Who are you? Learn how to stand out, fit in and get feedback.
As the annual Student-Mentor event is in a few weeks only, here are some tips to brand yourself effectively.
Who are you?
You are the core of your personal brand. Therefore, it’s crucial to clearly identify who you are and how you wish to present yourself. Luckily for us, we are still in the early stage of forming our professional identity, so now is the time to think about what type of I-O consultant we wish to be. Three elements are key.
First, identify your unique value (1). Think about what makes you different than your peers: What are your strengths? What are your passions? What are your goals? What adjectives to you want people to associate with you and why? If you left your job or lab today, what would your company and colleagues miss?
Be relevant in crafting you brand! Make sure to consider what makes an individual successful in a specific organization or field you aim for (1). Ask yourself: What are the kinds of accomplishments and affiliations that are valued? You can see how unique skills can be relevant in academia and irrelevant in practice. Thus, know in which field you want to strive in.
Standing out is good only if you show you can also fit in (1). Based on Person-Organization fit literature and common sense we know being too different from the target organization or field my lead to an unsuccessful match. Therefore, strive for a right balance between standing out and fitting in. Show that you can comfortably comply to the field or organization’s requirements. Do so by positioning your expertise and experiences in ways that reflect the culture of the organization you pursue and by using vocabulary that reflects the field you are targeting.
Avoid common students’ mistakes: Don’t talk to practitioners about the number of your publications; use them to highlight your expertise. Avoid being seen as too academic to understand their reality. However, if you aim for an academic career, see (2) for more.
Don’t shy away from feedback. We usually think we know how we come across, yet rarely verify if it is accurate. Knowing how others see you will be tremendously helpful to grasp the gap between you self-perception, their perception and who you want to be. Sought input from trusted colleagues, co-worker, past and present supervisor and friends. Ask them: How they would describe you? What are you good at? What are your strengths? What are five adjectives that define who you are? In which areas would they say you are “irreplaceable”? And, if you dare, what don’t they like about you? What are areas you could improve?
With sufficient information assess how big is the gap is. Build your personal brand on your confirmed strength and work on the areas you wish to improve. This is where our background in psychology comes in handy.
Throughout this process, remember to be authentic. Personal branding is not an act; it has to reflect who you are. To deepen your reflection, I invited you to check out the TED talk by Simon Sinek entitle Start with why. Although, it has no scientific value, I fell it can help when you try to identify how you want to brand yourself.
Isabelle Tremblay is CSIOP's Student Representative. She is in the last year of her PhD at Université de Montréal.
© CSIOP 2018.