The United States economy is sending a series of conflicting messages in this current financial quarter. The Labor Department reported that the number of jobless claims fell to 370,000 in the third week of May, while the prospect of sustained austerity continues to threaten sustainable growth. So, although the unemployment rate in April dropped once more to just 8.1%, the implementation of potential spending cuts at the end of 2012 could see this figure soar next year. With this in mind, it is an ideal time to appraise your career aspirations, and determine your exact value to a specific market or industry.

SEE: What's Your Employee Value?

Create a Personal Brand
In order to understand your worth and value as an employee, it is important to first define yourself and the skills that set you apart from other candidates for employment. This requires you to create a personal brand, which can bridge the gap between what you have to offer and what employers in your chosen market place are looking for. Personal branding is effectively a method through which you can identify, present and market your most unique attributes, while offering a genuine solution to recruiters in the process. While identifying what defines your unique brand is a deeply personal experience, technological evolution has created an established platform from which it can be marketed. The development of social media resources has certainly made this process easier. Sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can showcase your personal brand to a huge market of potential employers. Given the rise of e-recruitment and increasing functionality of mobile technology, this is the ideal way to market yourself and maximize your value in the work place.

Research Your Market and Industry
While creating a personal brand allows you to define your marketable skills and value as an employee, your subsequent salary expectations must be tempered by the nature of your chosen industry. A fluctuating global economy, innovation and changeable consumer demand all dictate whether or not a particular market sector is prosperous, and this has a direct influence on your chances of achieving your career goals. For example, while advanced industries such as biotechnology are continuing to thrive in 2012, others such newspaper publishing and analogue photofinishing are declining rapidly.

With this in mind, it is crucial that you evaluate your realistic earning potential so that you are in a position to negotiate successfully whether you are applying for work or looking to improve your existing salary. If you have qualifications that are primarily associated with a struggling industry, then it may also be worth highlighting any skills that can be transferred to a more affluent market sector. These include research and analytical skills, which have value and merit within a range of different industries.

Improve Your Value
Transferable skills give you the flexibility to achieve a salary that is in line with the value that you offer as an employee. Another way to boost the value of your personal brand is to continually add to your skill set by gaining relevant qualifications that match emerging trends within a given industry. After all, a qualification or learned skill must be in demand if it is to have any bearing on your overall salary or industry standing. Those with existing skills in the construction industry provide a case in point, as they are forced to engage in continual professional development in order to remain in employment and maximize their earning potential. This is largely due to the fact that technological advancement is extremely prominent within the industry, and this demands that employees remain refreshed on brand new processes and innovative working methods if they are to achieve their potential.

The Bottom Line
The process of defining your personal brand and self-worth is a genuinely productive one, as it can help you to determine your exact value to an employer or industry. This is changeable just like market variables such as economic growth and consumer demand. The difference is that you can retain complete control over your personal brand, and develop it to drive your career and earning capacity to brand new heights.

Related Articles
  1. Investing

    How To Create a Winning Elevator Pitch

    Whether you are talking to potential investors, partners, customers or employees, the skill of being able to concisely summarize your business is critical.
  2. Professionals

    What Accounts for One-Third of the Wage Gap

    Women who work full time still make less than men who have the same qualifications. One third of the pay gap may be due to gender bias and discrimination.
  3. Personal Finance

    Top Universities for Getting an MBA Abroad

    Going abroad for an MBA can add cachet when it comes time to get a job.
  4. Personal Finance

    Five Things To Avoid at Your Next Interview

    Do you have an interview coming up? Avoid these five mistakes and leave a lasting impression on your potential employer.
  5. Professionals

    How Advisors Can Carve Out a Social Media Niche

    Social media is a great way for financial advisors to build a brand and potentially generate leads if it’s properly used. Here are some tips.
  6. Professionals

    Career Advice: Financial Planner Vs. Wealth Manager

    Understand the differences between a career in financial planning and wealth management, and identify which is better for you based on your goals and talents.
  7. Personal Finance

    6 Reasons To Get Your MBA Abroad

    Given the number of high caliber business schools outside the United States, it may make sense to venture overseas for your MBA. Here's what you can gain.
  8. Investing

    Essential Tips on Making Your Hobby Your Career

    Here are some ways to turn what you love to do for fun into your job.
  9. Stock Analysis

    Social Media Networks That Are Cashing in on the 2016 Presidential Election

    Learn how social media continues to shape the way political campaigns are run. Through social networks, candidates can reach voters directly like never before.
  10. Investing News

    Thursday Intel: Will Q4 Offer a Fresh Start?

    Investor hopes for a fresh start to the world economy in this quarter may be misplaced.
  1. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  2. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  3. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  4. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
  5. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  6. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!