Career Warfare: 10 Rules for Building a Successful Personal Brand on the Business Battlefield
by by David F. D'Alessandro
McGraw Hill, 2nd Edition, 240 pages, $11.53
Branding can be tricky business. The essence of branding is "Know yourself" then shape your skills into something appealing and ultimately hire-able, but Career Warfare stresses the latter part of branding. This is the practice of getting into your audience's mindset to perceive how they will see you. This critical phase is the territory D'Alessandro urges readers to focus on before they step onto the business battlefield. Without it, the people with the power to hire you will have a hard time separating your unique traits from the competition. Career seekers seeking winning strategies that will look good in the eyes of potential employers won't want to pass up this book.
"You have to view your own actions in the same way that people judging you will view them," D'Allesandro writes in the first chapter. Career Warfare systematically explores how we can manage our reputations, and the limitations of our tendency toward self-absorption. Because our perception is biased, we tend to make excuses for ourselves without realizing what our actions look like to outside observers. During a career search, everyone from contacts to secretaries to hiring managers is assessing you. These issues of character and reputation can make or break whether you get an offer or wind up on the list of also-rans.
Cultivating your personal brand should be done thoughtfully and methodically, and job seekers should always be conscious of how actions, words, and appearance impact their brand. Career Warfare posits that most hiring decisions are made on the basis of impressions, rather than a thorough analysis or comparison. D'Alessandro writes "the biggest mistake you can make is to assume that organizations are rational." This sage advice will help professionals develop their energy and force of will instead of only focusing on practical concerns like skills and knowledge.
The book's strongest suit is its real life examples supporting arguments. In a section on the concept of making your boss look good, D'Allesandro cites former White House chief of staff John Sununu as a textbook case of what not to do. Sununu's style was described as "running the White House as if he were president." This counters the respectful approach to superiors that Career Warfare advocates throughout.
Whether you're already employed and looking to stand out from the crowd or you're trying to build your personal brand as a job seeker, Career Warfare's view from the front lines of the business battlefield will help your cause. The fact that D'Allesandro moved through the ranks as a marketing guru on his way to becoming a CEO makes his "war stories" candid and valuable for anyone trying to succeed in a business environment.