In today’s dynamic, competitive, global marketplace where employers are seeking out talent across the globe, to succeed professionally we must understand how we create value in the world – and insure that the people that need that value are aware of it. We must be visible to right decision makers so when those choice projects and job opportunities come up we are well positioned to secure them.
But understanding what it is exactly that we have to offer can sometimes be a challenge, given we often define who we are and what we offer based on our job titles or areas of expertise and knowledge. For this reason, personal branding is what any current or aspiring expat should be using to guide their career management or international job search.
Personal branding is about clarifying and communicating what is unique and different about yourself and using it to reach your personal or professional goals.Contrary to what some may believe, it is NOT about crafting an image for yourself and then creating a snappy tagline and interesting elevator pitch to support it. It’s about unearthing your natural strengths, talents and qualities and then strategically sharing how they can combine to make a meaningful impact in organizations and the world.
In addition to online and offline visibility globally critical to international career success, here are several more of reasons why personal branding should be the core driver of your expat career management and international job search plan:
• CLARITY: Being clear about your unique value and what you offer allows you to maximize your ability to leverage that value to reach your goals. Clarity around what your keys to success are also increases your confidence and focus. We’re more likely to consistently make the right choices that will take us where we want to go if we use our natural strengths and talents to drive our career choices.
• DIFFERENTIATION: Being able to communicate our unique value helps us naturally stand out from our competitors – be it for a job or for clients. In today’s competitive global marketplace, differentiating yourself from your competitors worldwide is essential to not only thrive, but survive.
• ELIMINATE THE COMPETITION: If your personal brand is the unique value that you can create in the world, then by definition it is value that no one else can create. There is no one in the world that can do exactly what you do in quite the way you do it. When you take the time to truly isolate what is unique about the value you recreate, you are setting yourself to have no competition. No competition means that you are the only choice for someone who needs what you have on offer.
• CREDIBLITY: Your personal brand is about clarifying and communicating the proven value you can create. Hence your promise of value is in part determined by your documented results. When you can convey what you offer in the context of results, you become much more credible and others will more easily trust that you can deliver what you say you can.
• EXPERT: Sending a clear and consistent message of value and how you have generated value for others earns you expert status. Expert status leads to attracting opportunities rather than you having to seek them out – you become the hunted rather than the hunter.
• COMPENSATION: Being an expert means you can earn more. Experts command higher fees and salaries.
• BE SUCCESSFUL BY BEING YOURSELF: Trying to position yourself as what you believe to be “the ideal director of global business development” or “the perfect international development executive” is a losing proposition. Not only is it exhausting to try to be something that we’re not, we’re generally not very good at it. It is much more fulfilling and effective to maximize your ability to perform at your best. Personal branding equips you to be successful by being your best self.
If you are unsatisfied with the current state of your expat or international career, or are struggling with your international job search, considering taking some time to clarify your unique value or personal brand. It will provide you with the benefits above and help you realize more career success abroad.
About the author: Megan Fitzgerald is an expat and international career coach, founder of Career By Choice and expert guide to the world of global careers. She has two decades of experience supporting professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and organizations in 40+ countries. Megan uses a strategic, 360°approach to help expats become highly visible, sought after experts and leaders and succeed abroad. She’s been featured in Fortune Magazine, CNN Money, Wall Street Journal Online and numerous expat and career books and publications. You can read more about expat careers at her blog.