Mastering Your Personal Brand: Your Career Identity

By Patrice Barber, CEO of Career CNX  & National Professional Speaker

Jane was stuck. She just completed her MBA and her boss tried to create a new position for her.

The position was refused. Now she had no champions left.

She had never investigated any other potential opportunities, so now she feels trapped – wanting an opportunity that meets her skill level without the potential for achieving it in her current company.

What is your career identity?

Your careeer identity is the set of skills and talents that you are identified with – how you want to be remembered.

What is your impact on others? What do they think of when they think of you?

 Your career identity is a significant component of your personal brand.

 Your brand is comprised of many different parts and what you do and how you do it is an important segment.

How do you want to be remembered? 

As the experienced professional with significant experience in your field? As someone who assists others in the field progress in their careers?

You’ll want to decide the impression you want to make on people, and how to continue to develop that impression and identity.

In Jane’s case, she could have been more active in her business association group, developing an identity of competence and skill with other active professionals.  

By using her expertise for the good of the group, she builds credibility with her peers. This is all part of developing her brand – and her visibility.

Developing Expertise

Jane is developing her expertise by finishing her MBA. She’d been working in her industry for 5 years when she started graduate school.

Expertise usually equals higher pay. But not if that expertise is hidden.

In order to reap the benefits of being an expert, it’s important that those in your industry recognize your expertise.

So how does Jane get the recognition she deserves for her education and experience?

She starts by getting better known in her industry through helping out in the industry association, speaking to industry and industry-adjacent groups, and maybe through contributing to the industry association publication.

This is all part of her career identity.

According to Elizabeth Harr at, “…many buyers are willing to pay a premium for experts they believe in.” 

Companies are not immune to this either. If you’re well-known in the company for an area of expertise, often salaries are increased based on this specialized knowledge.

Experience matters as well. In fact, according to, “The more experience you have, the more you get paid. Controlling for other variables, on average each year of experience adds about $2,700 to the global base salary.”

Aligning Career Objectives

Now that Jane is on the road to demonstrating her expertise, it’s time to more clearly define her career objectives.

Where do you want to be in your career in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? What type of industry, size of company, who do you want to impact?

In the Career CNX program, we refer to these objectives as North Star Objectives. For more information on how to create and develop these objectives, check out this article.

Clarity on your path is important as you grow your personal brand.

Aligning Career Relationships

Once you have a clear idea of where you want to go, it’s time to work with people that can help you get there.

This needs to be a two-way street. You need to be open to helping others to get what they want in order to eventually get what you want. Add value to your relationships.

Get to know the movers-and-shakers in your industry. If those people are any good at developing their personal brand, you’ll know who they are. They are the people you’ll hear about in the industry meetings and conferences as well as when someone has a sticky problem they need to solve.

Your goal is to develop a reputation as someone who is great at what they do and who would be a terrific partner if you were only open to opportunities.

You want to be a great referral for a great opportunity. You want several champions.

Personal Brands – Your Career Identity

Jane had a good start. Her boss knew of her increased expertise, but the powers above him did not.

So, no job.

One positive aspect of personal branding is that the sooner you start, the sooner you reap the benefits. Jane has started to work with members of her industry outside of her organization. She’s networking with others and trying to add value to those relationships.

She’s working on creating credibility and developing her Career identity.

Need a few more tips on developing or polishing your personal brand? Check out this article: Creative Ways to Build Your Personal Brand.

What would you do in her situation? Are you ready to develop your personal brand and become an influencer in your industry? Take our personal branding quiz.

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