Monday, October 15, 2018

Does the need to brand ever tail off in your career?

I got this question recently from an older gentleman that attended one of my presentations. They were asking if there was ever a time in your career when branding didn't matter.

There are really two parts to this questions. First, do you ever not need to actively brand? That's because you are always branding yourself. Second, is your career hurt if you stop actively branding yourself.

Let me tackle the first item. Is there a time when you don't need to actively brand?

You don't need to actively brand yourself. The idea with branding is to stand out from the crowd. Make sure others know what you do well, both in your work and how you carry yourself in a professional setting. The hard and soft skills you have.

If you're happy in your career, and you feel secure, perhaps you can stop actively branding. As long as nothing changes, that's fine. In this position, you my be just marking time, which is fine. I've certainly had times like this.

If you're near the end of your career, you've had a lot of experience and good networking contacts, you might not feel the need to advance your career. Maybe you're winding down, or you think that if you need a new position, you can find one and accept a lesser one. Lesser in your mind, which might be different hours, less pay, a different location, etc.

In these cases, that's fine. What I point out is that you never know when your employment situation might change. If you can survive a change, perhaps with help from a spouse or partner, that's good. Maybe you can work on your brand later if you need to do more in a career.

The one caution I give is that you never know when your situation will change. I've seen postings on LinkedIn that a company suddenly is going out of business, or has been purchased, or changed directions and is laying off people. I've seen people whose spouses needed to move and they had to quit.

I would suggest that you brand more earlier in your career and build the habit of tracking your work. It's not a lot of extra effort, and it helps ensure you are always ready for an opportunity, which could be an unexpected opportunity in your current organization. Be prepared.

I'll tackle the second one in another blog soon. Look for it in the next two weeks.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

You are Always Branding

I had a few questions about why to brand, or if branding really helps or hurts in your career. My main response is that you are always branding yourself, but not always in an active way. Often you're creating a passive brand that you don't exploit well, or even at all. Instead, you let your brand sit there passively and hope that it helps and doesn't hurt.

What's Passive Branding?

I used the phrase passive branding recently, and then had to explain it. Passive branding is the effect of your everyday actions. You solve a problem at work, and some people get a more positive opinion of you. You make a mistake and cost the organization money, and people think a little less of you. You oversleep and someone else has to do your work, and they think of you negatively.

These actions are really your reputation, the impression you've left on others. Only those that directly know of the action change their opinion, or those that they tell. There are certainly second level effects here.

These aren't make or break impressions for your career, but just slight positive or negative opinions. What's bad is that the impressions can be blown out of proportion if they occur at a certain time. Imagine that you have a new child and you're up a lot at night. You are late for work 2-3 times a week for a couple of weeks as your adjust.

Now imagine a new manager is looking for you to help with some task, and you're not at work. They might think, maybe this individual is just caught in traffic, but what if they happen to look for you every one of the 4 or 5 times you're late in a few weeks. They might start to think you're not dedicated or some other negative view. They might even remember this as the impression of you the next year when they're picking someone to promote, or someone to lay off. Those might have been the only 5 times you were late in 4 years, but they happened to be at the wrong time.

What's Active Branding?

In active branding, you are making choices to do things that showcase your positive traits, and de-emphasize your negative ones. You also document and talk about these items in a blog, an interview, and more.

What if you're late with a new manager because of a child. There's a reason the manager picked you. I'd hope someone told you that you'd been missed, and if so, you go repair your reputation (brand). You apologize, explain the struggle and that it's short term. You let them know that you want to help them and you'd like to set a time, as you'll make the meeting. You've been there on time most of the time, and this is just an adjustment period.

If you didn't know, and the manager didn't let anyone know, then having an active brand, where you let your manager know other things you've done, how you're helpful, what you've learned, and more, means that at some point those positive items will hopefully get back to the manager. They might then re-evaluate what they think of you.

If you're a positive influence on the company, and you make sure people know it, maybe you'll get the promotion, or not get laid off.

Will it work? There are no guarantees, but if you've done some networking, some blogging, some volunteer work, shown leadership, and kept your profile up to date, you have a good chance at other opportunities.

Monday, October 1, 2018

No Response to a Resume, What do I do?

My son went through this recently. He applied for a few jobs, one of which he really wanted. He got called back for some interviews, but not for the job that was his choice. With the others planning on making him an offer, he wondered what he should do.

He called, and I'm glad he did. I've been in this situation before, and I've been passive. I've let opportunities go by. I don't know that I would have gotten some of those jobs, but I certainly know that I didn't have a chance with my inaction.

My coaching to him was what I'd tell a fellow professional. If you really want the job, show some initiative and make a call. Let the hiring manager know that you really want the job and you would appreciate any opportunity to discuss the position with them. Apologize for the interruption, but explain you have a deadline with another offer.

I've done this, and I've learned that it helps. Most managers don't want to hire people. It's not the main part of their job, it's a distraction, and it's a pain. Give them an easy way to pick someone, like you, and they often will.

It worked for my son. He got an interview.