I held three positions in the 21 months I worked at my old company. Shuffled from one role to the next, I felt I had little control over my career trajectory. With a clean slate at my new company, I worked my way into the job I wanted, all with a simple change in mindset: I branded myself.
Before you start thinking crazy thoughts of me wielding a hot iron and inflicting terrible pain on myself, please allow me to clarify.
Branding simply means to distinguish yourself from others by a visible medium. People are complicated, but brands are not. To succeed in the workplace you must act as a brand to simplify who you are, bring your best qualities to the forefront, and never go unrecognized.
Brand Yourself to Simplify Who You Are
Acting like a brand does not degrade you as a person. Instead, it highlights your best qualities so they are more memorable to other people.
Branding yourself is quite simple. Pick the three best traits or qualities about yourself and write them down. These can be very generic, for example I chose fun, creative, and geeky.
Next, you will need to exemplify these traits by utilizing the methods I outline in the next section.
Before moving on, if you feel like you are faking it, you probably are. Remember, branding yourself does not mean you get to be someone different, it simply means bringing your best qualities to the forefront.
Visualize your traits
I work in the front office of a manufacturing facility. I’m one of the youngest people of all my co-workers. The average age of everyone probably falls between 30 and 50 years old. Needless to say, I already stand out.
But I’ve taken extra steps to make sure I’m not only noticed, but also recognized for my qualities.
- Dress – No matter what the dress code is at your work, you can always dress the part. For me, I’m always in jeans, colorful socks, and a J.Crew shirt (not tucked in) to show I am relaxed and fun to be around.
- Email – A majority of your interactions with your co-workers come from email. Thus, make sure you are consistent with your formatting, tone, and signature.
- Desk/Cubicle – When co-workers stop by your desk what do they see? How organized (or not organized) your desk is sends a strong message about your brand. I keep things simple with only three personal items.
- Reports – This one might not apply to everyone, but if part of your job entails sending reports or files, make sure you are consistent with your formatting, design, and feel. Microsoft Office products make it easy for you to select the same style across multiple programs. Take advantage of this.
- Personal Interactions – Be yourself. There’s no need to keep reminding people of your best traits vocally. They should bubble up to the surface naturally.
Go after the positions you want
Finally, be honest about your career aspirations with your manager. Tell them what position you want to be in in six months to a year. It doesn’t have to be a secret – unless you want their job, then things might get awkward.
If you stick with your brand, you will shape your career by your own desires, rather than have it shaped by others.