As the world of work continues to change, the expectations have changed and you, as a solo professional, are in charge of all aspects of your career. You are expected to take the initiative, leave your comfort zone, advertise, market, and brand your unique value to employers. Here are a few tips to help you get started on branding yourself as a business-of-one.
Want to take control of your career?If you want to take control of your career, check out our fall series, the Professional Independence Project. Throughout the month of October, we will be sharing expert advice and insight on how you can build a successful career you love. Sign up now to get five FREE video tutorials that show you how to market yourself to anyone, anywhere. Start your path the professional independence. Sign up today! This post was originally published at an earlier date. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
“Get realistic,” everyone told her. “You’ll be competing with hundreds of thousands of other smart, hard-working and driven new graduates.” Related: 4 Ways To Build Success From Scratch Nicolette Weinbaum was freshman in college when she discovered the importance of becoming professionally independent. With all of the tough competition happening today, she knew that she’d have to do something immediately if she wanted to land a career she loved. “Having a good job right out of school could put me on a promising professional path,” she said. “Financial stability and independence was always a huge factor in the back of every student’s mind too; especially when I consider how much my parents have sacrificed to pay my quarter-million dollar tuition.” But how? What could she do to stand out among the millions of other students our there? Instead of using the weak, yet overused excuse, “I’m only a freshman. I’ve got plenty of time to get experience,” she went on a mission to find a meaningful internship that would kick start her career. And, instead of falling back to traditional, outdated job search techniques, she got creative and used the technology she had available to her. After determining exactly what she wanted and who she wanted to reach out to, she started a targeted LinkedIn ad campaign, utilizing social media marketing to find relevant, valuable opportunities for HER. Her ad for an internship was simple, but EXTEMELY effective. She received tons of emails applauding her creativity, as well as several job interviews and offers. (You can check out her full story here.) Get it, girl! That’s what Professional Independence is all about: taking initiative, finding creative solutions, and ignoring negativity in order to get out there and take control of your career. “Professional success won’t fall into your lap,” she said. “It takes determination, vision, and persistence.” Knowing that many recent grads are having difficulties in the job market, Weinbaum was generous enough to share her secrets to professional success. So, what has she learned? Here are her top career secrets that EVERY college student needs to know before leaving school.
1. Be prepared to show how your personal brand is different.“It’s important to understand what it is you can contribute professionally that no one else can,” Weinbaum said. “Identify one of your skills, and elaborate it; make it something you are an expert at.” But what do you do if your boss doesn’t provide you with the opportunity to do that? Take things into your own hands. “Show your employer that you are not afraid to take initiative, you use your time effectively, and that you go above and beyond,” she said. For example, you could create a project proposal and present it to your boss. BONUS TIP: Document all that you’re doing so you have something to show for it. It will be easier for you to reference later on.
2. Always be networking—always.Love it or hate it, networking is an essential part of finding a career you love. And no, networking isn’t limited to big, networking events with fancy appetizers (mmm crabcakes!). You can network with people on social media, virtual networking events, informational interviews, and more. Weinbaum’s top tip for networking effectively? Have an elevator pitch. “Always have a business card on you and a 30-second elevator pitch about your personal brand ready,” she said. An elevator pitch is basically your professional introduction. Not sure what your elevator pitch should say? If you’re a student, you can include your university, your major, and your current professional aspirations. BONUS TIP: Always have a business card handy. You don’t need to have a job to have a business card. You can simply list your name, contact information, and your branding statement on this card. Keep them with you at all times. “You never know what good fortune may be waiting for you in the most unexpected places,” said Weinbaum.
3. Exude a positive attitude at all times—and smile.“A good outlook can go a long way in any business,” Weinbaum. “Professionals always admire positivity and optimism. With the right attitude (and outfit of course), you can accomplish anything.” You don’t have to wait until you’re unhappy with your career to start becoming professionally independent. Start taking control of your career as early as possible! You’ll be glad you did. Today, Weinbaum is a junior at Villanova University with a concentration in Finance and Real Estate, and she’s leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of her classmates on her journey to professional success. This post was originally published at an earlier date.
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“Sure! Let me get back to you on that.” As I hung up the phone, I wondered at how my work life had changed over the years. At the time, I was working full-time as the HR manager for a startup company, but the phone call was from another company in town looking for a few hours of HR project support. Related: Find Out How Much You're Worth To Employers All of my life, I have wanted to “do my own thing.” While my wife has known that since we first met, she has told all along that she never wants me to own my own business. Funny enough, I often have to remind her that I’m already doing it, just not in the traditional sense. If you have the interest and the availability, you could do the very same thing. Here’s how I made it work for me:
In the beginningI’ve been working in the HR/recruiting profession for years, but I’ve also always had that nagging feeling that I wanted more control over my schedule and the types of work that I do. Over time, I have made friends aware of that. So, naturally, when one of them learned that a local company was looking for someone to help them implement some new HR policies for their growing company, they reached out to me first to see if I would like to help. I’ll be honest—the first meeting with the CEO and Vice President of the company was pretty stressful. They wanted some help in defining their hiring methods, creating documents to support the new process, and so on. It was all work that I’ve had experience doing, but stepping out from under the corporate umbrella on my own felt just plain weird. I told them that I could do the work for them, offered a (laughably) low rate for the project, and shook hands to seal the deal. Over the following weeks, I provided them with the various work products and consulting time they had requested, and when I finally received the check in the mail, I felt something special stir in my heart. At the time, I wasn’t sure what that was, but now I can say with certainty what I was feeling.
What we all wantIn that moment, standing at the mailbox and looking at the check, I realized that someone else thought that my knowledge and expertise was valuable enough to pay me for it. I think that’s a big hurdle for many of us to get over, so I will say it again: Someone else thought my knowledge was worth paying for. I think it’s something we all hope for. We want to be worth something. We want others to value what we have to say. And if we can get paid for doing those things, then that’s the best of both worlds.
Advice on startingAre you interested in picking up some extra work? Maybe you’d like to start that consulting business you’ve dreamed of? Whatever the case, consider this: You are good enough at something that people will pay you for it. In order to do this, you need to understand:
- What that is
- How you can position it
- How you can get connected to clients
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November is upon us, which means the Professional Independence Project is coming to an end. In case you missed some of the great advice we shared this month, here are 18 fantastic tips from our contributors on becoming professionally independent!