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

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

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

What Executive Recruiters Want

Posted by Jean Cummings

Mar 21, 2011 2:15:00 PM

Image executivesearch experts
I had a chance this past week to hear a presentation by an executive recruiter at the Career Thought Leaders Conference in Baltimore. I interviewed him afterwards to learn more about what he is looking for in resumes, candidates, and careers. Here's what I found out:

  • Values are important: how someone feels about work-life balance, family, work, relocation, etc.
  • A culture match with the target company is critical.
  • He wants to know how someone goes about achieving their (quantifiable) accomplishments.
  • Putting "consulting" in to cover recent work periods is a red flag; it's usually a cover for unemployment. He'd rather see worthwhile volunteer work listed.
  • Recruiters look for candidates who are currently working in a similar role and industry - not people who are currently unemployed, underemployed, or part-time consulting.
  • A pattern of ever-increasing levels of responsibility and achievements over the course of a career is what he looks for.
  • It's harder to get a job now, because the Internet has increased competition and enabled recruiters to find ever closer matches to their ideal candidate.
  • Transitioning as a business owner/founder/CEO to a c-level role within a company's org chart is possible, but only it there is a steady record of relevant and outstanding accomplishments in the same industry.

What does he recommend that candidates do when there is no possibility of recruiter recommendation? In the case of smaller companies, he suggests approaching the CEO and members of the Board of Directors and perhaps the venture capital firm that has capital in the business.

The take-away for executive resumes, executive job search, and executive careers?

- Be very careful about your career progression, including downsizing from a large company to a startup or early-stage company.

- If you switch industries, have it be part of a long-term strategic plan for your career. You may not be able to return to your earlier one.

- Think twice about gaps in your work history. If necessary, fill the time with worthwhile volunteer work where you can use your professional skills to deliver real results.

- Don't count on executive recruiters being interested in you if your background is not fairly standard for the target position - including your having held a similar role for a competitor in the same industry.

That last point eliminates a large percentage of job seekers from using the recruiter channel to get a job. Hence, there is a high priority placed on leveraging 2.0 networking and advanced job search methods to get a job, such as I wrote about in Turbocharged Networking for $100K+ Jobs.

The new age of competition is a daunting one, but:

- the economy is picking up

- there may well be a labor shortage as the baby boomers gradually leave the workforce

- and savvy executive job seekers can learn how to get in front of a hiring authority more easily than before.

Never has it been more important to establish, build, and promote your personal brand as it evolves over a lifetime and strategically and proactively manage your career!

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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, CIO resumes, career management, career planning, executive recruiters, Get a Job, career services, Online ID, reputation management

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

The "Facebook Movie": A Personal Branding Object Lesson

Posted by Jean Cummings

Sep 29, 2010 8:27:00 AM

"The Social Network" premiers Friday - and it promises to be a powerful dramatization of the origins of Facebook and the character of its founder Mark Zuckerberg. The only problem is, it plays fast and loose with the story, and Zuckerberg's reputation and online ID will probably suffer in the process. The movie may well have the power to become "truth" for the huge viewing audience.

Whatever Zuckerberg has done in the past to shape his brand for the public will probably not be able to supersede the impression millions will get of him from the movie. What does that mean for the rest of us, who aren't likely to have a movie dramatizing our lives?

That we'd better control our brand before it is controlled for us. With ~80% of recruiters and hiring authorities using Google and social media to scope out possible candidates, job seekers need to have an online, on-brand ID that projects them the way they want to be known.

If you Google your name and don't come up with anything, come up with very little or with content that is off-brand or of questionable taste, then don't waste any time in getting your personal/career brand out there. Three fast ways to do this are:

1. Go to ZoomInfo.com and fill out your profile: many recruiters go here first to see the profile for you there. If you haven't created your own on the site, zoominfo will go out on the Web and aggregate what it finds there.

2. Go to LinkedIn.com and fill out a complete profile. This site is a go-to source of candidates for employers and recruiters (often after they search your name on Zoominfo).

3.Create your Google profile to give you one more place on the Web that you can control what people read about you.   

Then, go to Facebook.com and, if you have a profile, do whatever you have to in order to eliminate material that may reflect poorly on you (even other people's writing) and keep you from being considered for a job. Even if it means deactivating your account or deleting your wall.

If you go on to invest in the more time-consuming activities to project your online ID - such as blogging, twittering, setting up a brand portal in the form of a blogsite or Web portfolio - all the better.

You still might not be able to prevent Aaron Sorkin from hijacking your reputation should he decide to write a screenplay about you, but you'll optimize the chances that an employer will decide to bring you in for an interview!

 

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Topics: personal branding, career management, career planning, Online ID, reputation management

The Perils of Personal Branding + Online ID

Posted by Jean Cummings

Aug 20, 2010 11:05:00 AM

images privacy

The other day, I had several messages from someone I didn't know. When I called the man back, he said, "Do you remember me? I was your census taker?" Then he went on to say, "I called you because you seem to be outgoing (I'm an introvert) and upbeat (hmmm), and you might be interested in a multibillion-dollar company I'm connected with. I told him that I have a business of my own, and he said that I'd be doing something completely different from what I'm doing now (he looked me up online). He said, "Let's have coffee" and "Here's a website to look at."

He was so mysterious that I went to a similarly unrevealing website that looked to me as though it was a pyramid scheme and the former census taker was just looking to harvest prospects (from people he met in the census, researched, and approached!)

I found myself taken aback that someone would use information he found that way (possibly illegally?). He had used what he found out about me online to try to enlist me in his scheme.

A second instance happened in my life this week too. This one related to the connection you make when you do an online video where you are speaking to your target audience. You put it up to address that audience. But it doesn't feel great to have someone not in that audience or in the industry make assumptions about you that they then act on.

Now that having a strong online brand is increasingly de rigeur for professionals, managers, and executives (and just about everybody!), don't we all become at risk of becoming known - not just by the employers who might want to hire us or the customers/clients we'd like to do business with - but by people willing to exploit what they have learned about us to try to manipulate us for their own ends?

I'd love some reaction to the following questions:

* Does anyone else out there feel uncomfortable at times that the whole world is able to find out what you are "known for"?

* Does having a video of yourself in cyberspace make you feel more vulnerable or exposed than text alone would?

* Where do you draw the privacy line in terms of what you put online?

* Is your personal brand something you want everyone to know, and, if not, how do you protect it and still get a job or do business?

Although it's a little strong for my experience with the ex-census-taker (or maybe not), a gospel verse popped into my head: "Don't cast your pearls before swine, lest they suddenly turn to attack you."

Personal branding is, or should be, all about authenticity, and as such, is revelatory of the "personal" as well as the brand. Isn't it the "personal" part that places an individual potentially at risk?

But, for all these concerns, is a personal brand kept out of the public domain, like the tree that falls unheard in the forest, a brand at all?  Jean

 

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

Be the One Left Standing

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 7:39:00 AM

 
 
"What's most important to my company right now and how do I make sure I'm contributing to that, and that my achievement is visible to my boss?" Sarah Grayson, an executive search consultant, is quoted as asking in a Wall Street Journal article:  Does Avoiding the 9-to-5 Grind Make You a Target for Layoffs?
Although the article is primarily about telecommuters and people with flexible schedules and how they have to be careful so as not to be subject to layoffs, there are implications for all workers.

It doesn't matter - in terms of whether you lose your job or not - if you are making fantastic contributions, but your boss isn't fully aware of them and how they impact the organization. Not only do you need to be involved in critical work, but you also have to make hiring authorities aware that what you are working on really is critical to the organizational mission.

It's all about your brand and how you express it. Make sure you know and your bosses know what your value proposition is, what your value-adds are, and what makes you unique. And then find ways to communicate those to them. Maybe send a brief update memo about a project you just successfully completed, how it benefited the company, and how your unique characteristics were key to the process. Or you could get the message across in a brief meeting you ask for to discuss what the critical activities are that you could be come involved in next. 

This kind of reflection, analysis, and communication will prove invaluable not only in your bosses' appreciation of your important contributions, but also in building your personal brand and enhancing the content of your resume. It goes back to the conundrum: If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, can it be said to fall? So, as modestly as possible, get the word out about how the work you do is important to the company going forward!
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Topics: personal branding, executive resumes, career management, Jobs, reputation management, Working

What Are You Doing Now?

Posted by Jean Cummings

Apr 8, 2010 6:12:00 AM

 
Twitter, with its tiny tweets (140 character limit), has quickly morphed from being a site where you can announce what you had for lunch into a professional forum. Twitter can do a lot more than blather on about inconsequential events. Twitter can establish you as a player in your field, either as a thought leader or as an involved contributor. In fact, in my opinion, Twitter eats Facebook’s lunch in terms of job search.
Twitter allows you to search for the content that’s relevant to your industry and/or function as well as to search for jobs, recruiters, and job search advice. You can follow just a few tweeters or thousands to find out what’s happening. People will ask permission to follow you.
Although you just have 140 characters, you will have the opportunity to communicate valuable information by leveraging the links within your tweets. You can link to online articles, blog postings, and other sites that you think would be useful to your followers.
Recruiters and hiring managers watch Twitter. You want to be sure your participation is professional in content, because anything that is in poor taste (!) can rule you out, just as a consistently professional brand can rule you in.
If you want to proactively search for jobs advertised on Twitter, you can do that. You can also go to websites that aggregate job openings found on Twitter. Sample tweet: “Go towww.TwitterJobSearch.comwww.twithire.com, or www.tweetmyjobs.com to see if there is a job for you.”
Make Twitter part of your daily diet to build your brand and find job leads.
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Topics: job search, personal branding, executive resumes, career services, reputation management

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