For those of you who enjoyed the television show ‘The Apprentice’ in 2010 like I, you will definitely recall one contestant named Stuart Baggs. Stuart famously said “I’m Stuart Baggs ‘The Brand’ – I’ve got a certain type of charisma.”
Now to most of us this type of arrogance is distasteful and should certainly not be adopted as a strategy to win friends and influence people. However, Stuart is on the correct track in seeing himself as a brand and this perception is missed by many.
Every decision that you make regarding your career becomes a part of your history and therefore determines your future value within the marketplace. You may think that you can be economical with the truth when writing your CV or explaining yourself in the interview room but consistent errors will be difficult to hide and will force recruiting managers to draw a conclusion on your character.
Time within each role
My key activity is hiring permanent and interim procurement professionals. When my clients review CV’s they often comment on the amount of jobs an individual has held. With interims it goes without saying that the individual will be moving on to a new assignment every six months to two years. Over a ten year span, ten to fifteen interim assignments is perfectly acceptable. What clients want to see from each interim assignment is that the objective hired for has been achieved. It is important therefore that when an interim takes on a new assignment that they single-mindedly aim to achieve there objectives and can therefore demonstrate value when discussing the position with future employers.
Permanent candidates should look at their CV’s differently. If you were hiring a new permanent employee how long would be a reasonable amount of time for you to expect them to stay with you? Two years is a minimum amount of time to stay with one employer unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you move on in less than two years you are unlikely to have achieved all that you can within the role, gained a promotion, fulfilled that role and repaid the faith shown by the manager who hired you. You may not be worried by any of the above, but what should concern you is how this affects your personal brand.
A potential employer might have questions over your character if you consistently move companies before you have achieved your objectives. Here is a short list of possible conclusions they may draw from perceived job hopping;
- That you lack commitment
- That you had character clashes with other employees
- That you were unable to meet the demands of the role
- That you were overlooked for promotion and therefore forced the issue by going to the open market
- That you are motivated by financial greed and acted as a mercenary looking for the highest bidder
The above is an extreme list and does not represent my views. They are however all statements that I have heard from hiring managers in the past. With justifiable reasons to explain each move, I as a recruiter am able to defend candidates, however when a pattern of job hopping arises, it becomes somewhat harder to defend.
My advice is to think long and hard before deciding to change jobs and when you accept a new job, commit in your mind to spending at least two years there.
Day to day effort
From the first day in a post you are contributing to your next reference, unless you plan to stay at the firm until retirement. Think about how you have behaved on each of your first days throughout your life. Clean shoes, clean shaven, neatly pressed clothes, 30 minutes early. Why limit this behaviour to your first day, week or month. The behaviour described should be continued throughout your working career. Never relax or take your position for granted. You should leave work each day knowing that you have given your all and that you would be happy to employ somebody who acted like you.
Be wise with your words
Avoid office politics and do not criticise other individuals. Idle gossip should have been left in the playground. Talking negatively about others does not make anyone think positively about you. Avoid offering your opinions on any taboo subjects. Being impartial and focused purely on the mission will command respect and add to your personal brand.
It is advisable to avoid inviting work colleagues into your personal life through social media such as twitter and facebook. Everybody has the right to let their hair down at weekends and have fun. In order to maintain your reputation as a serious professional in the workplace it is better not to share your personal life, it certainly doesn’t aid your personal brand. You should also lock settings in order that only your friends can view your profile, choose your profile pictures carefully as these will be on public display whether you like it or not.
In conclusion, remember that your career will be defined by far more than your talents and abilities. Remembering to make the right decisions and value your own brand does not take a great deal of effort, mastering this art will lead to a rewarding future from both an external and internal perspective.