Gone are the days when our image stopped at the clothes we chose or the style of our hair. Our presentation defines our professional competence, influences potential networks and impacts on the opportunities accessible to us. Our use of marketing channels, appearance and profiling platforms supports us in obtaining interest and knowledge of the areas that may benefit our current and future personal and professional pathways.
With the advent of online media channels, increased networking presence and the global workforce, we need to understand the impact of our professional status and how this will deliver positive impact to our whole self. In the employment space, both education and commercial, we are seeing those obtaining employment receiving it through connections and proactive relationship development, combined with flexibility of mind and openness to opportunities. The workplace in all sectors has evolved to require individuals to hold a strong sense of self combined with the capability to monitor and adapt interactions to result in meaningful dealings within and outside of school, business or position.
A few aspects to consider in auditing your professional profile could include the following.
Your use or lack of use on social media is increasingly impacting your professional visibility. In our work with educators, professionals, job seekers and students we find a divide between those using platforms and those who don’t. There are also those who have set up accounts but do not utilise them or engage with the market.
There are a multitude of social and professional platforms that can offer you access to business insights, job opportunities, technical knowledge and resources, and like-minded professionals working in a similar space. LinkedIn is a common platform for professionals in all sectors globally. Many Proactive career management – professional presentation & personal marketing businesses, including the Department of Education, promote their activities as well as seek out new staff through posts relating to their current needs.
To use social media well remember to:
- Choose what you will feel comfortable with
- Less is more if you are just starting out – select one platform and develop skills on it
- Set privacy settings that suit your needs
- Be visible in terms of your skills and experience. This invites others to understand your worth
- Be proactive, share insights, like others’ posts, and be active on a regular basis
- Connect with individuals, companies, associations and groups to extend your reach
- Try to separate professional and personal profiles for clarity
Professional writing skills
Education has a key focus on the value of communicating with impact, recognising the importance of the written word to convey a comprehensive message in an appropriate format. From a professional perspective our use of the written word now varies dramatically depending on the medium we choose to engage with.
1. Application or Cover Letters
Traditional cover letters have been replaced by competency statements or criteria statements for a large part; these will be discussed next. If submitting a cover letter remember to:
- Highlight what is in your resume
- Provide evidence to support your statements
- Relate it to the advertisement or organisation and so the role you are applying for
- Keep it short – one-page maximum.
2. Criteria statements
Common within the government sector and some executive recruits, a criteria statement is an evidence-based outline of your capability in alignment with the core job requirements. There are common themes as to what is requested so ensure you are selecting relevant examples to share. Key considerations are:
- Adhere to length or word limits – this is an immediate opportunity to reject candidates
- Provide clear examples to demonstrate your ability
- Utilise different examples to show breadth of expertise
- Ensure your grammar and spelling are accurate; again this is grounds for refusal.
Often only considered when applying for jobs, resumes are an amazing resource to support professional development and personal growth.
Maintaining an updated personal document or resume, allows you to:
- Document your professional growth and qualifications
- See the results of your efforts
- Focus on your achievements and outcomes
- Evaluate your next step(s) within your current school or business
- Reach out for new opportunities.
4. Online profiles
These are somewhat different to your resume depending on what platform you are utilising. Social channels are for personal relationships and so require a language to align to this environment. Professional mediums are to be held in a language aligned to your sector and networks. Some important considerations for these profiles include:
- Be real – ensure you have a suitable image
- Control what you share and with whom
- Recognise it is visible publicly
- Manage the information on a regular basis.
5. Posts and status updates
Social media offers a more informal way of relating to others, however if you are using a professional channel your language must relate to those you want to connect with.
- Avoid controversial language and statements
- Use personal channels for personal posts and professional for work related
- Remember their reach and life-span
- Proactively share and support those you are networked with.
Physical appearance and dress
Whether in an image, within your workplace, at conferences or network meetings, your appearance and dress impacts the view others hold of your capability. Accuracy is not the consideration; with first impressions assumptions are the focus when making assessments. As such consider:
- How you want to be seen
- What is relevant to your professional persona
- How you feel in various outfits and colours
- When to reassess your needs to align to your aspirations.
Relationships within the workplace and personal environment have entered a new phase where the lines of communication are open and cross over on a regular basis. The capacity to develop and maintain relationships with colleagues, both internal and external, has become an essential skill. In the school sector this means a focus on your ability to interact with students, staff, parents and community as well as organisations that may support the achievement of your faculty or department. In commercial roles it will also include stakeholders at a local and international level as much as suppliers, organisations and associations that will keep your knowledge current and your influence high.
Networking within education is becoming increasingly important in maintaining professional competence and accreditation. As such you should consider your interactions and connections with:
- Associations, within education and the areas you are passionate about
- Organisations where you can increase your understanding and opportunities for others
- Conferences to meet others and build technical competence
- Networking events, online and in person to create opportunities to meet others and increase thoughts.
While this may seem a lot to consider, you will find by focusing your attention on one aspect of your professional presence you will improve another. The benefits are many in terms of your own confidence and awareness of the unique talents and skills you offer and can continue to develop to improve your broader competence.
In summary, to succeed in branding yourself you require:
- Clarity of your self-worth and personal capacity
- Core strengths or competencies that have resulted in your success
- Others to vouch for your value
- Evidence of your achievements
- Passion for something meaningful.