Today’s subject relating to the job search is “Professional Branding.” If you look at my profile on Middle Passages (down at the bottom of the left column) you will find the following: “I am a professional with strengths in writing, communication, leadership and talent acquisition.”
That “brand” if you will, is a broad-based description of my professional persona that I developed a few weeks into unemployment via coaching from my outplacement consultant. The goal is to repeat that little blurb until I can say it with confidence, because the statement is how I should be introducing myself in networking conversations. Were I a bit more specific in my career goals, or better said, when I become a bit more specific with regard to my career goals, the statement should become less ambiguous too.
This topic sits at the forefront because I just returned from a seminar on professional branding at the outplacement firm, presented by the same career counselor who works with me. While he has reviewed the information covered in the seminar during our weekly one-on-one appointments, my theory was that extra attention to the matter wouldn’t hurt and the meeting presented an opportunity for networking.
To no surprise, as a class exercise we were each asked to pull together a short statement reflective of our professional brand, just as I had two months ago. The idea of this phrase is not to focus on what you were, as in “I was a Senior Recruitment Manager for a billion dollar retailer” but to define who you are, including the talents, attributes and skills that you want to market in seeking your next position. Notwithstanding that I had already developed the statement above; apparently I need a bit more practice, as my message didn’t roll off my tongue today or out of my pen for that matter. During the brief time offered, I scrambled to recreate my professional brand statement and wrote the following: “I am a writer and business professional with skills in project management, leadership and talent acquisition...” Coming home, I compared today’s statement to my previous words, noting the subtle variation from two months ago when I was “a professional with strengths in writing…”
Perhaps, a slight aha is called for here.
I took two things away from the meeting today. The first was a reminder that in networking, it is not who I was, but branding who I am that’s important. The second thing is that three months, a whole lot of self-analysis and seventy-five Middle Passages posts after I lost my job, I may be almost confident enough to change the order of my words. Could the mere act of identifying myself as a writer in print make it true?
Oh to be Jean-Luc Picard in the old “Star Trek: The Next Generation” series so that I could simply say: “Make it so, Number One.” What’s life though, without a bit of risk? So, if you are interested, you better look at my Middle Passages profile quickly, because it’s possible that it’s about to change.