Ready for a Career Change – Start with your Brand Image

Often, when you are at a career intersection, whether it is the result of a decision to seek another job, a layoff, or a desire to start a new career, we must first ask, what does your brand say about you today? A personal brand audit is an excellent way to start as you reinvent your career. The best way to understand what your brand is today is to ask others.

Your brand is a combination of how others see you and how they expect you to behave. It includes the experiences they have had with you, how they have observed you, how they see you demonstrate your values, and how they interpret your mission and purpose in work and life. Their personal experiences and what they have observed through conversations and actions will tell you what your brand is.

There are five steps in conducting a brand audit:

  1. Build the questions you want to ask
  2. Create the list of who you want to ask
  3. Use a tool that will allow these people to answer with anonymity
  4. Craft the cover letter introducing the purpose of the survey
  5. Develop a thick skin

In step one, “Build the questions you want to ask,” you need to know what kind of feedback you are looking for from your list. In broad terms, these questions should include the following professional and personal attributes. Here are some sample questions for each of these categories:


  1. You do what I say I’m going to do
  2. You can be trusted to keep a secret or a confidence
  3. You seem to believe me


  1. You seem to be loyal to your employer
  2. You seem to be faithful to your co-workers
  3. You seem to be loyal to your friends and family


  1. You are generous with your time
  2. You are generous with your resources
  3. You are generous with your knowledge
  4. You are generous with your skills


  1. You treat your peers fairly
  2. You treat your bosses fairly
  3. You treat your direct reports fairly
  4. You treat friends and family fairly
  5. You treat strangers fairly


  1. Your sense of humor is contagious
  2. Your sense of humor is self-deprecating
  3. Your sense of humor is at the expense of others
  4. Your sense of humor is inappropriate
  5. Your sense of humor is insensitive to others


  1. Your leadership style is dictatorial
  2. Your leadership style is command-control
  3. Your leadership style inspires others
  4. Your leadership style is to serve others
  5. Your leadership style is laissez-faire
  6. Your leadership style is collaborative
  7. Your leadership style is abrasive
  8. Your leadership style seems erratic
  9. Your leadership style is consistent


  1. You coach in the present, real-time
  2. You coach using scheduled one-to-one session
  3. You coach when something has gone wrong
  4. You coach for both appreciation and improvement


  1. Your temperament seems very consistent from day today
  2. You bring outside stresses to the workplace
  3. You hold or grudge
  4. You have set opinions of others
  5. Your opinions cannot be changed


  1. Your communications are clear
  2. Your communications are professional
  3. Your communications include all of the pertinent information
  4. Your communications are frequent
  5. Your communications are consistent


  1. You stand up for what is right
  2. You are not afraid to take a business risk
  3. You are not afraid to take a professional risk
  4. You are not afraid to make a decision
  5. You are willing to have difficult conversations with your bosses
  6. You are willing to have difficult conversations with your direct reports
  7. You are willing to have difficult conversations with your peers

All survey questions should be answered by multiple choices using the following options:

  1. All of the time
  2. Some of the time
  3. Occasionally
  4. Never

Next, pick your list of people to survey

This list should be people who have first-hand experience with you in a business setting. Try to balance the survey respondents into three categories. People that have worked for me (direct reports), people that I have worked with (peers), and people I have directly reported.

Utilize an online survey tool is a free tool that will meet your needs for this project. The answers can be anonymous, and it is easy for the respondents to use.

Draft your cover letter in which to send the survey link

Don’t get too wordy. This cover letter needs to encourage people to complete the survey. Tell them:

  • Why you need their help
  • What you will do with this information

The anonymity of the responses is critically important.

Here is a sample cover letter:

 Dear trusted business associate,

I am asking you to complete the survey found in an embedded link in this email. The purpose of this survey is to help me understand better how I am seen by people who have reported to me, peers I have worked with, and bosses to whom I have reported. The reason I am doing this is to learn what I need to do to proactively improve not only how people perceive of me but also to learn what traits and tendencies I have that I need to improve on. I have chosen Survey Monkey because the responses are anonymous, so please be honest with your answers. This survey is an exercise in self-discovery, learning, and improvement.

The survey is fifty questions long and will take an estimated 10 minutes to complete, and this link will be active for one week.

Thank you,

Have a thick skin

Don’t get defensive if you get critical feedback, but also, don’t get too big-headed if you get praise.

Develop an action plan

The only purpose of a brand audit exercise is to learn how others perceive you and to develop tactics to remove the negative impressions and build on positive feedback.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

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