Choister Self-Branding 101
Forging a creative career in one’s mid-twenties, especially in New York City, can be daunting. Everyone who has a job scored it through mind-boggling maneuvering and this hazy thing called “networking,” which saps the spontaneity out of Happy Hour and makes every sandwich a business lunch. We’ve all heard that opportunity is about being in the right place at the right time. I am. Now what?
The conclusion to which I have come is that career satisfaction or just good old employment is largely based 0n creating a Self Brand, i.e., milking one’s accomplishments and best attributes for all they are worth to present an engaging, compact summary of what one can bring to any project in a chosen field.
Sound dry? It gets interesting. Self-branding requires soul-searching and a solid grasp on how others view one’s skills and personality. While my skill set is easy to list (blogging, interviewing, feature article writing in the fields of wellness, spirituality, and relationships), the qualities that make me stimulating/ pleasant to work with are less tangible. I have found it helpful to re-read letters of recommendation from recent classes and internships. Words begin to repeat such as “warm-hearted” ” accountable” and ”expert in the writing of so-and-so column.” While my resume should not be an ode to the all-around sweet gal that is me, but rather a portrait of my accomplishments and capability, awareness of what about me appeals to employers informs my choice of project and the way I approach those who can offer opportunities (Note: networking is more about meeting people who know people who are offering work than engaging future bosses head-on. Remember the days when a person could call off the cuff about a position and schedule an interview? They are over. Join a networking group and prepare to drink a lot of social Merlot, resume in hand!)
Beyond wooing fruitiful contacts, the self-brand creates a vision. I want to choose work that not only adds to my resume but also to my life and the lives of others, work I can be proud of that betters the world and brings me more of the same. With my career eye clear, I can sort through job opportunities and manage the competition by applying for the limited selection of jobs that truly require what I offer. I am choosing while not choosing, because who I am, what I want, and who I know have already eliminated less appropriate options. That’s self-branding at it’s user-friendliest!