In a fiercely competitive environment – what can you do to stand out?
To differentiate yourself from other candidates or employees – it’s important that you develop and drive your ‘Career Brand’.
- What sort of image are you presenting to your co-workers and managers?
- Do you cultivate effective relationships and networks within your organisation and industry?
Your career brand is as much about your ‘image’ as your attitude in general – so here are a few key things you can address to take control of your personal branding:
TREAT YOUR JOB LIKE IT’S YOUR OWN BUSINESS
- Ask yourself honestly: what would you do differently if your job was your business?
It is vital that you take the work you do seriously, care about the quality of the work you produce and the way you interact with clients and co-workers. Ultimately your career success is up to YOU… so if you want the returns you need to invest the energy every day.
FIND A MENTOR – they provide a unique sounding board for ideas, keep you focussed, give great advice, and can create career opportunities through their network of connections and contacts. Your career will go further faster with a mentor.
BE AWARE OF YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – employers and recruiters use the internet too! With the prevalence of social networking sites such as facebook, bebo and myspace, an employer can investigate what you do outside of ‘office hours’ with a few simple clicks of a mouse. Pay attention to the images and language associated with your online presence.
Spend time checking out the content of these sites and what is available for the public to view – Facebook, for example; provides several privacy options that allow you to control what content shows in your profile. You should also ‘google’ yourself to be aware of any ‘dishonourable mentions’ that could pop up.
With a little forethought you can make the internet a powerful and effective branding tool by having a personal site to showcase your resume/ achievements. You can also utilise business networking sites such as ‘linked in’ – which provide a free service allowing you to reconnect with ex-colleagues and bosses.
WHAT IMAGE DOES YOUR BEHAVIOUR PAINT? First impressions count -it pays to keep in mind when out and about that you could be meeting a future boss or customer – if you want to be memorable be sure it’s for the right reasons.
WHAT DOES YOUR LANGUAGE TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOU? If your communication with others has a negative slant – you could be tarred with that brush. To foster inspiring relationships and have the opportunity to be part of exciting initiatives in your organisation – you must be seen as positive and forward thinking.
Avoid pessimistic conversations and language – positivity can be ‘catching’ in the workplace – so choose your attitude and lead others by your example.
USE EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING – effective goals are INSPIRING. They take you further than the ‘KPIs’ set in your role. They should be specific, measurable, ‘stretchy’, and be aligned with your passions and your values. Goals are personal and powerful – make them work for you.
WHAT DOES YOUR WARDROBE SAY ABOUT YOU? Think about the details of your physical appearance – ironed shirt? clean (non-scuffed) shoes? tidy hair? Being meticulous in your dress creates a professional image. Even if you don’t quite ‘feel’ the part – you can certainly look the part.
MAKE WRITTEN COMMUNICATION WORK FOR YOU
- Are you professional, upbeat, friendly and to the point in your communication?
- Do you send email when you could or should be picking up the phone instead?
Think about how your email use portrays you to others. Is your language overly-familiar? Do you use vague abbreviations or ‘text speak’? It’s easy to be misunderstood without the aid of body language or tone/ inflection of voice – so it’s worthwhile taking the time to review your written communication style and making it work for you – not against you!
WHAT DO YOU FOCUS ON? If you start each day dreading what’s to come – what sort of day do you think you will have? Be aware of your internal monologue and choose to STOP negative language in your mind. By focussing on the positive and telling yourself how great the day is going to be – you will attract good things to you. Try it – it works.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS – Generally speaking, as you move up the career ladder, stress and pressure increases: so learning to manage this now makes sense. Know your triggers, take control of your stress and do what you need to do to manage the pressures in your day. This could be a simple as getting up and walking away from your desk. If it works – do it.
USE NETWORKING TO YOUR ADVANTAGE – some organisations and industries require you to get attend breakfast or ‘after 5’ networking events, and this is a great way to build your career brand or profile. You get a chance to learn, promote your organisation, as well as forge important relationships within your industry. This is an opportunity not a chore!
Think about the way you interact with your colleagues at work – the relationships you create with Administrative or support staff are just as important as those with a Manager. Treating everyone with respect will ensure you get assistance when you most need it.
To harness opportunities in the workplace you need to be savvy about your ‘Career Brand’. Set your own standards high – and be honest with yourself about the effort you put into both your image and your attitude each day – be consistent.
You drive your success – you have the tools – so choose your direction and go for it!