Earlier this week I talked about the power of personal branding for your career. Even if you're a believer, you may be hesitant to brand yourself early on in your career...because how many 20-somethings do you know that are specialists in their field? Actually, you'd be surprised. Read on for a few reasons I believe you may not be branding yourself and what you can do to overcome these barriers.
You aren't branding yourself because you probably think...
1. Your Brand Won't Appeal to Everyone
We all want to be wanted. And it seems counter intuitive to narrow in on a specialty when you want to appeal to as many prospective employers as possible. This is the reason our resumes are three pages when they only need to be one. It's hard to force yourself to focus only on certain aspects of who you are when you know how much more you have to offer.
But focus demands sacrifice. You see, when you aren't crystal clear about what you offer as a professional, it's nearly impossible for prospective employers to figure it out. By narrowing in on what you're looking for in your career and how your experience has prepared you for that path, you'll attract positions and employers that are the best fit for you, making for a much more effective job search.
2. You Might be Disqualified from Future Opportunities
"I have a lot of different interests and if I label myself this way now I'm scared I won't be seen as experienced in other areas." Does this sound familiar to you? As you start out in your career you've likely dabbled in a few different fields, testing out different skill sets and environments. For me personally, one of the reasons I put off starting my own business is for fear that I'd never be able to go back to the non-profit sector if this whole entrepreneurship thing didn't work out.
Don't let the question of "what if" keep you from pursuing opportunities that are a good fit for you right now. The future is unknown and focusing too much on the years ahead takes our attention away from building a meaningful career and life today.
3. You Will Be Labeled This Way Forever
Maybe you're really interested in something right now but aren't sure you can see yourself doing it for your whole career. Let me tell you - whatever you're doing today won't be what you're doing in ten years. These days, millennials are changing jobs every 2-3 years and are even expected to change career paths up to 3-5 times.
The best thing about personal branding is that you are in complete control. You can decide tomorrow that you want to transition in your career. It's all about trying together the common threads from your past and making the case for where you're heading.
4. You Don't Know What You Want
Of course with all this said, if you aren't sure what you want in your career, it's going to be hard to brand yourself. The good news is, you don't have to be the top expert in your field to have an effective personal brand. It's just about identifying what makes you a unique candidate. This may even be the fact that you weren't born and bred in the industry (sometimes the outsider's perspective is golden)!
Understanding your strengths, likes, and dislikes is the most important foundation for any career plan. In order to identify what you want in your career, start by asking yourself some basic questions. Think about a time when you were proud of a professional accomplishment. What was your role? What did you enjoy about this experience? What were some challenges you overcame? What skills did you use? What do you know now that would help you to do this better the next time?
Are there other reasons you've found yourself hesitating to build and promote your own personal brand? Share them in the comments section!