Branding, Journaling, and Writing

Since the layoff from my previous employer was completed on April 26, I have not been writing much, either my journal or fiction. It took me a while to figure it out, and it has to do with the job search in general, and “branding” in particular.

Branding?

The job market and the job search process has changed quite a bit since the last time I had to worry about it. On-line communities such as LinkedIn and Indeed, the wide availability of information about almost everyone, and, for computer and IT work, the constant upheaval of techniques and technologies, make looking for a job in 2019 very different from 2004, which was the last time I was seriously seeking a position.

One of the features of the recent layoff was that I have two months of paid assistance from a job search firm, complete with resume’ development, networking events, research tools, and nagging from a coach. That’s all good, of course.

Part of that process is your personal “branding”, your own special sauce in the job market. It includes LinkedIn profile, resume’, networking briefs, 30-second pitch, et cetera. And it is wearing me thin.

Marketing!

Yes, all that branding hoo-ha is marketing and sales material for myself. Sure, I can see the need for it: you must stand out from the other applicants for a position, you must give the recruiter a reason to pass you to the next level, and you must give the hiring manager a reason to choose you over someone else, someone who might even match the job description better. If you don’t do it, you will probably lose out to someone who does.

Sales and marketing is a challenge for me. I have worked successfully as technology support for sales in the past, where I talk to the techs and produce materials about how our product fills the technology needs of the prospect. I actually like that job, seeing myself as a facilitator for the sales rep, giving the prospective users a view from the technology trenches. But I don’t see myself as a seller; if the rep is the quarterback, then I am blocking and tackling.

The long and the short of it is that thinking about how I can stand out, what I can do better, why I am so special, is exhausting. And it is a vastly different focus than journaling, where my attention is on events, reactions, reasons, and things I can improve about my inner life. A healthy inner life improves one’s outer life, inevitably.

But just cheerleading for Team Me seems to be dangerous, in the sense of believing one’s own hype.

Well, yes I did all that stuff during the time I was an independent consultant, seeking out old customers and contacts, and I am glad I kept it going for a year and a half. I proved to myself that when the chips were down, I could do what was necessary, even if it was not my natural strength.

Am I Just Griping?

So, maybe I can do all this, and succeed in producing a branding package that highlights my strengths and maximizes my appeal. Maybe I am just feeling a little grumpy, a little neglected, a little under-appreciated.

Where was I?

Oh, right, journaling and writing.

The whole point of this rant is that branding activities require a lot of the same kind of introspection that I usually apply to my journal entries. With all this generation of marketing materials, I just haven’t had much energy for the regular journal entries.

And that is also why I haven’t been working much on the fiction. For me, at least, writing begets writing. When I spend time journaling, it activates the energy and desire to work on the fiction.

And, of course, that is the advice I am giving myself, to take intentional time with the journal. I will feel better, and ultimately write more and better.

A Milestone

As long as I can remember I have loved stories. I don’t remember when I first understood that people made up stories, or when I first thought of making stories myself, but by high school I had an established dream, an assumption even, that I would write stories.
On and off through the years, I have written, attended classes and writing groups, and piled up unfinished works.
In early 17, I found the gumption to begin taking all this seriously. I joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and sought out a critique group. I was fortunate to find a group of people of similar mind, who understand the importance and power of fiction, who love to nurture other writers who nurture them in turn.
My writing skills are growing under the attention of this group of story-tellers.
And just last week, I received glorious news, that the 2019 WhimsyCon anthology will include a story that I wrote. Note that this is not a major market, not national in scope, and the pay is only a token.
But this is huge for me. I have never before had a piece of fiction published.

A milestone, indeed.