JEAN'S BLOG. Best & Next Practices in: Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

Gallup Reports 70% US Workers Unengaged - Enter: Personal Branding

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jun 26, 2013 11:58:00 AM

 personal brandingCourtesy Gallup

Gallup's 2013 State of the American Workplace Report came out a few days ago and finds that between 1010 and 2012 only 30% of workers report being actively engaged at work, 50% are unengaged, and 20% are actively disengaged (working against the company's interest). The report estimates that this high number of unengaged workers costs the US up to $550B annually. These losses result from absenteeism, health and safety issues, quality defects, and lost productivity.

There are a number of interesting findings in the report. But I am interested today in the recommendations for addressing the problem

Gallup identifies three main ways for companies to increase employee engagement. I'd like to focus on just the second, because it is so key to people's careers and transitions, my particular areas of interest:

"The research shows that people who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job."

We can fairly say, then, that if we increase employee engagement by 60%, we've gotten a lot closer to the desired fully engaged workforce. That's a huge impact! Even though Gallup employs "strengths-based" terminology, many of us this see the concept as very close to what we now call "personal branding." 

So what are the Gallup Report recommendations to improve engagement?

They advise that employers and managers actively help their employees to discover and use their strengths, as distinguished from their weaknesses. The idea is to identify what workers are doing and what skills they are employing when they are being the most productive (and fully engaged). Then they need to make sure to assign them the kinds of tasks that require those skills.

In personal branding, we identify a person's "unique promise of value." This is a concept formulated by William Arruda. It includes what a person does best (talents), skills, his/her attributes, unique knowledge base, the value s/he delivers consistently, personal style, and similar factors.

Gallup found that when teams focused on team members' strengths, productivity goes up 12.5% and translates into increased revenues and profitability.

Whether managers and staff choose to use Gallup's strengths-based tools, branding processes such as Reach Personal Branding, or any other related instrument, they have the power to improve lives and businesses to a remarkable degree, according to the findings.

What can you do today to discover your strengths or remind yourself of them, if you already know them? If you manage others, what can you do today to ensure that your staff are using their individual strengths? If you are managed, how can you influence your manager to make use of your unique constellation of skills, attributes, and talents?

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Topics: personal branding, career management, personal brands, branded executive resume

Move Over "What Color is Your Parachute": New Career Paradigm

Posted by Jean Cummings

Feb 21, 2012 2:12:00 PM

Choosing a career

Who can improve on What Color Is Your Parachute, the all-time best-seller in the careers field? Who other than the cofounder/chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman.

From his lofty seat at the top of the top professional network in the world - through which daily flow valuable job postings, job searches, candidate searches, and networking requests - Reid has a unique vantage point for observing the life cycle of careers in 2012. 

Along with his co-writer, Ben Casnocha, he brings into question the idea that each of us has a specific calling that requires only that we discern the color of our particular parachute to know what we should do with our life. This prevailing cultural myth is challenged, and rightly so in my opinion, by Reid's particular insight into the way most people's careers actually develop.

Sure, we've all heard of people who knew from a young age knew that they would be a president of the United States (Bill Clinton), or a composer (Mozart). But most of us, especially as the days of staying with one company for 30 years or more are long gone, follow a winding path where the twists and turns may take us to someplace we never thought of to a job we could never have envisioned.

He gives a number of examples of well-known people, himself (started out planning to work in academia), Tony Blair (started as concert promoter), Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook started in public health at the World Bank), and others who have found their way following a different dynamic.

Reid says that careers develop according to the interaction of your assets, your aspirations, and market realities. And that where we end up can be very different from where we started. He also says that often you can perceive an inner logic to the journey. (This may be more where we see Richard Bolles' ideas than anywhere else.)

The book, The Startup of You, is a must-read for anyone charting their career. I believe Reid's ideas have long been true, but technology is currently changing careers, industries, even functions at an accelerated rate. Although somewhat complex, Reid's remarks will help you keep your eyes open to signals of change both within yourself and in the world at large.

His perspective may also take some of pressure off for those who are frustrated trying to look deeply within to discover their purpose. I see the process he describes as more like a white water rafting trip than a fishing trip in search of a particular gold coin.

We each, in our own wonderfully unique way, find a twisting path that is both our own and profoundly influenced by our world. If we are lucky, each stage of the journey holds a fulfillment of its own while providing us with strengths that can transform the next leg of the trip.

I'm a believer, in part, because his observations have been true in my career: teacher of children with learning disabilities, handweaver, careers professional. ?? I think I know why I made those shifts. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to tell them. But what has been your path? What has influenced you in your career decisions? Do you know where you will turn next? I'd love to hear.

 

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Topics: personal branding, personal brand, career management, career planning, personal brands, career brand, careers in retirement

The Yin Yang of Personal Branding

Posted by Jean Cummings

Dec 30, 2011 10:14:00 AM

The yin yang of personal branding

There are two sides to every coin and two halves to every whole. Yin needs yang as black needs white and light needs the darkness. We are a universe of perceived dualities. Personal branding also depends on the relationship of two parts.

What are the two parts of personal branding?

  1. Your unique promise of value coupled with the attributes, passions, and skills that you bring to the table. So why can't your personal brand stand alone? What else does it need?
  2. The pain or challenge of an organization that you uniquely solve. Your personal brand depends on / requires / is shaped by THE NEED IN THE MARKETPLACE. For instance, what is it that you do particularly well or in a way that's particularly helpful in enabling an organization meet its strategic goals?
The answer to that question may become clearer if you assess your impact on: growing revenues / profit / profit share, cutting costs, streamlining processes, producing efficiencies, increasing teamwork, inspiring peak performance, enabling high growth etc. These are among the common strategic goals of an organization. Select one or more that is enhanced by your contributions and what gifts you have that make that possible.
When you figure out what your unique "ying" is in relation to a particular "yang," you will have a powerful message to communicate in your executive resume, personal branding, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, other web profiles, and interviewing. 
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Topics: LinkedIn, personal branding, executive resumes, executive resume, personal brands

3 Very Easy Shortcuts to Getting a Personal Brand

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 4, 2011 7:30:00 PM

personal brand

When people first hear that they need a "personal brand" to get a job, they often can't relate. First they think, "I am not a consumer product. The whole idea of branding myself turns me off!" And then they worry about how they are going to get this foreign thing, this personal brand, so that they can compete in the job market. They assume that their personal brand is going to be hard to figure out on their own.

There is a shortcut to going through a long process of personal branding. (Please note here that I am a Certified Personal Branding Strategist and have seen the incredible benefits that come when an individual goes through an in-depth process of self-discovery with a strategist!) But it isn't for everyone.

This personal branding shortcut is for people who are short on time, money, and/or interest and who just want to be as competitive as they can be in looking for their next job.

Here's what to do. Answer the following three questions and then use those answers in your resume, both in the Summary section at the top of the resume and in the body of the resume itself. And Voila! you'll have a personal brand that will serve you well.

1. What do people value you for most at work? What would they miss the most, in terms of getting work done, if you weren't there? What do people turn to you for?

2. What is your value proposition? Define this in terms of your ability to contribute to reducing costs, adding revenue, increasing profit margins, streamlining processes, reducing time-to-market, improving internal and external client satisfaction, enhancing user experience, innovating to add new functionality or revenue streams, amping up team performance, reducing risk etc.

3. What five adjectives would people use to describe you? Things like leader like, entrepreneurial, smart, creative, international etc. Pick the ones that have particular bearing on helping you be successful at work.

Then, at the top of your resume, after your name and contact information, center your title - that is, your job or the job you are seeking. Underneath your title write a sentence about how you typically add value to an organization, your answer to #2. Center it and put it in bold. This is the most important piece of a brand to an employer, for obvious reasons.

Then, in a brief summary paragraph or set of bullet points in the top third of page one, include answers to #1 and #3, along with your other credentials.

Then be sure that you demonstrate your value proposition (#2) in the achievements you talk about in your resume.

If you can't think of the answers to any of the three questions above, ask your co-workers for their take on what makes you special, unique, and valuable to an organization.

This quick start guide to do-it-yourself personal branding may be sufficient to accurately and authentically differentiate you from your competition and help you get your next job! Good luck with it - and let me know how it goes!

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Topics: LinkedIn, personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, technology resumes, career management, executive job search, Get a Job, Job Interviews, personal brands, LinkedIn Profiles, career brand, reputation management

Zen and the Art of Job Search

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jul 20, 2011 7:01:00 AM

 executive job search - poise and power 

As I was driving home Sunday from a weekend away, I tuned into an NPR interview on the radio. He was taking about stress-free productivity. Something job seekers need desperately! Along with everyone else practically! His ideas sounded oddly familiar...

Yes, it was David Allen of Getting Things Done fame. I'd read it years ago - it's a classic in the field of personal organization - and used the system for awhile, then fell away (alas, the end of most good intentions). But his words about having too many different kinds of things to do on our minds causing significant stress resonated big time for me.

So I pulled out my iPad when I got home and did what he said to do: take everything on your mind and write it down in a way that makes sense to you. And then have a system for checking it and also for continuing to enter anything that is a to-do and that preys on your mind. I used Notes but there are lots of apps I will explore. (Put that on my list!)

OK, I did that. The rewards Allen promises are valuable: the ability to be highly productive and react in perfectly appropriate ways to stressors. He describes the "mind like water" that martial arts practitioners use for perfect readiness and power. 

I think daily pauses (mini meditations if you like) for deep breathing and contemplation of a serene image (water receding from the beach, then rolling in again, for instance - my image) help get us into that frame of mind of poised readiness and response.

Looking for your next job involves a myriad of things to do and keep track of: executive resumes sent, personal branding initiatives, targeted cover letters written, networks contacted, appointments planned and kept, research on companies, interviews planned and attended - all with various schedules and levels of importance. What better time to apply Allen's ideas?

The Zen job search would be one conducted with full confidence that you had the bases covered and WRITTEN DOWN according to your system, so that you can act from a place of calm productivity.

The Zen interview is when you can bring a mind open and a readiness to respond to the interviewer with calm interest, quiet confidence, generous openness to the other person, and keen listening (to hear the subtext of questions), and make an appropriate on-brand response that speaks to the employer's needs. A Zen mind is also ready to ask insightful questions and proactively project its personal brand in appropriate ways into the conversation. 

So, "mind like water," T.S. Eliot's "the still point in the turning world," and Yeats' "I hear lake water lapping, with low sounds by the shore." Now we are ready. Bring it on.

 

 

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, interview style, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, executive job search, Job Interviews, personal brands, career brand, salary negotiation, salary negotiations, job interview, power of attraction

Dare to be Different! Personal Branding & Job Search Success

Posted by Jean Cummings

May 25, 2011 10:17:00 AM

Personal branding lets you stand out
According to Seth Godin in Linchpin, the only winners in the new work world are the ones that are indispensable. If you want to enjoy job satisfaction and job security while making more money, you have to stand out from your peers as someone who can't easily be replaced. And his theory of how to do that is to be creative and take risks at work that benefit the company.

It's a good read (or rather, in my case, listen - which is what I did on our sailboat in Maine!). And it's a real heads-up. Are you content to be like everyone else who does your job? Or are you going to figure out what makes you passionate about what you do and turn it into actions and attitudes that serve as a competitive advantage for your company?

This is another take on personal branding. It really elevates the passion piece. Godin believes that we all are creative as pre-schoolers - and that all that uniqueness gets educated out of us in school. As a former open classroom teacher, I totally resonate with this point of view! Kids were so much happier, more creative, and learned a lot more when their individual choices and differences were honored, not squelshed.

Godin's glimpse into the future of work is this: only distinctive, indispensable personal and corporate brands are going to thrive. Take note! Celebrate your authenticity and passion at work and make them work for you and your organization.

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, personal brand, career management, career planning, personal brands, reputation management

Top Trends in Personal Branding: Job Seekers Take Note

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jan 26, 2011 8:48:00 AM

Personal Branding for Job SearchWilliam Arruda, The Personal Branding Guru, is known for "seeing around the corner." His list of the top trends in personal branding is a heads-up for job seekers who want to get out in front of their competition. Here they are, in brief:

1. Hiring Anywhere - companies are more open to hiring from other locations, and video is the way to get your message across when you're not there in person; consider creating a video to communicate your personal brand, host it on YouTube, and distribute it to interested hiring managers and recruiters

2. Homecasting - professional home offices and backgrounds become the "set" for your video communications; when you shoot your video, make your background clean and professional

3. Vidmail - William says that email is "so last decade," and that integrated text, image, and video communications will become more common; include images and/or a video in your emails

4. Professional Dress - as video becomes a more prominant vehicle for communicating personal brands, it's essential to have your dress on-brand in terms of formality and style; in video and in-person interviews, dress on the formal side of what is appropriate for your job

5. Personal Branding Infused - with the concept at least a decade old now, watch it being talked about in corporate settings with more frequency; leverage personal branding on behalf of your job search

6. Web Purity - watch for new ways to ensure that when someone googles your name, they will find you; now, several people may come up; take a look at Visibility's "Search Me" button and consider adding it to your LinkedIn profile

7. 3D PB - with blended, multimedia search becoming a reality, be sure to have different ways that people can get to know you - real-time content, images, and video; become active on Twitter, YouTube and Flickr in job-appropriate and brand-enhancing ways

8. Personal Portals - new tools are emerging that enable you to assemble in one place all the pieces of your personal brand that reside in different places on the Web; check out about.me and flavors.me

9. Revyous - establish your credibility by getting recommendations on your LinkedIn profile; watch for more sites that enable feedback on who you are professionally

Job seekers, more than anyone else, need to present themselves as relevant, valuable, and 3-dimensional, in order to capture the attention of recruiters and hiring authorities. For those of you who haven't developed your personal brand, do it now. For those who have, project your personal brand in the many ways suggested by William's list of top trends.

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, career management, career planning, Jobs, Get a Job, career services, Job Interviews, personal brands, Online ID, LinkedIn Profiles

Can Someone Clone Your Personal Brand?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Jan 7, 2011 2:13:00 PM

No 2 personal brands are alike

Now that so many people are branding themselves in the employment market, how do you keep from duplicating someone else's brand and how do you keep them from unknowingly mimicking yours?

Say your brand is that you excel as an operations manager at cutting costs through business process redesign. Well, many, many people probably have that value proposition. So what do you do?

Fortunately, since a personal brand is made up of more than the value proposition, you have the opportunity to fill out the picture more. Consider the constellation that makes up a personal brand: key attributes, abilities, signature achievements, core values, value-add skills, commitments, leadership or working style, outside interests and skills, etc. Synthesizing these into a "living, breathing" personal / career identity makes it possible for your personal brand to be truly unique.

The difficulty comes in communicating the complex picture surrounding the core value prop in a succinct way that comes alive on the page and then finding space for it in valuable resume real estate!

BUT! With the possiblities presented by social media, you can present a more complete and nuanced personal brand than is always possible on a resume.

- If you tweet frequently, your followers will start to know you for your style, interests, values, commitments, knowledge, etc.

- LinkedIn offers some opportunities to present the bigger picture with its links to your personal blogsite / Website and to your associations. By participating in Groups on LinkedIn your audience will come to know the way you think and process information as well as the depth and range of your expertise.

- Facebook with its wide array of ways to interact with it can help fill out some of the picture of you socially.

- YouTube videos in which you talk about some aspect of your work can be tremendously powerful and can communicate many of the intangibles of a brand as well as your expertise and personality.

- If you write a blog, you become available to your public in yet another way. Your "voice" is unique. What you care about, think about, and talk about help define you.

We are all dynamic, living personal brands ever evolving. That makes us different from product brands. But it makes it more challenging to fully communicate too!

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, personal brand, executive resume writing, career management, career planning, personal brands, reputation management

Are You an Entrepreneur Seeking a Job? Reinvent Your Personal Brand

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 30, 2010 8:33:00 AM

image entrepreneurism resized 600

LinkedIn is having a great discussion about personal brand reinvention based on an article in the Harvard Business Review. Most comments have to do with someone changing dramatically from a software engineer to an artist, etc. But there's another kind of career reimagining that needs to happen for entrepreneurs who want to transition within their own industry.

Here's the scenario in which a job seeker MUST change their personal brand even if they're not changing their industry or even changing their chief competency: they've been running their own business for a number of years and now want to transition to being an employee of a company. It's doable, though not an easy sell.

Usually they can demonstrate extensive knowledge of the industry and superior capability in one or more functional area (usually more). But the hiring authority has concerns about whether a CEO / entrepreneur would be happy or committed over the long haul to working in a situation in which the org chart has clearly defined boundaries between jobs. Employers may have concerns that the entrepreneur would be reporting to someone else for the first time in a long while.

The imperative for entrepreneurs is to infuse their personal brand with elements that assuage those concerns while conveying an irresistible value proposition and even exalting their entrepreneurial experience as a competitive advantage in certain cases.

1. Brand Reassurance: Some of the elements of the new brand might be extensive experience consulting within companies, working with internal and external teams, reporting to program managers or other managers / executives, interfacing and interacting comfortably up and down the organization etc.

2. Value Proposition: The value proposition would depend on the function and industry. For example, an independent sales rep might be able to report having an extensive database of C-level contacts in Fortune 100 companies and a strong closing ratio. Both would be highly valuable to the right company.

3. Turn Your Liability into an Asset: Entrepreneurs may also find that the very fact that they have a mindset of taking a great idea and commercializing it in the form of a viable long-term business is valuable to the right kind of company - a mid-sized to large company that has institutionalized an intrapreneurial approach in some or all of its groups - or - an early-stage company or startup that is looking for proven entrepreneurial talent.

Because it's a harder sell than making a move as an employee, the entrepreneur must nail these new aspects of their personal brand - both in their networking and in their resumes, cover letters and other marketing materials.

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, technology executive resumes, interviewing, executive resume writing, executive resume, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, Get a Job, career services, personal brands, reputation management, IT resumes, careers in retirement, job interview

LinkedIn's New Personal Branding Help

Posted by Jean Cummings

Nov 22, 2010 3:19:00 PM

Personal Branding on LinkedIn

LinkedIn's launch of a global group called BrandYou is a powerful recognition of the movement towards personal branding in careers and job search. William Arruda, the Personal Brand Guru, extended Tom Peters concept about a decade ago and created a methodology and tools to help people create their own personal brand. Others have continued the conversation. And now LI  has put its imprimature on the concept - and appropriately so, as personal branding couldn't be more central to LI's own core brand: a business networking site facilitating trusted connections for business, job search, and knowledge transfer / idea creation.

On the group's main site is a link to several Brand You videos. Don't miss these. They capture facets of personal branding that you don't often hear about, but we all experience: the "magic," "spirit," and "mystery" in strong personal brands.

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, personal brand, executive resume writing, executive resume, technology resumes, CIO resumes, personal brands, IT resumes, job interview

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