Know yourself. Know your options. If you visualize the career development process as a pyramid, those two concepts make up its base. This is because the more you know about yourself and your options the more confidently you make career decisions. But, what happens once you’ve made those career choices—such as the industry you want to go into—and you’re facing the challenge of convincing others to choose you? How do you help them understand the value you offer? This is where our next theme comes into play—brand yourself.
What is a brand you choose to use all the time? Something you always go to because you consider it to be trustworthy, and you always know what you’re going to get. This can be a brand of clothing, your favorite shampoo, the grocery store you reliably patronize. Why do you always choose that brand? When asked these questions, my mind goes straight to my face wash by Andalou Naturals. I can rely on it to be reasonably priced, gentle on my skin and it smells delicious!
Let’s think about a brand we all know well—Ohio University. What do you reliably get with the Ohio University brand? Beautiful, Appalachian scenery—green, green, green! Membership in an extensive “Bobcat” family. History and traditional architecture—the bricks. I could go on, but you get the idea. Just like the products or companies you regularly use, your professional brand is made up of the qualities and characteristics people know they are always going to get from you. Are you an exceptional writer? Do you have a talent for strategic thinking? Is delegating and keeping a team focused on a central purpose your forte?
Essentially, branding yourself is about pulling together what you know about yourself (hey, that sounds familiar)—your values, skills, interests and strengths—and learning to communicate them to show how they add value to a potential employer.
In order to understand your own brand, we recommend reflecting on the skills and strengths the average employer is looking for. Through our research in the Career and Leadership Development Center, we found that employers most regularly report these skills as being top priorities—self awareness, team development, interpersonal development, problem solving, innovation and adaptability.
- Identify personal interests, skills, values, strengths and motivations
- Incorporate self-knowledge into decision-making
- Identify and work toward a teams’ shared purpose
- Development the skills essential to effective teams: facilitation, collaboration, compromise and conflict resolution
- Effectively communicate verbally, non-verbally and in writing
- Understand the role of relationship building skills: listening, empathy, honesty and integrity
- Think critically about all factors associated with a problem
- Evaluate potential solutions from a systems perspective and make an informed decision about which option to implement
- Evaluate chosen solution’s effectiveness following implementation
- Demonstrate the desire and willingness to develop new or creative ideas
- Demonstrate comfort with risk taking to test ideas
- Engage and challenge others by conveying need for dynamic change
- Recognize when a change is needed and adapt to present environment
- Persist through adversity to overcome challenges
Looking at those words and definitions, which of these do you have and how do you tell someone about them? Well, to start, make a list of situations where you had to use these skills. These can be situations from all aspects of your life. Maybe you used all the reflection tools we shared over the past few months 😉 to expand your understanding of yourself—demonstrating self awareness. Perhaps you have an example of conflict resolution that you facilitated between yourself and a roommate. Perchance you noticed a process or system at your job that needed an improvement, and you pitched an approach to your boss—showing off problem solving and innovation skill. Once you’ve put together a list, check back next week, for our follow up post about how to take one of those situations and develop a story you can use in an interview.
By Erika Peyton, Assistant Director for Employer Relations and Marketing with the CLDC