Below is an article originally written by Katherine Merrill, the Director of People Operations at PowerToFly Partner Kargo, and published on May 30, 2018. Go to Kargo's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
If someone were to ask you to describe yourself at work in five words, what would you choose? If you were to ask your colleagues to describe you in five words, do you think their choices would match yours? Which words are you the most confident others would select? Which words are you not the most confident in?
I call this exercise "building your brand" and I often utilize it in my People Operations role to help people enhance their professional self-awareness and intentionality. At work, do you intentionally set the behaviors in which you want to act and the ways you want people to describe you? Do you sometimes allow external factors and stressors influence the way you communicate and work with people? In 2018, there are so many stimulants that come at us every day, and it can be easy for us to allow that office drive by, text message, or phone call to throw us off course and behave in a way that's not "our brand."
There are technical skills required to perform many jobs: computer software, a higher degree, or industry knowledge. However when it comes down to it, the "soft skills" that many people refer to that you don't learn through a college course have the potential to be the most critical factors that bring career growth to the highest levels. These are behaviors like: clear communication, collaboration, trustworthiness, doing what you say you're going to do, and acting calm under pressure. The most successful leaders I've worked with are ones who intentionally set their professional brand. They know the way they want to be perceived by others, consistently ground themselves in a set of behaviors aligned to those goals, and ask for regular feedback along the way to know where to make ongoing improvements.
I encourage you to try it: Pick five words you want colleagues to use describing you and think about where the alignment and gaps might be. Then, pick some trusted colleagues to give it a try. Stayed tuned for additional professional tips for how to take this a step further!