Before you even begin to think about your branding on platforms such as Graduateland or social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and the likes, it’s important to spend some time to get clarity on a few key things that’ll define your future career brand.
In other words, asking yourself the questions:
- What kind of career do you dream of?
- What accomplishments do you want to achieve?
- What’s going to be your unique contribution in your career?
It starts with viewing yourself through someone else’s eyes...
The way you come across to other people usually reflects your internal set of values.
Let me give you two examples:
- You’re someone who’s only goal is to go to the top, no matter the cost. You’re pushy, even arrogant at times towards your colleagues, and have no other interest than your own. What kind of values would come across in a character like that?
- Now let’s assume you are a person, who likes to be helpful by sharing your knowledge and experiences, and who takes the time to contribute to the team you’re a part of. Now, what kind of values would come across in this case? (Let me just add that it’s perfectly fine to have big goals and wanting to go to the top, but it can still be done in a classy way)
So what are your actual values when it comes to your career?
When you know your values and what kind of career goals you want to achieve, you’ll pretty much have your Career GPS set to guide you on your way.
Begin with imagining you’re already there
A very effective way to get clarity about your values, is to visualise what kind of career you want to look back on, come the day that you’ll retire.
A lot of successful people, keynote speakers and athletes use visualisation to prepare for big events, by digging into the sensations and feelings they will feel when they achieve the desired result.
Here’s a few questions you can ask yourself, as you do your visualization.
- When you look back, what will your career have been like?
- How satisfied will you be with what you’ve achieved?
- What difference will you have made in regards to professional relationships, colleagues, the companies you’ve been in?
- Which contribution will you be most proud of?
- What kind of value have you created?
- What will your colleagues and managers say about you?
- How did you create value for your colleagues and customers?
- How many have you mentored and passed your expertise on to?
- How many jobs have you had?
- In which areas have you developed yourself most?
- Which strengths will your colleagues and customers know you by?
- What type of colleague have you been?
- What have you achieved?
- How will you describe your most successful career moment?
Now find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed for the next 5 minutes and turn off your phone. Read each question and then close your eyes and visualise how your career have been to look back on, when you are retired.
How was it? Did some of the answers surprise you?
It would be a great idea to write down the thoughts and answers that came to you during the visualisation. They’ll be a great resource for you to use, to figure out what it really is you want to achieve in your career. It will also be helpful to you, as we go through the next steps in the following parts of the series.
What is your WHY?
“I’m a mentor, speaker and Career Branding Specialist. I help professionals attract the career they want and deserve through Career Branding, so they can unleash their full potential and live a more fulfilled life, doing what they love with less stress, and more to give to the people around them.”
What you’ve just read is my personal career mission statement - my ‘why’-statement. That’s what motivates me to do the things I do every day. It connects me to a higher purpose.
It’s taken some time to get my statement just right. I like to compare making a statement like that to making a nice homemade red wine sauce. Of course, you have the basic recipe written down, but you still need to taste it, add a little spice, taste it again and again until the flavor is just right and you feel it can be served to people so that they’ll remember it.
What motivates you to jump out of bed in the morning?
You might not have the motivation to jump out of bed each and every morning, I don’t either… But think about this; what kind of impression do you want to make on the people you meet, and why?
Your purpose and WHY can’t be motivated by money. Money is a source, not a purpose. Money can be a motivational factor, say, when you desperately need a job to pay the bills or you’re working towards a bonus. But over time that motivation will decrease.
According to Daniel Pink, author of ‘Drive - The Surprising Truth of What Motivates’, there are three crucial elements that need to be present in the things you do, for you to stay motivated.
Autonomy and self-direction is one of our “default settings”. People need a say when it comes to what they do, when they do it, who they do it with and how they do it. Though in many circumstances, that’s not an option as many of the employers that offer autonomy to their employees, are outperforming the competition.
The only way to reach mastery of your craft, is to be engaged in the things you do. You need to be challenged and you’ll grow from those challenges. Mastery is a mindset, that sees your abilities not as finite, but as infinitely improvable. It demands effort, hard work and grit knowing that there’s always more to learn.
You need to connect and feel a deeper sense of meaning and connection with the things you do.
If you want to read more about the surprising truth about what motivates us, then I’d recommend you read Daniel Pink’s book ‘Drive’ - he also gives an interesting talk about motivation and why money isn’t a motivational factor.
What’s your purpose and motivation to make your impression?
Let’s say you’ve chosen the direction you’re currently taking, because you want to become a scientist. You’ve had a close family member diagnosed with cancer, when you were a child, and that effected your choice of education and the career you want, because you want to contribute to finding a cure for cancer and improving the lives of those inflicted with the disease. That could be a very clear example of a motivation for becoming a medical scientist. Your purpose is to help find a cure for cancer, because you know how much it affects the lives of patients and the families of cancer patients.
So, your WHY and your purpose is your main driving force and it’s what will make you jump out of bed in the morning, to do the thing that makes you feel you are contributing to the thing that makes most sense to you.
Watch Simon Sinek’s famous TEDx Talk and inspiring interview with INC Magazine, that’ll help you get clarity on your WHY.
I use my WHY statement as my elevator pitch when I meet new people. It’s short and it leaves people wanting to hear more. So it’s a great conversation starter.
From defining your values to writing your Career Mission Statement
Now it’s time to put the reflection and thoughts from the visualisation exercise to use.
Beginning with the end in mind gives you a good sense of what it is you find to be the most important thing you do, achieve and accomplish in your career. Using this as your guideline will give you a great place to start and help create your career mission statement.
You’ve read my career mission statement. You can make a short statement like I’ve done. You can make one based on your specific career goals by writing down your goals, why it is important for you to reach them, and how you want to reach them. You can even write a poem, a song or make a vision board. Your career mission statement can be made in any different form or shape that fits your personalty.
Your Career plan
Would you ever build a house without having a blueprint of the house drawn out? I didn’t think so…So why build your career without having your career blueprint drawn out? When you’ve made your Career Mission Statement, you’ve got the perfect foundation to make your career blueprint or plan.
If you don’t have a clear career plan, then your branding will be all over the place and it would confuse more than it would do you any good. It would be hard for other people to figure out what it is you can and want to do. That’s why you need something more concrete to break your career mission statement into measurable goals for you to achieve.
Now that you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to figure out what you need to do to get there.
Research, for example:
- Which competencies do you need to strengthen?
- What kind of experience would you need to get there?
- What kind of companies and leaders do you look up to and would be great to learn from?
Developing the plan
Based on your research you now have a good foundation to make your career blueprint for the next 5 to 10 years.
You start with your biggest goal and then work your way back.
- In 10 years I’m one of the leading youngsters in my field.
- In 5 years I’m working at a company that’ll help me grow professionally to become a leader in my field.
- In 3 three years I’ve taken the necessary extra education for me to be considered as potential hire by one of the top companies in my field.
- In 1 year I’ve made at least 10 new connections and started building relations with people who will be relevant for my career development.
- In 6 months I have a career mentor.
For each of your goals, you should write in detail what it is you want to achieve and write what difference it is going to make for you to reach each of your career goals.
Write your goals as affirmations, as if you’ve already achieved them.
Download the workbook I’ve created, to help you make your career plan.
Execute and maintain
It’s time to execute and take action on what it takes to get to your first goal on your list in order for you to get the career you want and deserve.
Prioritise your career development by blocking out time in your calendar every week to work towards your goals. Make sure you take actions that’ll bring you a step closer to your goals each week.
Take time to review your career mission statement and overall plan every couple of months, just to make sure you’re still connected to it, tweak it a bit if necessary. Your career plan and mission statement will evolve and develop as you grow.
Make screen-savers with your career mission statement and goals. That way you’ll be reminded of them daily and they’ll be top of mind.
There’s a ton of different online courses that can contribute to your career development. Take a look at coursera.org, edx.org, open.edu, open2study.com, Lynda.com or alison.com to find online courses, some free, others you pay a fee to take.
There’s also a lot of great podcasts out there on iTunes, Stitcher and iTunes University you can listen to when you’re on the go. Some of my favorite ones are ‘This is your life’ with Michael Hyatt, ‘School of Greatness’ with Lewis Howes and ‘Start with WHY’ by Simon Sinek.
I’ll finish this article off by sharing Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma’s talk that he did with a group of students. where he talks about what he think should be priorities as a student joining the workforce for the first time.
Our guest blogger Niels Reib is a mentor, speaker and Career Branding specialist who helps career driven students and professionals attract fulfilling careers where they can unleash their full potential. In cooperation with Graduateland, Niels offers special counseling session for students and graduates to kick off their career - including optimizing your LinkedIn profile, creating a strong online presence and taking complete ownership of your career brand.