It’s a Brand You World!

What strategies do successful companies use that you could borrow to elevate your career prospects? They use clever ways to let their customers know how they add great value to their lives. This is called “branding.”

Here are a few excellent examples:

• Geico’s cute little gecko saying, ““15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
• Apple offering products that not only have innovative technology but also the “cool” factor.
• Publix’s heart-warming TV spots that show how our products are incorporated into the most special family moments in our customers’ lives.

So how can you “Brand You?” How can you fashion a clear message about the great value you offer to employers?
Personal branding has been around for more than a decade, but when so much is publicly visible on social media channels, it is more crucial than ever to be mindful of the image you project. Your brand is your reputation, so delivering it clearly and conveying what is unique and authentic about you, will leave a memorable impression and can open doors that might otherwise have remained closed. So protect and nurture your personal brand carefully, since it may someday mean the difference between getting and losing the job you want or missing out on a great business or personal opportunity.

The first step in personal branding is to ask yourself some probing questions: What is important to you? What are your strengths? What skills set you apart from the pack? What are you most passionate about? A great resource to help you address these and other great questions is a handy online workbook from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Dig deep and you’ll find what holds most meaning for you and what you have to offer. That’s “Brand You” in a nutshell.

Personal branding guru Dan Schwabel, suggests you’ve discovered your personal brand once this equation is true:

Your self-impression = How people perceive you

Once you’ve identified your brand, reflect it consistently. Be patient and deliver the same message over time. You can switch up words to remain fresh and relevant to the conversation, but the main message needs to remain the same. There are many channels for sharing your branding message, such as:

• On your LinkedIn Profile page
• In networking events, conferences, lectures and at other in-person events through use of your personal “elevator speech”
• In resumes and cover letters
• In your other Social Media profiles
• On your personal blog or website

You get the idea. The key is to use consistent messaging to reflect your brand. With authenticity.

When you embrace “Brand You,” the world has no choice but to embrace it as well. It may not fit the needs of that hiring manager or buyer or coach at that particular time and place. But chances are, they will remember and will respect what “Brand You” has to offer.

LinkedIn is a Powerful Career Tool

Do you want to be visible to recruiters?  If so, LinkedIn can be a powerful talent agent as long as you use it effectively.  The good news, in this time-pressured world, is that it won’t take a great deal of your time to accomplish this.

LinkedIn is the leading website for professional networking with more than 260 million users.  That’s why recruiters for most companies use LinkedIn to find their next hire.  So your LinkedIn profile is a strategic place for you to brand yourself.

Here are tips on how to accomplish that.

Your Profile

  • Make the Summary in your profile as engaging and unique as possible.  Everyone is “results-oriented” and “hard-working,” so skip those banalities.
  • Include a list of keywords at the bottom of the Summary entitled “Skill set,” “Specialties” or something similar.  These are words that may not be in your resume.  I have more than a dozen on my Summary, including “strategic planning, employment branding and search engine optimization.”
  • Include a complete resume of your education and work experience.  For instance, list the achievements you’ve made in each stop along your career path.
  • Ask for colleagues, clients and supervisors to write Recommendations on your profile.
  • Attach a professional portrait to your profile, one with a warm smile.

Make Connections

  • Send invitations to connect to people you already know who illustrate the talented company you keep.
  • Do the same for others in your profession, even if you don’t know them.  In the invitation to connect, tell them you like to connect with people who share the same job/industry/professional interests.
  • Connect with recruiters at companies that interest you or who specialize in recruiting for your industry.
  • Connect with people at companies that interest you to ask what it’s like to work there.
  • Connect with the company page of organizations that interest you.  They often will post their latest job openings there.

Join Groups

  • Join LinkedIn Groups that focus on the industry, skill set or location where you want to work.
  • Watch the conversation to learn about potential openings or about tips to finding jobs in that area.
  • Join the conversation to show your expertise.  A recruiter may be watching.

There are many more tools on LinkedIn worth exploring, but this is a good place to start.  For additional advice, go to LinkedIn’s Education section or Google the web for tips on using this valuable social networking site.

What is DECA?

Publix at DECA ICDC Conference, Atlanta, 2014

Publix representatives and scholarship recipients at the DECA High School International Career Development Conference held in Atlanta, GA in May, 2014.

The Publix recruiting team just returned from a major conference held by DECA, an organization that prepares high school and college students for leadership and entrepreneurial opportunities in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.

This international event was held in Atlanta, Ga., where 17,000 high school students from the U.S. and Canada participated in competitions to showcase their career skills.

Hundreds of Publix store managers and corporate associates serve as judges at state and international DECA conferences each year because we believe this organization does a superb job of putting students on a viable career track.

Founded in 1946, DECA helps students get ready for colleges and careers by offering “co-curricular programs” integrating classroom instruction, role-playing, and competition.

Seeing its value in our communities, Publix has been a national sponsor of DECA at the high school level since 2006.  Besides providing judges at DECA conferences, this includes the following:

  • Providing scholarships to Publix associates who are the most active in DECA.
  • Offering organizational support to DECA, including serving on national, state and regional advisory boards.
  • Providing speakers at DECA high school classes.
  • Offering financial support for DECA, including supplies for conferences.

Most important, we hire DECA students wherever we can because their preparation makes them a good fit for our company culture.  These students are career-minded and future-focused.  They are outgoing and savvy in their networking capabilities.  In short, they embody the traits Publix looks for in future leaders.

So, if you know any high school students, encourage them to learn if their school has a DECA program and if so, to get involved.  And if you have the opportunity to support the organization by lending time or other resources, please do so.

In short, DECA is a real success story in terms of preparing tomorrow’s leaders, today.