Businesses spend years coming up with a brand that they can promote to their target market. With the right branding, consumers will experience a company and know exactly what it does and what its overall mission is.

The same type of branding can be applied on an individual basis. Personal branding is the message you send to others about your own background and area of expertise. Whether you’re actively looking for a job or not, you should work hard to make sure everyone you encounter in the business world gets the right impression of you from the start.

Personal Branding for Social Media

Nothing exemplifies personal branding like an individual’s social media feed. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or a similar platform, you can often get a feel for someone’s personal brand by looking at the overall tone of the posts. If you’re hoping to get ahead in your career, that general impression should match your professional reputation. Sure, you may want a place to share weekender photos and gush about your love for Game of Thrones trivia, but set that social media profile to private and make sure only your friends and relatives can see it.

Your In-Person Brand

The internet isn’t the only place for personal branding. You make a similar impression in your daily interactions. Whether you’re seated at your desk or interacting with clients in a meeting, the way you speak, dress and carry yourself makes up your overall image. Even in written materials such as your business cards, resume, and email signature line, you convey a personal brand that ensures people remember you long after you’ve met. If your business has a required email signature, you may still be able to add in a personal motto or sign off on each of your emails with a closing line that communicates your personal style.

As you work to define and communicate your personal brand, make sure you remain consistent. If you’re constantly switching or you send mixed messages, you may find that others think you lack direction. Provided the personal brand you’ve chosen matches your own core values, it should follow you throughout your career, over many decades, job changes, and promotions.

When it comes to business, new ideas are a valuable commodity. Every business is seeking a competitive edge, a new idea that can catapult the company forward.

But, new ideas can be hard to come by. This is especially true when employees all derive from similar backgrounds or have been in the same industry for a number of years. Things can get pretty stale due to lack of fresh stimulation. And you know? That’s pretty normal.

When you operate in a certain “world” – for instance, the world of advertising, real estate, finance, or whatever it may be – you’re surrounded by people with similar experiences. They are in the same industry, so there’s a lot of familiarity with the methodology. There may be little exposure to outsiders, so things can get stale, meaning creativity is not exactly flowing.

New ideas – more often than not – come from the least expected avenues. They happen as a result of situational stimulation; something sparks. This usually happens when we’ve been motivated by something outside of our normal frame of reference. This is equally true when it comes down to hiring staff.

If you’re recruiting, it’s pretty common to be looking for industry experience. Sure, it may seem like the logical solution is to be looking for someone with industry experience. But here’s the thing, when you go down the traditional route, it’s the same gene pool that you, and most of your competitors, are drawing from.

Hiring outside of or adjacent to your industry means widening the net, expanding the talent pool and building a stronger company. It doesn’t mean hiring someone with no experience. Rather it means making a hire based on soft skills.

Soft skills are what separates one candidate from another when they are on equal footing. They are also highly transferrable; they are skills that are honed as a result of life and work experiences. The industry specifics can, more often than not, be acquired – of course, this does depend somewhat on the exact role and industry you’re recruiting for.

A candidate with strong soft skills, honed in a different industry, will bring a totally different perspective. The non-traditional hire is looking with a fresh set of eyes and seeing things inside your industry for the first time. A non-biased view allows a sense of wonder – thought-provoking questions are asked.

With a non-traditional hire, you get a totally new perspective that has an effect on flow. The blinders fall away, and the business gets a fresh injection of new ideas. That’s when the magic starts to happen.

The energy and motivation present at the beginning of a new year feels magical. When you are expecting new things, and you can almost smell the change in the air, it’s more like focused positivity. January is the most anticipated time in the grand order of making a major career change. As you fix your thoughts on getting a new job with more benefits, extra time off or flexible hours, mind your career experience and what you stand to accomplish going forward.

Here are a few reasons why some people feel like starting afresh this year:

1. Dare to Dream Big

In my career experience, I’ve learned that you cannot purely value your job according to the money it brings to your pocket. Well, it is one of the major reasons of course, but look at it this way; you have the power to shape your dreams and the will to aspire higher in life. Your job should propel you, and the people around you, forward. Therefore, if you have outgrown your usefulness where you currently work, it is time to move to more challenging tasks. That is growth.

2. Be Multi-Talented

We have reached an amazing era, where success in one vertical alone isn’t enough to build a career. If you have learned a few skills like People Management, Social Media Marketing and a little bit of Graphic Design, then you have many more options when deciding to change jobs. Never put all of your expectations in one career basket. Expand your horizon and be ready to jump ship when the time is ripe, or when a better opportunity pops up.

3. Overcome the Fear of Change

I love watching “The Amazing Race,” where people handle different tasks in different parts of the world. Some of those assignments are darn hard to achieve, but the contestants do not have a choice; they must perform the task for them to move forward. Are you tired of your old job? Does it feel like a drag and most days you just feel like a zombie working there? Guess what, January is the right time to course correct and move on to something more exciting – something that aligns with your personality and your passion.

4. Personal Growth

To some extent, your work defines you. Do you believe this? I think this is a double-sided expression where your achievements are a result of your efforts from accumulated job experience and your personal life. Have you achieved at least 80% of your goals for the last five years? Keep setting new benchmarks. Making a move now may help you focus on creativity, positivity, a better future for your kids, or that dream holiday home you’ve been dying to own.

Be open to exploring a thoughtful move this January. Dust off your resume for a fresh start! Do it now.