(Photo credit: victor_nuno)
Have you updated your resume lately?
If so, then the challenge of portraying yourself as the ideal candidate for potential employers or scholarship committees is fresh in your brain. How do we honestly and accurately summarize our abilities, experiences and personality in a flat, one-page document? Is it possible to be both succinct and startlingly appealing on paper?
There are people who make their living in an effort to say YES to that question! Consultants who help others build a resume to land their dream job have all sorts of tips and tricks to help you stand out in a stack of paper people. A quick web search will locate hundreds of blogs and websites with suggestions for crafting the perfect resume – which doesn’t always seem helpful, does it? Information overload can make it even harder to begin.
It seems to me that much of the difficulty in resume-creation comes from the tension between what we think an employer is looking for and what we truly bring to the table – who we actually are. I’m sure that it’s possible to meld the two into one rock-solid, top-notch page containing all of the necessary key words and phrases required to catch a potential employer’s attention, but I’m just not sure that this method is serving us well.
Enter the concept of personal branding. You know your favorite brand names, right? My son’s top brand right now is Adidas, which he identifies with soccer, his favorite players of the sport, athletic prowess and active functionality. Adidas embodies these things for him and he identifies with those three stripes because they consistently provide what he expects them to: utter coolness.
There is a movement in some career counseling circles that takes this branding concept – packaging a product in a clear, consistent and marketable way – and applies it to the way you present yourself to the world. Some call it personal branding.
Here’s how it rolls…
Rather than trying to re-create yourself on paper in a way that (if you’re lucky) will meet an employer’s expectations, personal branding begins with discovering who you actually are. You are the sum of your experience, education, interests and passions! Personal branding helps you to package yourself in such a way that your true colors are evident in black & white as your resume is reviewed.
After having strayed so far from herself in the resume creation process, blogger Gail Belsky describes her experience with personal branding, under the tutelage of author/guru Karen Kang:
“The truth is, I look like what I am: an editor and writer with a wide range of experience, including aspects of communication and marketing. Kang gave me permission to be that person. She suggested that I build out from my identity, rather than change it entirely. It was enough to give me whiplash, but I was glad to be back.”
It’s a sad commentary on what our world has become when the art of job acquisition requires us to play so completely to the audience that we lose ourselves – our unique, God-crafted identity – in the process. The concept of personal branding, though seemingly new on the job search landscape, is actually quite old. The apostle Paul spoke about it in his letter to the Galatians:
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message)
Essentially, Paul tells us to Want What We’ve Got! God’s way for His people in this world has always been personal branding. Figure out who you are, put that into words that make sense to others, and then live it!
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25 (The Message)
Friend, YOU are an original! Maybe it’s time for a sit-down with your heavenly career consultant today. Maybe you have lost yourself in the legalism of the world – choosing a life of responding to people’s expectations instead of living into the one-of-a-kind existence that God Himself created you for. You’ve got much more interesting work to do than simply fitting in – you are your own brand name in the power of the Cross!
God has given you permission to be that person. Want What You’ve Got and market that to the world! Amen?!
Daily Questions: Consider discovering your personal brand! What is it about the brands you are faithful to that keeps you coming back for more? Quality? A particular style or design? Accessibility? Affordability? Make a crazy, unedited list of every unique energy, ability and perspective you’ve been given. Put your true heartbeat down on paper, playing to an audience of One! Ask God for the strength to be your own brand in our cookie-cutter society, and watch for opportunities to Want What You’ve Got!