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See yourself as a brand to get ahead in today's City

AT a time when so many people in the City are looking for a job, the important thing is to stand out from the crowd. As a headhunter, I often help clients and candidates to market themselves. The best way to do this is to build a personal brand. But how do you do this? Before you build your brand you have to understand yourself and what you are good at. If you like, what you are built to do. <br /><br />It was this idea that inspired business psychologist David Royston-Lee and I to develop a simple but powerful model based on the metaphor of a building that can help you create the personal brand that will help your job-search. <br /><br />Think of the City of London. There are lots of faceless buildings, but a few which really stand out, like St Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin or the Lloyds Building. Like them, you want to be noticed. <br /><br />The first step is to dig a big hole until you reach some kind of bedrock or layer of sand. These are your talents. You can discover them but you cannot change them. Think back over your life and identify the high points, when you felt really great about whatever you were doing. It could have been at work or during your education. It could have been a sporting activity, an expedition or something else you did during your leisure time.<br /><br />Ask others to help. This can help you identify the common themes that connect them. Which talents were you using the most? How were you using them? Where were you using them? Who were you with? Ask yourself which talents you enjoy using the most. With what kind of people? In what kind of situation? <br /><br />Now list your talents again, starting with those that give you most energy when you use them. You may have developed some of those talents into specific skills that you use in your job. Others may have been neglected recently. Once you understand your talents, you are on your way to building a strong brand.<br /><br />The second step is to build the foundations. These are your values. They are still below the surface, but they determine the size and shape of the building. You can identify your values by making a list of 20 or more people you really admire. They can be real or fictional, alive or dead. <br /><br />Then, next to each name, list the qualities for which you admire each person. Some qualities will come up again and again. They could include courage, or honesty, or determination or humour. The qualities you see in the people you admire encapsulate your values. <br /><br />The third step is to construct the framework of the building, the floors, staircases, lift shafts and so on. These are the skills and experiences that have emerged from the way you have applied your talents up until now. <br /><br />They include any academic or professional qualifications you may possess. For example, you may have developed a talent for using numbers into skills in accountancy, financial analysis or risk management. You may have applied a talent for using words in law, journalism or corporate finance. It is best if you can summarise your skills in 4-6 bullet points. It makes it much easier for headhunters and employers to grasp what you have to offer and spread the word about you.<br /><br />The fourth step is to understand your purpose. You have to understand what you are good at. If this sounds like a big question, it is. However, once you begin to understand your purpose, it becomes much easier to identify the work that suits you best. You can then find jobs you would enjoy and do extremely well. You will be one of the naturally enthusiastic candidates who stand out and get the best job offers.<br /><br />Imagine the following situation. You receive a letter from a solicitor telling you that a distant relative has just died and left you one thousand times your usual annual income, as a lump sum. Then your doctor calls you. The lab tests confirm that you have made medical history. You are immortal! You have the chance to do whatever you want, forever. What will you do?<br /><br />These exercises point you towards what you would do if you did not have to worry about paying the mortgage, the school fees and so on. This may seem like an odd thing to do in the midst of a recession. <br /><br />However, once you discover your talents, your values and your purpose, you can start doing the work you were born to do. It will involve applying your talents to serve other people, in a way that is consistent with your values. Once you begin to build your brand, you will keep attracting exciting opportunities. If you apply for jobs that fit your purpose, you will stand out. People will ask for you. <br /><br />Brand You by John Purkiss and David Roysten-Lee is published by Artesian books, priced &pound;9.99