Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“Where do you see yourself or where do you want to be in 5 years from now?” A question all of us know we will be asked, but a question only some of us are confident to answer honestly to ourselves as well as in an interview.

Following up from our post on stress free interview tips, there is an important exercise that all of us must do before we even begin the interview process and market ourselves to others.

It’s called personal brand engagement, which requires us to take a step back to truly understand who we are so we are prepared to effectively communicate it to others.

“Brand You” has become a buzz concept referring to how one markets themselves externally across every touch point online and offline. With the overwhelming amount of platforms today such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. there are so many outlets in which we need to ensure that we are maintaining a good yet clear image of ourselves and every interaction at each touch point is an opportunity to further solidify what our personal brands stand for.

However, before one can begin to market “Brand You” one must truly get to know oneself. Similar to how top brands go through an internal branding process and carefully define who they are and how they want to communicate it to effectively market and position themselves in our minds, we need to do the same for ourselves. Before you can decide who you want to market yourself to, it is imperative that you take time to get to know yourself, understand what it is that you want in your career, and what you want to be known for.

Richard Bolles, career expert and author of What Color Is Your Parachute? provides good perspective when he explains,“A career choice is essentially the choice of what medium you prefer, to express who you are.” We all have unique skills and interests; it comes down to how we translate them into a satisfying and successful career. There are many tools out there that can aid in the process such as Richard Bolles’s Flower Exercise or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, but it can be also be as simple as answering the following 5 questions:

1. If money weren’t an object, how would you want to spend your time?

2. What types of activities make you feel most satisfied?

3. What skills do you enjoy using?

4. What type of work environment do you thrive in or want to be in?

5. What do you want to be known for? What do you want your legacy to be?

Granted, some of your favorite activities may not lend themselves to careers and may need to remain as hobbies or side jobs, but everything you enjoy doing requires certain underlying skills. For example, if you love meeting new people and forging new relationships then you are probably one who enjoys using your interpersonal and relationship building skills. A career as an Account Executive or as a Human Resources professional may be a good match for you since you get to meet new people and interact with people all day every day. Or if you are super competitive, love the thrill of the chase and the high of closing a deal then a sales focused career may be a great match for you.

Once you are confident in how you want to represent yourself to others you are ready to hit the market!

Mireille Guiliano former CEO of Clicquot Inc. (LVMH) and author of Women, Work, & The Art of Savoir Faire said it best when she said, “If you are not a brand you are a commodity.”

Mireille was relating champagne branding to personal branding, but the bottom line is that in order for you to get chosen out of a myriad of candidates you need to have a likeable yet clear brand that can fulfill an employer’s needs as well as yours.

So tell me, where do you see yourself in 5 years?