I’ve had two conversations lately with a couple of experts in the employment industry around the subject of Personal Branding and just how critical it is to do it well these days. I first heard about this concept several few years ago, and even if you’ve heard of it, it’s well worth re-visiting. The hunt for a job these days is a sales and marketing campaign for You Inc. What does that mean?
Branding is how you differentiate your product or service from everyone else’s. Personal branding is the same. Think of Oprah for example. What do you think of when you think of her? Inspirational, successful, the high road of media, philanthropic? You immediately have a very strong image of what she stands for because she has a very distinctive personal brand.
For us mid-lifers, knowing your own brand is more important today than it ever has been. The rules have changed and the days of simply showing up, doing your job, and assuming you’ll always have that job if you want it are rapidly disappearing. We are competing for jobs with younger folks and people across the globe. Companies are under a lot of competitive pressure and are laying off. Often, older workers are the first casualties. Many of us want, or need, to work far beyond the traditional retirement age.
In this climate, being passive about your job and looking to your employer to guide you is not nearly enough according to those “in the know.” Those who fare best are those who are proactive and think of themselves as their own business even if they are someone else’s employee. It’s about You, Inc.
These folks understand what their core competencies are. They know the trends in their industry and they are aware of the factors driving the changes in it that could affect their “business.” They are looking ahead to see what adjustments they need to make to adapt. They think beyond a job description to understand the role they can best play in an organization.
Here are some helpful questions for getting a handle on your personal brand.
- What are the things I do better than anyone else?
- What makes me stand out when compared with others?
- What parts of my work history have I enjoyed the most?
- What products or services do I ‘sell’ currently?
- What are the changes in my company/my industry that could affect me/my job?
- What new ‘products and services’ do I need to add to my repertoire to adapt to those changes?
- What is the next level of skill sets I need to develop to deliver those ‘products and services’?
Have some fun with this! Imagine you’re You Inc.’s VP of Marketing and, like Oprah, that you want us all to have an instant understanding about you when we think of you. What would it be?