You Career Brand – Part 2
In Part 1 of Personal Branding for Career Minded People we discussed first steps in preparing for a personal branding effort, why it’s important, why it is useful, and a few good examples to learn from.
In Part 2, we cover a few areas of Personal Branding that will help you through those days and weeks when you may not feel excited about putting your thoughts out to a community.
Personal brand career development is a skill. We can teach it!
You may still be wondering “How does a career brand work?” Let’s answer that question in this article.
A Big Idea
Think of your rebranding narrative like you might a journal.
See your life as a narrative with a simple plot – “How got the career / job I wanted”.
Part 1: Where I am now and how I got there and the thinking, changes, and problems and successes along the way to now.
Part 2: What I am doing now and how I am thinking about getting the career. Good and Bad stuff – Handling the bad stuff professionally and thoughtfully shows you have grit and that’s a big one for interviewers.
Part 3: The stuff that happened in my life when and after I got my job.
What If I already have a job I love?
If you have that job or career already, think about “What is my brand at work?” Think about it honestly, then create a narrative to make it better.
One way to do this is to think about your manager’s or co-worker’s review of you. There are always some negatives, and you can’t always fix them. You don’t ever need to make everyone happy. But you can use them as content that is honest and forthright.
“In my latest review, I learned that people don’t think I am listening closely to instructions. I’ll definately start working on that. Here is a link to a vlog I found that was helpful.”
You’ve now shown that you are listing, that you are looking to improve your listening skills and brought value to your readers. A small win. Small wins add up.
An important concept is to be honest.
This as we all know is not the case for most posts and social feeds. Check your ego at the door. Your personal career brand is an opportunity to begin again. Learn your way through it and come out in a better place in the end.
Companies hire people they feel will help them grow and will contribute honestly to their success and growth.
Here is a question we are asked a lot:
Why is my personal career brand important?
There are a few main reasons that we covered in Part 1. Here are a few others that may provide you with some inspiration.
- It’s an easy way to show the world that you are serious about your career.
You may have had 1 job you would consider a career job. Or, like many CareerNet Nation members you may have only been in that “job until you get that next job”.
Personal note from a staff member:
“I painted houses and waited tables while interviewing for a job in finance many years ago. Many of my friends had been fortunate enough to have parents or relatives in finance and so were able to find internships easily. That wasn’t in the cards for me.
But I didn’t have social media either. If we had social then I could have taken pictures and journaled my experiences and thoughts on my path from there to Wall Street. People would see that I was willing to work hard hours and weekends, that my social life had already taken a back seat to my job/business life and the importance hard work had in my life.”
See the benefit?
- If you have an entry level career type job, you can journal about your accomplishments.
These accomplishments can be small or large. Simple or complex. Just don’t sound too “braggy”. Be positive yes, but do not exaggerate. Here is an example from a current staff member’s Twitter feed.
“Finally placed a talented candidate in a great first job. Sometimes its hard for reasons you don’t expect.”
That’s it. Simple, short. Honest. We all have these moments in our daily. Report them positively, but resist announcing them as if they are cures for cancer. You know what we mean.
- Social Media posts about your work or career experiences tell people that you are becoming an expert in your position or role.
It takes time to become an expert, and really, unless you are a 5 year exceptional performer in a particular job with particular skills, you are not an expert. Maybe 1% of all people are actually “Experts” in their field.
However we should all strive to reach that expertise in business. Your career personal brand should show that you are on the path to becoming an expert. That’s a strong place to be because it highlights your focus and discipline in trying to achieve expertise in your industry or job.
Important: You can pursue expertise in anything. The process to reaching expertise in anything you do requires the same core skills – Discipline, focus, Grit, thoughtful decision making. So wherever you are, highlight those factors. Washing Cars? Waiting Tables? Tending Bar? In the Mail Room? Report on your accomplishments and what you have learned that make you better at your current job.
- It’s a differentiator.
Your creation of a career brand will present you to the world in ways that other people do not. The simple act of honest social media journalling about your career path alerts hiring professionals that you don’t just talk-the-talk you actually walk-the-talk.
A bonus in all this, people will recognize your values and will want to hire you and pay you well for applying that value to their business, organization, or company.
How often do I need to make an entry?
“Every day seems like a lot more than I am capable of.”
Frequency. Posts per day or Per week.
Far too often we read that using social media to develop a brand requires constant posts, daily, every 4 hours, every hour 8:00 – 6:00. That to stay relevant to your community you need to post every day at specific times to build your community.
We do not agree.
As discussed in Part 1., building a Career Brand is about communicating experiences that are valuable to you. An experience that is real. One that speaks to the audience you want to be part of.
You are trying to offer your career value through a personal narrative to fewer, higher quality community members.
Seen from this viewpoint, you alone can define the frequency and its content.
Here are a few examples to get you thinking:
- A 1 minute video every time something important occurs that you want to discuss or think about.
- A 1 – 3 sentence paragraph with an image that corresponds to the thought, question or message you wish to convey.
- A valuable re-post originating from a community member or industry professional – Which includes your thinking on its value. Hint: Saying “I liked this” or “I Agree” is NOT your thinking on the re-post. “I never realized spell check was so important until reading this”, is a better descriptor of your thinking.
- So too is “Here is something I need learn, thanks Jane Evertson (name of mentor or source) for sharing a teachable moment.”
It’s Important to Stay on Point
Remember your narrative and by extension your brand needs to follow a path. Do not chase flashy objects that do not fit your narrative but seem to be generating likes and followers. Here is a real-world example and error we corrected in-house:
One of our staff members came from another, completely different line of work. In his professional feed we discovered that he was re-posting and discussing events taking place within that previous industry. This had the effect of confusing his community and his narrative. The result? We lost 30% of his followers during a 3-week period. These same followers or “community members” remained with other members of our staff who stayed on point.
The lesson: If you elect to change or adjust your posts or comments in a Career Branded social media profile that is unrelated to what you are doing now and where you are going, you risk losing much of the narrative and consistency your good work has developed.
Mistakes are Good.
This is not a “Mistakes are Learning Experiences” discussion. As the saying goes, we all make them. Mistakes you make in business or business conversations discussed properly makes you genuine to your audience.
Write to your target audience
Writing to people in your target audience will keep you on point (more below). But first you need to know who that audience is.
In this order => A) People who are thinking about hiring you, B) your current co-workers, and C) your “real friends”.
However we can all make mistakes and post things that are not part of your career narrative. Here’s how you handle that.
First, don’t delete the entry that wasn’t the best idea.
People who are following you may have already read that post and if they are looking for it and can not find it, they will know you deleted it and wonder what else you may have deleted. This may seem a bit over the top, but your focus should be building trust. Part of building trust is owning your mistakes and then moving on.
Second, apologize the professional way.
Using the example in the section just above, our colleague wrote about his mistake in posting things that were not on-point:
“I’ve determined my business profile is not the proper forum to share events taking place in an unrelated industry. It reminds me that our industry is complex enough and requires focus in order to achieve lasting success.”
This message accomplished 2 things.
First, he acknowledged a mistake without apologizing. Without saying “I’m So Sorry” – There is a time and methed to apologizing like that, by voice to an individual.
Second, our colleague did not name the mistake or its context. His message was simple and direct.
He may not have regained the community members he lost. He did not receive any “It’s OK” replies. But his numbers stabilized and then began to grow again.
Look to the Future. More Career Branding Hints:
These are important ideas and concepts about Career Branding that we wanted to include and thought may be helpful.
- Remember, your Career Brand will always be evolving to meet the changes happening in your industry. That’s good. Your tone and a positive attitude are the things that should not change.
- If you are direct and kind, people will respect it. If you are direct and snarky, people will not respect it.
- If you are clear and honest about what you want to accomplish professionally, people will begin to listen.
- If you believe that the industry is moving in the wrong direction, it is ok to say so with kindness. Chances are your read of another professional’s statements or actions is topical or incomplete. Therefore, your criticism is likely wrong or flawed. You are not the smartest person in the room, but you can be the most interested, industrious and committed. Rely on these strengths.
- Learn from people who have been in the industry longer than you. With that perspective, here is the point;
Never forget that your posts are lasting.
You do not know who is reading them, saving them or copying them. Think about your future career brand before you post.
Stay on your path.
This is Important!
We leave you today with this final thought: Do not worry about the traction or number of followers or likes you receive.
You never can predict what will compel people to like your post, video or images. None of this matters, really.
What DOES matter is that you are now in control of your own career narrative.
If a few minutes work 4x a week for 4 weeks gets you that interview or that job you really want because one person read your social media feed and recognized your value for their organization, it was worth doing, right?