Recently, I noticed that my neighbors were sprucing up their yard, cleaning the driveway, painting the house and having a string of repairs done.  They moved with such persistence, I wondered whether this was more than just early “spring cleaning”. I was hardly surprised a few days later when a realtor came by to put up a “For Sale” sign.

The telltale signs were recognizable as the common maintenance steps that realtors usually suggest. Why is all the cleaning and sprucing necessary? To increase “curb appeal”, of course. That concept, usually reserved for real estate, can apply to our visual image as well. Whether seeking employment, a career change or an internal promotion, we can also follow a series of steps that enable us to present the most appealing package possible to hiring managers, potential employees and new customers.

Put simply, we all face a challenging job market that still offers far too few job openings. When you consider that there are nearly 5 unemployed individuals for every job opening – and that this statistic doesn’t even factor in qualified applicants who are already employed – you realize that more than ever, a candidate needs an edge in order to stand out from the crowd. In my experience, an authentic leadership presence that is polished, poised and professional can set you apart in this way and help you sell employers on the value that you bring to the table. You can stand out from the crowd!

Based on my clients’ experiences, though, possessing the exterior style is pointless if what is beneath the surface is inconsistent. For this reason, it is crucial to build a leadership presence from the inside-out.  Here are three keys that are the foundation to maintaining a strong leadership presence:

1.            Get to know yourself. An effective leadership presence is an authentic representation of your character, values, skills and strengths. Take the time to figure out what this means for YOU.  Because so many job candidates simply race from interview to interview, this alone will put you ahead of the pack.

2.            Identify areas for growth. Whether with the help of professionally-developed self-assessment tests or through informal interviews of your family, friends, colleagues and mentors, identify missing skill-sets or abilities that may be hampering your advancement. Develop a plan to address them.

3.            Build a personal brand. Once you have completed steps one and two, you have all the ingredients necessary to define exactly who you are at your best. More importantly, you are ready to identify your most unique abilities and values and sum them up into a brand that will inform the way you present yourself to the world.

With a personal brand, you are well on your way to developing authentic leadership presence. Join me next week and we’ll talk about how to project that presence so that the outside matches the inside.  May you continue to “show up” in life by managing the impressions that others have of you.