I recently watched the movie “Horrible Bosses,” a comedy about three friends that inadvertently stumble upon the idea to…well, kill their bosses. While the premise hopefully isn’t realistic for you, I was intrigued by one scene that I believe shows how important personal branding is.

In the beginning of the movie, Jason Bateman’s character Nick Hendricks is talking with his “horrible boss” Dave Harken who is played by Kevin Spacey. When Hendricks gets passed up for a promotion and talks about leaving, Harken reminds him that with one word to the competition Hendricks won’t have any chance at another gig–and is therefore stuck with the job he has without the promotion he was all-but promised.

Instantly, I thought about this blog and our message of personal branding. See, if Hendricks had a personal brand, it wouldn’t matter what meanies like his boss said–the competition would know who he was and likely take a chance on him. Without that name for himself and only status as an employee for another brand, the competition would probably listen to Harken’s dismal review.

Employee or not, a personal brand makes a huge difference. If you’re self-employed it’s the vehicle that helps you stand out and build legitimacy. And if you’re an employee, it can be the selling point that gets you out of a dead-end job. We can assume Hendricks was so busy working his way up at Harken’s company and never made the time–nor thought it critical–to work on his personal brand. If he had, he may not have launched the plan to axe (no pun intended) his boss. He could have just relied on his brand to advance his career instead of Harken.

Your personal brand is critical because we live in a reputation-focused world. Without establishing your brand and saying who you are, you’re simply letting someone else convey whatever “brand” they want for you.

Hopefully in your case, you work on your personal brand and don’t let the Harkens of the world be the boss of you.

Author:

Kristen is a copywriter and author who enjoys what she does for a living. Kristen is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer. Kristen writes regularly for MediaBistro, SheKnows and FreelanceSwitch. She is a panelist on the biweekly, award-winning podcast FreelanceRadio. Kristen is the author of Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life and her new book, It Takes More than Talent: Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined is due out in January 2013. She has been featured on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and CareerBuilder; and also in the Boston Herald, the New Jersey Star-Ledger and in the Asbury Park Press.