Canadians look to personal branding to build workplace identities

A growing number of Canadians are developing their own personal "brands" as part of a trend toward taking greater control over their careers, including steps to help differentiate themselves in a fast-changing workplace, according to the latest survey results from workforce solutions leader Kelly Services.

The findings are part of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, which obtained the views of approximately 134,000 people in 29 countries, including more than 15,000 in Canada.

Personal marketing, or branding, has become a feature of the modern workplace, with respondents identifying the elements they regard as most important in building their identities – verbal communication skills (70 per cent), résumés (64 per cent), technical knowledge (63 per cent), written communications (63 per cent), personal attire (52 per cent), and use of social media (39 per cent).

"As many individuals are moving out of the typical employment relationship, they are thinking about how to promote themselves and stand-out from the crowd," says Karin French, Kelly Services VP and managing director of Canadian Operations. "There is also a high degree of awareness about the pace of change in the workplace and the ability to manage this change."

Survey findings also show 70 per cent of respondents are prepared to invest their own money to upgrade their skills – not waiting on their employer to do so – and more than half believe they will change careers and re-invent themselves at some point in the future.

Results of the survey in Canada include:

  • 73 per cent of Gen X are prepared to invest their own money on training to upgrade their skills, higher than for Gen Y (69 per cent) and baby boomers (68 per cent).
  • 74 per cent of baby boomers cite verbal communication skills among the most important elements in personal branding, compared with Gen X (72 per cent), and Gen Y (66 per cent).
  • 78 per cent of Gen Y are "very optimistic" about their ability to keep pace with technological and other changes in the workplace, higher than for Gen X (74 per cent) and baby boomers (67 per cent).
  • 58 per cent of respondents expect to change their careers in the future, with baby boomers (60 per cent) more likely than Gen X and Gen Y (both 58 per cent).
  • 25 per cent of respondents describe themselves as "very active" in their use of social media for personal marketing, while another 35 per cent say they are "somewhat active".

Those industries where employees are most willing to invest their own money to upgrade their skills include engineering, information technology, manufacturing, financial services, and education.

Across Canada, those employees most optimistic about keeping pace with technological and other changes in the workplace are in Quebec (79 per cent), followed by British Columbia (77 per cent), Alberta and Ontario (both 74 per cent), New Brunswick (72 per cent), Saskatchewan (68 per cent), and Nova Scotia (65 per cent).

"Many employers offer training and other benefits to assist their employees with career change or advancement. But with job tenure shortening and greater mobility of the workforce, employees are taking initiative to manage their careers, develop new skills, and sculpt their personal brand," French concludes.

To access the survey results from North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific, click here.

Kelly is currently conducting this year's survey. To be a part of the next Kelly Global Workforce Index, click on this link to take the survey now or visit

The Kelly Global Workforce Index is an annual survey revealing opinions about work and the workplace from a generational viewpoint. Approximately 134,000 people from North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific responded to the 2010 survey with results published on a quarterly basis. In 2009, Kelly Services was the recipient of a MarCom Gold Award for the Kelly Global Workforce Index in the Research/Study category.