The 5 Steps to Building a Solid Personal Brand


Every job seeker -- military veteran and civilian -- faces the same dilemma: How do I make myself compelling and relevant to an employer, yet stay true to my goals and values?

The answer lies in understanding the basics of reputation management and personal branding. Think of your personal brand as your reputation, how others see you. Employers, hiring managers, supervisors, clients, colleagues, and peers will naturally form opinions and judgments about you based on how they have experienced your behavior and interactions (online, in person, and from what they have heard about you). If they perceive your value to be strong and compelling, then they are likely to want to hire you, engage you, or form relationships with you.

Most people don’t think about their reputation. Then, when they are turned down for a job, are not given the promotion they wanted, or find themselves lacking support from their peers, they wonder what went wrong.

The Five D’s

To build a solid personal brand, here are my Five D’s of Reputation Management:

  1. Discover: Evaluate your current reputation. How are you known today? What feedback have you received that indicates how others feel about you and perceive your value?   
  2. Desire: Think about the reputation you would like to have. How would you like to be known? Do you want to be seen as a collaborator and thought leader? Do you desire a reputation as someone passionate about solving global poverty issues? Attach as much detail and thought to your desired reputation as possible.
  3. Define your target audience. Who are the people you get along best with? Who holds access to opportunity for you (i.e. a new job, introductions, or contacts)? If you want to impact global poverty issues, for instance, you might target audiences in non-profits, politics and foreign relations.
  4. Design: Build out a strategy to move your actions, relationships and networks toward your desired reputation. Focus on the audience you are targeting who can get you to the opportunities you want. What steps will you need to take to get from where you are today, to where you want to be?
  5. Deploy your personal brand consistently through your social media, image, body language, networking strategies, and in all of your messaging. As you build your reputation, enlist resources, champions, and supporters to help you. Where you lack skills or talents, surround yourself with people who can help you and refer your offer to new employers.

The goal of building a strong and compelling personal brand is not perfection. Instead, strive for consistency in all of your interactions. Online and in person, remain authentic and relevant, and build your reputation over time to achieve your desired brand.

Your reputation is one of the most valuable assets you have in a military-to-civilian transition. Your employer, customers, staff, supervisors and peers are holding you accountable to be living authentically with the values you promote.

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