An important part of personal branding is identifying the needs of your target audience. As you seek to position yourself as compelling and relevant to others, you must know what they find important, who influences them, and what they need.
Who is your target audience?
As a military veteran job seeker, your target audience is likely made up of ideal employers (hiring managers and recruiters,) networking contacts, and mentors. These are the people who must understand what you stand for, the values you believe in, and the value you can offer them. If your target audience does not notice you, or find you relevant and memorable, you run the strong risk of being invisible and irrelevant to them.
What do they need?
To build a relationship with you (which might include hiring you, investing in you, mentoring you, etc.) your audience needs to have certain needs met. Every human being has two sets of fundamental needs: Functional needs and emotional needs.
Your audience’s functional needs are the “check the box” basic needs that qualify you for a conversation. For instance, if a hiring manager is searching for a new project management leader for the company, they will need you to have project management experience (of some kind,) perhaps they require a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, they might want to see a certain number of years of experience, and so on. These are the “functional” requirements that would make it unlikely for someone who worked as a non-fiction writer to qualify for an interview.
Your target audience also has emotional needs. They need to feel something about you, which must make you attractive to them. Consider the project management hiring manager again: Perhaps she is looking for a candidate who will inspire a struggling team perform at greater levels. She might be seeking someone who can take charge of a challenge, but is collaborative and welcoming. These are emotional qualities she needs to see in the person she’s evaluating in order to proceed.
How do you know?
Researching the company online gives you insight into the kinds of people they hire, what they value and deem important, and the way they evaluate “culture fit” in the organization. In addition, talking to people you know who work there, used to work there, or who know the hiring manager can shed light into their emotional needs and goals.
Too often we approach our target audience by only addressing their functional needs. “What do they need to know about me?” We throw resumes, data, and bulleted lists at them in the hopes they will advance us through the hiring process. Instead, we need to pay attention to how they need to experience us – “what do they need to feel about me?” The feelings need can, in some cases, even make up for shortcomings in the qualifications. Consider the hiring manager who’s looking for a new Executive Assistant to a young Director in the company. This hiring manager might be willing to overlook some qualifications for a good fit within the company and with the Director, for the right candidate. This is where many veterans find themselves differentiating themselves to capture great opportunities!