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Personal branding for career success
Personal branding for career success

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5 Knowing what I want

Setting key goals for your future career is an important part of this personal branding process. Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can tailor your personal brand and the approach you take to promoting it.

A road heads off into the distant mountains with road marking says ‘START’ pointing down at road
Figure 6 Know where to start

While you might already have a concrete, detailed career plan, it doesn’t matter if you don’t. If you’re at an early stage in your thinking, your current goals might be relatively broad. For example:

  • working in a certain context, e.g. with animals
  • achieving a specific status, e.g. managing a team, or
  • being based in a different location, e.g. overseas.

Promotion of your personal brand at this early stage could involve talking to people in roles that interest you or contacting employers who might facilitate those goals. This research will tell you if your personal brand aligns with what they are looking for in a colleague or employee. In Week 5 you’ll consider the employers’ perspective in more detail.

Even if you have more developed career plans, many successful and satisfying careers are developed from opportunities that arise unexpectedly. The key here is to be open to those opportunities, so relevant goals might be to:

  • investigate interesting opportunities seriously and with positivity (i.e. asking yourself ‘how could I make that work?’ rather than assuming ‘that wouldn’t work for me’)
  • follow the social media channels of interesting people and organisations
  • attend an event, e.g. conference, job fair, etc., that relates to an area of work that is of interest.

In this case, promoting your brand might involve networking (you’ll look at that in more detail in Week 7) or commenting on the social media posts of key individuals (see Week 6).

Activity 5 encourages you to articulate your goals without thinking about them too deeply. Even if you haven’t done any detailed career planning yet, this exercise will provide a useful starting point.

Activity 5 Identifying my career goals

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Try to answer the following question in 30 seconds.

What are your three most important career goals right now? Write them in the box below.

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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Now that you’ve got three goals, take a few minutes to consider how realistic they are given any current constraints, e.g. location, financial needs, family commitments, etc. Can you tweak them to fit in with what you need? If necessary, re-write them in the box below:

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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Life coach and hypnotherapist Bennie Louw (n.d.) explains his ‘Quick List method’ as follows:

What we have found is that when you only have 30 seconds to write your three most important goals, your answers will be as accurate as if you had 30 minutes or three hours. Your subconscious mind seems to go into a form of “hyper-drive” and your three most important goals will pop out of your head and onto the paper, often to the surprise of the person doing the exercise.

Your goals might be short, medium or long-term ones and this will obviously impact on the time it might take you to achieve them. In Week 8, you’ll revisit these goals and plan the actions you will need to undertake to achieve them.

This is only a brief overview of what can be a detailed goal-setting process. Many people seek support when setting career goals, perhaps from a careers adviser or career coach. A useful place to start is the career planning section of the OU’s Careers and Employability website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

The goals that you came up with in Activity 5 will be useful to keep in mind as you work through the rest of the course.