One of the most difficult things in career exploration is communicating to the world why they should recruit you to a certain job role, internship, university course or freelance project. Why is this so difficult? How can you make them see you? and even more importantly how can you make them listen?
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When we ask ourselves "Who am I and what value can I provide?" A lot of us get insecure and have a hard time answering these questions. We are not used to speaking about our own strengths, skill sets and traits and quite frankly how awesome we are. Others might have the confidence to talk about how awesome they are. Let me introduce you to Karen.
Karen has never really had to bring herself out of her comfort zone or needed to work particularly hard. She is overly confident and she knows that all work she ever does is the best work ever produced (even if it is not). Growing up she recieved nothing but compliments on her performance - even if some constructive critisism could have been useful for her development.
Karen knows she is awesome! But she has never sat down to define exactly what she is so great at. Or how she is different than everyone else screaming from the top of a hill how great they are. Nah, Karen needs to be more specific!
Whether you are an over confident Karen or not. A good way to get some clarity in who you are as a professional and what value you can provide is by developing a personal brand - and learn how to use it.
Shut up Karen!
Hold on.. What is a personal brand?
A personal brand is an overall image of your values, skill sets, what aspirations you have, and how you differentiate yourself from your competitors (aka everyone else who is applying for your dream job).
Why is personal brand important?
The competition on the job market is insane. You have to make yourself stand out - a personal brand will get you a long way. How many do you know that have a personal brand? Not that many, right? So if you sit down and define your personal brand and learn how to use it correctly, you will gain a more defined image of:
Who you are as a professional
What values you stand by
What hard and soft skill sets you have (yes, there is a difference)
What problems you want to solve and how you can use your skill sets to do so
What your unique selling point is.
All this will make it easier for you to understand who your professional self is. And if you have all this down, it is way easier to explain to recruiters, employers or university executives why they should pick you.
It will also make your life easier when your mother asks how you are supposed to land a job without a degree. Or when you explain to your manager why you should get that promotion instead of your offices version of Karen. Having a well defined self brand will help you in all stages of your career journey, I promise!
Where do I start?
Let's just say, defining your personal brand is not something you do over lunch by scribbling down some notes in your smartphone - while you shove a sandwich into your mouth in a hurry before your 30 min break is over. Sorry, but you have to take some time out and work this through in a step by step process.
Step 1 - Mind Mapping
Take a big piece of paper and big pens in different colors and start making a mind map of.. you. Put yourself in the centre of attention and think about who you are. What characteristics do you have? What are your goals and passions? What are your likes and dislikes? What are you good at? What are you not so good at? Put it all down on the paper.
In this step you don't have to think about yourself from a professional perspective. Just pour yourself out on that piece of paper and then you can narrow it down in the next step.. Next week I'll hit you up with the next step on developing your personal brand. Until then, happy mind mapping!
Coffee Break With Cecilia ☕