And Now a Word from…
Lily Mensah Yeboah / United Kingdom
A periodic column featuring a special guest author from around the world!
Please mind the Gap! Managing your Personal Brand Between Jobs
Please mind the Gap! This phrase depicts a bye-gone era where passengers on London underground stations were cautioned via an antiquated public address system before boarding the Tube. Today, the same phrase brings to mind a modern challenge facing millions in the job market, regardless of talent. The Gap referred to here is finding oneself wedged between perfect jobs. Now, how does one focus on a career when what one does is downright boring, yet one must stay put for the sake of the bills? Developing a strong personal brand then becomes an indispensable component in one’s tool-box for hoisting one’s self out of said Gap.
Even if like many, you have always been employed by someone else, you should view yourself as a consultant and custodian of your career; you own the skills and expertise presented to employers or clients whether via head-hunters or HR departments. To give your brand direction though, you will have to turn on your built-in GPS to put you in pole position. The notion of the GPS here, relates to (a) Guiding principles that keep you sane on a crazy day, (b) Passions that make you tick, and (c) a Strategy to improve your chances of career success. Let’s take each in turn.
- Guiding principles: These are often set in stone which, together, form the beacon for your brand. These could include, attention to detail, respect for others, community engagement, entrepreneurship, even innovation. They become the indelible ink that run through everything you do ensuring that your professional and personal qualities are always interlinked and never mutually exclusive.
- Passions: What floats your boat and what gets your goat? Both questions will point you in one direction only. For example, if lack of diversity awareness gets your goat then you are likely to be passionate about promoting diversity within the workforce. Should you find yourself in the Gap, but your organisation doesn’t have a programme supporting that area, what is to stop you from suggesting they consider having one, or better still volunteering to set one up? When your guiding principles and passions meet, great opportunities are no longer accidental but on purpose.
- Strategy: Are you a fun-loving person who loves to be surrounded by people? Why not ask to join your company’s social committee? A bean counter by trait? Then supporting or being a treasurer at a charity of your choice could be as easy as 1, 2, 3. What about the fashion forward individual? Dazzling those around you by donating your time and offering wardrobe advice to other job-seekers could be just the ticket. What you stand for and how you translate these into everyday activities will play a major role in managing your brand. One does, however, need tenacity and a great support network.
So you have the GPS at the ready, you have mapped out your route to a glittering career but nothing is happening. Well, are you still networking or have you stayed in the Gap for so long that the rust is setting in? Putting yourself out of your comfort zone is the first step here, so never stop networking. As scary as that might seem, the alternative is even worse. Networking lets those around you know that you are still open for business because Gap or no Gap, your personal brand should always be visible.
Articulating yourself and working your personal brand, will eventually define what happens next in your career, so wherever you find yourself, do mind the Gap, won’t you? For all you know, those who really matter, may be watching.
Lily Mensah Yeboah is an internationally savvy personal brand connoisseur with a flair for creating professional images that sparkle. She works with entrepreneurial individuals and groups to re-position their brands for personal and career success.