Why contractors should take branding personally

'Personal Branding' has become a more common phrase in 2015 and gets banded about in various circles – initially it was just in Marketing but now it's in IT and Digital; so what does it really mean?

It’s true that it’s one of those phrases that sounds business-like to say but there’s a danger that it becomes meaningless unless it is used in the correct context. We have been teaching the core concepts of personal branding for years but sit very much on the practical side of the equation, helping contractors to use personal branding to win more or better work, writes Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors.

In a nutshell, ‘personal branding’ is no different than just ‘branding’ - all companies have a brand that they define, develop, nurture, promote and protect and the theory is that professionals i.e. people like you and I; should do the same. We should be defining; developing, nurturing, promoting and protecting the way people perceive us to support our professional development goals.

You: your own personal brand manager

This becomes even more relevant to you as a contractor for a number of reasons, but not least the fact that you are operating as a company (unless you’re an umbrella contractor of course). Now your company may be just you but, nevertheless, you are a company (or you’re competing against one if you’re a brolly contractor) and you do offer services to a portfolio of clients. Given these obvious facts, the argument is that you should be defining, developing, nurturing, promoting and protecting your brand, just as much as any large company would.

The starting point to all this is defining your personal brand in the first place which can be harder than it seems. It’s all about identifying your target audience, your ‘go-to-market’ description; your value proposition, your service portfolio and the challenges you will help your clients overcome. This should feed into an ‘elevator pitch’ which equates to a Professional Summary on your contractor CV and LinkedIn profile.

From there, it’s all about using well-established marketing principles to promote your brand to a potential client and this once again focuses around your CV and LinkedIn profile. It should also feed into how you present yourself in an interview and it may also relate to a website if you are utilising this channel to promote your business; but let’s stick to your CV and LinkedIn profile for the time being.

Basic isn’t your brand’s objective

Now most, if not all contractors will have a CV and LinkedIn profile but using the standard list of jobs / contracts with half a dozen bullet points describing each position isn’t going to support your endeavours to promote your personal brand! This style of CV is simply too basic for a digital or IT contractor as we approach 2016, and will hinder your ability to market yourself successfully. We recommend three styles of CV depending on a host of factors, but all three of these styles use proven marketing techniques that facilitate your ability to sell yourself in a more powerful way.

Four key techniques

The key techniques that we use are elevator pitches, case studies, context building and recommendations. The elevator pitch takes shape through your Professional Summary; the case studies allow you to present your most impressive projects in a powerful and consistent way; the context building information helps to optimise the information architecture of your CV and LinkedIn profile to maximise readability; and recommendations can improve results three-fold we’ve found.

Editor's Note: ContractorUK has partnered with the UK's leading authority on Contractor CVs to provide a FREE review of your CV and LinkedIn profile. Contact The CV & Interview Advisors and one of their team will get back to you to discuss if your CV and LinkedIn profile matches up with industry best practice.

Tuesday 15th September 2015