There’s a fine line between actively building a strong personal brand, and coming across as a self-centered jerk. Learning to control your personal brand in a positive way is an absolutely necessary skill to have in today’s job market.
The world we live in today is fundamentally different than our parents. The internet has changed everything. When our parents first entered the job market, their degree was the signal for employers. At the time, that showed employers this person has skills and can add value to my company.
It’s not like this anymore. A degree is no longer a signal of competence. There is a market gap between the skills and abilities employers need, and what college teaches students. Students simply aren’t learning things that will make employers value them.
This means as young professionals, we need to find another signal. Many propose going to school for another four years to receive a graduate degree. The claim is that then the employer will know how great you are and you will be prepared to make a big splash in the job market.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. If this is the road you follow, chances are the only difference after that extra four years will be double the debt. Is all sense of security lost? Are young people doomed to completing school and working at Starbucks for forever?
I’m actually very optimistic about this subject. What has happened to the degree is wonderful. It means we don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money and waste four years for virtually no reason. It allows us to gain control of our lives again. The only person responsible for building your credibility is you.
I’m far more comfortable knowing I need to actively work to create value than I am with accepting that I need to spend $100,000 and four years to get an entry level position.
My age group is faced with a curse. The label of the “student.” No one works to create a brand. No one thinks they need to. All they are is a student and thus have four years before they even need to think about their future. Start today.
This afternoon I’m giving a talk to a group of high schoolers in Pittsburgh. I want to pitch them on Praxis and gain leads but I also want to inspire them to start building a brand. It’s so easy to start. After the talk, the entire class could go home and build their own personal website in under two hours.
In order to own your career, you have to accept responsibility for it. Don’t hide behind another signal. Make who you are valuable based on what you bring to the table, your abilities, and accomplishments.