Career coach: Selling yourself as a brandOn 16 Mar 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. John Simmons is director of training and development at thewriter.co.uk, andauthor of The Invisible Grail: In search of the true language of brands The only surprise was who said it. It was Hans Blix, the UN weaponsinspector who compared US President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blairto “vendors of merchandise trying to exaggerate the importance of whatthey have”. The truth is, we all need to persuade others of the importance of what wehave if we are going to get on in life. We all have to sell ourselves tofurther our careers. But, and it is a big but, there are different ways of selling. The hardsell, involving exaggeration almost to the point of mendacity, is not the wayto go. Perhaps the president and the prime minister might regret it in time –if voters start to believe they have been sold snake oil rather than the pureessence of truth. Bear this in mind when you have to sell yourself. I am not going to withdrawthe phrase because I do believe that, like any retailer, we need to present anoffer in the best possible light. But there should be an honest approach to theprocess. Your words matter. After all, words send signals about who you are and whatyou’re like. Take a look at your CV: what does it say about you? Do the wordsexcite, do they distinguish you as a personality, do they make you sound like aperson it would be good to meet? What happens if, for example, we simply remove(and then replace) the words and phrases that project a personality that isreally not you? We are all having to think of ourselves as brands these days. How would youdefine your personality? What are your values? What is it that you really wantto achieve with your life? If you can, first be clear with yourself about theanswers to those questions, then consider if the words you use – your tone ofvoice – represent your personality. To continue the analogy, let’s take a brand like hand-made cosmeticsmaufacturer, Lush. Lush takes great pleasure in using words to sell soap,shampoo, and skincare products. The words are often funny and always engagingin their determina-tion to sell products without dishonest hype. The words on a Lush carrier bag describe the way Lush sees itself and itsbeliefs. “We believe in long candlelit bathsÉin the right to make mistakes,lose everything and start again.” Is that dangerously honest? “Wealso believe words like ‘fresh’ and ‘organic’ have honest meaning beyondmarketing.” There’s a refreshing willingness to risk your disapproval, aslong as you credit that they mean what they say. We live in an age where we all understand marketing. We have come beyond thepoint where we believe marketing is inherently dishonest. But we know the gameand we know we have to play it. My advice is to take the Lush approach to selling yourself. Be engaging,bring out your own personality and be as honest as you can. I can’t guaranteethat this will get you every job you go for, but I believe it works in the longrun. At the very least, it stops you pursuing a job in which you have nointerest.