Many job applicants cite bad luck whenever they are unable to get a job, especially if it was in a competitive field. While luck plays a role in getting a job, it is not as large a factor as job applicants typically believe.
What many applicants refer to as luck actually refers to the act of branding. A professional brand represents who you are as an employee. The stronger your brand, the greater the chance of getting your desired job. When creating a brand, it is important you focus on more than just your workplace skills. Skills and experience make up part of your brand, but your brand also displays your personality and workplace values.
As an employee, it is important you develop your own personal brand. Everyone has a brand, so if you do not take responsibility in shaping yours, you risk everyone around you creating a brand on your behalf, which may not accurately represent who you really are. In the 2019 job market, having a personal brand is even more important, as employers are placing a greater value on hiring unique employees, so you cannot get by solely on having an impressive resume. Fortunately, there are many ways you can shape your personal brand in 2019.
Identify your Value
Before you can create a personal brand, you need to honestly assess your abilities. What do you do better than other employees and who are your best employers? Once you identify your skills, narrow your focus as much as possible. If you are good at organization, ask yourself if it is just personal organization, or if you are effective at organizing schedules for a team. Is your organization limited to written documents, or do you stay organized by giving instructions to everyone around you? All of these go into developing your personal brand. For example, if you are good at organizing other employees, you can brand yourself as a strong leader. If you are better at organizing information, you could instead focus your brand on consulting.
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You can dive even deeper to develop your brand. If you decide you are best at leading a team, what kind of team do you want to lead? Look at both the projects you have previously completed as well as the size of the team. If you want to lead larger teams, focus on building a professional network with larger businesses. If you prefer smaller teams, look at local or online businesses. There are many entrepreneurs just starting a business who need experienced leaders to guide a small team of employees. To simplify the process, focus on these questions:
- What it is you are good at, such as creating content, research, leading etc.
- Who is the target audience for your skills?
- What value do your skills bring? Are you better in a long-term position, or do you work best as a temporary consultant?
Show your Brand
In order to build a personal brand, you need to show everyone what you are capable of. Talking about your personal brand is not enough. If all you do is boast about your abilities but never demonstrate what you can do, you come off as unreliable. Ideally, you can demonstrate your brand based on prior work experience, such as showing a project you completed or using your network of references. If you are just starting out, you do not have as many examples available.
In these circumstances, do not be afraid to create a platform to show off your brand. In the 2019 job market, many employees rely on digital content to support their brand. If you have no past examples of your work to show, go online and make your own examples. There are plenty of websites where you can promote your brand and share your personal projects. When you apply for a job, do not be afraid to include this information as part of your resume. Employers are more likely to hire someone if they can see a physical example of their work.
Set a Reasonable Rate
A large part of your personal brand is based on how much you value your work. Many applicants do not like negotiating rates because it is challenging to come up with a reasonable number. One of the most common mistakes is underselling your work. If you say you are worth less than you actually are, you negatively impact your brand. Some critics argue it is better to set a lower price because you are undercutting your competition and are more likely to get accepted. At a glance, this may seem reasonable. However, experienced managers know better.
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Many managers have learned firsthand what happens if you hire someone for lower than the average going rate. In these circumstances, the hired party produces subpar work and the company ends up hiring someone else to fix their mistakes, usually at a higher rate because they are paying for a rush job. If you set your rate low as part of your personal brand, managers associate this level of work with your personal brand, no matter how skilled you are. Even if you have a portfolio of past examples to back up your skills, employers are leery about your price. Some may think they are getting a good deal, while others worry about the circumstances behind why you are undervaluing your skills.
When you set your rates, try to provide a detailed breakdown of how much you bring to the job. Employers value the rate you set, but it is also natural for them to try and negotiate for a lower rate. If you are unprepared, you not only end up being hired for less than you are worth, but you also risk poor negotiator getting added to your personal brand. To get the upper hand during negotiations, take the time to research the job before you apply. Make a list of the specific ways you can help the company, and more importantly, the way the company hurts by not hiring you.
Keep Building Your Brand
One of the problems for employees in 2019 is growing stagnant at work. This also applies to your brand. Employees who worked the same career for several years often end up making minimal updates to their brand until it is time to look for work. As you complete projects, make sure you use your successes to grow your brand. Get examples and recommendations whenever possible to highlight what you brought to the project or job. Do not be afraid to get additional certification or degrees to further support your personal brand.
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