According to a recent study by Randstad U.S., The Workplace 2025, found that as early as 2019 as much as 50 percent of the workforce will be made up of agile workers (i.e. contractors, freelancers, consultants or temporary workers).
This means we’re moving into a gig economy. You no longer will have a “job.” Instead, you’ll go into the business of one and be proactively managing your career. And, if you neglect your personal brand, you’re going to be left behind.
I know it’s the classic case of the shoemaker’s children who don’t have new shoes. Marketers know it’s important to be present in social media, have your own website and proactively sell yourself. However, it’s always a low priority because you don’t have time, find it too difficult or convince yourself you’re not actively searching for work so there is no need.
Stop Drifting Through Your Career
Time and time again, I run into experienced professionals who suddenly find themselves in transition. They are scared, slightly panicked, and usually say something like:
- “I worked for the same company for 10-plus years and didn’t see this coming. My self-confidence really took a hit.”
- “I had always been recruited for roles and never had to really look for a job before. Now, I’m not sure where to start.”
- “This layoff could be a blessing in disguise because I really hadn’t been happy in my job for years. I want to change industries or pursue another role, but I don’t want to start from zero. How do I make the shift and show my value?”
In order to get past these thoughts, or better yet, never have to have them, you need to get the right mindset and start taking control of your career.
A study done by University of Phoenix and EdAssist on perceptions of employers and employees about career development had some interesting findings. The average worker only spends 1.5 hours a year on career planning. That seems grossly out of proportion considering you spend 2000+ hours a year at work.
The other point shown in the study is there is a discrepancy between managers’ and employees’ beliefs on who is responsible for career development. Most employees believe it’s their employers’ responsibility to teach career development where most managers believe it should be the employees’.
Frankly, arguments could be made for either position, but I am not here to debate that. The one thing you always have control of in your career is your actions. You can choose to pursue a side business, write a blog, enhance your skills and keep up with your network. Or you can choose to keep you head down, just do the work and collect your paycheck. The latter may be easier but it’s not what will keep you gainfully employed.
Whether you’re an employee or freelancer, you’re paid to provide a service for your company. How well you perform that service and make an impact to the business becomes what you’re known for. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be aware of your contributions, even your direct manager, unless you start talking about it.
And, no, this doesn’t mean I think you should be bragging about your results to anyone within earshot. It means sending out status updates on the projects you’re working on, sharing results of successful campaigns, speaking up in meetings or volunteering to take on special projects.
“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.” – David Brier
If this doesn’t come natural to you, or you’re not sure how to do this without being a braggart, it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes we can’t even recognize what it is that people associate with our personal brand. This is when it pays to invest in yourself and do some self-discovery.
The Ultimate Job Security — Differentiation
Differentiation is what can truly make you become in demand. No two humans are alike. Your experience, personality, knowledge, culture, etc. all play into your personal brand, and help formulate your personal selling proposition.