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Friday, March 17, 2006
Brand Not
I have a good friend who was recently heavily courted for a new job as a City Manager. Note I said “courted” and not “recruited”. My friend is an outstanding engineer who has worked with a leading civil engineering firm for ten years. In that time, he has worked extensively with the mayor of the town and the heads of the departments of the municipality and the governments of surrounding cities. When the job of City Manager came open, the mayor and the entire city council personally all called my friend (let’s call him Bill) to beg him to take the job. They advertised the job as was required, but he was the only candidate considered. They offered him a spectacular package and he took the offer.

The day he went to visit the city council to accept the position, the mayor asked the interim City Manager to take Bill around to introduce him to all the department heads such as Manager of Waste Water Management, Manager of Water Utilities, Manager of Roads and Infrastructure, etc. The interim City Manager had been brought in from an outside firm to fill in after the retirement of the previous City Manager and had had hopes of being hired on permanently. You can imagine how “excited” he was to take the winner of the job around to meet everyone.

At the first stop, the water department, the interim started to introduce Bill and before he could get out “Let me introduce you to our new City Manager”, the water department manager jumped up and exclaimed, “Bill! I am so glad you took the job! How’s your wife and that new baby?” The interim was surprised to find the water department manager knew Bill but figured they knew each other socially somehow.

The interim’s surprise continued at each stop. At each department, the manager and staff all knew Bill well and no introduction was needed. The interim became more and more silent. Finally, they stopped at the fire department. The interim was pleased to discover the fire chief did not know Bill. He completed his introductions and the fire chief asked Bill if he knew anything about fire-fighting. Bill replied, “Well, my father was a volunteer fireman for years in the next county. I used to tag along on calls.” The fire chief remembered Bill’s father and they immediately struck up a conversation. The interim threw up his hands and exclaimed, “I give up! You know everyone!”

The cause of the interim’s frustration was not that Bill knew everyone. It was that everyone knew Bill. Because he was so good at his job, he had been rapidly given more and more responsibility in his job with the civil engineering firm. That firm held the contract for many towns and cities. It had been Bill’s job to attend all city council meetings as a representative of the firm and as lead engineer on most of the projects. As a result, Bill had an extensive network. That network served to bring this new opportunity to him (not the first one he’d ever had offered to him). His outstanding work ethic and performance had built a reputation for him that was well-known and respected.

When you hear career professionals talk about building a career brand, think of Bill. He is the perfect example of what a good career brand is all about. Simply put, career brand is just an outstanding reputation built over time through excellent performance and honest work ethics. A resume can put a career brand into words if it already exists but it can’t build a brand out of thin air. It’s up to you, the job seeker, to build your brand through being the best at what you do and working fairly with everyone with whom you come in contact. Pay attention to the choices you make and work hard at building your network. Both will serve to bring opportunities your way that wouldn’t otherwise.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 /


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