The Personal Brand V.A.L.U.E. Career Development Tool: A Multi-Perspective and Interdisciplinary Framework

The Personal Brand V.A.L.U.E. Career Development Tool: A Multi-Perspective and Interdisciplinary Framework

Ray Sylvester, William E. Donald
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7442-6.ch013
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The chapter provides insights into the ubiquitous term personal branding in the context of establishing a career development tool for university students and graduates. The chapter begins with an overview of branding and personal branding before offering an integrated theoretical framework drawing together branding and career theories. Next, the authors present the ‘personal brand V.A.L.U.E.' career development tool (diagrammatically expressed using a purpose-driven Venn diagram) for career counselors to use with university students and graduates. The tool was developed by the lead author and contextualized into the career space in collaboration with the second author. The V.A.L.U.E. acronym stands for (i) vision, (ii) ability, (iii) love, (iv) understanding, and (v) ecosystem. A critical sequence of five questions enables students and clients to inculcate their own specific and individual intra-personal and inter-personal brand V.A.L.U.E. to establish an authentic career development plan and respond to evolving labor markets.
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Today, “we are all familiar and impacted by the terms ‘brand’ and ‘branding’” (Sylvester, 2012, pp. 39-40). The phrase ‘personal branding’ has now become common. However, the origin of this popular phrase is less known or understood. The term ‘personal branding’ was first coined by Tom Peters (1997), who stated: “we are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business, today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. It’s that simple – and that hard. And that inescapable” (Online). The perspective challenged traditional notions of brands being innate products, applied the concept to career development, and encouraged professionals to think of themselves as brands they could shape and promote to advance their careers. Personal branding has become an increasingly ubiquitous term in today's digital age making Peters’ comments more relevant in 2023 than at any previous point in history.

Today, creating a distinctive digital personal brand identity is a principal element in building an authentic reputation and value. (Sylvester, 2016). It can assist an individual in differentiating themselves in a competitive and crowded job market. According to Atske (2022), 97% of US teenagers use the internet daily, with TikTok as the dominant social media platform. Chaffey (2023) reports that 59% of the world’s population uses social media, and the average daily usage is 2 hours and 31 minutes as of January 2023. The growth and expansion of social media and other digital platforms (e.g., Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter) have made it an easier process for individuals to present their skills, experiences, and qualities to a digital and often global audience. Organizations also use content that applicants post (currently and historically) on social media and digital platforms to inform the selection process (Castrillon, 2019). According to a study by Brand Builders Group (2018), more than 70% of employers use social media to screen job candidates, and 57% of employers are less likely to interview candidates they cannot find online. So, “the digital revolution has created major change” (Sylvester, 2019a, p. 5). Therefore, having a strong personal brand can significantly enhance an individual's career prospects and increase their chances of success.

For students and professionals considering or undertaking a career change, personal branding has significant implications for career development and advancement. Developing a clear vision and purpose for one's career and understanding their knowledge and skills can help individuals develop a strategy of performance distinctiveness (Neumeier, 2006) to build a personal brand that stands out from the crowd. By leveraging the power of social media and other online platforms, individuals can identify their unique qualities and establish a clear focus in a pertinent field. This can lead to new job opportunities, career advancement, and increased professional visibility. Additionally, crafting an intentional and authentic personal brand has been shown to be an important factor in determining career success, getting noticed, and getting ahead in a competitive labor market (Gorbatov et al., 2019; 2021).

Various leading voices have supported the derivation of genuine personal branding. Vaynerchuk (2013) observes the need to be authentic and true to oneself, whilst also suggesting that the internet offers opportunities for any individual to market their own brand. Equally, Galloway (2017) suggests using social media in an intentional way to build one’s brand and create one’s own narrative. Subsequently, Brower (2019) suggests that “your personal brand should be about how you want to show up in the world, not just about what you want to achieve” (p. 81). In the context of students and graduates, a personal brand can help to enhance and operationalize one’s employability by signaling your authentic personal brand to prospective employers (Anderson & Tomlinson, 2021).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ecosystem: Consideration of how to position one’s brand within a sustainable career ecosystem can help students prepare for and undertake the university-work transition, and prepare them for further career transitions across their working lives

Love: Refers to a deep emotional attachment and affinity to an authentic ability that can be directed toward a particular career path.

Vision: The long-term strategic direction, helping individuals to internally derive and externally define and establish what they want their brand to stand for and what they aim to achieve in the future.

Personal Brand: The unique intangible (internal) and tangible (external) combination of meaning and association that represents an individual’s identity.

Personal Brand V.A.L.U.E.: A career development tool composed of five dimensions: (i) Vision, (ii) Ability, (iii) Love, (iv) Understanding, and (v) Ecosystem.

Ability: Relates to an individual’s talent and subsequent competence and refers to the effort required to develop an ability to perform a specific function or task effectively and efficiently.

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