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The only way to find the career path that’s the best fit for you is to date around. We’ll show you how to make the most of your job dates.
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6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
One way to develop your personal brand for your career is to start “dating” jobs. You can’t expand your career dimensions and be present in different career spaces and rooms without trying out various jobs to see how well they suit you. And when you date jobs, you can rapidly and easily increase your career salary because you’re constantly landing new jobs and learning skills as you travel your career path.
Look at it like this: When you date people, you’re spending time with someone you like, but you’re not committing to them for the long term. It’s the same with a job. You can find value in going to a job you like, with a good salary, team members, culture fit, benefits and work, without getting “married” to it.
Dating jobs gives you direct access to experience and exposure that can only benefit you as you build your personal brand. In your career, you have to date jobs to figure out what type of organization, culture, job duties and leadership styles work best for your goals. When you date new people, you get new experiences and exposure to new personalities and backgrounds. Companies likewise have personalities (called “company cultures”), and their background represents how long the company has been established or what their specialized services or products include. Have you ever been on a date where you learned more about the other person’s life and background, or gone to a new place for dinner? These dating concepts are called unique experiences and unique exposure—and the same concepts apply when you date a job to build your brand.
Here’s the formula (followed by a quick explanation of each element that helps you build your brand):
Unique Experiences Unique Exposure = Building Your Brand
Unique Experiences. When you date a job, you learn new skills and tools. The more complex projects you work on, the more you gain valuable experience that will help you move on to the next job.
Unique Exposure. The unique experiences give you increasing opportunities to work on complex projects and meet new people on external-facing projects. This unique exposure helps build your brand as you move from job to job until you find one you want to marry (stay in for the long haul). Unique exposure is a great way to build, market and sell your personal brand.
Put these two elements together, and you have a new layer to add to your personal career brand.
Benefits in dating jobs
Whether you’re dating jobs slowly or speed dating, you’ll be able to discover the benefits for your brand in most organizations. If you don’t find any, you should dump that job as soon as you find a better one to date.
Think of dating jobs as being “friends with benefits.” You’re not terribly serious about each other, but you have a good time and enjoy some extra perks. While the job is treating you well, you should stay and try to soak up all those benefits, like paid education, professional training, high compensation and global travel. In other words, what’s in it for you? How can dating jobs benefit your unique experience and exposure?
These are the five main benefits of dating jobs:
- Paid education. Many organizations help employees pay for their college degrees. When you date a job that will pay for your higher education, you may have to work there a little longer. But you’ll leave debt-free, and you’ll earn an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. while you’re there. Student loan debt is high for most professionals, so I encourage you to take advantage of any free opportunities to further your education.
- Professional training. Each year, most professionals are given a training budget by their organization, which covers the cost of one or more classes. You can find job-related training to help you learn new skills. After you complete the training, you can add those courses to your resume. Professional training increases your marketability and gives you more efficient ways to do your job.
- Higher compensation. The more jobs you date, the more money you’ll make. Over the years. You’ll gain experience in speed dating, and your brand’s value will continue to increase. If you’re going to work at your job for eight to ten hours every day, you might as well get paid top dollar for being there.
- Network expansion. When you expand your network, you’re increasing your brand’s net worth. The more people you know, the more you can grow, so dating jobs is full of opportunities for network expansion. Just like celebrities, the more people you’re connected to, the easier it is to collaborate on various projects in your field. Your network expansion is an asset to your brand.
- Global travel. One of the luxuries of working for companies that hire travel consultants or professionals is that you may have to do some traveling for your job. You can see the world, stay in nice hotels, and learn about other cultures on the company’s dime, not your own. Global travel is a priceless experience for professionals who may be considering relocation or who just love to travel.
Remember: Building your brand by identifying what education, skills, certifications, training and professional experience you’ll need to move forward is made possible by getting exposure to many segments of your industry. Some of my career-coaching clients who landed jobs at Oracle, Microsoft and Boeing maximized their unique experience and exposure with other benefits that enhanced their personal brand. These clients learned how to date jobs by acquiring unique exposure and experience while working on high-visibility projects supporting global missions and creating innovative products and services for the Departments of State, the Navy and Defense. By dating jobs, they’ve leveraged their personal brands into six-figure roles and worked closely with politicians, CEOs and industry leaders.