by Guest Blogger Alan Cohen, President, Acts Of Balance Executive Coaching and Training
Finding new ways to get noticed and separate yourself from the pack has become priority #1 for job seekers. While this is true especially during tough economic times, it’s also vital for one’s career advancement on an ongoing basis.
In our chaotic 24/7 world, where everyone is constantly vying for attention, it can be argued that the proverbial “15 minutes of fame” has been reduced to a mere 15 seconds, which leaves the job seeker precious little time to make the right impression. There are several tactical ways for entrepreneurs, executives and job seekers to stand apart from the competition, but any effort must begin by defining your unique value and what you are offering to the world.
Aim for Your Target; You Just Might Hit it!
People who stand out are clear about what they’re targeting -- in terms of the kinds of jobs or projects they wish to work on, companies they wish to work for -- and who they’re targeting (the kinds of people and companies they want to work with).
It’s essential to define the urgent needs of your target market and the specific benefits of working with you (it’s all about attracting those people you are meant to work with). When this dynamic is working correctly, you won’t find yourself working with less-than-ideal clients, projects or bosses. (It’s often best to minimize these situations. The right strategy often means saying, “no.”)
"Standouts" know exactly where they want to go and have a detailed plan for how to get there. In crafting your own strategic career plan, start by putting it in writing. That's right; an actual “on-computer” (or “on-paper” for you Luddites) document that outlines where you are in your career, where you want to go, and how you intend to get there. The best and most concrete plans are usually 3-5 pages in length, fairly detailed, and include time lines (as a tool to measure how one is doing versus their ideal plan).
The key is to craft a proactive and continuous marketing strategy to communicate your specific plan. It’s also about knowing your target audience and their needs. Face it: hiring organizations want problem solvers! Successful job seekers must be able to demonstrate that they are the solution. Personal websites, elevator speeches, business cards, cover letters, and resumes must deliver a consistent and compelling message -- one that grabs the audience’s attention and doesn’t let go.
“Every time you suppress some part of yourself of allow others to play small, you are in essence ignoring the owners manual your creator gave you and destroying your design.” - Oprah Winfrey
So What, Exactly, is a Brand?
A brand tells people why they should work with you. In shorthand, it defines you. Author Tom Peters says: “We are all CEOS of our own companies: ‘Me Inc.’ To be successful in business today, our most important and essential job is to be head marketer for the brand called “You.” The clearer – and more clearly defined -- the brand and its focus, the easier it will be for employers to find you (and the less you will be forced to spend on advertising and marketing).
Some things you should know about your brand:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Specific problems you solve
- Who you solve them for
- What the results are
How is Your Brand Expressed/Communicated?
Who you work with, how you speak and dress, the language you use, the partnerships you pursue, the projects you take on, etc. (and the intangibles too: your "aura," your energy, why people say they like you but can’t put into words, etc.)
How Do You Market That Brand Known as “You”?
- Your network/support system of friends
- Taking on projects
- Building a blog/website
- Growing yourself (learn)
- Asking for feedback
- Becoming an expert (speak!)
- Being a leader, a teacher or teammate
- Creating a mission statement to guide you as the CEO of “Me Inc.”
Branding = “Outstanding”
Those who stand out in business are clear in defining their wants and needs, their target audience and ideal employers, clients and colleagues, and what it is they have to offer. They create and build a brand based on these elements, and then boldly express themselves through that brand.
The right brand is unique, distinct and memorable and most importantly -- it makes you memorable.
Alan Cohen, prior to becoming a, Executive Coach, spent a career building brands – from Harry Potter to the Broadway League.
For more information, or to inquire about executive coaching, training or speaking (leadership, communications, personal branding), contact him email@example.com or visit Acts of Balance online.
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by Guest Blogger Kaitlyn Northrop
Of course it's a popularity contest! HR pros are looking at your social media branding to see how connected you are. Linkedin allows you to show off and expand who you know. Name drop away during your interview, today’s social media savvy HR pros will always look at your Linkedin profile to see what kind of networking skills you really have. In order to utilize the full potential of your connections ask yourself these four questions and see if you are taking full advantage of LinkedIn connections capabilities.
Does your LinkedIn network include everyone you know? Every connection has the potential to help you find a job. Linkedin’s “people you may know” page displays colleagues, classmates and friends and is a good place to start. Make sure you have reached out to all the employees at your current and past companies. Looking at your second connections can also be beneficial, search their page for common interests, experiences and shared connections before reaching out. The Linkedn community is still growing, so it’s a good idea to go through these places regularly to increase your connection base.
Are you networking through groups? Joining groups is a great place to find people with similar interests. You can find a groups for just about anything. Join groups you are interested in and seek out connections who could help launch your career in this area. Be active in the groups you are a member of, post comments and start discussions in order to get your profile noticed. Connect with other active members and start conversations based on your similar business interests.
Have you listed all of your work experience? Most people only list their recent jobs which limits visibility. The more companies you are linked to the more exposure your profile has and the more connections you can find. List every job and company you have worked for and don’t forget about internships and part time jobs you’ve had in the past. Linkedin considers your profile “complete” when you have a current position and two past positions listed and a complete profile greatly improves the odds of your profile being seen.
Did you ask for recommendations? Okay, so you’ve increased your connections, now get them to write something nice about you. Most of your connections will be more than happy to recommend you, but very few of them will do it on their own, so don’t be afraid to ask. Linkedin makes asking for these recommendations easy. On your Linkedin profile tab there is a subsection called “recommendations.” From here you are asked to choose a job from your profile and who you would like to recommend you. Ask the appropriate people such as those you have done business with or colleagues. Peers can highlight your team work skills while managers can praise your abilities and value to the company. Make sure your recommendations are relevant and diverse to show off all of your skill areas.