Personal branding is especially crucial for the current generation of young workers, who are more likely to move around professionally. Over the course of their careers, many professionals will change industries, transition between completely different careers, and be hired by companies as consultants, freelance workers, and ambassadors.
Not thinking about your personal branding on a regular basis? Here's why you should:
- People are retiring later in life.
Beyond pure economic necessity, many workers are choosing to stay in the labor force rather than retire, finding that staying active makes them feel more fulfilled later in life. As a result, the older generation is competing with people who are up to four or five decades younger, which makes reinventing your professional identity from time to time a necessity, not a luxury. An April 2014 Gallup report found that Americans' average age of retirement has slowly moved upward. The average retirement age was 57 in both 1991 and 1993. The majorities of all age groups now expect to retire at age 65 or older: 62 percent of those 18 to 29, 62 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, and 58 percent of those aged 50 to 64.
- All age groups are looking for work.
According to a study conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in 2013, "half of Americans aged 50 and older are working in some capacity or looking for work. Even among those 65 or over, 13 percent are working and not yet retired, 8 percent are working in retirement, and 3 percent are looking for work."
- Job-hopping is now (for the most part) considered a good thing.
As part of a response to a reader's comment, Jeanne Meister, the renowned enterprise learning consultant, replied: "...job-hopping is the new black...I think employers see a downside if candidates stay at a company for longer than 10 years. They ask the obvious: Why? Weren't they ambitious enough to look for other opportunities? Did they just settle in and get comfortable without pushing themselves? So beware, candidates, if you are at your job longer than 10 years. You may have thought it was a sign of loyalty, but it may be perceived as a career liability."
- It's now standard to see high levels of job turnover.
This makes changing companies more acceptable, which in turn only begets greater job turnover. The Future Workplace "Multiple Generations @ Work" survey found that 91 percent of Millennials (those born between 1977 and 1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years. At that rate, Millennials will hold from 15 to 20 jobs over the course of their professional lives.
- Reinventing your professional self allows you to stay relevant to your industry.
Even if you're the rare individual who stays with the same company for more than five years, you're likely to have to revamp your professional image to stay relevant to your company and industry and earn what you're worth. For example, a marketer predominantly focused on developing print advertising, with a secondary focus on digital marketing, may be forced to reinvent herself by inverting the two when explaining her experience.
- More talented professionals are forming their own individual businesses instead of working in one role for one company.
This puts the big company in the role of client rather than employer. According to The Intuit 2020 Report, a 2010 study designed to look at the next decade, more than 40 percent of the U.S. work force will be "contingent workers," or free agents. This translates to more than 60 million workers. If you're going to go the permanent freelance route, your personal brand is your corporate brand.
- Technology has allowed companies, regardless of size, to do business with customers, start partnerships, and open up offices all over the world.
Coupled with the growth of digital and social media, globalization has made personal branding more important than ever. Your prospective audience does not just consist of your local network; after all, Twitter has 288 million monthly active users. LinkedIn has 347 million registered users as of this writing. The internet at large has more than three billion users. The possibilities for building connections and making your name known are now virtually limitless.
If you put in the work to develop a strong brand presence, your reputation can precede you when you're doing work on an international scale. Your new business partners in South Korea can look you up on LinkedIn, view your personal website, and follow you on Twitter, all to get a sense of you and help strengthen their relationship with you. Just be aware that any blemishes on your personal brand will precede you as well.
Given the reasons above, do you think you're putting in the right amount of time to build and maintain your personal brand?