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  • 10 Ways You Shouldn’t Brand Yourself in a Bad Economy

    Everyone is writing posts on the economy and tips for beating it. I thought I would join in, but with a personal branding angle to it. Below is my top 10 list of ways you shouldn’t brand yourself during this economy, or at all really, but especially during this time. If you have more to add, please leave a comment.

    1) Appear concerned that you are going to get laid off

    If you think you might lose your job, you probably will. Most of your success and failure lies in your mental state. The more you think about losing your job, the more it will shine through to others that you might deserve to lose it. Those who are confident in their own abilities, skills, internal network and the future, will survive and thrive during a period of economic struggle.

    2) Continue to do the same work everyday

    The easiest way to lose your job is by not expanding your role and learning new skills. If you do the same tasks every single day, then the chance you will be eliminated is considerably high. Think about it, if a company no longer requires those tasks or projects to be done, then they don’t need you. The way to save yourself is to learn about more areas of your company, especially ones where you can lend support with your expertise. When this occurs, even if your current position is eliminated, you may have a bridge to an opportunity, where on-the-job training won’t be required.

    3) Search for new jobs during your full-time job

    Some people are in panic right now and may fear they are about to lose their current position. Instead of working harder after work to find a new job or to build their personal brand, people invest time at work to search for new jobs. This is a very bad move, not only because most companies monitor employees computers and web routines, but because you are wasting precious time that you need to do your current job. In a recession, you have to work harder to keep your job, so losing those hours will get you fired quicker.

    4) Start asking people you’ve never met for favors

    The worst way to network is when it’s forced. When you come off as “using” someone else or begging for favors, without giving first, you lose. It’s really that simple and I don’t care if it’s online or offline, the results you’ll get are the same. You need to build your network before you need it. If you’re desperately searching for a job, people might not even consider you an ideal candidate due to perception. Also, people don’t want to get harassed right now when they have their own problems. The best way to ask for favors right now is to go to your immediate, trusted network.

    5) Focus on monetary equity and not social equity

    During a recession, many people choose to focus on every penny they have. They save money, instead of spend it (of course). The issue is that you come off as “cheap,” which will hurt your brand image. Also, people divest or don’t put much energy into building social equity (relationships/strong network), but rather monetary equity. This is a problem because money can’t really get you another job if you’re laid off, but your network can.

    6) Convince yourself that you have job security

    No one has job security. There are just people who are better off than others. In fact, the only insurance policy you have is your network! You may even be getting laid off while you read this. The people who feel like they have job security are poorly positioned because they aren’t taking the steps needed to protect themselves and invest in their personal brands.

    7) Laugh at social media and concentrate solely on your current position

    Please don’t ignore the social media explosion on the internet. It is at your own peril! I know if you’re reading this you are actively engaged with social media at some level, either as a content creator or producer. Lacking social media knowledge, passion and having assets (a blog) will actually count against you in many ways.

    • First, you will lose a vital channel by which you can communicate your personal brand for free.
    • Second, you won’t have any web 2.0 personal brand equity that you can parlay into another job, transferring your brand from position A to position B.
    • Third, you won’t have an additional revenue stream to get you through the hard times.
    • Fourth, you won’t be discovered for the next big opportunity.

    8 ) Work shorter hours, knowing you won’t be getting a raise

    The economy is hurting everyone and really depressing people, but to try and get revenge on your company by working fewer ours is crazy. There is a 120% chance you won’t get a raise if you work shorter hours. Also, you will feel a lot less satisfied with your work and life. Your boss will notice and you will be added to the long list of people to get laid off. Don’t worry about a raise; worry about keeping your job!

    9) Speak to your coworkers about how much you hate your job

    You can’t trust anyone, trust me 😉 . People talk and at work, where a lot of people are talking about the economy and are trying to get watch their own back, a “rat” or “unhappy worker,” will be heard and fired pretty quickly. Work environments are quite harsh, so it’s better to be quiet and let everyone else screw things up for themselves. When the pressure is on and people feel threatened, anything goes and that is VERY scary. Be smart about your interactions and let your communication work for you, rather than against.

    10) Use social networks as a microphone for complaints

    The worst thing you can do is vent through social networks. Social networks cater to all audiences now, so everything you share could be seen by your parents, teachers, coworkers, manager, etc. Just knowing this should make you smarter about how you participate online. If people see you as negative or annoying, they aren’t going to offer you a job and you might even lose your job because of it.


    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Personal Branding, Success Strategies
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    12 comments on “10 Ways You Shouldn’t Brand Yourself in a Bad Economy
    1. avatar
      eli e. cohen says:

      SMART! Good idea to focus on what not to do. The tips are all right on advice. Do not do not do these at your own risk!

    2. avatar

      This is great advice! Last week I received a big promotion and a hefty pay raise. Our company was looking to consolidate positions at various properties under one person, and now I’m that person. No one at our level was aware this was going on at the c-level, but my continued hard work, pushing the envelope, and use of new methods (which I learned thru my social nets) made me the obvious candidate.

      You have to continue being the best at what you do. Sometimes you don’t get rewarded for it, but when you do, it’s phenomenal!

    3. avatar

      Great post Dan. These were some very helpful tips, I especially liked these two: “Search for new jobs during your full time job” and “Start asking people you’ve never met for favors.” Those just make you look completely desperate!

      @Holly Congratulations! I’m so glad your hard work has paid off.

    4. avatar
      Chad Levitt says:

      One of the greatest statements is, “recessions are a mindset”. This is particularly true now, when so many people and companies are running scared instead of focusing on their goals.

      The economic downturn is tilling the economic landscape for the next phase of growth. Those with the right mindset, goals, and persistence will be the new leaders! And all leaders have strong personal brands.

      Great article Dan!

    5. avatar
      Dan Schawbel says:

      Chad – “recessions are a mindset” is genius. I like that a lot. For some people it’s hard to get your mind off of it, but successful people push through.

    6. avatar
      Rosario Carnovale says:

      Great article! about “recessions are a mindset” I copy and past this quote:
      A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. by Winston Churchill.

    7. avatar
      Tracey says:

      Great post. I think a lot about employee engagement – if you’re not engaged, you’re probably not critical to the organization. In our roles as marketers or accountants or lawyers or whatever – we have to also think like businesspeople. That is, the vision of the company should be a part of your everyday work.

    8. avatar

      Wise advice, Dan. It’s true, in this kind of situation, where job losses are staggering and people are stressed, you need to be very selective in who you trust.

    9. avatar

      Great blog Dan, always good to look at the other side!

      I teach my clients to have the philosophy of the day you start a new job, is the day to start another job search!

      It’s very tough for people to swallow, but people who are prepared and maintain their network find success a lot quicker!

    10. avatar
      Lesley Dewar says:

      This is a great post, Dan. As a financial planner, I am spending a lot of my time, reassuring my clients you are better off to be a partner of the firms making all the profits (banks, oil coys, Woolworths, BHP etc) than you are by selling their shares and putting the money in the bank, to become a customer. Revenue (dividends) is more important to a retiree than current capital values – assuming of course that the company has good survival prospects.

      And the company has better survival prospects when its employees are focussed on doing the best job they can – for their customers and shareholders – who are often one and the same!

    11. avatar
      Lesley Dewar says:

      PS I meant to also so, please look me up on LinkedIn.

    12. avatar
      OutreachPR says:

      This is a great post for anyone with a job. I have been making a living without one for a dozen years after coming close to spontaneous combustion in the corporate world in the mid 1990s. I hear a lot of whining about “the economy,” but other than losing my shirt in the market a few weeks ago, my business seems to be booming. I think the good news is that corporate fat will be trimmed and entreprenuerial companies will continue to thrive. My advice to people with a job: keep it in perspective. Life is WAY too short to spend your time making other people rich and being miserable. I think once we get through this mess and the whiners figure out THEY are the problem, we’ll be a better, stronger America driving older, PAID FOR cars to our smaller, less extravagant homes. I for one can’t wait.

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