Jenn Walker Wall is the founder of Work Wonders Careers where she helps people land new jobs and thrive at work. She’s also co-host of the Making Life Work Podcast. Previously, she worked at the Sloan School of Management at MIT as well as Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, and is currently an Adjunct Instructor of Sociology at Lesley University. Review Jenn’s coaching offerings on the Work Wonders site.
How do you define a personal brand and why can it be hard to identify it?
For job seekers, a personal brand reflects both experience and personal values—which have to be clearly articulated. I think it can be daunting because we look around and branding seems to be the domain of companies, and it seems different when we’re talking about ourselves. We need to give ourselves permission to articulate what we want to be known for, what we’ve done, and what we can deliver.
What advice would you give to job applicants to stand out in a crowded field?
You can stand out by quickly identifying how you can be of help – how your experience and values can help organizations and be a service to others. In looking at a job listing, try to carefully assess what the needs may be and then highlight the skills you bring that might be most relevant.
How can we all enhance our personal brands?
Whether you’re just starting out or have many years of experience, try to determine what you’re good at and where you want to go—then also try to identify any parts of your brand that need refinement. In the last year we’ve all seen a lot of crises and if part of your experience is leading people through times of crisis and helping them align with others, then certainly speak to that and articulate it as part of your personal brand. Many of us are needing to reflect and re-align as a result of these challenging times.
How did you come to be a career strategist?
When I was in graduate school for sociology, my “day job” was hiring faculty. I loved it! I loved talking with people and learning about them. After graduation, I worked at MIT for a few years and my “side hustle” was helping to coach people on job search and resume strategy. I did that part-time for about four years and then went full-time almost three years ago.
What advice would you give to those interested in being an independent practitioner?
It’s very similar to what I tell job seekers: listen and understand what people need. And for everyone—job seekers and those seeking clients—get comfortable with rejection. You have to recognize that it’s part of the process—part of business. Then try to figure out who might say “yes” and look for those ideal clients.
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