The following hints and tips will be of interest to any clients who are engaging in progressing or developing their career.
Managing your career is an ongoing process.
Creating a personal brand and advertising to others what you have to offer will set you apart from the rest and increase your visibility. This will help you in your present role and with future prospects because when opportunities arise, you will be at the forefront of people’s minds.
Personal marketing is about making the most of your unique blend of skills and abilities, and highlighting to others what you can do well. It is about developing and portraying the right functional and social abilities on a day-to-day basis.
Functional abilities are your tangible skills and your ability to produce results. They are the job skills and competencies that employers require. These can be acquired through education, training and experience. You should always demonstrate your strengths, as they are invisible to others if they remain hidden.
Social abilities are your social skills, including communication, empathy, sense of humour, rapport and listening. These are the skills that allow you to relate well to others and make others want to relate to you. These are just as valuable to employers as functional abilities.
Employers Are Generally Looking For People Who Possess
- Job skills
- Effective communication skills
- Teamworking skills, and
- Organisational skills
The way you package and market your functional and social abilities will determine the way others respond to you. Your professional image, visibility and communication skills should all act to instil and reinforce your personal brand.
Portraying a professional image every day will show others that you are committed to your job, capable and motivated. There are a number of ways you can achieve a professional image:
- Be well presented, well dressed and well groomed. Dress appropriately for your work environment.
- Be well-informed. You should aim to find out as much as you can, and keep up-to-date on, your organisation, your role and your responsibilities. Be aware of factors affecting your organisation and industry by carrying out background reading and talking to others.
- Always be prepared, but especially when you are visible to others, for example in meetings, presentations, training events, or coaching situations.
- Build a good reputation through your quality of work and interactions with others. Carry out your job consistently well, attend work on time, meet deadlines and get it right first time. Respect others and exercise integrity – you should always aim to be cooperative and friendly.
- Know the rules of your organisation and work within them.
- Stay in control of your emotions. If a situation upsets or displeases you, keep your composure and think before you react.
- Be confident. This will inspire the belief in others that you are credible and capable.
- Make a good first impression. First impressions are powerful and lasting, so consider how you portray yourself. Are you friendly? Do you talk to others with respect? Do you look the part? You generate an impression within moments, and a lasting impression within half a minute to four minutes, so make sure it is a positive one.
- Make a good lasting impression. People form opinions of you based on their everyday experiences, so try to avoid ‘off days’ (or if you have one, keep it to yourself). In addition, don’t get drawn into office gossip, denigrate bosses or colleagues behind their backs, or blame others for your mistakes.
- Your personal brand is always on show, so it must be consistent.
There is no point in developing your abilities and personal brand if nobody sees or experiences them. This is where self-promotion comes in. All too often, employees miss out on opportunities because the decision-makers do not know they are interested, or have the necessary skills. Self-promotion is about building awareness so other people know who you are, and realise your skills, values and ambitions. This is important for career progression, getting involved in new opportunities to build your skills and experiences, and for increasing your job satisfaction.
Visibility is a powerful thing. It can work against people, for example, if they are seen to be lazy, disorganised, lack ambition, or are constantly late. However, it can be positive if you are motivated and competent. Think about how you might increase your visibility within and outside of your organisation. Here are some common things to consider:
- Develop and manage your network.
- Always have a supply of business cards.
- Use your performance appraisal meeting. During your appraisal discussions, make sure your manager is aware of your transferable skills, achievements and career objectives. Highlight any skills you would like to use that you are not using presently.
- Arrange a career discussion with your manager. Work together to reach an agreement on your future with the organisation. Make sure your manager is aware of your aims and ambitions.
- Make the most of meetings. Before meetings, get hold of the agenda and do some background research on the issues. This way, you can participate actively and positively. You might even offer to chair a meeting, or talk about one of the issues.
- Ask to be included on the stand at exhibitions and events, even if it is just for lunchtime relief.
- Get involved in induction and training of new staff. You may offer to be a ‘buddy’, coach or mentor.
- Get involved in charity work on behalf of your organisation, for example, organising fund raising events.
- Write articles for in-house newsletters and magazines.
- Work on building good relationships with clients/customers. Keep any positive feedback, as you can use this to demonstrate your good work.
- Always leave a job on good terms. You may need a reference for your next job, and positive word of mouth is always valuable. Say nice things about the organisation, complete any outstanding tasks, work out your notice, and offer to be available after you have left.
Whether it is verbal or written communication, you should always consider the messages you are giving to others. Plan any communication carefully, and make sure your message is clear and to the point. If your communication is in writing, make sure it is accurate, appropriate and aspects such as spelling and grammar are correct. It is very easy to slip up by doing something like sending an email to the wrong person, so always take the time and care to get it right.
Try to demonstrate and communicate your competence and professionalism every day in order to reap long-term rewards in your career.