Getting Hired: Developing a Professional Brand and the Impact on Career Resiliency
The analogy of a career ladder is not reflective of our modern work world. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, a better description is a career “jungle gym.” In a rapidly evolving world with frequent technological advances, having a solid, well-defined professional brand will prove invaluable as you navigate your career. To position yourself for success, it is essential to deliver a clear perception of your professional identity and be proactive in keeping your brand fresh. Regular maintenance and communication of your professional brand will build career resiliency as you navigate your career “jungle gym.”
WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL BRAND
A brand is an identifying mark or experience that distinguishes one organization or product from another. When people have an experience with a brand they form a belief about what they can expect from that brand in the future. They will make the choice to interact with or avoid this brand based on their needs and experiences. This is the foundation for a brand’s reputation.
This concept can be applied to individuals in their professional lives. A professional brand is something that identifies what strengths you bring to the table and what experiences people will have when working and interacting with you. Your brand speaks for you even when you are not present.
STRATEGIES TO DEVELOP YOUR PROFESSIONAL BRAND
What three words would you like to have associated with your name? When developing your professional brand, utilize the ‘Rule of 3.’ Identify your top three strengths and your top three values. You likely have more than three strengths and values but sharing just a few that align with the industry, organization, or role you are looking to transition into will give enough clarity without being convoluted or hard to remember. Three will show you have a firm understanding of your relevance and provide you with talking points to ground the conversation and navigate your career trajectory.
Research and assessment are critical elements in developing your professional brand. You must know your purpose and the market in which you will be working.
Step one: There are a plethora of personal assessment tools available to assist you in understanding your strengths, values, and personality. Taking a strengths-based approach provides a solid foundation to build this professional brand. Industries and jobs will change and you will develop new skills and interests over time but your core strengths, values, and personality will remain. This combination is what makes you unique!
Step two: Document the roles you have filled, professionally and personally, along with what you did and did not like about them. This step can provide insights into themes that show your skills, values and interests over the course of time. Look to identify your priorities, communication style, and what you are intrinsically motivated to work on. Think about why you enjoyed different roles and the impact you had.
Step three: Research organizations and job postings to find what industries and roles fit with your skills, values, and interests. This step allows you to assess yourself along with positions that align with your strengths and professional purpose.
Researching and assessing yourself along with jobs and markets will help you define what is meaningful and prepare to communicate this coherently on paper and in person. A focused delivery of strengths, skills, values, and interests is the foundation of a memorable professional brand and will provide impact even when you are not present.
COMMUNICATING AND MAINTAINING YOUR PROFESSIONAL BRAND
Be intentional about developing and delivering your professional brand. Key spaces for presenting your brand are on paper via resumes and cover letters, virtually via LinkedIn, in person while networking and interviewing, as well as in the workplace on a daily basis. What are you known for in your department and what it is like to work with you? No matter where you are, your professional brand is at work. Be positive and proactive in presenting and communicating your brand every day.
After you develop your brand, how will you maintain it? Industries shift, organizations adjust, and roles change but your brand endures. Professionals need to be evolving, advancing, and developing along with the world of work. A continual process of research and self-assessment, understanding what makes you unique and valuable, and delivering this professional brand in a modern context will provide the foundation for your career and a platform from which to navigate your professional trajectory.
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