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  • Writer's pictureMike Farragher

5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Build YOUR Professional Brand

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

Focus your professional brand on who you are now and where you're going!

I recently worked with a bright young woman who was let go from her position as an HR Coordinator for a large conglomerate of car dealerships. In this role, she was one of two HR professionals tending to the needs of an organization of 1200 people; counseling employees, hiring, onboarding, etc. By any measure, this massive responsibility is what you would expect at a Director level, yet she kept referring to herself as "a paper pusher."

"Yup, I did that, and that, and that," she replied after I showed her the job description of an actual HR Director. With that, her mindset changed, and her confidence soared. She is now applying for Director level positions, which obviously increases her chances of landing a new job with more money.

We all have an element in our upbringing that keeps us from being too boastful. There was that grade school nun who slapped you on the knuckles with a ruler for bragging, or that uncle who told you were too full of yourself when you were little. We avoid being seen as bragging through self-deprecation, which feeds an "I'm not worthy" and "I'm not good enough" internal narrative.

How do we break that disempowering narrative from running the show? It starts with an honest assessment of who you are now and where you want to be in the future. As we enter 2021, start with asking yourself: who am I now?

No, I'm not prescribing happy pills in this blog . I am inviting you to take an honest assessment of where you are, what you want, and where you are going from here.

Here are 5 questions you might ask yourself as you discover who you are now:

  1. How long am I in this job I have now?

  2. What does my next career step look like?

  3. If that position exists, what are the key qualifications?

  4. How does my current operating level and past experience match up with those key qualifications? What, if any, are the gaps? What is my plan to bridge those gaps, and by when will that be complete?

  5. Does my resume and career profile attract that next level position?

The results of that assessment might surprise you. You might be closer to that next level role than you think! You might have some work to do to better match the qualifications of that next level job, which might require you to get that extra certification or find another job that expands your experience managing people. This honest assessment will go a long way in clearing the unproductive cobwebs spun by your own self deprecation.

I love this quote from novelist Ilana C. Meyer on self-deprecation from a recent blog post in Psychology Today: "I’ll keep reminding myself: If you wear rags, that’s what people see. If you array yourself in a fabulous ballgown–well, some will be resentful, but that’s a risk of moving through the world. The best part of putting on the ballgown is that its cut and color are your choice."

Mike Farragher is the CEO and Co-Founder of Career Letters, a professional branding service specializing in resume and career profile remodeling. He is the author of six novels, playwright of 2 Off Broadway plays, and producer of an award-winning TV comedy pilot. Prior to that, he was a VP level hiring manager at Fortune 50 companies and startups in the biotech space for two decades. Check out Career Letters at

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