Establish Your Brand: Having a Clear Vision
How are people supposed to help you if you aren't clear on what you want? I always tell my students, ‘Fake it till you make it.'
It's okay if you don't know exactly what you want to do and exactly where you want to do it. We were all there at some point but how you manage that uncertainty is actually very important to ultimately get what you want in your career. A big part of your journey is figuring out exactly what you want, but in the meantime, you should have a vision for yourself that you can clearly articulate. If it changes, that's okay. It might change three times this year but realize the worst answer you can give when asked, ‘What do you want to do with your career?' is, ‘I don't know.' That answer not only closes the door to possible connections but it also makes you seem lost. And most accomplished people want to help fuel the budding careers of people who have a vision, who have a purpose, and who are going somewhere. I want you to be, or at least appear to be, one of those people. If it feels uncomfortable faking it a little, that's okay.
So, what should your vision look like? It should be one sentence and very clear, so it's easy for people to get it and potentially help you. In my last blog post, Establishing Your Brand: Your Personal Description, I talked about how to describe yourself. Let's look back at one of the examples I shared:
For a 20-something working professional, an effective personal description could be:
Former collegiate athlete with four years of experience in sales and marketing. Expertise in project management, marketing planning, and social media buying in the sports and entertainment industries.
For this person, the vision could certainly be a marketing position in a global sports product company. That would make sense. On a resume that would be an easy one-sentence addition to the personal description like this:
Former collegiate athlete with four years of experience in sales and marketing. Expertise in project management, marketing planning, and social media buying in the sports and entertainment industries. Seeking mid-level marketing position in a global sports product company.
The key to your vision is it should be clear on the function, the industry, and ideally the company size too. Let's explore each of those:
Function: What department do you want to work in? Examples include finance, customer service, marketing, research & development, etc.
Industry: What industry do you want to work in? This could be automotive, medicine, arts, sports business, chemical engineering, etc.
Company size: Are you looking for a global company? Something that is mid-sized? A small, start-up? Not sure? I like this quiz from Monster to help you figure it out. Took me 3 mins to confirm I should be working for my own small company… phew!
When you're talking to people, try to be clear with them on the function, the industry, and the company size. That will help people place you in their minds and perhaps they'll have ideas or connections to help you.
And again, it's okay if things change but having a vision of what you want and being able to clearly state it will help you further establish your brand and work towards your career goals.
Next time I'll talk about first impressions. It's a big, important topic, so I'm excited to share some insights on how to nail yours! Until then…follow me on Twitter at @MadeToHire, and on Facebook at @MadeToHireCareers.