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How You Can Be Successful With or Without a College Degree

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How You Can Be Successful With or Without a College Degree

There are many stories of success that we have all heard time and time again of people who didn’t finish college or in some cases, even start college.  These people went on to have massive success.  Steve Jobs the late founder of Apple and Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft are two that come to mind.

I have been in the education sector for the last 10 years of my career and I hire lots of people that must have a college degree.  However, the ones that grow within the ranks of our company are the ones that continue to develop and make growth and development a top priority over everything else.

Since the context of this article is about how to be outstanding with or without a college degree, all 12 of these will work for you no matter what your educational background is.

1.  Start Early:

Find your passion and purpose in life and pursue that with vigor and dedication.  There are a lot of elite athletes such as golfers, tennis players, runners, soccer players, and many more other sports. In some cases they did go to college and in some cases they didn’t.  But most, if not all of them started early in their life and put in the work to be a success in their chosen field.  Steve Wozniak, who developed the first Apple computer, was playing around with electronics as a kid.

2.  Find a Mentor:  

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Yes.  Regardless if you have a college degree or not; find a mentor.  Maybe you are passionate about real estate.  You don’t need a college degree, but if you can find a mentor that can show you the ropes you can learn faster.  Even if you do have a college degree, find a mentor that can show you how to continue to grow and develop in a chosen field.

3.  Learn how to Sell:  

No matter what, if you start your own thing or you work for someone, learn how to sell!  If you can learn to sell or you already know how, you will always have a job.

4.  Expand Your Network:  

Job or no job, degree or no degree; if you can develop a strong network of people who know you, know what you are about, know your product, know your company that you work for, all of these things, then you can have massive success and be outstanding in whatever you decide to do.

5.  Read Lots of Books:

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How many?  As many as you can get your hands on!  Read anything and everything that is in your chosen career field/space. You can always learn more and broaden your knowledge. No amount of books is too many!

6.  Take Some Online Courses:

You can take an online course for just about anything these days.  You can get formal education online (a degree) or you can take specialized online courses that immerse you in a particular subject for a period of time.  Regardless of your educational background, by attending these kinds of programs you can take your career and success to the next level.

7.  Take a Short-term Specialty Program:

These are not degrees.  They are certifications and in some cases certificates in certain fields.  The medical field, the computer field, and other areas like skilled trades, such as welding and culinary have short quick programs that can teach you exactly what you need to know to get a job.

8.  Invent Something: 

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If you want to go from being just an employee with a company to a super star employee, create something that makes the company more money.  This will get you going on the fast track within your company.  If you’re just finding your way in life and you can invent something that the market needs, then you know what the results of that can be… Watch SharkTank or QVC.

9.  Be a Leader:

No matter what, every company needs leaders that are capable of leading others to get the desired results that the company needs.  It isn’t a popularity contest to be a leader though, its hard work, long hours, and hard decisions.  That is why good leadership is hard to find.  If you can lead others you will always have a place within a company, with or without a college degree.

10.   Put in the Work: 

Sorry, I had to put this one in here.  Some people think that they can get a college degree and then coast for their rest of their career.  Then you have other people who just don’t want to put in the time, but complain about their situation.  If you put in the work and extra hours, you can become outstanding in your job and career no matter what your educational background is. The 41st hour is where the herd separates.

11.  Learn how to Negotiate:

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This is a valuable skill for anyone, no matter what.  Sometimes you have to negotiate your salary with a potential employer, or negotiate a contract on a product you have developed. In everyday life, it seems as if everything we do really comes down to helping other people see that it’s a win-win situation.  Negotiators are able to show others a win-win situation.

12:  Be a Problem Solver: 

Most great inventions and start-up companies start from an idea for a problem they can solve. If you can solve problems for people, you can become an entrepreneur, which doesn’t require a college degree. If you are an employee for a company and can solve problems for your manager and your company, that skill will get you to the next level in your career at that company or somewhere else. Solving problems and saving the company money will get the attention of executives, and lead to positive outcomes for you.

Try doing some of the things above and I will guarantee you will have massive success, and be outstanding no matter what your educational background is!

Featured photo credit: Dinn Bros. Trophy Company via dinntrophy.com

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Brian Willett

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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