What do Sir Richard Branson and Lady Gaga have in common? The power of an instantly recognizable personal brand. And whether you are aware of it or not, you already have a personal brand. Your personal brand is both what you are known for and the experience people have of you. You might be known for your integrity. People might experience and talk about your outstanding customer service, all of this forms your personal brand.
Your challenge is knowing what your brand is and bringing ‘brand you’ alive in your next job interview. The good news is, unlike Sir Richard Branson and Lady Gaga, you do not need a marketing juggernaut to do this. The simplest, yet most powerful way to articulate your personal brand is through storytelling. Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate your personal brand because stories paint a picture, capture the imagination, and tap into appropriate emotion. Stories help your audience connect with you and your message and can influence action, in this instance landing your dream job.
The stories you share that show you are a team player, have initiative, will both help you stand out from the competition and nail that next interview.
What is an example of a great personal brand story? Even after his passing, Steve Jobs continues to inspire and engage us through the stories around his personal brand. In Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography about Steve Jobs, there is a story that Jobs used to explain his perfectionist streak:
As a young boy, Jobs had helped his father build a fence around their backyard, and he was told they had to use just as much care on the back of the fence as on the front.
“Nobody will ever know,” young Steve said. His father replied, “But you will know.” A true craftsman uses a good piece of wood even for the back of a cabinet against the wall, his father explained, and they should do the same for the back of the fence. It was the mark of an artist to have such a passion for perfection.
Isaacson explains that Jobs applied this lesson to each and every computer machine, much to the frustration of Apple engineers who were asked to make the chips line up neatly inside a tightly sealed box. “Nobody is going to see the PC board,” one of them protested. Jobs reacted as his father had: “I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box. A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it.”
Brand Steve Jobs stands for perfectionism in all our minds.
So, where do you start when finding stories that capture your brand? These tips will help you get started.
The first is being purposeful with your personal brand stories. Share the stories that meet the criteria the job requires. There is no point sharing a story on how you bent the rules to deliver great outcome if the job requires a stickler for rules. Pan through all your experiences both work and non-work related to find the stories that meet your purpose.
The second is use stories to support your hard data. If you have a figure like ‘I improved delivery times by 15%’, then support this with a story that shows how it impacted an individual customer. Always use both hard data and stories. The two together create a compelling case for employing you over your competitors.
And third all your stories must be authentically true. This is a “VIP,” a very important point. In your personal life and in traditional storytelling it might be OK to make up or embellish stories but in business we cannot stress enough that your stories must be authentic. It is simply not worth the backlash on your reputation or credibility in making up or spinning stories.
Finding and sharing purposeful authentic stories, in your next interview that articulate your personal brand, will help you instantly connect with the interviewer and be memorable for all the right reasons. Power up your personal brand using storytelling in your next job interview and you could land the job of your dreams.
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