• Learn How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand That Will Differentiate You and Allow You To Compete in the Global Marketplace.
  • Don’t Put Off Personal Branding to Focus on Keeping Your Job

    Believe it or not, there are actually some people who are taking a not-so-secret delight in the economic recession. Who? Employers.

    They’re glorying in the fact that there are so few jobs available that they receive hundreds of applications for a single position. They’re thrilled that they can wring salary concessions out of their employees by holding the threat of job loss over their heads.  (British Airlines is even asking their workers to work for no money!) They’re throwing away benefits and paying less to new employees.

    271068829_c28607dc09Why this is happening is obvious. Right now, employers hold all the cards. People who don’t have jobs will gladly do whatever it takes to get a job, while people who are still employed are keeping their heads down and working hard to keep their jobs.

    It’s a simple question of supply and demand. Too many people for too few jobs.

    For all of you out there who still have jobs, it’s very tempting to put off the personal branding right now. When your job is hanging by a thread, it makes a lot more sense to devote all your energy to keeping that job, right?

    Branding or focusing on work

    But this overabundance of workers is not going to last. Eventually, this country will come out of the recession. Then, two really interesting things are going to happen:

    • The Baby Boomers, who are now putting off retirement, are going to start retiring in droves. This won’t be a consistent, orderly retirement where only the people who turn 65 go every year. It will be a mass retirement of all the eligible people who put off their retirement for several years and are now jumping at the chance.
    • Companies will be losing a lot of leaders and experienced workers at one time. There are 77 million Baby Boomers. There are only 48 million Generation Xers, not enough to fill all the jobs vacated by the Baby Boomers. There are nearly 80 million Generation Yers who are now in (or will be entering) the job market over the next years.

    Regardless of which age group you’re in, it’s obvious that when the Boomers begin to retire, there will be new (higher-up) jobs available.

    Even if you have your nose to the grindstone right now and keeping your job is your top priority, you need to look ahead and start your personal branding now. As soon as the Baby Boomers start to go, there will be plenty of great jobs available (if you want them). If you can position yourself as one of the top people in your specialty, or even in your company, you will have a major head start over all the other applicants who only spent this downturn working hard just to maintain their job.

    If moving up in the same company isn’t appealing to you and you’re only keeping your current job because it’s too hard to find another one right now, you should still be branding yourself like crazy right now. Because when companies start hiring again, you want to be ready to go after your dream job. And you’ll have a lot better chance of getting it if your brand is already in place and the people you want to hire you know who you are (and think great things about you).

    3516653918_31f2d6f618Priorities for the long haul

    This may be a time when employers hold all the cards and your top priority needs to be keeping the job you have. But, don’t forget that the tides will turn. The economy will recover, the Baby Boomers will start retiring, and employers won’t have all the power anymore. Then, the people who will really win big are the ones who have a very strong personal brand. They’ll be the ones getting early consideration for leadership positions, and the ones scooping up prime positions at their dream companies.

    They’ll be the ones who can bargain for the best salaries and responsibilities, or demand the kind of work-life balance that they dream about.

    Make sure that you’re one of them.


    Katie Konrath writes about creativity, innovation and “ideas so fresh… they should be slapped!” at www.getFreshMinds.com.


    Katie works with Fortune 500 companies to help them generate new ideas based on consumer insights at leading innovation company www.IdeasToGo.com. She’s worked with creativity guru Edward de Bono and uncovered new ideas across North America and Europe. Prior to that, she earned a Masters degree in Creativity and Innovation from the Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking in Malta, was certified as a Lateral Thinking trainer, and studied at the TRIZ Institute in St Petersburg, Russia. She writes the leading innovation blog, GetFreshMinds.com.

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    Posted in Brand Yourself As, Career Development, gen-y, Personal Branding, Positioning, Reputation Management
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    9 comments on “Don’t Put Off Personal Branding to Focus on Keeping Your Job
    1. avatar

      I hope you’re right about all those higher up jobs being available in a couple years, but I fear that we are seeing a much more fundamental change with this recession.

      Employers have eliminated many of the jobs that can be replaced with technology and programs that lets them “do more with less,” and these jobs won’t be coming back, or at least won’t ever exist at their former pay grade (these include service jobs outsourced to other countries.) In fact, a lot of jobs that are being vacated during this recession are actually being washed away, for better or worse, by the tsunami that only Luddites feared–the Internet.

      Take a look at the crisis newspapers are facing. The billions of dollars of revenue that flowed into publishers’ coffers through ad revenue have been replaced by the few millions that CraigsList is taking in. Billions of dollars, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs powered by them, have completely, and forever, evaporated!

      This type of evaporation is happening ever. Positions are not just being unfilled, they are being cut! At the end of this recession, there are going to be many, many fewer jobs than their were two years ago. Personal branding is definitely the key to getting employed, but it won’t help you if the position you’re trained for is obsolete or replaced by technology!

    2. avatar
      Dave Pool says:

      I don’t think the facts are lining up with your reality. First, the leading edge of the Baby Boomers has not yet hit 65. As a result, they have not (yet) been putting off their retirement “for years.” For those waiting for 65, they haven’t gotten to retirement yet.

      Second, most experts say the recovery — whenever it happens — will not be sudden. It’s going to be a long, slow climb back up to anything like the level of consumer spending (which drives 2/3 of the economy) that we once saw. So, nothing is going to happen suddenly.

      Third, the vaporization of so much personal wealth (chiefly in retirement investments and home values) is likely to result in the exact opposite of what you predict — Boomers who now CANNOT retire “as planned” and will need to stay in the job market in some way, shape or form to do what they can to recover any part of the wealth they”ve lost.

      So, the fact is, Boomers are likely to have to postponed retirement even longer than they might have planned.

    3. avatar

      Katie, I agree, putting off your personal brand is putting off your future.

      Why would you do it?!

      If you want to move quickly in the world you’ve got to make moves, which might mean working twice as hard.

    4. avatar

      @Jeffrey Yes, many positions are being eliminated or outsourced. Even X-ray reading is being outsourced to India right now, and it’s doubtful that industries like newspapers will ever be able to recover.

      But that doesn’t mean all industries will be destroyed and jobs lost forever. There will definitely be a shortage of professionals when the Baby Boomers go. Some industries, like nursing and certain field of IT, are already suffering from shortages.

      @Dave You’re right that the Boomers haven’t been putting off their retirement for years yet because most aren’t eligible. But, with how this recession is devastating retirement accounts, they WILL be putting off their retirement for years.

      Your point that the Boomers are going to put off retirement much longer than planned is exactly what I was saying. Eventually though, when they can retire, they will do so in a stampede.

      This isn’t about the short-term. I’m not talking about next year. This is about setting yourself up for success in the long-run and being ready snap up a prime job when the opportunity comes–as it will.

    5. avatar
      yinka olaito says:

      For those who have the eyes, right positioning now will help better. A good scorer does not stay where the ball is but keep running to where the ball will be. Branding now will pay better dividend later

    6. avatar

      Katie – Great post and loved the powerful (and inspiring) stats you highlighted:

      “There are 77 million Baby Boomers. There are only 48 million Generation Xers, not enough to fill all the jobs vacated by the Baby Boomers.”

      Thanks for giving Gen X & Gen Y-ers solid empirical date as to why now is the time to lay a solid personal branding foundation for the years ahead. This recovery may be a bit slow in the coming, but if we pull together as a nation – it will eventually happen!

    7. avatar

      I agree with yinka olaito. Job market is tense at the moment and the winner will be the one who has something ‘more’ to offer. Despite recession, there are new jobs posted on various job boards. Having created a personal brand will pay off.

    8. avatar

      OK, so I’m not a Gen Xer. I’m actually a Baby Boomer. I was born in the last year of the baby boom to be exact so retirement is a long way off for me. (Actually longer than I had hoped given the current state of my 401K)

      That said, it’s a good post for any generation. I can always tell when one of my former employers does a lay-ff becuase I will suddenly get a spurt of people asking me to connect and for references on LinkedIn.

      Of course, I am happy to oblige if I truly can recommend you, but why not take that personal branding step while you still have a job? You feel much less like a schmuck begging for a lifeline.

      I wrote a post recently on my blog about why “now is a good time to be looking for a job.” This focuses more on the career enhancing steps you take when you’re thinking about your resume. However, your post on personal branding fts right in with it.

      All the best!

      Melissa Paulik
      The Marketing Survivalist

    9. avatar

      Does this personal branding work in every culture and how?

      And I wonder how I can identify the equivalents of “baby boomers” and “Xers” and “Yers” in other countries.

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