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Can a strong personal brand help you land a job?

I’ve recently posted about the importance of cultivating your personal brand. ICYMI, your personal brand is the image or impression that you can establish about yourself in the minds of others so that they can easily identify what makes you unique, and what you’re considered the go-to expert or resource on. This group includes colleagues, contacts in your network, your employer or potential employers.

While I know that personal brands are important, I’m always on the lookout for new research and information. I recently came across a CBC Radio Spark episode that revealed that personal brands aren’t the ultimate predictor of career success.

The episode featured an interview with anthropologist Ilana Gershon of the University of Chicago. Gershon wrote a new book called Down and Out in the New Economy. In the interview, she explained that a shift in the relationship between employer and employee has resulted in the way that we present ourselves as “businesses” in the job search.

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Image via CBC.ca / Ilana Gershon

“We are imagining ourselves as a bundle of skills, of assets… that we’re constantly having to manage, and we’re also supposed to be continually enhancing them.”

Ilana Gershon

Gershon studied how people find work in today’s job market. I was surprised to hear that although job searchers are routinely told to work on their personal brands, Gershon found no evidence this was effective with hiring managers.

What made a difference? Sixty-one per cent of people got jobs through workplace ties and references.

Note that this study was conducted across many different industries. In certain industries (for example, PR and communications), personal brands may hold more clout and be a worthwhile investment of your time. Further, your personal brand may make an impact with others in an organization, beyond only the hiring manager.

What can we take away from this finding? Your personal brand is important. But it’s not necessarily going to be the deciding factor that gets you hired.

This confirms that there are other items to consider. For example, your connections, years of experience, skillset, understanding of the industry, education and designations play a role. Your portfolio, resume, references and interview skills are critical as well.

So, it’s beneficial to be well-balanced. Spend time thinking about and cultivating your personal brand in a way that works for you. But, also invest in the other elements of your professional and job search skills.

How do you stand out in the crowd of job seekers?

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“Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.”

What is the ‘confidence gap’ and how can it impact my career?

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Yesterday I heard an interesting interview on CBC Radio’s The Current with journalists/authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, whose new book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know, discusses their take on why the infamous glass ceiling still exists. The ‘confidence gap’ concept was developed by Kay and Shipman, and is a result of their research and interviews, which are described in the book.  They report that a lack of confidence and a high level of insecurity limits women’s progression in their careers, particularly as compared to those of men.

A part of the interview that stuck with me was when Kay and Shipman reflected on the perceptions of self-confidence held by female senior executives and seasoned politicians.  They mentioned that as Hilary Clinton was thinking of running for Senate the first time, the main barrier she faced was a lack of confidence.  She realized she was being held back by a fear of getting in the race because she might not win.

Then, a high school basketball coach in New Jersey said to her, “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.”  These simple words are what it took for Hilary Clinton to launch her political career, as she realized that the worst that could have happened would be to have lost.

After hearing the rest of the interview, I couldn’t help but reflect on Clinton’s experience and think to myself, “Would a man have had this same fear holding him back?”

Check out the full The Current interview online.  The authors have also developed a quiz you can take that will help to reveal the factors that determine confidence, as well as the links between self-esteem and confidence.  Take the quiz here.

What do you think about the ‘confidence gap’?  Does it exist?