THE BLOG

Personal Branding or Reinvention?

04/06/2015 04:46 pm ET | Updated Jun 05, 2015

After years in the human resources sector, I changed my path to pursue one of my passions in the non-profit world. Successfully making this change, however, can be a challenge.

A report released earlier this month has gained national attention, from both politicians and comedians alike. The recent report, based off of a study conducted by Institute for Women's Policy Research, claimed that women would not see equal pay until 2048. More recently, USA World and News reported that male nurses are paid an average of $5,000 more a year than women, even though women make up the majority in the field. In the article, US World and News made a point to clarify that this gap may not be the result of gender differences, but rather a result in differences in skill and experience.

It is hard to completely conform to the belief that the gap in pay between men and women is solely a response to differences in skill and experience, but either way it is important for women to address their role in the business world. It is not possible for women to have direct control over their salary in comparison with that of men's, but they can control what type of jobs they pursue and goals they achieve. The key to this control is branding.

Branding can refer to the use of any market strategy to transform the appearance of a product to make it more distinct and easier to identify, with the goal of ultimately increasing profits for the respective company. But in this context, branding can also be used to refer to the decision to and process of changing the appearance and mindset of oneself in the hopes of achieving such goals.

Why should women rebrand? Women today face significantly greater barriers in the corporate world than men. In addition to the potential gender bias they face, they are also often the caretakers of a family, a huge job that requires a lot of time and energy. Therefore, to overcome these obstacles it is important that women embrace their power to make a name for themselves.

The branding process begins with passion. The first step is realizing what your passion is, and all the skills you have to pursue this passion. It's important to think about what type of job markets you have been involved in before, paid or unpaid, and how they made you feel. Before starting the non-profit organization Second Chance, I worked various jobs in human resources but I never felt fulfilled. I realized that I felt more inspired and vindicated while volunteering at a domestic violence shelter for abused women. A key part of branding yourself is reevaluating your line of work and asking yourself the important question: Is this what I am truly passionate about?

Next, it is important to believe in yourself. It sounds cliché, but self-confidence is transparent and crucial when trying to advance in the job market. Create a list of your skills, ones that you whole-heartedly believe that you exhibit well, and embrace them! The most successful people who rebrand are the people who are most believable. If you fail to brand yourself in the way that you want to or the way that you feel like best demonstrates your strengths, employers will brand you for themselves and most likely not in the way you want to.

Finally, take the extra step. Branding yourself may entail reaching out to an old connection, taking an online class, or creating a support group. There are so many tools that women can take advantage of today to help them successfully rebrand themselves. One such example is social media. Take advantage of the connections you have formed through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to spread the word about your new ideas. Social media is one of the best ways to gain public attention because it is easy for everyone to access and you have complete control over how you portray yourself.

Although it's easy to succumb to societal pressures in today's competitive job world and only meet the bare minimum of expectations, it's important to realize how much potential women have despite what experts may say about differences of skill and experience. As the CEO of Market Mentor Caryln Rodz explained in an article cornering women in the work force, "I am not a man, and will probably never be fully understood by men. But, that doesn't mean I'm not capable of accomplishing the same things. I'll just likely approach them differently". If embraced correctly and portrayed accurately, our different approaches can make us just as successful, if not more, than our competitors.