Face it: You’re just a human resource, one of six billion from the rapidly multiplying species known as homo sapiens.
Okay, for whatever job you’re going for, you’re probably not in competition with six billion—but there are probably a thousand, maybe several thousand, and possibly tens of thousands of folks well-qualified and interested in the job you, too, are after. So what makes you different?
Understanding Your Brand
Your brand consists of a vision, purpose, goals, values, and passions. The vision is the big picture view of how your work serves the world. Maybe it’s for a world with a solar panel on every roof, or an energy grid that tells people how to save energy, or a carbon-neutral world.
Your purpose is what you’re doing to fulfill the vision, such as exceeding the expectations of every customer or building the next generation grid.
Your goals are the concrete steps that will get you there; for example, finding a job at a solar company, talking to 25 new customers a week, and providing a “wow” experience for every one of them.
Your values reflect your core beliefs. Maybe you value service, maybe it’s ingenuity, maybe it’s integrity—maybe it’s all three. These underlie the work you do and how you approach it.
And your passions are the things you want to do. Maybe you’re passionate about social justice, or building things, or hiking. These are part of who you are, and it’s likely you’ll find a way to bring them into what you do in your job.
Figure Out Your Brand
Once you’ve figured out your various brand attributes, you can start to look at what differentiates you from all the others looking for jobs. Identifying your strengths, skills, interests, personality, and leadership style provide a starting place. No doubt, there are things you do really well. There are qualities that your friends, family, and coworkers recognize. What are they?
By collecting this information, you start to get a picture of your brand attributes. There’s a competency component here—things you do well—and an emotional one—the way people feel or react to you. You’re trying to get the information together so you can boil down what it is you offer a prospective employer.
It might be that you’re passionate about renewable energy, with a mastery of fine policy details—a clean tech policy guru. Or maybe you’re passionate about leading your team to world-changing results—a transformative project leader. Be inventive. You’re trying to capture an essential idea of who you wish to be in the world.
Define Your Brand for Others
Once you’ve figured out your vision and what gives you the distinctive ability to help achieve it, you want to communicate these qualities consistently across all the possible touch points where hiring managers can learn about you. This includes your profiles on social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, your resume, and your cover letter.
You’ll also want to align yourself with organizations and groups whose activities support the brand you’ve created for yourself. Your goal will be to create associations that reinforce who you’re trying to be.
Get creative in how you achieve this. You might create a blog about energy grid technologies, or develop a free training about solar installation for underprivileged kids, or give talks about easy ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint.
Remember, your goal is to define yourself distinctively, so that prospective hiring managers and collaborators will recognize your brand as one they want to affiliate themselves with.
This is the fifth of a five-part series on clean-tech job search strategies by Frank Marquardt, author of The Solar Job Guide.