“You are a brand and your career is your business.” – Nicki Sanders
When I worked my last job, only those I had personal relationships knew that I was employed outside of my business. I did not include my employer on any of my personal or business social media accounts and vice versa. I had separate accounts for employment and entrepreneurship. My employment accounts did not contain my full name – they contained my employer’s name. (Career Tip: claim your name) There were pros and cons to my decision but I made this intentional separation after careful consideration and for two reasons.
Branding is not just for corporations and celebrities. Every employee should build a brand and identity separate from their employer. The job market has become more and more competitive and a strong personal brand gives you a competitive advantage. My personal brand allowed me to differentiate myself from others in the human service industry with similar education and training. My personal brand allowed me to utilize various skills, take part in conferences and events outside of work, and expand my professional network. When I decided to leave my job, I knew that the brand that I had created would allow me more opportunities and control as I determined my next steps.
- Avoid Conflict of Interest
There are also employers with very strict conflict of interest and/or noncompete clauses. My social work education and training also emphasized the avoidance of a conflict of interest. With the advent of mobile phones and social media, the lines between our work and personal lives continue to blur. When I entered into entrepreneurship, I made the decision to represent myself, my values, and my skills separately from my employer. Although I would never work for an agency where I didn’t believe in the values and the mission, this separation allowed me more autonomy. Truth be told, I also turned down many opportunities to avoid the potential appearance of a conflict of interest. If the conflict of interest isn’t immediately clear or someone has to “build a case” to prove it, it probably isn’t a conflict. Don’t repeat this career mistake.
What About You?
- Does your job title define you?
- Have you allowed your job title to limit you?
- Is your self-worth connected to a job title?
- Who are you outside of your job?
Nicki Sanders, MSW, CEO, is a travel and cupcake lover with an aptitude for authentic connection and career design. She has an extensive background in developing and managing successful programs and leading high-functioning multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has merged her Master of Social Work degree and over 20 years of diverse work experience into a thriving business. Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting helps businesses recruit and retain the best employees and helps women in mid-level management design the careers of their dreams.
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