Whether you work in the field of PR/marketing as I do, or not, you need to brand yourself.
In essence, this means establishing some type of career/work reputation for your self–it’s far preferable that it be good, of course.
I had a talk with someone from my day job about this. I told this person that once you establish a good reputation for certain things at work, you could actually “ride” and get by on that reputation.
By way of example, I knew someone who habitually came in to work late, always took coffee breaks, always took a lunch hour (and that hour would sometimes stretch to longer than 60 minutes) and usually left early.
To be fair to this individual, the individual worked hard while at work. I mean, nose to the grindstone worked hard.
But because this individual came in late/took frequent breaks/left early/etc., the individual’s reputation around the agency was one of a slacker.
Another example: yours truly.
I don’t mean to brag, but I usually come in to work early, leave late, and seldom take breaks (at least not visible ones where I’m gone from my desk when people need me, although I do take frequent mental health breaks at my desk or not too far from the office).
As a result, I made the observation to a co-worker that I could start “slacking off” and that because I’d already established a reputation for simply being present, I could come in to work late for a whole month and yet still “ride” the coattails of that reputation and people would continue to think of me as the guy who came to work before everyone else did.
I actually tried this (NOTE TO MY CURRENT BOSS IF YOU’RE READING THIS: I tried this while I was at a previous employer!) and it was true: people continued to think of me as the guy who came in early, left late, etc., long after I’d stop doing those things.
Establishing a good reputation early on at your job will take you far. At minimum, you’ll be less likely to draw the shortest straw if (or when) the economy tanks and cuts need to be made.
You can draw some lessons from this and apply some of it outside of your job, too. I’ll get into that in a future post.