Feeling stuck in your career? On one hand you want to move into a more inspiring job, but on the other hand you’re afraid of losing your salary, or worse yet, that your new dream job turns out to be unstable and you find yourself suddenly unemployed?
Whether you’re a marketing guru in the high tech industry or a project manager for a Fortune 100 company, you’ll eventually hit a fork in the career road and ask yourself, “If I leave my current job will the risk be worth the reward?”
Personally, I’ve re-branded my own career four (4) times and each time with a higher paycheck. I’ve learned that there are three (3) critical challenges with re-branding and the strategies you need to overcome those challenges –
Does re-branding mean a salary decrease?
As a leading career coach, the #1 biggest question I get asked is, “How can I re-brand myself without decreasing my salary?”
Each time I re-branded myself, I received a 15-34% higher paycheck. A client of mine, Matt, also just reinvented himself from a TV production manager to a high-tech production manager and received a 15% pay increase.
So how can you do it? First, choose a higher paying industry. Some industries pay higher than others. For example, healthcare and high tech industries typically pay more than the media and construction industries. When I switched from a marketing role in television to a marketing role in the finance industry, I received a 29% salary increase.
Next, you’ll want to target the higher paying companies. There are companies within the same industry that pay more than others so do some research and find out which companies have the highest wages. Finally, some job roles pay higher than others. For example, when I re-branded myself from being a marketing project manager to a technical project manager I received a 34% salary increase. Do your homework and research high paying industries, companies and job roles on sites such as GlassDoor.com and Salary.com
What if I fail?
I understand fear. Each time I thought about re-branding myself I got scared. Fear of failure. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown.
The secret is learning how to set yourself up for success. Use your job interviews as an opportunity to learn about the company’s culture, management style and anything else that’s important to you such as telecommuting, professional training or advancement opportunities. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to learn if the new job would offer you the right challenges and the right environment where you could thrive.
Also, just because somebody wants to hire you doesn’t mean you should automatically accept the position. Many times, I’ve taken myself out of the hiring process because either the job or the company weren’t a good fit. You don’t have to accept a job offer unless you want it.
What if I don’t have the right stuff?
Moving into a different career requires that you have different skills and experience. So if you don’t have the skills or experience, then you’ll need to invest in yourself to get it.
If you’re seeing that your dream job requires an advanced degree or certification, then invest in yourself and go get it. If you need some kind of specialized expertise or experience, then get it. I joined the Board of Directors of the American Marketing Association (an outside volunteer position) to strengthen my marketing and leadership skills which gave me the experience I needed to land a Fortune 100 job. Another time, when a company didn’t have the budget to send me to a training conference that I knew would help me land my next dream job, I paid my own way.
It’s your career. Take ownership and drive it where you want it to go. Invest your time, money and energy to get the training, education and experience you need to re-brand yourself. Don’t wait and think that you’ll find a hiring manager to “take a chance” on you. That’s a pipe dream. You need to step up and invest in yourself – and then the job offers will follow!
There’s a kind of quiet confidence that we all have down deep inside. A confidence that comes from knowing what we’re capable of doing. When you re-brand yourself into a new job role or a new company, you need to show the hiring manager that you have confidence in yourself and know that you’ll be successful in the job. When it comes to re-branding yourself, it’s not just your skills and experience but your attitude that counts!
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback” was named “Best Career Book” by the Indie Book Awards. Her first book, “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a powerful personal brand” has been #3 on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books. As the Founder/President of Career Coaching 360, Sherri teaches training professionals, managers and executives how to change, reinvent or advance their career. Sign up for her new 3-part free video training series “15 Clever Ways to Get More Job Offers” at CareerCoaching360.com
Personal Branding is a hot topic these days, and I have 5 ways you can create a powerful personal brand and leverage it to get into the career you really want…
Step #1. Understand your value.
Having a powerful personal brand means that you consistently deliver what you say you’re going to deliver. In other words, it’s the skills, experience, and value that you provide to your employer or clients. Whether it’s bringing in new streams of revenue, managing highly valued projects, developing creative marketing campaigns, or whatever, your career is fueled by the value that you consistently deliver to employers.
Your value is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments, and personal characteristics (such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc.). All of these things combined make up your “value package” which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates, and even job applicants.
Step #2. Get into a career where you can thrive (and not just survive!)
Being in a passionless job is a career killer! If you’re walking around dull and listless (like the Clairol Herbal Essence girl before she shampoos her hair), then others are sure to see you that way. It’s impossible to have a powerful personal brand if you’re just going through the motions at work. You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles, and excites you!
You want to be working on projects that excite you and teams that energize you! Start gravitating towards those projects and assignments where you can thrive. Or, if you’re in between jobs right now, then you want to focus on talking about those kinds of projects and accomplishments that you worked on in your networking and on your resume.
Step #3 Send the “right” messages.
Everything you do and say sends messages to your manager, senior managers, clients, peers, and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, reports, work deliverables, all shape the perceptions others have about you and the value you provide.
So you should take every opportunity to send a very clear message that you are a hiqh quality and results-driven contributor. Talk about the successes of your projects and teams, and the benefit they’re providing to the company. Talk about the obstacles that your team overcame, and the key lessons that you learned.
This is how employers and potential employers can view you as an asset to their company.
Step #4 Act as if your are on a stage.
Think about how you want others to perceive you. Do you want to be recognized as being smart? Strategic? Having specific expertise? A great leader? Whatever it is, you should be striving to send that message loud and clear.
Every day you have opportunities to shape and manage your personal brand. In every presentation that you give, in every meeting you attend, in all your conversations with other professionals – think of yourself as being on a stage. It’s your opportunity to shape and manage the way others are perceiving you.
Step #5 Network strategically.
If you want bigger promotions, better clients, and a richer, more meaningful career you need to work with people who value and appreciate you. So focus on creating a strong support system of what I call, career influencers. These are people who can hire you, promote you, inspire you, teach you, and open doors to new opportunities. Nurture your relationships with these people, and ask about their career path and strategies for blasting through career challenges. Seek out people who can give you the roadmap, guidance, and inspiration to help you advance your career.
Powerful personal brands don’t happen overnight. It takes time, focus, and commitment, but the payoff is huuuuuge. Imagine a world where you wake up every morning excited about your career!
What thought have you given to promoting yourself to career influencers outside your work environment? These are the people in the medium and big rings of your sphere of influence who can potentially help you move into a different role, company or industry.
Here are 5 great ideas for promoting yourself outside an organization.
- Get published. If you have written a report, white paper, or newsletter article to share within your company, try to get it published externally. There are thousands of online newsletters for all kinds of topics and industries and most are avidly seeking contributing authors. If published, be sure to get the link and forward it to your career influencers.
- Become a public speaker. I believe that the single most effective way to strengthen your personal brand is to become a public speaker. Think of ways to get in front of your career influencers and share your expertise.
- Broadcast your message. Almost all cities have at least one television station providing morning and midday news and public affairs programming. Producers look for “hot topics” and experts who can inform and educate audiences on a particular subject. Be proactive and contact these producers in your area. If you are interviewed, be sure to capture the video and stream it on your web site, then send the link to your target audience.
- Teach your message to others. Adult education classes are in high demand at community colleges. Teaching a class gives you extra credibility and you may pick up a few new clients or have the opportunity to do some freelance work.
- Join a board of directors. Many trade associations and civic organizations need industry experts, smart business professionals and creative marketers. Be sure to pick a cause that genuinely drives your passion.
By continuously raising your credibility and visibility within your personal network, you’ll not only strengthen your personal brand and open new doors of opportunities, but you can also create an emotional connection with them that makes them not only want you on their team, but feel they need you.
In a my Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan blog post I briefly discussed the two tracks of your personal marketing plan. Now, I will give you 7 ideas for promoting yourself within your current organization.
- Write regular project reports and status updates. Use project updates, status reports, memos and emails to convey your message. Spend time carefully writing monthly status reports and project updates so they support the fact that you take your position and career seriously and that you consistently deliver your promise of value. Focus on the results of the project, or the goals and milestones that you achieved or helped achieve.
- Write a newsletter article. Teach others about your areas of expertise by writing about it in the company newsletter, on the company’s web site or on the company’s blog. You have knowledge to share with your internal target audience that could strengthen and add credibility to your personal brand. Consider how to package your knowledge so that you can distribute it online.
- Make a presentation. Look for opportunities to present your message in person. Volunteer to give an update on your project or area of expertise at the next staff or management meeting. Consider mentoring or offering an internal class to teach others about your area of expertise.
- Create a new project to showcase your knowledge, skills or signature talents. Is there a project you can work on right now to demonstrate your expertise? If not, then could you create a project to do so? Figure out what you really love to do and make a proposal to a company or client to do it!
- Lead a team or project. An excellent way to raise your credibility is to be seen as a leader. Successfully leading a project or team demonstrates that you know how to meet deliverables, time lines and budget goals, and lead, manage and motivate others.
- Facilitate meetings. Lead a management, department or project meeting, quarterly update meeting, organizational status meeting or annual celebration. More than likely there are many opportunities within your company to facilitate a meeting. Take the first step and tell your manager you would like to volunteer.
- Fill in for your manager. When you manager goes on vacation, is sick or overloaded and cannot attend a meeting who fills in? Ask if it can be you. This is a great way for other senior leaders and department managers to view you at a higher level.
How do you deliver your message to your personal network? In other words, how do you promote your value and accomplishments without overtly bragging and selling yourself in a cheesy, I’m-the-best-thing-since-the-invention-of-cheese-fries kind of way?
Just like successful businesses have marketing plans, you need to develop a personal marketing plan. Your personal marketing plan should include two tracks: internal and external. Internal marketing includes strategies within your current organization; external marketing focuses on promoting yourself outside of the organization.
Depending on your current situation, you may want to have a combination of both tracks or focus on just one. For example, if you are currently employed, but have decided to leave the company in the near future, you may not need to create an internal marketing plan yet. If you like your current company and want to move into a new position, you will want to increase your visibility and build your credibility with colleagues, managers and senior managers so they will champion you for that new role or promotion.
The goal of your marketing plan is to find ways to deliver your message to those who can help you advance your career. By continuously raising your credibility and visibility within your personal network you’ll not only strengthen your personal brand and open new doors of opportunities, but you can also create an emotional connection with them that makes them not only want you on their team, but feel they need you. I will explore ways to promote yourself inside and outside your organization in upcoming blog posts.
Forming strong strategic partnerships with career influencers in four key categories can help strengthen your credibility and elevate your personal brand.
- Those who can evangelize your talents and accomplishments to others. They are your personal public relations representatives who give you visibility and exposure to other career influencers. They spread the good word about your work, accomplishments and the value you provide. They are living testimonials who can recommend you to other managers or clients.
- Those who currently hold, or have had, a position you desire. They can be career mentors or advisors to you providing invaluable advice on the skills and personal characteristics required to be successful in that role. They can offer guidance on your career path, share their steps in reaching that position or give insight into the professional challenges they faced and specific strategies they used to overcome obstacles.
- Those who can teach you a new skill. They are experts in their fields and possess specialized knowledge or experience to help you reach your career goals.
- Those who, just by working with them or being associated with them, can strengthen and add credibility to your personal brand. Simply by sitting on a board of directors with a well-respected industry expert, or reporting directly to someone well positioned in the company, or winning a new client who is admired within the community could give your personal brand a boost.
PARADE Update: You Got The Interview! Now What?
One hour after Meghan sent her hot-off-the-press professionally updated resume to a hiring manager, he called to see if she could come in for an interview the next day!
Interviewing is intimidating, nerve wracking, and can make you feel like you’re two beats away from a heart attack. But preparing for the interview is much simpler when you realize that there are just five key questions going through your interviewer’s mind.
Here are three of them:
Can you do the job? You need to be able to talk about the skills, knowledge, and training you have that will help you perform the job successfully. My recommendation is that you walk into your next interview with 3-4 “personal career stories” that showcase a career success. Your stories should include: what the goal was, what the challenge was, and what the result was.
What “extras” do you bring? For most job openings, about 90% of the work has been defined but not the remaining 10%. This means you have a terrific opportunity to flaunt any bonus talents that may be of value. For example, if you’re going for a job as a Pubic Relations manager, you may have some experience in marketing or desktop publishing that is not required for the job, but might be valuable to the company.
Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company, whether it’s a job requirement that you don’t meet or a skill you don’t have, or the potential that you’re overqualified for the position. I recommend that you beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and then reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. If you’re asked what weaknesses you have, respond by bringing up an area that could improvement but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that area.
For a complete discussion of all five question, see my best-selling eBook, “Interviewing Smart: Insider Secrets to Getting the Job“
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What is your personal brand saying to others? Getting bigger promotions, better clients, and a richer career depends largely on how you are perceived by senior managers, and potential clients or employers. So to maximize your career opportunities and get into a career that actually inspires you to get out of bed in the morning turning cartwheels, let’s start by polishing up your personal brand.
Here are my 3 tips to creating a red hot personal brand…
- Understand your value to an organization. Having a powerful personal brand means that you consistently deliver what you say you’re going to deliver. In other words, it’s the skills, experience, and value that you provide to your employer or clients. Whether it’s bringing in new streams of revenue, managing highly valued projects, developing creatively outrageous marketing campaigns, or whatever, your career is fueled by the value that you consistently deliver to employers.Your value is a unique blend of your strengths, professional accomplishments, and personal characteristics (such as being a good leader, risk taker, problem solver, strategic thinker, etc.). All of these things combined make up your “value package” which makes you truly unique from a crowd of colleagues, business associates, and even job applicants.
- Get into a career where you can thrive (not just survive!) Today’s marketplace is so volatile that “surviving” is not a smart career strategy.
Being in a passionless job is a career killer! If you’re walking around dull and listless, then others are sure to see you that way. It’s impossible to have a powerful personal brand if you’re just going through the motions at work. You’re not fooling anyone. Everyone sees that you are NOT a key player in the organization.You need to be in a career that challenges you, flexes your professional muscles, and excites you! That’s when people are going to take notice. That’s when doors will start opening up for you. People want to be around others who enjoy their work and enjoy talking about it and sharing ideas. That’s the kind of positive energy that others are drawn towards.
And when others are drawn towards you they’re going to let you know about other career opportunities. That’s when the better jobs and bigger promotions will start coming your way.
- Send the right messages. Everything you do and say sends messages to your manager, senior leaders, clients, peers, and potential employers. Your words, actions, presentations, reports, work deliverables, shape the perceptions others have about you and the value you provide.Think of yourself on a stage.
Think about how you want others to perceive you. Do you want to be recognized as being smart? Strategic? Having specific expertise? A great leader? Whatever it is, you should be striving to send that message loud and clear.
Every day you have opportunities to shape and manage your personal brand. In every presentation or update that you give, in every meeting you attend, in all your networking conversations with other professionals – think of yourself as being on a stage.
Talk about those things that excite you in your career – those project, or teams, or initiatives that you ENJOY doing… or talk about what excites you about working in that industry… find something in your career to get excited about!!
It’s your opportunity to shine and get noticed.
Powerful personal brands don’t happen overnight. It takes time, focus, and commitment, but the payoff is huuuuuge. Imagine a world where you are in such high demand with potential employers that you get to choose where you want to work :))
If you’re a recent college graduate (or even if you’re not), check out my most recent interview on NBC Phoenix Channel 12 with tips to set yourself apart from the other applicants and help you land that first job – even if you don’t have “experience”.
The number one frustration among my coaching clients is that they are ready to move up to bigger clients, projects, or a promotion, yet are not being given the chance. If that is how you are feeling, then I’ll tell you the same thing I tell my clients: It is up to YOU to prove you will succeed in that expanded role.
One of the single most difficult things to accomplish in your career will be to convince your current company that you will succeed in a higher level position. It’s not impossible, but it IS challenging. That is because your managers have already formed their perceptions of you based on how you have performed at your current level at your day-to-day responsibilities.
You must look at yourself from their prospective. If you want a promotion from within your current company, find out the job requirements and expectations. You need to fully understand the kinds of work experience, level of education, and personal characteristics required for the position you desire. It may not be necessary to have ALL the job requirements for the new position, but it will be critical to have all the major requirements. If you feel you can successfully do the job, then send the message that you have the proven skill set, knowledge, and training the new position requires – and that you will be successful in the new role.
It is not your employer’s responsibility to “take a chance on you” or “give you a shot”. It is up to YOU to prove you will be successful in that role before you get the promotion.