Canadians reinvent themselves with 'branding' for career changes

By Contributor
November 21st, 2010

A growing number of Canadians are developing their own personal “brands” as part of a trend toward taking greater control over their careers, including steps to help differentiate themselves in a fast-changing workplace, according to the latest survey results from workforce solutions leader Kelly Services.  The findings are part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which obtained the views of approximately 134,000 people in 29 countries, including more than 15,000 in Canada.  Personal marketing, or branding, has become a feature of the modern workplace, with respondents identifying the elements they regard as most important in building their identities — verbal communication skills (70 percent), resumés (64 percent), technical knowledge (63 percent), written communications (63 percent), personal attire (52 percent), and use of social media (39 percent).  “As many individuals are moving out of the typical employment relationship, they are thinking about how to promote themselves and stand-out from the crowd,” said Kelly Services VP and Managing Director of Canadian Operations Karin French. “There is also a high degree of awareness about the pace of change in the workplace and the ability to manage this change.”  Survey findings also show 70 percent of respondents are prepared to invest their own money to upgrade their skills — not waiting on their employer to do so — and more than half believe they will change careers and re-invent themselves at some point in the future.  Results of the survey in Canada include:

  • 73 percent of Gen X are prepared to invest their own money on training to upgrade their skills, higher than for Gen Y (69 percent) and baby boomers (68 percent);
  • 74 percent of baby boomers cite verbal communication skills among the most important elements in personal branding, compared with Gen X (72 percent), and Gen Y (66 percent);
  • 78 percent of Gen Y are “very optimistic” about their ability to keep pace with technological and other changes in the workplace, higher than for Gen X (74 percent) and baby boomers (67 percent);
  • 58 percent of respondents expect to change their careers in the future, with baby boomers (60 percent) more likely than Gen X and Gen Y (both 58 percent);
  • 25 percent of respondents describe themselves as “very active” in their use of social media for personal marketing, while another 35 percent say they are “somewhat active.”

Those industries where employees are most willing to invest their own money to upgrade their skills include Engineering, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Financial Services, and Education.  Across Canada, those employees most optimistic about keeping pace with technological and other changes in the workplace are in Quebec (79 percent), followed by British Columbia (77 percent), Alberta and Ontario (both 74 percent), New Brunswick (72 percent), Saskatchewan (68 percent), and Nova Scotia (65 percent).  “Many employers offer training and other benefits to assist their employees with career change or advancement. But with job tenure shortening and greater mobility of the workforce, employees are taking initiative to manage their careers, develop new skills, and sculpt their personal brand,” French concludes.

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