How To Make Your Personal HR Brand Better Than Your Job Competition…

by Alan Collins

I recently had coffee with a frustrated HR leader.

He has been super-active applying for posted HR jobs in his organization for two months.  But stressed out because he wasn’t able to get past the initial interview phase.

When I asked him to describe how he was positioning himself to interviewers, he confused me.  I just couldn’t grasp just what the hell he did.

He described working with his clients on “human capital optimization” projects and implementing “talent management” and “organization effectiveness” initiatives in his organization.

When I asked him to further define these buzzwords, it took him about 20 minutes to translate these into accomplishments and results that I understood.

I have a feeling that’s been his problem.

He has been with his company for over 5 years now.  And he had done so much work for his organization that he could NOT explain what he did in one, simple, but compelling sentence.

And this happens a lot.

I see evidence of this all the time on resumes, LinkedIn profiles and in my conversations with HR folks.

When you’re an HR pro with 5-10 years of experience, you can have so many accomplishments that you don’t know what to lead with or how to package your credentials…concisely.

And, unfortunately, this is the kiss of death.

If you’re trying to sell yourself to clients, position yourself for a promotion or a new opportunity, you need a clear brand message.

Something that describes what you, as a candidate, uniquely bring to the table.

If you take the approach that you’re going to cram as much as possible into your conversations with decision makers, you’re asking them to engage in a hot dog eating contest.

They won’t be able to digest all the crap you’re feeding them…and some will choke.

Every key HR decision-maker I know has the attention span of a gnat!

They don’t have the time or patience for long winded messages.

They don’t want to translate what you’re saying or read your mind.

They have too much stuff on their plate.

So you need to have a concise, compelling career message is you want to win the career game.   You need to grab them by throat with what you can do for them.

For example, rather than say you’re an HR business partner, how about positioning yourself as a:

Talent Acquisition Executive who helps busy business leaders quickly source hard-to-find IT & engineering talent.  My past employers include Microsoft & General Mills.


Human Resources Leader who helps manufacturing and sales executives develop & retain their high potential talent.  I won the President’s Award for my work in this area at P&G.


Organization Development Consultant who helps start-up companies grow their in-house leadership talent faster.  Former OD executive at Netflix.

In each of these examples, it’s crystal clear:

Guess what?  That’s your simple 4-part personal for making your HR brand better too. 

Following it, will more powerfully differentiate you from the rest of the ho-hum crowd!

And it will make your personal brand crystal clear and less confusing to others.

Does your personal HR brand meet this test?

Well, does it?


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Want more strategies for leveraging your HR brand and THRIVING in your career in Human Resources?  Then check out:  UNWRITTEN HR RULES: 21 Strategies For Attaining Awesome Career Success in Human Resources.  For additional details, go HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals  including UNWRITTEN HR RULES.   He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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