What is rebranding?
Rebranding sounds like something Proctor and Gamble might do with a tired soap brand. The product does a great job but it has lost the appeal it once had in the marketplace. Are you beginning to see how this might have some relevance to a private school teacher? Rebranding yourself as a dynamic teacher with vision, expertise in her subject and the skills to create excitement in the classroom will push your candidacy for the position you want to the front of the pack.
Remember: it's a fiercely competitive job market in the second decade of the 21st century. Schools have hundreds of highly qualified and experienced candidates from which to choose. Why should they look at you? Because the rebranded you seems fresh, relevant and, well, perfect for position they have open.
Who is a candidate for rebranding?
Unless you have an iron-clad signed and sealed contract with your school until you retire, you are going to need rebranding at some point in your career. Gone are the Mr. Chips days when you stayed at one or two schools for your entire career. All it takes is a new head or academic dean whose philosophy and methods don't align with yours and you will be itching to find another position. That's the point: the credentials and recommendations which got you that position in the first place will seem like artificats ten or fifteen years after you last used them to convince a school to hire you.
Why is rebranding necessary?
As I pointed out earlier, the job market is fiercely competitive in these post recession years. There's been a massive shedding of jobs in the public sector. Many of these very talented professionals are looking at the very same jobs which you once might have thought were reserved for you alone. Families will do what they need to do to survive. A teacher in his 40s
whose job has been eliminated is going to do what he has to do. So, yes, rebranding yourself is just part of what you have to do these days in order to be considered for a position.
When is rebranding best done?
Before you need it. I know that it's difficult to look ahead and predict what may or may not happen a year from now. So, scope out this rebranding thing now before you need it. At least have the edges of the puzzle filled in. Then finishing the picture can commence in earnest as you see the need arising. Don't forget: rebranding is a little like docking a cruise ship. You need to plan every move very carefully and well in advance.
How do you go about rebranding yourself?
1. Become visible. For the right reasons. Use the free Online ID Calculator web site to see just how visible you are. It's a good place to start. Your web site does show on the first page of Google's search results, doesn't it? If not, you need to figure out how to focus your message, who you are and what you stand for. A web site costs a few dollars a month or about the same as one of those coffees or teas you treat yourself to occasionally.
2. Join in the conversation. What conversation is that? The one your peers are having about all sorts of things in the private school world. Online conversations abound at sites like ISEN and ISED-L. You will need to register first. Spend a week or two observing things before you ask a question or make a comment which has been made a hundred times by others before you joined.
3. Be involved in conferences and seminars. They are marvellous ways to get the word out about you and what you are doing. Meet people. (If you do not enjoy meeting people, it might be time to retire and take up the monastic life.) Listen to people. Keep records of the conversations you have. Follow up by emailing people you want to develop a deeper professional relationship with.
4. Become a resource. A specific resource. If you are known as the person to go to for help in implementing a Mandarin Chinese language program for middle schoolers, you will quickly become a resource for that kind of program. You may have limited experience with teaching Chinese to primary school students or teaching it at the high school level, but you have that special niche working for you.
5. Use online tools like LinkedIn. It isn't perfect, but it certainly gives you both an idea of what the competition looks like as well as helping you identify the leaders and pacesetters. Be careful of Facebook. If you add professional colleagues as 'friends' make sure that your comments and posts are the sort of thing you won't mind seeing posted all over the world. Because they will be.
A final thought: don't be afraid of rebranding. You have solid credentials and have done well in your current and past positions. Just don't make the mistake I once made years ago when I assumed that employers would know all the great reasons why they needed me. That's not the way things work in the private school job market in the second decade of the 21st century.
Robert Knox Kennedy is a consultant who has written extensively about private schools.
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