The advantage of defining yourself
If it’s not too late, I have a New Year’s resolution suggestion to make to all professionals, whether unemployed, underemployed or gainfully employed. The suggestion is to simply define yourself. Do so succinctly and economically. Define your value. What do you offer? How do both your work and personal communities benefit from you?Being able to professionally and exclusively define yourself is an advantage. To become known and recognized as a quality and reliable asset is a core utility of career development. The career gain that can be realized spreads across all employment scenarios. In fact, venturing forth without a definition leaves you at a disadvantage during a time when competition for great jobs is increasing.Large corporate institutions, as we have traditionally known them, are undergoing a transformation. It probably began way back with the growth of middle management, but is now characterized as an increasing reliance on more horizontal teams that are able to cross-pollinate ideas and result in synergistic production.Many executives are becoming more coach-like in their function. Employees are desired for their ability to get along with others, strong work ethic and creative problem-solving. Hopefully, your self-definition incorporates all of these virtues.We know that small business is a major force in driving the economy. When small businesses start hiring we can expect an easing of the high unemployment rate. What drives small business? People with ambition and smarts do.In the same way that an entrepreneur figures out and communicates their value proposition, each of us should be able to do the same. Being able to provide solutions, improvements and advantages to the marketplace is the grist for small business employees’ definitions. You wouldn’t want your business to be a white bread commodity, so why tolerate it for yourself?The Internet has created a new entrepreneurial landscape that didn’t exist 20 years ago. In the decade just completed, expansion of information access by way of increasingly sophisticated gadgets coupled with the growth of social interconnectedness spawned innovative and constructive self-employment opportunities.In the upcoming decade, we can expect more information-filtering and selection technology demanded, and perhaps created by, end-users. Staying with this evolution curve can be the brand basis for many neo-entrepreneurs.Whatever your career direction or place in the workforce, knowing your niche, your unique importance and your significance will advance your position with existing and developing prospects.Just as important as knowing your positive traits is to become skilled at presenting and displaying them. Be in the mindset that others — be they upper management, colleagues, customers or clients — need you, and that your talents are worth acquiring. Find the self-marketing techniques that are right for you. Promote yourself with the confidence that comes from knowing who you are.So with the start of this new year, discipline yourself to go through some simple exercises. What I recommend involves selecting descriptive words about you. Begin with a single attribute that makes you employable, such as “trustworthy,” “competency,” or “adaptability.” From there, try seven-word phrases like, “a valued professional expert solution management specialist,” “take impossible projects and make them happen,” “Communicate. Steer the ship as needed. Deliver!” Eventually, craft a complete sentence about yourself: • ”I offer focused and deliberate care to the patients of this facility.” • “My extensive knowledge of CAD software and ability to work hard results in high-quality production.” • ”Accomplished professional with a track record of improving educational and operational performance through vision, leadership and team building.”Try it. Go forward into 2010 and beyond with your own definition of your worth. The benefit of doing so is within reach.Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, also is a regular blogger on NHBR Network. He can be reached at 603-724-2289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.