I’m often asked for ideas on how to build a satisfying career. Beyond education, what can we do to position ourselves so that we’re managing our careers and not just letting the tide move us in and out of roles – or companies – to which we don’t aspire or find fulfilling?
It’s never too soon – or too late – to understand the important role of branding in our careers. And I’m speaking of your personal “brand” as a financial professional. Just as a corporation, non-profit or a celebrity has a carefully crafted brand, so should you. Your personal brand should be one you consciously make and continuously improve upon.
What you do and how you do it defines your brand and includes both tangible and intangible attributes. For instance, your ability to complete a monthly close, along with the peace of mind you provide as a trusted advisor to the CEO, could both be important elements to your brand. There’s definitely an emotional framework involved when we promise that we’ll be bring the best of what we are to the job.
So, what steps do we need to take to build a successful brand?
1) Know who you are and what you are offering – dig into the “whys” and “hows.” Put it down on paper and consider asking for input from people who know you best – family, friends or colleagues past and present. Financial people should consider this exercise an audit – and approach it as honest appraisal of your strengths and areas for continued growth.
2) What benefits are you bringing to the marketplace? This step allows you to develop a strategy to set yourself apart from others who may be competing for similar roles.
3) Consider your positioning in the market. Are you being realistic in your expectations? Know where you place the highest value – compensation, benefits, commute, work/life balance, opportunities for training and advancement and so forth.
4) Don’t forget your “mission” and “values”. Make special note of what and who gives meaning to you at work. Make sure your social media outlets reinforce your values.
Use your answers from the steps above to develop a clear, concise message to share with recruiters, former colleagues, friends, family and prospective employers. No more than three phrases or sentences. The first sentence will generally start with “I am …..” and go on to share what you bring to the table.
Sort out your audience to determine what kind of organization will best mirror your career vision. Consider exploring networking events and professional organizations that support your target market. And as you are exploring new opportunities, know that you will need to be consistent, persistent and open to adapting to market conditions – after all, change can be invigorating.
When interviewing, focus on getting a read on who the company is, along with an understanding of the technical aspects of the job. Listen for key indicators from hiring managers that match your own offerings.
The best career moves, however, should never entice you to compromise your core values that you outlined in Step 4. More often than not your “gut feeling” is the right one.
Just remember that building your brand is much like building your reputation – it’s constructed over time and often speaks for itself in the marketplace.
To build and manage the best possible brand, start early if possible, construct a strong message, adapt when needed, understand your market, remain true to your values, be consistent, persistent and you too will be a market leader.
JustinBradley delivers exceptional financial talent. Our three business lines—Recruiting and Interim Staffing; Project Solutions; and Executive Search—provide the right talent for our clients’ finance, accounting, financial systems and business requirements. For more information call 202-457-8400 or visit our website www.justinbradley.com