I am going to recommend that you read Seth Godin’s new book, “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” In my review of the book at my website, I said it was not a great book, but it does have several very important messages that make it worth your time.
A linchpin is someone who is remarkable at the work they do. They show up and do more than what is required, and they bring the emotional, human element to their work which is increasingly rare. Seth believes that instead of trying to find work you are passionate about, you should find passion in whatever work you have been given to do right now. People who approach their jobs like this are rare, and that rarity makes them valuable – indispensable. If you are not remarkable, then you are replaceable.
His section on resumes is especially important to students or anyone else practicing personal branding:
This is controversial, but here goes: if you’re remarkable, amazing, or just plain spectacular, you probably shouldn’t have a resume at all. If you’ve got experience in doing the things that make you a linchpin, a resume hides that fact. A resume gives the employer everything she needs to reject you. Once you send me your resume, I can say, “Oh, they’re missing this or they’re missing that,” and boom, you’re out….
If you don’t have a resume, what do you have? How about three extraordinary letters of recommendation from people the employer knows and respects? Or a sophisticated project that an employer can see or touch? Or a reputation that proceeds you? Or a blog that is so compelling and insightful, they have no choice but to follow up? Some say, “Well, that’s fine, but I don’t have those.” Yeah, that’s my point. If you don’t have these things, what leads you to believe you are remarkable, amazing, or just plain spectacular? It sounds to me like if you don’t have more than a resume, you’ve been brainwashed into compliance. Great jobs, world-class jobs, jobs people kill for – those jobs don’t get filled by people e-mailing in resumes.” (pp. 71-72)
I could not agree more. That is why I started doing personal branding myself last year, and also started teaching it to my students. That is why I blog very frequently and show up on Twitter almost every day. In every class I’ve taught so far on personal branding, only about 5% of the students keep up their blogs and Twitter accounts after the class. They are doing things that their peers are not willing to do, and some have already seen the rewards of their efforts.
The rest have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into compliance. Wherever you are right now, look around you. The vast majority of the folks you see will perform their work – including their course work in school – to one degree or another just like everyone else. Sure, they might all be very interesting people with really cool Facebook pages, but there is nothing remarkable about the work that they do. Nothing.
“You are not your resume, you are your work” (p. 74).
Today is the day you need to discover your value, what you DO uniquely well that can help others address an issue or solve a problem that matters to them. We learn by doing, so get busy DOING what you can do best to help others, then leverage the tools of personal branding (e.g. blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter) to build content and conversation around what you are doing.
For the truly remarkable, excuses are irrelevant.
Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.