Whether you realize it or not, you've already established your personal brand. But when you transition from the military, you have a special opportunity - an imperative, actually - to examine your brand and decide to either strengthen and promote it as is or change it altogether.
Either way, you need to know and live your personal brand to effectively market yourself for your second career. It doesn't need to be flashy, but it does need to accurately and memorably describe who you are professionally.
Your brand is more than your job description. It is a factual description of who you are at the core and to be compelling, should also have an emotional component.
To find your authentic brand, start by examining your passions, skills, and values. What is important to you? What is your “why”? For provoking prompts in this area, check out some of Simon Sinek's books, TED Talks, or web page. (Next level hint: If you can afford to take time “off the grid” to do this self-assessment, I highly recommend it. Get away for at least a week, by yourself and free of any distractions, to focus your thoughts.)
Then, through internet and network research, determine where your brand fits into the job market. In which career fields and industries are you going to find opportunities? That will put the final touch on your brand and indicate where and how to promote it.
Articulate who you are and your unique value to others and the marketplace. If possible, find a related visual “hook” to reinforce your brand in your LinkedIn banner.
Once you know your brand, live it and promote it. It should be consistently reflected in your résumé, professional biography, social media presence, and maybe even your business cards and will be the foundation of your 30-second elevator pitch and your answer to “tell me about yourself.”
Ideally, a well-defined brand can be a guide star to help simplify and focus your career and your life. For example, when deciding whether to shift focus or take on a new project, consider whether it is consistent with or detracts from your brand.
Need assistance building or promoting your brand? Contact the MOAA Career Transition Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how we can help.