The art of self-promotion: How to tell your professional story

The modern job market is as dynamic and complex as ever. Even without the jolt of a global pandemic, the digital transformation demands that professionals continually adapt themselves and their careers to changing industry, consumer and workforce trends. Survival means staying relevant. Standing out from the competition, and ensuring your future career success, is about self-promotion.

Rebecca Perrin, a communications consultant who specializes in career branding, recently joined us in our community platform to share her mission, changing how we think and talk about work, and to offer tips on how to self-promote effectively with self-brand management and strategic storytelling.

Times have changed

If you thought “chaotic” best described the #currentmood, you’re not alone. “Everybody’s career is chaotic,” says Rebecca. “The best thing you can do in order to weather – and in fact enjoy – the chaos is to become extremely good at communicating your strengths, your skills, what [you do] differently in your approach to work.”

Your brand: If you build it, they will come

Developing your career brand is an exercise in self-marketing. Whom do your unique skills, strengths, expertise and knowledge serve, and why? Also, what perception do you want to create of your reputation? What do you want other people to think and feel about you? And how will you communicate that?

Taking charge of your holistic career brand, which includes your soft skills and EQ, empowers you to influence the way the prospective employers or clients perceive you. How you market your brand can pave the way for your future career opportunities.  

Adopt a CEO mindset

First, Rebecca insists that professionals take an active role in their career development and direction by confidently assuming the role of “CEO” of their careers.

As CEO of your future career, you are in 100% control of your actions, choices and trajectory, whether you are seeking a promotion, new job or client, or making a career pivot.

Rebecca points out that in a career lifespan, professionals will likely have seven to ten jobs. Navigating your way through those roles and identifying new opportunities requires your active self-management of your career brand.

“It’s really about putting yourself in a position of power and creating an action plan that you can execute to keep yourself [there],” she says. She adds, “It’s [also about] how people perceive you. Do they view you as [someone] who puts themselves in a position of power. That’s obviously a great look.”

Create, communicate and control your narrative

Your future career success relies on your ability to tell a compelling story of what you do and who you are. Rebecca notes that professionals can stumble when asked, ‘What do you do?’ because the answer lacks a communication strategy.

This can be a challenge for modern professionals who have portfolio careers, side gigs unrelated to their main profession, or freelancers who offer a range of services. When thinking about your narrative, consider your future career goal and how you can tailor your skills, experience and strengths to align with that goal and the brand you want to have. This is an exercise that Rebecca herself did when she rebranded herself from magazine writer/editor to communications consultant.

A few things to also keep in mind in your brand messaging:

1. Highlight your personality and soft skills

You are far more than the sum of your hard skills and experiences. Are you a great listener? A natural problem-solver? A presentation dynamo? Are you the person who makes your colleagues laugh? Embrace your soft skills and personal attributes as “powerful points of differentiation.” 

2. Connection matters

Humans connect to people, not skills. “In 2020, it’s acceptable, encouraged and an empowering, beautiful thing to bring your personality and your ability to connect [with people] to the table,” Rebecca says. She points to “master of career brand” Oprah Winfrey and the impact on audiences of Oprah’s multi-channel content, which consistently communicates emotion.  

3. Promote your leadership through storytelling

In the context of your career development, leadership storytelling is a powerful part of your self-promotion plan. It uses smart storytelling to elevate your career brand and position you as a credible, trustworthy authority in your field. 

Perhaps you’d like to inspire a change in your industry. Or demonstrate and reinforce a desired behaviour. Ideate and craft brief career “stories” – smart and shareable articles based on a single idea or takeaway to publish on your LinkedIn profile.This is essentially content marketing for your career. 

Impactful leadership storytelling is not just about sharing great information that reflects your core values, but it’s also your vehicle for influencing thinking and creating an emotional connection with your prospective employers or clients. Get Rebecca’s tips for building your strategic storytelling skills.

Where do you tell your career brand story?

Gone are the days when your resume could stand alone. Communicating your holistic career brand happens over several touchpoints, each with its own value: your resume, cover letter, personal website, and LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is today’s “holy grail” of career brand promotion platforms. “It’s the place where people decide if they trust you,” says Rebecca. Invest some time and energy in creating a polished, professional representation of your career brand that makes your messages clear.

She also likes using a “candidate profile” – a personalized, one-page promotional sheet with your micro bio, mission statement and soft skills. It’s a great way to show off your brand personality. Too often underused, candidate profiles are a great complement to online job applications and are also very useful for self-employed professionals in their sales prospects.  

Creating success for yourself in today’s job market means getting serious about your career brand and speaking up about your unique value as a professional. “Make sure people know about you and regard you highly,” says Rebecca. “You’ve worked hard. You deserve your own PR.”

What story are you telling about your career right now? Drop us a comment below, we’d love for you to share. 

Each week in our community platform, our Flexible Work masterclasses connect you with our amazing career and leadership coaches like Rebecca to support your professional journey. If you’re not already a member, we’d love to welcome you.

Rebecca Perrin is a Communications Director with 15 years of experience as a professional writer and marketer, building strategic career brand portfolios for mid to senior-level executives across all industries to promote thought leadership, improve community engagement, and support business development efforts. Learn more about Rebecca here.