For the first time in modern history, young people around the world have more control over their professional success than their parents. Our parents worked in the era where keeping your head down and hoping for the best was the only real option of a professional journey. However, that journey left many deserving workers often overlooked and overworked. As a Professional Millennial, if you subscribe to the same mantra and get overlooked for the promotion, raise or basic gratitude, you have no one to blame BUT YOURSELF!
When I started my career, my key focus was to pair my work ethic with an enjoyable office experience, so I found co-workers who lunched and created a little work crew to break up the working hours. I pride myself on my strong work ethic but my work crew had the 'Work Hard Party Harder' perception. This perception was great when it came to planning the yearly holiday party, but for every other day, management viewed us as young, unreliable and frankly, disposable. I found out how truly disposable management viewed us when 6 of my co-workers were laid off in one day! My crew disappeared. I was left alone in the office realizing that I'd be the next one on the chopping block or worse yet, would find myself in a dead end job. It was time to re-vamp my professional brand!
Understanding Professional Brand
Professional Brand has very recently become a buzzword around career and job search forums and it simply refers to the overall perception that you have in your professional space. Proper professional branding really is showing off the exemplary portions of yourself and since you control your brand, you control your professional reputation.
If asked, how would your co-workers describe you?
Your service — what you do?
Your audience — who you do it for?
Your best characteristic — what you’re known for
Your specialty — who you are?
It is important that your brand is positive in nature as all of your perceived (or real) professional attributes can increase or decrease your chances of excelling professionally!
Do's and Don't to Establishing your Brand
Every Professional Millennial should have established career goals. Professional Branding let's management, co workers and other senior staff know what they are getting, before signing the deal. Here are some sure fire ways to use your brand to ensure your qualifications won't be questioned come promotion time!
Demonstrate Your Service:
DO: This sounds really cliche, but its really important to Work Smart! The need to work through lunch every day all day is not a sign of a good worker; instead its often a sign of a bad process and unmotivated professional to fix it. If you find yourself working through lunch every day unnecessarily, evaluate your process, plot what could be improved, test your theory and present improvements to management. This demonstrates that you have a vested interest in the effectiveness of your service.
DON'T: Ensure your suggestion is vetted and considers all aspects of your function. Even if taking the occasional boozy lunch is your only incentive to improve workflows, your management will see and appreciate your initiative -- but think before you speak. Last thing you want to do is expose a glaring lack of knowledge about your own function!
Know Your Audience:
DO: Channel your 'Lean In' mantras during meetings and present your best self to your audience. When people are taking time to listen, do your best to truly provide valuable input and let the audience know the direct results of your input. No need to brag, but take ownership for your success! If you don't no one else will.
DON'T: Don't speak or reply just to fill dead air. Avoid the dreaded "reply all faux pas" by cautiously sharing with the right audience. Having too many people in the To: line is a recipe for disaster. Have a target recipient and communicate effectively to the needed parties.
Share Your Best Characteristics:
DO: Freshen up your "elevator pitch" that casually drops your best characteristics and pair that with requests for upcoming stretch projects. Make sure you have the bandwidth for stretch projects, otherwise, you may unknowingly set yourself up for a failure.
DON'T: Refrain from child-like communications. The "Mommy, Mommy Look At Me" method of communication does not present your best foot forward. I your best characteristic is process improvement, you want to vocalize concerns with facts and figures, not just arbitrary complaints. Work is hard. You reminding your boss its hard is just annoying.
Hone Your Specialty:
DO: If you have been at your job for a long time, the intricacies of your resume may be at the back of mind to your management team. It is up to you to know what your good at and to keep a clear line of communication with your team to ensure your skills are used adequately. Your boss knows the general reasons that they hired you. Prove that you are bringing a skill or specialty to the table above and beyond the required job description.
DON'T: Skipping opportunity to grow and learn speaks volumes. Enroll in various professional development courses (most are free) and put the stuff you learn to task! My company offers TONS of online workshops that many people don't take advantage of. Get in there! Learn new skills or freshen up on skills you already have. You will thank yourself come year end review time!