By Perminus Wainaina
Most of us have been taught to brand ourselves in the most unfortunate ways — for instance, by listing our “skills” or the tasks and duties we perform at work.
When you set your sights on a higher-level job, you can brand yourself for the positions you want by looking at your current role — and your entire career history, for that matter — from a higher altitude.
Instead of focusing on tasks and duties, ask yourself “What is the point of the job I’m doing now? What does my work contribute to the company I work for?” You can paint a picture in your branding. You can show us what it’s like to have you on the team!
Here’s a “Before” and “After” branding example to illustrate the concept of high- vs. low-altitude branding.
Here is a CV Summary (which could also appear on the job-seeker’s LinkedIn profile) for a fictional Office Manager we’ll call Sarah:
Seasoned Office Manager with experience supporting sales and distribution teams in the pharmaceutical industry. Oversee front desk receptionist and admin staff, support General Manager with travel arrangements, customer correspondence and event planning; create monthly reports, manage suppliers, and serve as liaison to HR, Finance and IT.
There is nothing wrong with this Summary except that it is lifeless and devoid of personality.
Sarah has used the standard sentence-fragment-based, list-of-tasks branding strategy most of us were taught.
This CV Summary makes Sarah sound like an Office Management machine — not a living, breathing person.
In this Summary, we get no sense of the real Sarah behind the job description. We can’t tell whether Sarah is smart or dull, funny or boring, creative or stodgy.
Sarah may be supremely well-qualified to step into a higher-level role, but we’d never know it from reading this version of her CV!
Let’s imagine that Sarah wants to apply for an Executive P.A job which is an upgrade.
Here’s how Sarah might rewrite her CV Summary to showcase much more of the brains, talent and personality we know she possesses:
I’m an Executive Administrator whose mission is to help a busy CEO stay on course and free from distractions. I manage my CEO’s projects and appointment calendar and work closely with clients, suppliers and team members to keep them well-informed and feeling valued.
I thrive in a fast-paced environment handling day-to-day fire-fighting along with travel arrangements, correspondence, budgeting and event planning. I’m passionate about creating smart processes to remove obstacles to my team’s effectiveness — with warmth and and a sense of humor.
What has changed in Sarah’s branding? Now Sarah tells us what the job is all about — specifically the job Sarah wants, not the job Sarah already has!
The title “Office Manager” still shows up on her CV because that’s the job she is doing now.
However, she is stepping up to a new altitude and applying for Executive P.A jobs now — and her new CV Summary finds her already comfortable in that role.
You can do the same thing. You can brand yourself for the job you want — not the job you’ve got.
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy and recruitment firm based in Westlands. He manages a team of 20 staff and has wide experience in coaching, leadership development, recruitment, and HR consultancy.