As we mentioned last Thursday, today begins a series of NEW career-related posts for a post-COVID-19 workplace. Importantly, the first activity you should embark on is properly projecting YOUR self-brand. Then, every other career-related activity you undertake should flow from this one. Due to its importance, we divide this topic into two parts. Today, an overview of self-branding. With an easy-to-follow format to guide you. Tomorrow, we cover the process in more detail. With lots of tips and examples.
First, consider our definition of self-branding:
Self‐branding reflects how we want to be perceived by employers, potential employers, peers, and others. Therefore, it is a major key to long‐term career success. Self‐branding occurs when an individual develops and markets him‐ or herself in the same manner as a brand of a product would be marketed. Indeed, a “product” is a bundle of attributes that are offered to a consumer.
For a detailed introductory look at self-branding, read this article: Self-Branding Across Roles and Life Stages: Overview. And this one: Definitive Guide to Personal Branding.
A Tool for Properly Projecting YOUR Self-Brand
Within this article, we discuss the aspects of self-branding (generally speaking, in chronological order). Complete with a chart. In sum, our coverage involves seven steps. Today, we briefly describe each step in well-defined self-branding. PLEASE, read through this material carefully. And take it seriously. This requires considerable introspection on your part. Again, PLEASE — complete this process in-depth. And as honestly as you can. Self-branding sets the stage for all your career-related activities that follow.
In our process, we include seven steps. As shown in the chart. In addition, there should always be a feedback loop. After the chart, we briefly describe each step. On an ongoing basis, review your self brand. Then, make any necessary changes as you and the marketplace both evolve.
One — Articulate the self-brand you perceive for yourself.
Honestly, state to yourself the self-brand features that you believe you possess. Is your perception realistic? Does it represent the past? The present? The future? A combination of the three.
Write down your perception of your self-brand. Try to do this in twenty-five words or less.
Two — Determine how others perceive your self-brand.
Informally — off the record — talk to your friends, peers, professors, etc. Learn how they perceive you. Most likely, they will identify at least some of your self-brand attributes differently then you see them yourself. This is a great learning opportunity. You will need to reconcile how you perceive yourself versus how others perceive you.
Three — Do a current SWOT analysis.
At this point, you’re ready to do an insightful, honest SWOT analysis that reflects multiple reviews of you. Strengths: What are your best attributes? As clearly as possible, explain them. What are your weakest attributes? These are just for you to think about. With the goal of first identifying and then improving these factors. Opportunities: Consider the industries, career paths, and companies that will grow in the future. Threats: These include the state of the economy, global health issues, regulations, declining industries and occupations, etc. that will affect you in the future.
Four — Identify areas you need to improve upon.
No matter who we are, we have areas to improve upon. That is why SWOT analysis is so vital. First, it is better for us to understand our weaknesses before others see them (such as, at a new job). If we know what we need to improve, we can do so. If we don’t recognize our weaknesses, how can we improve upon them? Second, we will enhance our skill set accordingly.
Five — State your ideal future-oriented self-brand.
This stage is aspirational. As we look to the future, how would we like to be perceived. This vision for ourselves changes over time and through different career stages. Complacency means that we would be satisfied with the same self-brand in the future? Is that you? Are you happy stagnating?
Six — Match your self-brand to career/job opportunities.
Now, we should see how our self-brand aligns with the career/job opportunities we wish to pursue. Three possible scenarios are possible. One, we believe our self-brand is already aligned to the marketplace. Two, we believe need our self-brand only requires tweaking to be aligned to the marketplace. Three, we realize that our current self-brand is poorly aligned to the marketplace.
The third scenario means significant repositioning of our self-brand. In that case, we may need to switch or job categories.
Seven — Communicate your updated self-brand.
Compared to the past, there are so many more channels available to communicate our self-brand. Use as many of these channels as possible. Two keys here: (1) Complete the first six steps first!! (2) Be sure that your self-brand is synced across all of the channels you use. That means constant monitoring.
Feedback Loop — Regularly reassess your self-brand.
On a regular basis (at least annually), reassess your self-brand. Fine-tune it as necessary. But try not to constantly reposition yourself. That would be confusing.