Creating a career brand is a journey that presents you with a multitude of opportunities to enhance and practice current skills and to discover and master new ones with the express purpose of utilizing them in the workplace. These technical skills and academic credentials are essential to competing for and obtaining high quality jobs in a diverse array of industries found in today's marketplace.
Competition is high in the world of work and because of this fact, developing a unique brand for yourself is critical to showcase your skills, experience and knowledge. Developing a brand involves a number of tasks including: learning about your current skills and experience, understanding what particular industries and job functions require in their candidates, and conducting a gap analysis on what you currently have and what is needed to be successful in your chosen career path.
What is your brand? What do you offer a company? What makes you THE ONE for a position a company may have available? Understanding what you offer to an employer is critical in being able to market yourself as a unique and valued candidate. At this stage, your job is to gain a strong understanding of the skills, experiences and knowledge that you currently have. Take a moment to create a matrix of your values, attributes and assets.
Where are you marketing your brand? You are investing a great deal of time, money and energy into your career. Maximize the return on investment by understanding the realistic opportunities for your unique combination of education and professional experience. What are the types of industries and job functions that match you best? What industries are on the rise? Which are on the decline? Will you need additional training, certificates or additional coursework to be considered top candidate? These questions, plus others, need to be answered before you can be confident what you are marketing will be bought.
What companies/industries you are targeting? Now is the time to begin researching the companies where you would like to perform this job function. Most candidates have an understanding of the top five most known companies for the industry or job function. But think strategically. Remember that these top five companies have only so many jobs available. Your job is to develop a strong target list of companies that may include these top 5, but also other smaller and medium size companies. Your list can include 20, 30 or even 50 company names…this is your call.
What are you missing? What is the gap between what you currently have available to market and what you need to be successful in your career pursuits? Developing your "brand" and understanding where you would like to market this brand will provide you with a gap analysis of what skills, experiences and abilities you currently have and what you might be missing to be considered a top candidate. Now that you have an understanding of what is needed for your particular career path you can begin to fill in those gaps through structured programs, experiences and events.
Dr. Patrick Madsen is the director of the UNCG Career Services Center. Learn more at http://csc.dept.uncg.edu/.