What is your backstory?

I am a personal branding consultant for corporate professionals who want to increase their visibility and attract high-quality career opportunities and … I don’t have the typical corporate career.

I have a background in organizational psychology and communications, moved into employer branding, talent assessment, recruiting, and internal communications, and – went to the U.S for an expat assignment as a communications expert.

And, I built my career as an athlete on the side. I focused on mountaineering first and went on my first expedition with a team of friends at age 22 to Kyrgyzstan. Our team did 4 new ascents and we climbed numerous other multi-pitch/multi-day routes. Afterwards, I changed my focus to rock-climbing because training was easier to combine with studying at university and I took my skills to a professional level within the next 3 years. I travelled the world while climbing and while having a corporate job. I had the most supporting bosses allowing me to create my own schedule around work, training and travel.

When I decided to no longer pursue climbing at that intensity, I went all in with my corporate career.

But, my career didn’t follow the usual path. So, I had two problems:

  1. I didn’t want to start at entry level jobs again.

  2. I had to sell my experience I gained while climbing to a potential employer.

Therefore, I had to get crystal clear on my experience, results and benefits for a future employer and I had to use the art of storytelling in my resume, cover letter and in job interviews to sell my strengths and experience to their benefit.

I applied to 5 jobs, got 4 interview invites, got 2 job offers and negotiated a significantly higher salary than initially proposed.

I started my new job as a process management expert with the target to improve internal processes where necessary, a job not even related to my expertise, but was hired based on the trust in my skills to not give-up and bite through and therefore be able to do change projects. Once the worldwide financial crisis in 2008 hit the economy I quickly changed into internal communication advising top management on how to communicate the impact of the crisis on associates and changes related to it.

On the job, I understood how independently I had lived my life setting my own targets for my personal development. I realized, if I would depend on the people around me to support me in my career development that I would not be where I wanted to be in the time frame I had in mind and I would probably not make the career experiences I wanted to make.

I had to come up with a strategy to own my career development and to position myself as the go-to expert. I built a vast international network within the company that I worked for, was able to find 3 mentors that truly supported me, without being in an official mentor program, I built professional partnerships and expert networks and managed to be involved in strategic projects to be seen by upper management.

With time, I was seen as the expert others wanted to learn from and work with and I took on consulting other communication experts. I got more and more into the role of coaching top management on their personal branding and communication even beyond the site I worked for.

Without doing anything I got 4 job offers with one of them being an expat assignment.

I chose the expat assignment in the U.S. because it was in line with my desire to live and work abroad to deep-dive in a different culture and because I wanted to bring my English to a new level.

With all the struggles that I had experienced as a woman wanting to build a rewarding career, I never hesitated to pass on anything that had worked for me and started mentoring numerous women inside and outside my own organization and continued to do so while I built my first business.

I helped women connect with their story and define their value to an organization. Based on that, they were able to create their career branding materials like resume, cover letter and interview strategy.

On the job, I helped them position themselves as the expert in their field, build natural authority and leadership skills, connect with mentors and expand their professional connection base to attract high-quality career opportunities and build a rewarding career themselves.

While I built my personal branding intuitively with a lot of trial and error involved, I now pass on my experience as a personal branding consultant and mentor for corporate professionals attract high-quality career opportunities and build a rewarding career and life right from the start.

 

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why.

 

#1. Tell people what you want so they know how they can support you. At the time I wanted to shift my life from rock climbing to building my professional career full time, I first thought the change might be hard because no one had ever seen me in a different role than balancing being an athlete and a corporate career. When I told my boss, I wanted to change into a role closer to my background and education his reaction took me by surprise. He said: I was waiting for you to tell me you wanted to move on, because you are not fully living your potential.

 

But, because you didn’t say anything, I thought you were happy at what you do. Now, tell me what you want to do so I can see how I can help you! In 2017 I did personal interviews with decision-makers in organizations asking why they think women are not on higher level roles in the organization. They all told me the same: “If someone, doesn’t tell us they want to move on to a different role, we assume he or she is happy at the position they are.”


 

#2. Every business and every career needs visibility and marketing. Your visibility and self-marketing is part of your career. Work on it consistently right from the start. I started out to increase my visibility with presentations, getting involved in cross-functional or strategic projects, became a part of international projects and looked for ways to get our efforts published in internal media of my employer. If you have an internal social business platform available, make sure to use it.

 

#3. Invest your time and energy in building relationships that go way beyond your department and employer right from the start. Be curious about what you can learn from others and share what you have to offer. You will be amazed at how many amazing people you will get to know along the way. As an entrepreneur I am part of online communities with thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs from all over the world and I am in awe about the potential and future driven ideas out there.

 

Cooperating and collaborating with some of these amazing people and learning from them is one of the greatest gifts I receive from the opportunities of the online world. Learn to use the social world for your career. It will expand your horizon and increase your opportunities beyond what you thought possible.

 

#4. A no is never set in stone. At the beginning of my career I thought if someone didn’t support either my ideas that I wanted to implement or a potential career move, that it is a final decision. Later, I realized others didn’t buy into my ideas right away because they didn’t trust themselves to either make the right decision with placing me in a certain job or they were not confident in the success I would achieve with a certain idea.

 

For both they didn’t see the benefits I would bring to the table or my work to be a fit for the goals THEY wanted to achieve. I learned that the marketing of my ideas and telling my vision for success was the part that needed my constant attention. I learned how to tell the benefits of working with me as an educating and entertaining part in daily conversations.

 

#5. Don’t wait to be 100% ready for a new job or the opportunity is gone. You can learn the missing pieces along the job and will grow into it every day or, if you need to learn faster do research on the internet and talk to people in your network. I once was hired for a job that had nothing to do with my background. Instead, I found out later that I was hired because they looked at the climbing success I had built over time and assumed that I was able to deal with setbacks and would not give up on my goals.

Published by Asheer Raza