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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Be clear about your unique promise of value – your brand
Although lots of people associate personal branding with the sexy stuff – speaking publicly, being featured in articles, publishing a Blog, there is an important part of the branding process that has to be achieved before all the visibility and accolades start rolling in. The first step? You must be clear about your unique promise of value – your brand.
Here are three important questions to answer before writing blogs, creating your video bio, or signing up to speak at your local professional association. Your brand lives at the intersection of your answers to these questions:
1. What makes me great?
Brands are built around superlatives. W has the hippest hotels. Volvo builds the safest cars. Apple is the most innovative. Paris is the world’s most romantic city. Nordstrom provides the best customer service.
What do you do better than anyone else? What’s your superpower? To find out, think about what’s innate: what are you naturally good at? What do people routinely ask you to help them with? If you exhibit your strengths regularly, ask the people who know you well. They can clue you in and help you discern your innate superpower. Sometimes we are so good at something and it comes to us so easily, we don’t realize how valuable it is to those around us.2. What makes me unique?
If there is nothing unique about your strengths, you’re merely a commodity. You must know what makes you stand out from the myriad others who do what you do. It could be your point of view or your expertise in a niche area. It might be a personality characteristic, endemic trait or quirk. Or it could relate to how you get things done – your unique way of producing results. If what you do and how you do it are no different from everyone who shares your job title, you have very little leverage. Why would someone choose you over the others who share your capabilities?
To answer this question, try out this brief but insightful exercise: Get a sheet of paper and draw a line down the center vertically. On the top left, write SAME and on the top right, write DIFFERENT. Then, think about others who perform the same work as you, especially the ones who are striving for similar goals. In the left column, record what you have in common with them. You might include things like having the same degree, accumulating a similar number of years of experience, or having the same job title. Then on the right side, identify the traits and other concepts that differentiate you. You might include items like personality characteristics, life experiences, or communication styles. This brings to light the personal aspects of your identity that make you a unique individual.
3. What makes me compelling?
To answer this question, you first need to find out who needs to know you. Who is making decisions about you? Who can benefit from your services? Personal branding is not about being famous. It’s about being selectively famous. That means being known to just those people who need to know you so you can reach your goals. You would exhaust yourself if you tried to stay visible to everyone. Personal branding requires focus. And that focus should be aimed at your target audience. Your target audience is made up of decision makers, those who influence them, and the people you need to surround yourself with so you can deliver results for your company or clients.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The Gettysburg Address was 271 words long.
Yesterday, I received an email on a company policy change regarding coffee and tea selection that was 350.
I know—coffee’s important. But if Lincoln was able to eloquently tell a divided nation about the importance of humanity and equality in 271 words, I think we should be able to send work-related emails that are just a little bit shorter.
A lot of times, we’re afraid to be brief in emails because we don’t want to sound mean, or because we think we need to give a lot of information or directions to get our point across. And that’s fair. But I think we’d all agree that less email would make our working lives a whole lot easier. And that starts with making each one just a little bit shorter.
Here’s a quick and easy guide to keeping your emails short and sweet (without sounding like a jerk).
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Create a more interesting and robust career path
The traditional view of careers looks something like a straight line that hopefully slopes in an upwards direction. Professionals seek to get more money and bigger jobs, year after year, until they just can’t do it any more.
But this is a model for a world that changed slower than ours does today. First Blockbuster and now Radio Shack are disappearing from retail strip malls… Kodak went from everywhere to nowhere… large public companies have all but stopped growing.
To top it all off, social media has changed the balance of power. Without even knowing each other, customers of a firm band together to ridicule their service, quality and prices. News travels in seconds. Social influence is even toppling entire governments today, so how can you expect your career path to still go in a straight line?
In this environment, you have to be flexible. Leave your expectations behind, and change as the world changes. The future belongs to the most flexible, not the strongest or smartest.
The problem, of course, is that no one knows how the future will evolve. That’s why I’ve been looking at a wide range of possible answers.
One out-of-the-box idea is that academic careers might serve as a new model for other types of careers. To illustrate, here’s a thought-provoking passage from a research paper by Yehuda Baruch:
…lateral and even downwards movement are accepted (e.g. when a Dean returns to serve as a Professor, conducting research and teaching, it is not considered “demotion”). Upwards mobility is limited, even not desired (becoming a Dean might take scholars off the research route)… Sabbaticals are part of the career. Perhaps more fundamental, the academic career model builds on networking within and across organizations.
The main reason this idea caught my attention is that while professors aren’t always known for their flexibility, they are expected to both conduct research and drive learning in their chosen field. This quest for knowledge should power your career as well.
Thinking of your career through the lens of this “academic” model might lead you to a much more interesting and robust career than you would get from employing a traditional corporate mindset.
For example, your goal might morph from trying to get promoted as often as possible to becoming a leading expert in your field. You might compare yourself to all experts in your field, instead of to all the managers in your department.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Following up on a job interview is crucial. Even if you blow the interview, it pays to get in touch after the fact.
Sarah Stamboulie, a New York career consultant, had a young Japanese client whose work visa was due to expire in just six weeks. The man was determined to find work at a hedge fund that would allow him to stay in the U.S., but he spoke with a strong accent, his written English was poor, and he had made a weak impression at job interviews. Stamboulie, who has worked in human resources departments for both corporations and nonprofits, encouraged him to follow up with an interviewer at a Japan-based fund who had already turned him down. Impressed by the young man’s persistence, the hiring manager recommended him to another Japanese fund that had an opening. Stamboulie’s client got the job. “It was like a semi-hostile referral, but it worked,” she recalls.
Lesson learned: Following up on a job interview is crucial. Even if you blow the interview, it pays to get in touch after the fact.
Ideally your interviews always go smoothly, and after each one you craft an effective note thanking the interviewer for the time, expressing enthusiasm and making it clear you listened closely to the hirer’s requirements. “The follow-up letter is almost like a proposal letter,” Stamboulie says. You should tailor it to the company and suggest specific ways you can address the needs you discussed when you met.
Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide: Success Secrets of a Career Coach, agrees that a follow-up note should always focus on what the hiring manager’s looking for. “You should say, ‘I listened, I understand your needs and your challenges, and here’s how I can help you address those,’” he says. Concisely remind the interviewer of what you’ve accomplished in the past, and make a couple of concrete suggestions for how you can help the company.
Do send the follow-up note as soon as possible. “If you don’t, someone else may send a message more quickly,” Cohen advises. If you don’t have time to craft a longer note, consider sending a short thank-you immediately, mentioning that you want to give further thought to the challenges you discussed and promising to send a more in-depth message soon.
Do send e-mails rather than handwritten notes, Stamboulie and Cohen agree. “People say that snail mail stands out, but it stands out for the wrong reason,” Cohen says. “It will make you look like a dinosaur.”
If you’ve met with more than one person in the interview process, think about what will make for an appropriate note to each, Cohen advises. For instance, if you interviewed with someone who would be reporting to you if you get the job, you can say something like, “It sounds like you’re working on some interesting projects. It would be great to have you as a colleague.”
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
At 76 years old, Bill Ellermeyer is an elder statesman of the job search world. He founded an Irvine, Calif. outplacement firm in 1981, which he sold to staffing firm Adecco Adecco in 1990, then ran that office as a division of Adecco subsidiary Lee Hecht Harrison until going out on his own as an independent coach in 2004. He specializes in what he calls “career transitions” for people who have lost their jobs at the executive level, mostly from the c-suite or as vice presidents. Some of his clients have been out of work for more than a year when they come to him. He pushes them until they find a new position. After three decades in the career coaching business, he’s come up with eight rules, some counter-intuitive, that he says promise to land his clients a job.
1. Stop looking for a job.
Too many unemployed people equate looking for a job with sending out a résumé or answering an ad on a job board. “If you send out 500 résumés to friends, family and companies, nobody is going to take the time to help you,” he says. The only time you should send a résumé is when you’ve established there is a real job at a company for which you’re being considered, or a headhunter is trying to fill an open position and requests one. Instead of presenting yourself as an out-of-work job seeker, come across as a resource. Let people know you can solve problems. Approach your job hunt as a search for quality relationships. Instead hand out business cards that portray you as a consultant.
2. Stop working on your résumé.
You need to have a printed résumé but increasing numbers of employers prefer to just look at your LindedIn profile. Also many companies just want the basic facts about your career, rather than a long, carefully crafted story about you in the form of a C.V. I’m not sure I agree with Ellermeyer on this point, but I like his basic advice: Your résumé should be clean, clear, simple and no more than two pages. It makes sense to update it when you’ve made a major accomplishment, like increasing sales by 75% in your department or in journalism, writing a cover story. But you should be able to make those fixes in a few minutes. Do keep your LinkedIn LNKD -0.18% profile up to date.
3. Hold your elevator speech.
“After 20 seconds, no one can remember your elevator speech,” contends Ellermeyer. Instead, he recommends telling a story about yourself that runs for 60-90 seconds. “People remember stories,” he says. “Nobody wants to hear facts and figures.” You should come up with a short, possibly humorous moniker for yourself. Ellermeyer calls himself a “connector.” One of his clients branded himself “rent-a-CFO,” and then told a story about how he had gone from project to project over the last year, and how he had found success at each job. Other possible short-hand titles: IT Problem-Solver, Deal Finder, Resource Solution-Finder.
4. Don’t talk about yourself.
Instead of leading a conversation with the latest news about your life, says Ellermeyer, “find out how you can serve other people.” Be inquisitive about others and when you learn about them, try to suggest a book or article they may want to read or an event they might want to attend. Many people think that networking requires that they list their accomplishments. But it can be much more effective to ask others about their interests and needs.
5. Don’t go to networking events.
Instead try hosting them yourself. Form your own breakfast group of eight or ten people. In other words, create your own network with people you hand-select. Though it’s tempting to sit at your computer and meet virtually, make the effort to get together face-to-face.
Move up http://i.forbesimg.com t Move down How To Write A Cover Letter Susan Adams Forbes Staff How To Follow Up On A Job Interview Susan Adams Forbes Staff
6. Take breaks.
The job search process can make us pretty emotional, especially when you go on the fifth interview and then you’re told that the firm has hired someone else. “Don’t take your downers to the outside world,” advises Ellermeyer. If you’re having a bad day, do research or catch up on email. I agree with this piece of advice but I also have to acknowledge that it can be awfully tough to keep your spirits up if you’ve been job hunting for a long time with no success. A single day off may help but you might need to seek more support from family and friends.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Get yourself out there
Twitter has been a great resource for professionals, organizations, job seekers, bloggers, and anyone else who uses the platform to get the word out. However, how do you know if the tweets you are sending out to the Twitterverse are being optimized?
Sure, sending out tweets regarding your professional and personal lives could help you stand out, but you probably need a pretty huge following before people start caring. So, how can you make sure your tweets are actually getting read?
Use hashtags. Using Twitter hashtags is a great way to optimize tweets because it’s like you’re adding information to the Twitter library. So, think about including industry-related hashtags after your tweets to help you get found. For example, if you are posting job related advice for recent grads, you could use #jobadvice or #classof2011 after your tweets. That way, if a graduate is looking for information or advice, they may be able to find your optimized tweet, which could lead to an extra follower or retweet.
Comment on what’s trending. Unlike other popular social networking sites, Twitter has the ability to let users know what’s popular, or “trending.” If there is a major worldwide event or occasion for example, chances are it will be trending. So, it may be a good idea to comment on what’s trending since lots of people are talking about the subject, as well as following it.
Further think about tweeting a unique opinion and responding to others so you stand out. Why? Well, since the topic is trending, there is bound to be a lot of repetition. Your distinct opinion will help you look different in a sea of literal followers.
Use URL shorteners. The noteworthy thing about Twitter is that users are limited to 140 characters. So, tweets need to be short, sweet and to the point. The same goes for posting links. Not only will long tweets fail to meet Twitter’s requirements, but also they aren’t exactly aesthetically pleasing.
Services like bit.ly allow users to crunch long links down, while at the same time saving the shortened link so you find them later. This may increase your chances of retweets since your users will be able to promote your tweet within the character limit.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Establishing a personal brand
During a recent workshop I conducted for a group of young, up and coming marketing professionals I asked the participants to pick the one piece of advice they received about establishing a personal brand during their job search that they felt would help them the most, and I added my take to them.
Last week I gave you five responses to ponder, and this week I added five more:
6: Don’t envy the competition, get to know who they are and learn as much as you can from them
In business and in life nothing is totally new so look into the past so you can see what the future holds for you. Believe it or not there is as much opportunity around you as there is competition, so Step One is to stop feeling sorry for what you lack and start concentrating on the valuable contributions you can make. Just as I developed a thriving business by knowing what others in my field have to offer and where they fall short and leave room for improvement, so should you. In a job search this starts with your resume. It needs to accentuate the positive based on the employer’s standards of excellence, not yours. This will continue throughout the interviewing stage, during negotiations, and after you get the job and are looking to climb the ladder to the top. Competition drives some people to sink and some people to drink, but when it comes to the winner’s in this world competition drives them all the way to the highest heights and beyond.
7: Be accessible to people when they need you the most, rather than the other way around
I have a friend, Andy, who I don’t see or speak to as often as I did when we were younger and worked in the same field. But to this day, I know if I was stranded with a flat tire in a blizzard 30 miles from home at 1:30 AM all I’d have to do is make one phone call to Andy and he would be there ASAP to rescue me; and he’d have a hot thermos of coffee to boot. If you want to succeed in business and networking this is a role model to follow. There are a lot of ‘what have you done for me lately’ people out there and we find out when it’s too late that we can not depend on them. But even they will go the extra mile for the Andy’s of this world because they know there is a reciprocal value in that relationship.
8: Emulate the Marines – Be the best that you can be
As an employee, manager and business owner I can personally state that I have the utmost respect for people who give 100%, and I think most people will agree with me. They may not be as productive as others who are more naturally gifted, but there is no substitute for men and women who take themselves and their jobs seriously, work as hard as they can to be a success, and exhibit both honesty and integrity in the workplace at all times. If you want to establish a personal brand that will open doors and get you the respect of others this is how it’s done.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Are you trying to find a new job without letting anyone know you’re unemployed? Many people try, very few succeed. Especially in today’s job market, it is extremely difficult to get a new position without extensive networking!
That word seems to scare many people. In their minds it conjures up images of glad-handing Multi-Level-Marketing salespeople who wants to show their “plan” with the “perfect” opportunity for you without knowing anything about you. Or it draws memories of the brother in-law who became a life insurance agent and has been haranguing every distant family member for months to buy a new policy from him.
Those bad memories are caricatures of networking or sales, and not the image you would create by effective networking for a new job.
Don’t hide from the people that can help you! Here are some thoughts and some practical help to do it right…
Especially now, there is no shame in losing your job! Often, I hear people say they don’t tell others they are looking for a job because they are embarrassed over being unemployed. Too often they blame themselves somehow when in fact market conditions can make anyone a casualty of a lay-off. When companies are forced to make drastic cuts in their expenses, they often have to cut broadly and deeply. Often they will cut a whole department, or a straight percentage from every department. The decisions of who stays and who goes are often made very arbitrarily with the bottom-line the primary concern. Survival of the company is more important than cutting carefully with a scalpel.
Over the past 2 years, virtually everyone recognizes that no one is immune. There is no stigma to a lay-off as there may have been years ago. There is no need for embarrassment, or shame. It is what it is and generally people don’t view your unemployment as a reflection on you, but rather a sign of the times. I was told of someone recently that didn’t tell his wife that he had been laid-off for 3 weeks. He rose, dressed and left for ‘work’ each morning just as he always had so his wife wouldn’t suspect, but spent his day at a coffee shop. Now that’s stealth, and not at all a good idea.
Who do you tell? Everyone! You never know where your best leads will come from, and usually they come from the most unlikely sources. Make a list of everyone you know. Studies show that most people, on average, know more than 350 people. Create lists in groups to help jog your memory. List ALL your family members, close and extended. List friends. List ALL your previous co-workers from everywhere you’ve worked. List service providers like your doctor, accountant, lawyer, real estate agent, dry cleaner, mail carrier, etc. List other parents on your kids’ sports teams. List other parents you know from your kids’ school. List people you know at church, temple, or mosque. List people you know from former vendors, customers, trade associations, user groups, or professional associations. List alumni from your schools. Hopefully, you get the idea… make lists of everyone you know!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Tips to get through it
Can you relate to this scenario?
After putting on your best business casual clothes and grabbing a handful of business cards, you head out the door to a “networking event.” While in the car your mind is racing a bit with questions like, “I wonder who will be there? Will I say the right things? Will this be a waste of time? Is it too late to turn around?” As you pull into the parking lot you notice your slightly sweaty palms; you toss in a mint and take a deep breath. As you approach the room, the voice in your head says, “OK, you can do this.” You quickly scan the room of over 100 people, hoping to spot a familiar face you can find safe harbor with. But the whole goal of being there is to “network” and meet new people, so you say to yourself, “OK, it’s game on!”
This is my true-life scenario. Even though I am a successful career consultant and I coach professionals about networking every day, to the surprise of many I am an introvert. I can feel the same pain of my introverted clients who have this networking experience. Because networking is such a large component of job search, here are the tips I offer to master the art of networking in a way that works for my fellow introverts.
1. Don’t apologize or feel badly for being an introvert.
Recognize that it isn’t your natural tendency and that there are ways to effectively network within your style.
2. Understand that we can adapt our style when necessary.
Because business is anchored in relationships, it is important to learn how to adapt your style in a way that feels genuine yet is effective. Think of it this way: there will always be parts of our work we don’t like, yet we learn how to do them well to be successful. Once I came to that realization, I could step into any room full of strangers.
3. Play to your style.
Arrange to meet people in smaller groups and more intimate settings. It is much easier for us introverts to meet an individual over coffee and to network in smaller groups.
4. Evaluate and address the fears that prevent you from networking.
These range from fear of rejection to not knowing what to say to not wanting to impose. Uncover and address these factors so they don’t present ongoing barriers to networking.
5. Manage the head game of “no one will want to talk to me.”
Introverts are typically very good listeners; people in general feel good when they can talk about themselves.
6. Learn some basic conversation starters.
It is easy in job search because conversations typically revolve around what you do, where you used to work and what you want to do next.
7. Start networking with people who you know.
It’s more comfortable to network with familiar faces. The fear of rejection is lessened.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Getting employers’ attention in today’s job market it no easy task!
When organizations get dozens, or hundreds of applicants for each job opening, it’s hard to get noticed even if you’re a perfect fit. Being unique in some way, doing something attention-grabbing, or getting creative is one way to rise to the top. Taking the idea too far, however, can hurt more than it can help.
What are some things to consider?
What is the culture of your field or industry?
Someone putting their picture with a “Hire Me!” appeal on a billboard will get a very different reaction from potential employers if they are pursuing a position as a Funeral Director than they would if they were pursuing a career in advertising.
Many fields are characterized by certain levels of professionalism and decorum. When someone does something so far outside the norm it will certainly get noticed and grab people’s attention, however, is more likely to create more of a negative impression than a positive one. Pursuing a role in a more creative environment may call for more drastic stunts, however, it’s important to have a good understanding of the limits.
What do they really want to see?
Setting yourself apart in ways that emphasize the most important qualities they want to see is imperative. That will vary depending on the type of role you pursue. Certainly functional and technical skills for the role matter greatly. However, other factors are equally important. An organization isn’t just looking for job skills. They are also looking for:
Communication skills Professionalism
Appropriateness Emotional Intelligence
Enthusiasm Strong Work Ethic
Sense of Urgency Ability to work well with others
Tenacity Follow through
Distinguishing yourself in those areas, as well as technical and functional competence for a role will make the difference.
How do you do that?
Research the field, the industry, and the company you are trying to pursue, and find ways that would make the best positive impact. Be creative based on what unique characteristics you have to offer to a potential employer.
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