Those of us considering the next chapter of work life between career and “not working anymore” (commonly known as “retirement”) may want to continue working.
You may want to continue working by marketing your career skills independently or making a hobby pay. No matter how you want to work, you will need to overcome the societal prejudices of being older by redefining yourself through personal branding.
What is a Personal Brand?
A personal brand is a concise, consistent message that communicates your strengths to potential employers. That communication comes from your resume, your social media presence and how you represent yourself to prospective clients.
Marketing guru Seth Godin says it best – “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Branding is a prerequisite to marketing. It is important to have a defined brand before you start marketing yourself. That means you are your own Brand Manager.
Discovering and Defining Your Brand
Brand Managers are responsible for ensuring their services and product lines strike a positive chord with the marketplace. For Retirepreneurs, this requires discovering and defining your marketplace message.
These sources are a good place to start:
- Resume: Don’t just look at your resume – look beyond it to find themes in your career. Where and how were you most successful? Did you receive any awards and if so, why? What were you known for at work?
- Performance Reviews: Read old performance reviews to see what you did best. Is there a common thread among your accomplishments? What accomplishment excited you?
- Personality Tests: Dig up any personality tests you have taken or do a few online. Examine the results. What were your strengths and recommended career paths? Do you agree with those findings?
I used all of the above to elicit key elements of my brand. After starting in finance, I found my way into information technology as automation transformed the industry. After realizing I was once a user of financial systems who became an implementer of financial systems, I found I could bridge the communication gap between technical people and business people.
The theme that emerged for my brand: Information Broker.
While merging business and technology work, I was able to eliminate unnecessary steps and streamline processes. Another theme that emerged for my brand: Process Accelerator.
Your next step is to assess potential competitors by discovering who is doing what you are doing (or want to do) and analyze how are they doing it. Look for gaps and unaddressed or under-addressed areas you can fill that will differentiate you from the others. Then talk to potential clients and listen to them. Ask what challenges they face and what they need to address them.
Use your themes and market research to define your competitive position and to create a value proposition.
A value proposition is a clear statement that:
- Explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation
- Delivers specific benefits
- Tells the ideal customer why they should buy from you and not from the competition
Your personal brand will not only increase your value. It will help change the perception of you as a Retirepreneur from being viewed as old and outdated to being viewed as “antique” – “something of high quality, especially from the past or characteristic of the best period of a person’s work.”
Your brand will communicate authenticity of your experience, intelligence and wisdom.
You are the genuine original and clients will pay for that.
John Sullivan has over 30 years as a project manager and has published business and career articles in a number of magazines and websites, including the Wall Street Journal’s Careers.com website. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.