5 Signs Your Personal Brand Needs Work

Danny Chung, chief of staff for military affairs of Microsoft, gives a presentation to military veterans and spouses on the advantages of promoting a personal brand for making an effective online profile for potential employers. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marc Cuenca/U.S. Navy photo)

When it comes to important military transition tools and career building assets, your personal brand is certainly at the top of the list. Your personal brand is the way you act, communicate and form relationships to send the impression of who you are and what you stand for. For some, their personal brand is formed by default instead of by design.

Here are five ways to know your personal brand needs your immediate attention:

1. The Headline of This Article Led You to Utter, 'My What?'

If you're not familiar with what your brand is, and how to manage it, odds are that you've left your reputation and the perception others have of you to chance. This is risky. Other people's perception of you could be false, misguided, ill-informed or incomplete. And because the way others see you directly aligns with the offers and opportunities they'll afford you, you might be missing out.

Think about it this way: If I'm your boss and I perceive you to be motivated, passionate and a leader, I would likely want to give you a promotion to explore those qualities and see you grow in the company. On the other hand, if I perceive you to be unmotivated and lazy, I could withhold opportunities for advancement, because I don't believe you'd do well. My perception influences whether I want to help you grow your career.

2. Your Network Isn't Sending You Leads, Information, Referrals or Endorsements.

Networking is a key component of building and advancing our personal brands. The people we strategically network with -- with whom we share insights, information and support -- should be clear on who we are, what we care about and how they can help us grow. If your network isn't sending you leads, isn't sharing valuable information or offering you referrals or endorsements, it's possible they are unclear about your brand and career goals.

3. You've Not Been Promoted or Advanced in Your Civilian Job.

As mentioned above, if the people who're making yes/no decisions about your advancement aren't clear about what you're capable of, what you value and how you can add value, it's possible they're not considering you for promotions.

Before you can adequately assess your upward potential in your current company, do an assessment of your current personal brand. How are you perceived? Do others around you know what you care about and are pursuing? Are you earning credibility for your brand by communicating your values and then walking the talk? If any of these questions is "no," that could explain why you are stuck in your job.

4. You're Bouncing from Job to Job Aimlessly.

While your personal brand helps to guide your life and relationships, it has a big impact on your career and goals. Without a clear vision of how you want to be remembered at the end of your life (and career), it's understandable that you could choose options based on superficial or transient qualities -- i.e., perks, job title, etc.

When you have a vision for the purpose and meaning of your life, you can slide your career goals into that vision and see the steppingstones in order. Then, choosing a job or changing jobs becomes part of a bigger plan -- a bigger mission -- rather than a quick, short-term fix.

5. You Are on Social Media, But Don't See Its Value.

Have you been aimlessly connecting, liking, posting, sharing and commenting on social media but have yet to see any direct, concrete benefit? Perhaps it's because your personal brand isn't guiding you. Social media is extremely time consuming, and while it can be fun and entertaining, it can serve a direct purpose to influence your career in meaningful ways.

Your personal brand should guide which platforms you participate on, how you show up, what you share and the conversations you avoid. For example, if you want to be known as a passionate advocate of veterans' issues, you'd share content about veteran mental health, transition tips, civilian reintegration, life after the military and so on. I'd see images of you with other service members, perhaps at formal meetings where important veteran issues are discussed. This tells your audiences that you are passionate about veteran issues.

On the other hand, if your social media feeds are full of barbecue recipes, RV travel and adventure, your volunteer work at a pet shelter, veterans' issues and your work as a warehouse manager for a large consumer products company, the message gets confused and your online audiences don't know how to help or serve you.

Your personal brand is the operating system through which and around which all decisions are made to build the life -- and legacy -- you seek. Pay attention to yours today and watch what you attract shift toward the ideal.

The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty" (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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