GUEST COMMENT: Unleash your powerful personal brand

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For the past few months many people in investment banking have been evaluating their career options. Some have been considering how to 're-brand' themselves, so they can work in other industries.

However, most people do not know themselves very well. You have to know yourself before you can market yourself. Then you can build a powerful personal brand which is based on who you really are.

Imagine your brand is a tall building. Ideally it should stand out from the rest, like the Gherkin or the Lloyd's Building. The first step is to dig a large hole, until you reach the bedrock. These are your talents. You can identify them but you cannot change them. You may be a derivatives trader or work in corporate finance. However, those are both skills which you have developed on the basis of an underlying talent. Once you identify the talent itself, you can find other ways of applying it.

The next step is to identify your values, i.e. what you believe is important. These are the foundations of your brand. They are still below the surface, but they have an enormous influence on the size and shape of the building. Two people with identical talents but different values will pursue different careers and build entirely different brands.

When we look at a building for the first time, we often wonder about its purpose. Is it a hospital, a fire station or a night club? The same goes for you. What is your purpose? Once people know what you are for, it becomes much easier for them to tell you about opportunities that could interest you and be right for you.

Imagine the following. You have just heard that an aunt, whom you never knew, has died. Net of tax, she has left you a thousand times your usual annual income. Using your connections in the City, you invest it so that you earn a real return of 4%. You now have 40 times your previous income, forever. Then your doctor calls about the recent lab tests. You have made medical history: you are immortal! However, your family and friends will grow old and die in the normal way. Now that you have an abundance of money - and unlimited time - what will you do? This is a big clue to your purpose.

Once you have some ideas about the work that interests you most, it is a good idea to meet people who are already working in that field. Rather than trying to get a job, it is better simply to explore the area that interests you. You will become much clearer about what you want to do next. Be warned, while you are exploring and becoming more knowledgeable, someone may surprise you by offering you a job.

John Purkiss is a headhunter and co-author of BRAND YOU - Turn Your Unique Talents into a Winning Formula, published by Artesian.

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