Dear Meghan: The first question I would ask you would be whether you are seeking to represent said talents, skills, interests, and passions during your 9-5 life, or if you are simply trying to convey to your audience that your skills run deeper than perhaps the expectation of someone in your career. I am assuming, as you wrote to a personal branding expert, that you are seeking to represent your brand in a multifaceted manner that positions you for a variety of career opportunities.
Have you ever heard the old adage “a square peg in a round hole?” Unfortunately, in our overly saturated job search arena where clicking “apply now” barely takes any effort, the adage rings true. The more targeted you are in presenting your professional brand, the easier it will be for an employer—and an applicant tracking system—to see you as “fitting” in the role. Now, that certainly does not mean that you can’t effectively represent a deeper skill set on your branding materials; it just means that you will have to work a little harder when it comes to “selling” the diversity of your brand for an employer. On the flipside, for an employer who sees and understands that value, you are communicating a current and future fit given you could perform a targeted role now, but also possess the skills to transition into a stretch assignment or role in the future. This can be an exciting prospect for both you and an employer.
If you are currently in a career and do not feel 100% invested because it does not align well with your passions, perhaps it is time to consider a career pivot to something more unified with your passions and skills. Many job seekers—especially women, according to research—find this challenging: combining professional paths with personal passions. If this sounds like you, now might be the time to start taking inventory of your existing professional talents and skills and where they intersect with your passions and interests. Assuming there are overlaps, have you explored what positions are available that would leverage both? Finding that sweet spot where your talents, skills, interests, and passions intersect will be key in still being able to present a targeted, yet deep picture of your brand.
Last week I wrote a column on the benefits of mentoring. Timely, as this would be one of my strongest recommendations for you as you explore how to move forward and capitalize on all you have to offer. Consider sourcing a mentor who can help you define how to combine what you are good at with what you love. Remember, there may not be a perfect blended role out there that combines all, so don’t forget that we have the ability to focus on what we are really good at during the work day, earn the paycheck to drive our life outside of the workplace, and then engage in activities beyond the workday that are aligned with our passions. I would not want these to be mutually exclusive for you; I just want to make sure you are taking advantage of all opportunities to engage in passionate work (or play).
Another suggestion I would have for you is to perhaps focus your search on companies that have employee-centered cultures, ones that encourage their employees to volunteer and spend time in the community, and ones which embrace succession planning and professional development. There are certainly employers who capitalize on the full value of employees both through their in-house contributions and through their role as a steward of their community. Finding an employer who focuses on these things might be the perfect way for you to proceed, ensuring your talents are utilized and your skills continue to be developed, while also feeding your soul by engaging in passionate work. I wish you tremendous success!