up at work every day. Whilst that can be sustained for a while, trying to be someone you are not every day will get tiring and ultimately frustrating and both you and the employer will be unhappy with their decision.

Take the time to find an organization that hires you for the skills, strengths and experience that you offer and it will be a great match.

In summary

You are embarking on a whole new exciting episode in your life and career. Personal branding is the perfect way for you to communicate and convey the person that you are and leverage all that is great about you.

Not only will personal branding give you a formula for success for your job search, but is also something that you can then apply to your new job so that your success can be continued and ultimately your career can be advanced in a way that remains true to who you are but is presented in a way that resonates in your new country.

Embrace who you are, celebrate your uniqueness, communicate your value.

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Brief Profile
Paul Copcutt, Personal Brand Architect, is based in Canada and is a much sought after international speaker and coach who uses real client stories and practical application to support successful people to get clear about their own uniqueness.

You can find out more at http://www.paulcopcutt.com/ or for more personal branding tips and thoughts at http://paulcopcutt.typepad.com/just_my_toonies_worth/
 
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