When managing your career, be mindful that the biggest mistake many people make is letting others make decisions for them.
It may be that a recruitment agency tries to pigeon hole you into a ‘box’ but you don’t feel this represents either your true skill set or desired job role. This can often happen, as it makes their job much easier but could result in you not selling or marketing yourself in the way you desire.
Equally it may be colleagues, family or friends who have a perceived view of what you have to offer the market place, which may have been true in the past but not necessarily in tune with your new mindset and the direction you wish to be moving towards, especially if you are looking to change career.
It is definitely beneficial to seek help from a Career Coach to steer you in the right direction, especially as most of us find it difficult to ‘blow our own trumpet’ and sell ourselves in the best light. However, make sure that you don’t put your future in someone else’s hands by abdicating responsibility for your own decisions, as it is your career and future at stake!
A Four-Step Process
A good approach for managing your career is to consider yourself as MD of your own company, in charge of your future success, growth and survival.
You are also the marketing director, responsible for managing your job search campaign, creatively packaging and creating a need for the company’s star product – you!
Taking this approach and following the marketing guidelines will provide you with the necessary focus to help you take control of your career and become the ‘architect of your own future’. Like him or loathe him, David Beckham is the master of this.
1. Define your product (i.e. know yourself)
- To create a desirable package for your product, you must determine why it’s unique
- What are your special skills and talents?
- What are you selling to potential employers?
- What makes you different or better than other products (candidates)?
- Is your product appropriately priced or do you need to make improvements (e.g. acquire more skills)?
With the market being fiercely competitive, creativity is the order of the day. How you package yourself, your skills, abilities and talents will ultimately determine the effectiveness of your ‘campaign’, whether in or out of work.
- Be proactive and understand the benefit of marketing yourself on a regular basis
- Don’t just market yourself when it becomes necessity, because you are facing redundancy or unemployed
- Assessing and clearly defining your skills and attributes is not an easy task and you may well need help, as often we cannot see the ‘wood for the trees’
- You definitely cannot sell yourself effectively if you are unclear about your marketability
- Are your skills right for the type of job or career you are seeking?
- Evaluate and establish any obvious gaps, to look at what training or development will be required to become competitive
- Personal development programmes can be of great benefit to boost your confidence, focus and approach to selling yourself
2. Determine your market
- Who are your target customers now and in the future and why would they buy your product (i.e. yourself)?
- Without a clear understanding of your audience, you cannot ‘package yourself’ or create an effective marketing plan
- If you are employed, your target market can be internal, external or both
- You don’t have to leave a current employer to advance in your career
- Marketing yourself internally is easier than external networking, which often means making “cold” calls to people you’ve never met
3. Make a plan (your campaign strategy)
- Good marketers create and follow a plan that includes a description of their target audience and how best to reach it
- Create your own marketing plan and then follow through on the details
- All your efforts and activities should support your goal, whether it’s to become better known in your present industry or a different field
- A key consideration, as with any plan, is to review and change course where necessary
- Failure to do this is likely to end up with you veering way of course!
Most professionals know the basics of job hunting but may not understand how to continuously market themselves as a product.
Proactive marketing helps you to become known and visible to ‘buyers’. It requires making connections, maintaining a network of people and persistence. This way you are likely to be noticed when career opportunities arise.
When putting your plan into action, be positive about discussing your career goals. If contacts don’t know what you need or want, they can’t help. Experience shows that most people genuinely like to help.
4. Use effective marketing channels
The most effective form of self marketing is ‘networking’, although the very name puts fear and panic into many job seekers!
Why is this?
In the UK, our ‘British reserve’ automatically puts up barriers and our ‘limiting beliefs’ get in the way i.e. all the negativity and reasons why not to and why it won’t work! In the US it is just a way of life so is second nature.
5. The importance of Social Media
Facebook, LinkedIn (Professional/ Business version of Facebook), Plaxo, blogs and the like have revolutionised the way we connect with people.
Building and maintaining your networks would have previously taken weeks or months to really get going now the power of social media can help you achieve this in only days. Remember to continue to optimise and maintain your networks.
6. Finding effective help and support
- 1:1 Career Coaching aimed at helping you overcome your limiting beliefs and building your confidence are a great source of help to ensure networking becomes a natural and effective part of your everyday self marketing strategy
- Joining professional, industry, community and specific networking groups should all form part of your strategy
- When you really start to analyse your network of contacts, it is reassuring that you actually know many people from all walks of life; family and friends, existing and ex work colleagues, business acquaintances, acquaintances through sport and leisure activities, parents from your children’s school, community activities and so on.
- All these people can be helpful to unlocking your future
- It is invariably the most surprising people who ultimately do unlock your future and these can often be the friends and contacts of the people you already know!
If you are seriously considering a career change but finding it difficult to break into your chosen market, consider offering your services for a work placement either on a voluntary or ideally paid basis as this can be a useful strategy.
You immediately have something live on your CV and become instantly more marketable!
By taking these approaches and following your heart and talking passionately to people about your career mission and continually reviewing your progress towards your goal, you will become the architect of your own future and match your mission with your vision!
If you want to know more about developing your career, visit our Career & Personal Development website