The term branding has long been associated with companies, but today it applies just as much to individuals. Whether you’re on the job hunt, a student, or gainfully employed, personal branding is essential to successful career development. A brand establishes how you’re perceived by others and identifies your unique value proposition. But internal auditors, like many professionals, often neglect to brand themselves effectively. Such practitioners do themselves a great disservice, as failing to carefully manage your personal brand can impede professional progress and even damage your career.
One critical branding mistake is to think only like an employee and not consider the perspective of those who might hire you. Internal auditors should put themselves in a prospective employer’s shoes and ask themselves what traits, credentials, and experience they might look for in a potential candidate. Those seeking to specialize in IT auditing, for example, should make sure their resume reflects appropriate steps toward expertise in technology. Similarly, an internal auditor looking to eventually lead an audit function needs to ensure his or her professional profile suggests a trajectory toward leadership. Auditors should review their resume, make sure their skills and experience reflect the direction they wish their career to take, and take action to address any weaknesses.
Still, despite the importance of proactively managing career deficiencies, another crucial mistake auditors often make is failing to take such action and invest in themselves. People often rush to have the latest technology, with features that provide greater efficiency, sophistication, and convenience. By the same token, employers need individuals who continually improve themselves as professionals and invest in their career. Those who don’t improve, just like old technology, will become obsolete. Attending training courses, reading industry publications, and seeking other opportunities to enhance industry knowledge are all necessary steps to maintaining a strong brand.
None of this preparation does any good, of course, unless it’s seen by the right people and marketed effectively. For this reason, auditors need to ensure online visibility by leveraging professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. Practitioners should obtain work recommendations to strengthen their online profile, seeking comments from a variety of stakeholders including direct reports, line managers, and clients. Moreover, the profile should be viewed as a living document and updated with every new skill or achievement — not just when desperately seeking a new opportunity.
Personal branding is not a one-day project; it’s a continuous, ongoing effort. It takes years of work to craft and polish a brand and to be recognized as a respected professional. A strong personal brand should capture who you are, who you aspire to be, and what separates you from your peers.