Why You Need a Personal Brand and How to Get One

By Susan Peppercorn, Senior Consultant

ClearRock, Inc.


Success at work requires that we take control of our professional image.  Your personal brand or your professional reputation has a direct impact on your career; the way you are perceived is how you will be defined.  The only way of changing or influencing your reputation is by being aware of the perception others have of you and taking assertive steps to manage it.

Your personal brand is the story people think of when they hear your name.

“Creative problem-solver.”
“Make it happen person.”
“Highly collaborative – I’d work with her anytime.”
“He’s always ready to help a new hire.”
“I’ve seen and respect his work on several papers.”

How do you create your brand?

As much as we hope our managers will let others know about our contributions and skills, the fact remains that some are better at advocating for their employees than others.  And, many are too busy to give it much thought.  It’s up to you to manage your career goals and let others know about them.  Here are some recommendations:

  1. Define your destination

Know where you want to go in your career and find out how to get there.  If you’re a software developer who wants to move to product management, see if you can shadow someone in that function or seek out a mentor who can guide you.

  1. Know your audience

Branding is not one-size-fits-all.  It requires recognizing the needs of your target audience and emphasizing the accomplishments and skills that you can leverage to help the person, department, or organizations move forward.

  1. Translate your skills to benefits

What’s your unique selling proposition?  That’s what people will remember, and you can use it to your advantage.  Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium discussed astrophysics on the popular television show, Sixty Minutes.  His enthusiasm for science and ability to communicate in ways that a mere mortal could understand mesmerized me.  What are you passionate about and how can you communicate it to gain the attention of your audience?

  1. Develop Your Narrative

Perhaps your undergrad degree is in software engineering and after graduation you worked as a programmer in the telecom industry.  After getting an MBA, you transitioned to the healthcare industry in a client-facing role.  What is the thread that ties these experiences together?  Developing your personal narrative will help you tell the story of how and why you made these choices, and where you’re headed next.

  1. Don’t Keep Your Expertise a Secret

Recently a coaching client told me that he hoped to be given more opportunity for recognition in his next job.  You have many opportunities for visibility!  Are you asking for the chance to present what you know at work or conferences?  Social media offers many opportunities to communicate your passion to a wider audience and gain confidence at the same time.


The only one in charge of your career is you.  Here are some questions to think about as you craft your unique value proposition.

  • What problems do you solve?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What differentiates you?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What value do you bring to others?