January’s GoLandscape blog, written by the British Association of Landscape Industries’ (BALI) Education Officer, Stephen Ensell.
We associate branding with companies trying to sell us something, think of a symbol (Nike), a design (Apple), a name (Amazon), a sound (Formula 1 car, Intel processor, Xbox 360 startup), these are all brands, but it’s the people behind them that deliver on the brands’ promises.
So, what about you…as a brand?
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.George Bernhard Shaw
Personal Branding is essential when applying for your first job in the landscape industry, changing jobs or even changing the industry you are currently working for. Landscaping companies are recruiting people more and more by looking at the person’s personal brand that helps them to see the real you. It’s one of the ways they determine whether you will fit within the company.
What is ‘Personal Branding’?
Companies spend large sums of money creating a brand that tells their story and gives them a personal side, all in the hope you will buy into them (and their product and services). You are no different, your brand is your unique set of skills, experiences, likes and dislikes, that ultimately make you and differentiate you from others, especially when job hunting. LinkedIn has built a whole social platform around this concept.
Think this doesn’t apply to you? Believe it or not, your personal brand exists and is already out there whether you like it or not, just try Googling yourself! Landscape companies will be searching for you online and getting an idea of who you are through mentions on the web and social media channels. Just as the Internet is the first point of call to search for things to buy, people will also check out who you are. So, you might as well embrace the inevitable and control your own brand in the best way you possibly can.
Everyone likes an opportunity, even if you don’t end up taking it and this is often what your personal brand will do for you. This could come in the form of meeting other likeminded people, being headhunted and offered a new job, invited to interviews, offered speaking engagements or partnerships.
The first place to start is with what is already out there. If it’s in your control, it needs to be tied up or even removed. Remove those socially awkward comments, photos and videos and anything else that isn’t relevant. You don’t want comments and images from the past coming back to sabotage your personal branding going forward. The following types of content can be some of the most damaging.
- Unprofessional behaviour
- Unprofessional communication style
- Drinking or drug use
- Criminal behaviour
- Polarising views – particularly when related to politics, religion, race and gender
- Sexually explicit content
- Violence or bullying
- Bigoted behaviour
Can I have your attention!
Hopefully, you can now see the benefit of your own personal brand, so where do you begin? It’s all about focus and consistency. You need to put across who you are in a concise manner, focusing on your areas of expertise, what you are passionate about, your attributes and skills, your values and what distinguishes you. But it’s not just a matter of listing these things like a CV, you need to be more creative than that…
Once upon a time…
We all love a story that we remember forever. This also applies to your personal brand, take the areas that you have chosen to focus on and start to include them in your history, your hopes and future plans. What have you learnt in your work and personal life, both the good and the bad? People connect with what you say when they make an emotional connection, this presents an opportunity for your personality to shine through.
The real McCoy
It’s not always that easy to spot a fake. Take, for example, the number of people that get drawn into a fake news story. You need to present a genuine and authentic brand, don’t be tempted to exaggerate or invent parts of your story or what you can and can’t do. Landscape companies are now asking more and more people to prove they can do what they say they can, you may get as far as the interview, but they will quickly work out if you are genuine or not.
Where’s all this going?
So, you’ve honed your personal brand, but where does it go to get seen? The easiest place is online through your social media profiles, blogs, maybe even your own website. Don’t forget, your personal brand is now also your vision and game plan and will help you move in the right direction career-wise. Now get out there and start applying for roles in landscaping, it’s a big world out there and one full of opportunities for employment if you have the right skills, knowledge, willpower and commitment. You can also check out the job board here for the latest roles posted by landscaping companies.