HR Branding for HR Professionals

If you are developing your own brand, how does this actually work?

Behind the fashionable lexicon of a ‘personal brand’ is the more traditional notion of building and promoting a ‘reputation’. This involves both action(s) and publicity. In terms of HR practitioners, this could be done by specialising, speaking at specialist events, etc.

The idea of a personal HR brand is not universally applicable, but rather, country and culturally specific.

However, some issues you should consider :-

1. To what extent is HR still seen as a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ role and function? Indeed, one person’s specialisation is another’s narrowness, even inflexibility. So, you may become known as a remuneration specialist or a trainer, etc, rather than for HR generally.


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2. To what extent is this marketing and HR brand for external or internal use, vis-à-vis others in the profession or colleagues?

3. Generic general issues would be that HR are not marketers, and traditionally, too busy with operational details and have little time to spend on the ‘why and how’ of developing their own brand. This is despite work on the changing roles of the HR profession (Saha and Rowley, 2015).

4. The idea of a personal HR brand is not universally applicable, but rather, country and culturally specific. While it may fit more highly individualised societies and business organisations/practices of the US and UK, this is not so for vast swatches elsewhere, in particular, parts of Asia. While the former often has ‘hero worship’ with hagiographic stories, often as a precursor for the assertion ‘it could be you’, the latter, such as Japan and South Korea, only has this for scions of the founding families. Then, there is the labour market situation and dynamics: strong external labour markets in the US/UK, with high labour turnover and mobility versus strong internal labour markets in Japan/Korea, with ‘salarymen’ (sic) in ‘jobs for life’. Given this context, when meeting even senior Japanese/Korean executives, they will give the company name first before their own. Mix in the diversity issues and gender discrimination and you can see the problems.

So, if a HR professional is developing their own HR brand, how will that actually work in practice? It may have more traction in US/UK organisations and context, but clearly less so in Japan/Korea.

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Brown, J. (2015) ‘HR as a Product: Be the Brand of Choice: Rethink your Role as a HR Department’, About Money

Saha Mukherjee, J. and Rowley. C (2015) The hanging role of the HR Profession in the Asia Pacific Region, Oxford: Elsevier

Sheratt, S. (2013) ‘How HR Professionals Can Build a Personal Brand’, HR Magazine, Dec.

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