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How thinking like a business owner and marketer helps you build a successful career

You should think about marketing yourself as a job candidate even when you’re not looking for a job. This marketing professional shares why.

How thinking like a business owner and marketer helps you build a successful career
[Photo: Chaay_Tee/iStock]

The days of holding the same job for 30-plus years are virtually over. Today, a millennial can go through as many as four jobs in their first decade out of college.

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With so many people changing employers and going after the next best thing, you need to start thinking three moves ahead. That means that as an employee, you need to shift your mindset to being a business owner. Think of your products as your skills, your experience, and the value that you can add to a company.

Why it’s essential to market yourself

Today, a company is more than its CEO. Not so long ago, the concept of “personal brand” was only really applicable to celebrities, politicians, and public-facing CEOS and entrepreneurs. But today, nonexecutive employees are in a better position than ever to contribute to their company’s brand. You have the power to drive your own publicity and market yourself to potential employers even when you’re not looking for a job. As an employee, you need to work on creating a paper trail for your next employer to reference. In a way, your digital footprint is your new résumé.

In a steadily changing workforce, it’s never been more important to promote yourself as much as possible. You never know what opportunities will come up, or what new jobs will appear that requires your experience and skillets. Here are some pointers on what steps to take.

1. Treat yourself like an independent contractor

Just because you are an employee, your current employer doesn’t need to take the entire spotlight. Of course, you need to stay respectful of disclosure rules and social media etiquettes that your company might have. Bad publicity will backfire on you, but there are ways to voice personal thoughts and expertise without breaking any disclosure rules at your company. For example, if you’re excited about a design technique or a new piece of software that’s free to the public, you can talk about it. Use your thoughts and your expertise in your work experience to talk about successes and projects that you’re passionate about.

Recruiters reach out all the time to find new talent. When you promote yourself by pushing out content, you start working for yourself and your brand. That digital footprint could land you your next job.

2. Think like your own publicist

The internet, for all its flaws and issues, provides you the platform to promote your work. So don’t be afraid to publish that piece on LinkedIn or Medium. Start a blog/vlog page where you can house all your content and turn your written articles into short, entertaining clips. Use free software platforms to edit (and brand) your content. When you do this, you create a paper trail that opens the door to more opportunities, and you’re making it easier for recruiters to find you.

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What you’re also doing is fetching a higher price for yourself. When a company is considering you or someone else, your digital reputation or footprint could help you land that job.

3. Leverage your current employer appropriately

There are more opportunities than ever for nonexecutive employees to make their mark. For starters, more and more businesses are producing their own podcasts and using video more frequently. If this is something that your company is doing, find a way to get involved—whether it’s volunteering to host a podcast or be a guest on a video series. Pitch your company a podcast idea, video idea, or blog idea, and contribute your time and skills. Take advantage of what your current employer is doing and use it to promote yourself. When you get involved in your company’s online activities, you’re helping them build brand awareness while building your profile in the process.

4. Attend meetups in your city

Don’t forget to look for offline opportunities, whether it’s attending a meetup, speaking at an event, or joining a panel discussion. Look within your company and beyond to see if you can get on that panel, get in on that discussion, or offer your expertise as a representative (whether it’s within or outside of your company).

Meetups happen all the time, all over the place, with like-minded people. Keep track of the folks you meet and build a rapport with them. That could get you your next job. The key is to put yourself out there and meet with people. As you network, you can focus in on your level of expertise and build yourself up in the community.

Unfortunately, when you start a job, no one ever thinks about building the employee’s brand. You have to do that work yourself. It might seem like an overwhelming endeavor, but like any passion project, or any job, the key is to start somewhere and be consistent with your efforts. At some point, you’ll see the payoff.

Only half of millennials plan to be working at the same company one year from now, according to Gallup. You may not own your own business, you may not be an entrepreneur, and you may like your job. Start pumping out content so that you can build your brand anyway. You never know when your next great opportunity will come, and you’ll be glad that you started.

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Brian Jones is founder of Nuts & Bolts of PR and author of  The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Creating Positive Publicity.

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