Personal branding is essential for every career-minded professional, whether you’re looking to land your first internship or you’ve just been promoted to the C-Suite. It helps you stand out from your peers and gives you the opportunity to become influential and indispensable—not to mention incredibly happy at work.
But personal branding is nuanced and takes on different areas of focus depending on where you are in your career and which generation you’re part of. I have seen a lot of discussions lately about career prospects, concerns and opportunities for people who are 50+. Fawn Germer, author of the upcoming book Coming Back: How to Get the Job You Want When You’ve Lost the Job You Need put it this way “The rules changed for those of us who are middle aged. We saw our parents start a career and get rewarded with respect, money and opportunity the older they got. These days, the word “experienced” seems to be equated with the words “has been.” Since we’ve been around the longest, many of us are drawing the highest salaries in the room, but it is not lost on management that younger, less-expensive employees can deliver more because they truly are tech savvy and up on trends. It’s on us to re-educate ourselves and broadcast a brand of relevance and viability. The bad news is that it takes some effort. The good news is that really, it’s not that hard.”
So how can people in this age group ensure that their personal brand traits keep them relevant, compelling, influential and in demand in this new all-digital world of work? Whether you’re happily employed or seeking your next big gig, here’s how to position yourself for success and fulfillment if your chronological age exceeds 49.
Start with authenticity. Effective personal branding is always rooted in authenticity, not blatant self-promotion. Wendy Marx, author of Thriving at 50+and a reinvention and personal branding coach, said “Personal branding doesn’t come naturally to many 50+ people – they often are unaccustomed to promoting themselves. They think their credentials and experience speak for themselves and that branding is unnecessary spin. Actually, your personal brand is being true to yourself, while making yourself accessible and engaging.”
These five actions help you accentuate your differentiating attributes, showcase your expertise, and exude genuine confidence while eliminating impediments—both real and perceived.
Master the Mindset
Yes, we know that age discrimination in hiring and promotions is alive and well. At the same time, we know that if you tell yourself you are at a disadvantage or you focus on how unfair the world of work can be to the 50+ set, you’re putting yourself on the back foot. “On the back foot,” which by the way comes from cricket, means putting the weight on your back foot because you’re having to play defense. That’s no way to move forward in a career, or anywhere else. Instead, put your best foot forward with a positive mindset. These messages likely apply to you and should be your mantras:
- I have deep knowledge that makes me compelling and differentiated
- My years of work give me an edge over younger, less experienced professionals
- My confidence and strong sense of self make me ideal for dealing with change
- I have a long track record of delivering exceptional results
Develop Digital Dexterity
If you’re 50+, you were not born with fingers on keyboards that opened the doors to the whole world. Companies need every employee to be internet savvy and digitally fit regardless of role, function and yes, age. Today, every job is digitally enabled on some level. Whether you work in market research, customer service or sales, being digitally savvy is essential. Resume.io advises clients that “employers need to know that you’re as technically proficient as someone 20 years younger.” Prove that you’re up to date with the latest tools and platforms by including them in your resume. This includes skills you’ve learned in lockdown; research by The Knowledge Academy states it can take as little as 10 days to learn a new technical skill!
Deliver A Powerful First Impression
Today, people will form their first impressions of you online. When someone wants to check you out, they’ll turn to Google. And what Google says about you is who you are. When your online ID shows that you are vibrant, innovative, confident and engaged, people who are checking you out will want to get to know you. Start with your LinkedIn About because it will be the most-read version of your bio. Use it to demonstrate your credibility and likability.
Show Your Social Savvy
One way to demonstrate your digital fitness is through social media. Now, before you moan or stress out, consider this: You can create a powerful online social media presence in just 9 minutes a day as long as you make a daily commitment. And you need not be visible on every platform from Instagram to TikTok, LinkedIn to SlideShare, YouTube to Facebook. Focus on LinkedIn (it’s truly the most powerful professional social network) and just one other tool where your target audience can always be found.
If you’re interviewing for a new job, you’ll be doing a lot of video interviews. The interview itself is an opportunity to show that you’re on top of the latest and probably most prevalent form of business communications. When you master video, you’ll stand out in all the ways that matter. That means being skilled at both synchronous video (Zoom meetings, Webex, Google Hangouts) and asynchronous video (videos to demonstrate thought leadership, video messages from you sent to people on your team, clients, etc.). Even those who do a lot of video meetings aren’t terribly skilled at it.
Being 50+ is a career asset when you adopt the mindset. Apply these strategies so that your personal brand becomes all about one important fact: You offer something unique and highly valuable.