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Think Outside Your Brand for a Better Career


In the olden days, brands were for companies. People, on the other hand, had resumes. Now, we’re so used to the concept of a personal brand, we don’t even bat an eye when a friend or colleague discusses leveraging some aspect of their personality or work history, as if talking about Proctor & Gamble or Apple.

This is all to the good: understanding your brand and expressing it well can make you a marketable commodity, and in this era of slow hiring, the most person who brands herself the best is likely to get the gig. But what if you want to make a move that’s slightly out of character, at least as far as your CV is concerned? Bethany Miller at Levo League says that we shouldn’t be afraid to make off-brand career moves. In fact, doing so might give us the careers we’ve always wanted.

“You control your personal brand,” Miller writes. “You set the flow, you can make and remake your reputation, and you can (and should!) feel free to evolve. Your cumulative experiences make you a different person over the course of your life, so live it up, make your mark, and unfold the life that represents the quintessential you.”

As examples, she cites Condoleeza Rice (an academic who became a politician, and then went back to academia), Jessica Alba (an actor who become a businesswoman, at The Honest Company), and Tilda Swinton (another actor who branched out — this time to performance art).

Do You Know What You're Worth?

But what if you’re not famous? After all, it’s easy to diverge from the path more traveled by, if you have millions of dollars. For the rest of us, it’s helpful to keep in mind that we’re unlikely to have hobbies or aspirations that are totally divorced from our present reality. Look for the consistency in your interests, and you can incorporate your dreams into the brand you already have.

Even if your goals are totally different from the career you have now, remember that very few companies want to hire a one-dimensional employee. Your diversity and creativity are what make you, you. Embrace them, and you can create a brand that’s more than just a marketing angle.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you made an off-brand career move that worked out? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

More from PayScale

Creating a Personal Brand That is Not Cliche

5 Must-Dos for Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn

BrandYourself Reveals Who Searches for Your Name

(Photo Credit: Ming Chen Liao/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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