It’s truly mind blowing to see your name, with your title underneath it, printed on a business card for the first time. It’s as though you are finally a part of an exclusive club.
However, we forget that a title — as fancy as it may be — has its limitations. This is the time in our lives when we can explore our skills, carve out different possible career paths and not be pigeonholed into one title.
Daneal Charney, principal and business coach at Leadership Reframed.com believes it’s important to brand yourself beyond your job title.
"Do some self-exploration into what you want your impact to be both in your career and in your life," she says. "Explore your impact by imagining yourself 10 years from now — what would you want your impact to be by then?"
Career professional Sandra Bobkin from Performance Edge agrees that self-exploration is key.
"Young people need to develop a broader sense of themselves," says Bobkin. "Although not as daunting as it sounds, this takes time and reflection."
A helpful strategy is to think of leaving a legacy. Bobkin suggests thinking about a legacy in terms of what do I want people to say about me when I’m not around?
"(This) broadens our understanding of ourselves and encourages us to be more than our job titles," she says. "If you want to be an independent professional, I would first suggests individuals do a lot of research - ask people what it is like to be an independent consultant. Ask about their background, experience, and credentials. Perhaps, take a course in the area where you have a skill gap."
Why search for your personal career path? Because jobs and titles come and go. Charney says expanding one’s professional self helps you to identify areas of interest and explore potential strengths.
"Take every opportunity to grow. Initiate opportunities," she suggests. "Get involved in volunteer work, cross-functional projects, job shadowing, and community outreach."
Make steps towards creating your professional image, such as setting up a website or creating personal business cards.
"The part of telling your boss is a tricky question. This is a ethical question and depends on the situation. In some cases I would say yes, in others cases it is not needed," says Bobkin.
She suggests checking your organizations code of conduct and policies to make sure that your freelance job or business does not conflict with the organization’s policy.
"Make sure that if you do have a business on the side, you are not doing work for a client on company time," she adds. "Sometimes it’s more about restraint rather than conflicting with company policy that is the problem with having a freelance job."