It’s healthy to get some career perspective: Your career is a life-long process… and it really is all about you. A successful career is a long-term trajectory that (with a little care and homework) will lead you to make the best of your values, your gods-given skills, your unique talents and your personal drive… let alone where and how you want to apply them…
Technically speaking, you wlll be looking for (or looking to develop) “work” pretty much for the rest of your life. So doesn’t it follow that the more practice you get at it, the better you become? — Hence, the strong recommendation for an annual scrub of your goals, your brand and your direction.
Pro Tip:Motivation follows action. Everyone always thinks it’s the other way around, but motivation does not happen unless you act first. Motivation will not just “strike you”. You need to act. You take an action, you are positively rewarded with self-esteem, and you take another action. That’s how it works. Its a good career perspective to adopt!
Super-Pro Tip:The last layer (if you want to be a super-pro) is to address your mindset, around all things career. If you’re a negative-default thinker (“it’ll never happen; they’ll never choose me”), you are doing yourself a serious dis-service. If you are a blamer or a shamer (“I’ve written this company three times and they’ve never had the courtesy to get back to me”), you’re doing others a dis-service, because you simply cannot know what anyone is basing their decisions or actions on, unless you hear it directly from them. All you can do is improve your game.
If, however, you adopt a career perspective that has a leadership approach where “anything can happen”, and you back it with a well-crafted plan and well-branded message that’s delivered to the exact people/company you want, for a solid reason …Well, then, things begin to happen! You start to be taken seriously. Because you’ve done your homework, executives or decision-makers are likely to recognize, reward and appreciate your preparation, your professionalism, your targeted approach, and your clearly articulated expression of interest in their company.
A final note on improving your game: Adopt a professional mindset that takes all aspects of life-long learning seriously and gives you greater career perspective. The mindset of an academic… who researches, practices, reads, grows, risks, plans, introduces, discusses, and by virtue thereof, contributes! Then go forth, and contribute! It’s what the world needs now…
…The job market isn’t what it used to be! By following these job trends, you can learn how to make it through the applicant tracking system, and onto the “call for interview” list…
Most people find the job trends by trolling websites (like Indeed and Workopolis), looking for job postings that match their skills and knowledge. Two things about this method: 1st: jobs postings don’t significantly change day over day, so to use your time optimally. Block off 3-4 hours 1 day per week, and surf to your heart’s content. Then, put it aside to next week. 2nd: You need to “do the math” (ie., “crunch”) the job description to see if you’re short-listable. Print up the job description, get a marker, and go to the requirements section. For each requirement, assign a rough percentage of how much you feel you match that particular skill or knowledge area. Do you have it 100%? 75%? 50%? 25%? Write the percentage down. Go through each hard and soft skill, straight through to the bottom of the requirements section, assigning a rough percentage of match to each. At the bottom, average it out.If you’re 85% overall, apply. Under 85%? Don’t bother…you’ll be outcompeted. With 85%+ match, you will fall into the “maybe” or “yes” piles, depending on your competition. Under 85%, you fall into the “no” category! You can purchase a template for this in mI’s Career Toolkit…or, call our offices and we’ll send you a copy!
Interview Trends: These days, companies are likely to organize a “screening call” prior to inviting you in. On this call, recruiters are looking to see you if hit the top requirements of the job. While they are uncovering that info, they are also assessing for “cultural fit”. They are gaging, by virtue of how you present to them, if they think you would be a good fit for that company. So prior to the call, look up the company culture, and be able to reference it. Be sure you’ve “crunched” the job description so you know where your strengths are (100%, versus lower-graded requirements, where you are under 85%). In a screening call, they will also want to know what “salary range” you are seeking, and what your current availability is.
If you do get invited to interview, don’t be surprised if you’re interviewed in a group. It’s a new job trend. No pressure, right? Companies have recently begun doing collective “first round interviews” –- it’s highly competitive, but saves them a lot of time/costs, and also shows them how you operate under pressure. If you’re lucky enough to get a one-on-one interview, consider calling our offices and scheduling an “interview prep” call. Believe me, this small investment will really pay off, because we can teach you in pretty short order, how to outcompete your peers!
Growth areas: In terms of professions, tech careers ie., IT/coding/AI/software and hardware skills, are king! Followed closely by green/energy jobs, engineering, maths, sciences, health, security management, project and/or event management. Professionals in high demand include lawyers, researchers, social workers, media and social media skills, and public relations. Also in high demand are the finance, business, marketing and human resources areas. So if you’re looking to broaden your skills (please be this person!), keep the above shopping list and start building your “street creds” by taking small webinars, seminars, attending conferences, and build and list all these small “c” credentialson your resume andLinkedIn profile.
Finally, soft-skills are in very high demand: leadership, people skills, social skills, communication skills, collaboration skills, agility, humility, attention/focus, reliability…
Job Trend Pro Tip 1: I cannot stress enough how taking active steps to manage your career will benefit you over the long-term. You want to maintain a constant focus on your career. Most people only really take care of their careers when their back is against a wall. Don’t be that person.
Job Trend Pro Tip 2: I invite you to scroll down through the blogs I’ve posted, especially the ones dealing with a) goal setting; b) personal branding c) accessing the hidden job market; d) networking; e) job search best practices. The more you review these posts, the more the information contained in them will go from short-term (read: disposable) memory, to long term (read: accessible) memory. The benefits are clear.
Keep doing your job trend homework! Those who don’t do their career homework waste a lot of valuable time throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks. …Or, you can be prepared, informed, rehearsed, and ultimately much more targeted and much more successful. Your call!
But there’s more… you need to manage your message in real time as well. That means, from first impressions straight on through to long-term relationships — each and every exchange you have with industry colleagues, is an opportunity to manage your professional message and give hiring managers the right impression.
The short story: you are messaging your community in everything that you do. So it follows that it would make sense to stop every now and again, and take a good long look at how you’re presenting to the outside world.
Within seconds of meeting, or doing internet outreach to someone, your message is immediately categorized. Humans are lazy; they will label you, because it’s the easiest thing to do. Unfortunately, the label (positive or negative) they assign you will become their default position. They will forever carry their first impression of you. Like, you just judged my picture, right?!
…So how do you present? Under or over-confident? Negative? Fearful? Intimidated? Trying too hard? Insecure? Overly formal and rigid? Blustery? Nudge-nudge, wink-winker? Or, are you focused, pleasant, open, interesting, interested, confident, welcoming, facilitative, professional, kind? These characteristics don’t only come across in person, they come across on paper, and on digital profiles too. Your social media profiles send macro messages too. Remembering that communication is always two degrees removed form reality (yours and mine), what you think is funny online, can so easily be misread by others.
Pro Tip 1: Make your default position “professional/knowledgeable”. Period.
Pro Tip 2: Understanding the concept that we are ALL subject to categorizing each other, incorporate openness and inclusivity to every professional action you take.
If you’re not sure how to get started on this, let’s address professionalism and knowledge first — the hallmarks of leadership! Being a professional is exactly that. A true professional’s mission is to keep “facilitation for others” top of mind. Maintaining a “service orientation” is always welcomed by others, and is a great message to send. Increasing networking, public speaking and presentation skills are all great places to learn how to build your personal messaging strengths. And knowledge, will always put you at the front of the line.
Knowledge is power, because it gives you confidence. When you augment your knowledge, you will automatically feel, and be, more on your game. If you want to build your business acumen beyond your particular craft or service, study your industry overall. Read professional white papers, industry forecasts, or sign up for information alerts on your business and/or industry. The more you know, the more valuable you are to potential employers. So make life-long learning a top priority in your career! (Or, as one of my former bosses put it: “professionals bring answers to the table, not questions…”)
Once these you have professionalism and knowledge acquisition firmly established as frameworks in your mind and in your actions, a simple shift in your mindset to ensure inclusivity is paramount. We ALL want a kinder, more civil, ordered, and nurturing reality.
Be part of the solution. Let that be your message. Give hiring managers the right impression.
A lot of people ask me what is the point of writing a cover letter anymore? Do they even get read? Can’t I just send a resume? …and be done with it? Well, short answer is yes, you can just send a resume. But why miss out on the chance to show them that, not only do your skills match the job description (…making you short-listable – scroll down to earlier blog: “Are You Short-listable”) but also show them that your career aspirations and intentions are also a match. That is the sweet spot. That is what recruiters are looking for! We can see from your skills that you can do the job, but what we really want to know is will you??? Your cover letter/email will show whether or not your career intentions and aspirations also fit.
Some recruiters read cover letters, and some don’t. It’s not a “one size fits all” kind of question. As a recruiter, I read your cover letters, because I want as much information on you as possible. I’m working hard to ensure that once you take the job on, you stay and give my client a return on their investment. And I don’t mean stay 3 months. It takes time to master any given role. My expectation is that you’re going to stay at that company 3-5 years. And you won’t stay, if you haven’t done your homework on your goals and the company, by ensuring that this is the exact opportunity you want and need to take your career to the next level. Which is, btw, the desired win-win for everyone concerned. The candidate gets to develop deeper subject matter expertise and further their individual goals, and the employer doesn’t have to deal with costly, disruptive revolving-door talent. So yes, I’m checking out all your stuff, your cover letter, your LinkedIn profile, your recommendations, your resume, your interests.
How to write a cover letter?
Thrown down your first draft. Just get it done.
Start with a greeting, introduce yourself, and offer some context for why you are writing them. Expect the first draft to be rough, and too long.
Then, three short paragraphs: The 1st paragraph should address the match between your skills and this job (refer to earlier blog called “Are You Short-Listable?”. The 2nd paragraph, you can use to showcase your “value-adds” … attributes or skills or knowledge that maybe even aren’t required, but the company would benefit from anyway, like languages you can speak, what your management style is like…offer up some qualifiers here on you, as a person. The last paragraph is usually used to tie it all together and deliver your business case… why you, why now, why this role, and why are you applying to this particular company?
Pro Tip 1: Once your draft is complete, you need to do a serious edit:go through your letter, and take out every single word that you can. This will lighten it up, create white space/balance, and most importantly, reduce the amount of work the person has to do, in reading your letter. Think concise! Think brevity! You only have 8 seconds to get and keep their attention… Don’t neglect to run a spell and grammar check. When your edit is done, go back over the salutation and sign-off, and ensure they are not overly formal. Think social … salutations/introductions and sign offs are warmer, more informal these days. Take the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with your reader. Authenticity rules! So out with the old “to whom it may concern” and in with something warm, friendly, generous, polite, organized, engaging…
Pro Tip 2: If you have branded letterhead, use it. If you don’t, think about creating a cover letter template for yourself, that matches your overall brand/resume (formatting, fonts, graphics, icons…any visuals). Save the cover letter AND your resume in one file, in PDF format, and call the file “lastname,firstnameCoverCompanyname.pdf”. You’ll look organized, polished, and most important, by naming the file with your last and first names, you are searchable by name in your recruiter’s computer!
Usually the best times of the year for job search are September through to end of November in Canada, and January – June.
Job Search is a process: it’s hard to break through to people you don’t know, and it’s harder still to get past applicant tracking systems. But there are practical ways to improve on your outreach and get hired…
It’s a seemingly universal thing, that people fear, or at best, suspect,“l’Étranger”. And I find that to be a particularly sad reality…after all, we’re all professionals in our given industries. In my world view, business inquiries should actually be welcomed amongst professionals. But not everyone is a true professional. If a person you are reaching out to doesn’t know you, or know someone you know, they can easily disregard your outreach.
It’s always best to go in with an introduction from a third party peer/colleague you both know, or, get a referral from a friend/colleague who is willing to lend their name (read: “social proof”) to help you forge a connection with someone new in your network when you’re looking to get hired.
That said, you don’t always have a third party, and need to “go in cold”. Some people try once, try twice, some even try to get hold of a person in their network three times, and don’t get any response. And (by rights) they feel burned. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard industry people complain “…well, I applied to X company three times, and have never heard back from them…”
The trick, I find, is that job search is truly an ongoing process – it is not a finite exercise. You apply once, don’t hear back, feel rejected, and never try again. If you take this “finite” approach, you are doing yourself an incredible disservice.
Networking literally requires a series of “marketing touchdowns” to get in front of the right person, at the right time, for the right reasons. Every business call I take, is from someone who doesn’t know me, who might be interested in my services. So I respond/follow up, and we have “the career chat”. I give them something to think about, and usually encourage a concrete action, like doing the goals exercise on my website, and encourage them to send the results to me. Then, I follow up on their goals with some concrete advice on how to move forward. Slowly, they learn to put aside their automatic distrust, hear me, and we further the conversation. Eventually, they trust me enough to hire me, and we proceed along with the business relationship. The one thing I know for sure, is that the business transaction is not going to happen over the first call or two. It needs to be nurtured.
The same applies to job search. All relationships, professional or personal, need to be nurtured. You need to orchestrate a small handful of opportunities that allow you to interact — give the relationship the chance to develop a little, offer some professional input or guidance, give it some time to sink in, and gently nudge the exchange towards “next steps” and get hired.
Pro Tip 1:A note on “professionals” …In my experience, professionals return their calls, respond to emails, and always further the conversation, as they intrinsically understand the value of making contacts and information sharing. Professionals facilitate for each other. That’s what they do. If they don’t, I argue, they’re not terribly professional — wouldn’t you agree?
Pro Tip 2:A note on “professionalism” …Don’t be shy to take your rightful place professionally. You can be an entry-level professional, a mid-management professional, or a senior management professional. But by all means, “own” being a professional, and being part of your professional community. You need not ask for permission to belong–you already do! Your education and experience allow you to be a card-carrying member of your professional community. Remember that. Professionals always appreciate professionalism… AKA, what goes around, comes around.
It’s very important to build your network –- and managing and leveraging those contactsconsistently, over time, through online and offline networking, is also mission critical. And unless you’re retiring anytime soon, networking is a lifelong process.
Obviously, LinkedIn is the “go-to platform” to build connections. But I take it a step further, by managing a separate contacts database that, in practice, has worked remarkably well for me. …You know how people say, “you should contact so and so, at X company”? Well, I reverse that process, and I concentrate on the company first. In my contacts database, I track my business contacts in the following order, and this is how Iget access to “the hidden job market!”:
I list companies alphabetically (to make them searchable at a moment’s notice in my database).
Next, I note the company mandate. Usually, to gather this info, I review their “About” page, and make a point to read any recent news releases or blogs. I note what services/product are they providing, for what markets, and why? I note what their recent successes are, or business directions… Short notes, that I can refer to quickly in a phone call, that keep me current on the company and its role in its own industry.
Then, I identify the name of the business unit in the company that I want to do business with (it could be the executive, PR, HR, Finance, Marketing, Production – whichever business unit your skills & knowledge apply to). I further research stakeholders within that business unit on LinkedIn. I go looking (primarily) for decision makers in the area I want to do business with, but also (secondarily) for any stakeholders in that business unit that I might know, or someone I know who is connected via a third party, who might be inclined to refer, connect or introduce me.
The next step is to draft my “business case” by answering these 4 questions: a) why would this company want to work with me (…what’s unique about me?) b) why now (…how does it fit into my overall professional goals)? c) what specific kind of role do I want to play with them? …and d) why would I want to work with thiscompany in particular?
Last, but not least, I make notes in a separate column regarding dates/times I’ve contacted them, why, how it went, etc. I also plan mynext steps AKA “marketing touchdowns” in terms of contacting them. I don’t see reaching out to them as a “finite” or “incremental” exercise – I see it as an ongoing process of relationship building, and trust building, over time. As much time as it takes.
Once my contacts database is built and populated with basic information, then I can start “cycling through” the companies and stakeholders on an intermittent basis, and find new reasons to reach out, to touch base, and keep getting my company name in front of each of them, without being annoying. I reach out to them for specific reasons, and give a clear call to action – all key steps to build, and then maintain, your network.
Pro Tip 1: I was once asked at a networking event, “How often can you contact someone?”. Drum roll: it’s ok to contact someone when you have something NEW to bring to the table: a revised resume or new marketing piece you’ve put together (demo reel, blog, etc.); send an article that may be useful to them; send them news on industry trends; you could invite them to an event; or, be social and simply say hello. There are innumerable ways/reasons to connect with people.
Pro Tip 2: Authenticity rules! Look at it this way: if you’ve gone to all the trouble of identifying companies and stakeholders, researching them, preparing your outreach, developing a business case and delivering your message as concisely and politely as possible, why would they NOT take you seriously? It’s the un-prepared job seekers that are annoying. Now, you might not always be responded to, but your level of preparedness will speak volumes. After that, it’s either a yes or a no. That’s business – it’s NOT personal.
You need business contacts to build your network to explore business development, develop leads, and discuss potential business opportunities … Not too little, not too much… just.touch.base. …keep the relationship and dialogue ongoing. Remember that you didn’t come out of the womb knowing how to network effectively (and neither did anyone else)… Networking is an “art”, and you need to develop/work the muscle.
Personal Branding: What brand values are associated with your professional name?
As you work your way through adjusting/re-creating the content and formatting of all your marketing pieces, you might also spend some time thinking about your personal branding and the “values” you are communicating within that content.
Top standard professionalism and delivery of services
Transparency: de-mystifying career/job search best practices
Inclusion: Everyone’s a “somebody”.
I didn’t actually cast these in stone from day one. But they are the themes that have emerged over time, that mean the most to me in the delivery of my services. And I believe these core values, while not explicitly delineated in words, are nevertheless implicitly included in my day-to-day work life. And I’m quite sure anyone who has worked with me would agree my services are customized to the individual needs of my clients, tailored to their specific job-search challenges, and most importantly, you get “behind the scenes” information and best practices in how to effectively manage your career.
So, what would you like your personal branding to look like? What values or themes are the most meaningful to you, in the delivery of your services? Give it some thought. It’ll add some “gravitas” to your overall messaging.
Keep doing your homework! Share on social media using the buttons below, and tag a friend or colleague in need. Everyone needs support in this market.
Next blog, we’ll take a look at job search research & lead development strategy. Yes-sir-ree. And you’ll be ready, cause you are now clear on your goals, and you’re positioned and packaged accordingly.
Job Search …There’s more to life than job postings!
There are many strategies you can use, to help you become employed. Most people rely on job postings, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg in job search … read on…
When you think about it, there really are only 3 ways to earn a paycheque: 1) is by securing a “part-time, ¾ time, or full-time “staff” job, 2) the other, more risky route, is to offer your services as a freelancer and 3) monetizing a hobby that you enjoy. All have advantages/disadvantages. Staff jobs are highly competitive (not to mention über demanding) in the new economy, whereas, incremental work is really tough to secure and maintain! Having a staff job/steady or “survivor” income is great if you can get it, but also quietly building freelance services in the background (monetizing a hobby that you love, or putting together the framework for a small “side business” in your specialty area) is a really smart plan. It’s called “healthy diversification”.
Pro Tip 1: Financial specialists will tell you that being diversified is a healthy strategy … applying that concept to your work life as well, is equally smart and healthy! Professional diversification is key to keeping monies rolling in!
Most people think that job search consists of “just online job search” — endlessly trolling the web for postings that suit your particular area. It’s a “good enough/reasonable” strategy, but really you do not want it to be your main life-line! This, in my view is the least effective strategy. In my upcoming “how to make the short-list” blog, you’ll learn how to make applications much more meaningful…but meanwhile…Stronger strategies for job search include (and, I might add, from lesser to greater importance, the further down this list you work):
1.Setting up “Google Alerts” for jobs in your geo-local a/o functional areas – get postings delivered to your desktop instead of spending valuable time each week searching for them.
2.Bookmarking the HR websites of companies you would like to join, and checking them weekly for new postings. Once a week is enough…job postings don’t measurably change day over day, but likely will, week over week…
3.Maintaining a “contacts database” – LinkedIn is fine, but I prefer my own method to manage my contacts. Every business contact I have holds an opportunity for business development. I regularly review my contacts database for opportunities to “touch base”with them for potential business interests/opportunities, or do simple “marketing touchdowns” with them, just for the sake of being social and remaining connected. Think “social equity”… you cannot make money in isolation. You need business contacts to explore business development, develop leads, and discuss potential business opportunities … Not too little, not too much…just.touch.base. Keep the relationship and dialogue ongoing.
4.Join LinkedIn groups and participate in discussion boards to increase your visibility and engagement, and stay current on trends.
5.Offline job search is key: this means networking! Not just online networking, but offline as well, at conferences, industry parties, meet-ups, etc. Be present, circulate, increase your profile, and actively participate in your industry.
6.Third party introductions AKA “social proof”. Getting a third-party introduction works wonders. It makes the recipient “a little more accountable” to another party, therefore the likelihood for their taking action on an introduction is higher. Think of it this way: you can “go in cold”, or, you can go in with the stamp of approval/encouragement of a friend/colleague. Door number two is definitely better!
7.Referrals work well also, ie., when a friend/colleague tells you “you should talk to so and so at X company — tell them I referred you”.When you contact the referral, be sure to let them know who referred you. This lends social proof: it offers context, and makes you less of a stranger… As a courtesy, of course, be sure your referral knows you’ll be calling the potential business lead.
8.Mentors: Honestly, if you don’t have a mentor, or a professional “learning partner” that you can reach out to for professional advice, you need to find one. Choose mentors at a more senior level than you. Learning partners can be at the same level… Mentor relationships can be formal or informal, consistent or sporadic. You and the person you want to work with, can work out the rules. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had two long-term, professional mentors and a learning partner over the last 20-25 years. Every time I’ve been in doubt about anything professionally, I’ve turned to them for their counsel, and always reciprocated when I could! They, and the practice itself, have served me exceptionally well.
9.Finally, there’s “accessing the hidden job market“, through making cold contacts of your own. It’s nowhere near as hard as you think. But it does require strategy. Which requires homework. But it’s the sweet spot…so…follow along next week for more.
ProTip 2: A word about social equity. Your contacts in business are your LIFELINE. You must maintain them. You must reciprocate. And you must deliver. When business contacts “back you”, they are putting their professional names on the line… Do them proud! Bring you’re A-game to the equation. Reciprocate. Learn, grow and develop/move forward in tandem with your peers! Don’t just stand not the sidelines, contribute to your industry! Find your tribe, and join them!
NEVER ever ever lose an opportunity to promote your full name, and contact information when you build your personal brand.
In job search, it’s “mission critical” to brand your name and to list full contact information on all of your business correspondence and all of your personal marketing pieces.
Last week I wrote about gathering all your marketing pieces (or “tools” as I like to call them), lining them up together, and doing a full review of them for content, consistency, digital currency, and formatting/design. Now we’ll take a closer look at the most important ones.
Start with your resume, always. This is “ground zero” for reinvention. Resumes are still necessary, and will remain so for the foreseeable future (3-5 years). Take the content from your previous resume, but start a fresh template/document. Note: don’t use an old template with “legacy formatting” buried in it that will jam up more current applicant tracking systems.
Fill in your contact information. Make sure your name stands out above all. Add a title if you can, to give reader a sense of what skills and knowledge you have. Leave your physical address behind. Add fullcontact information — don’t just give your mobile number and email address. Skype? Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn profile? If you’ve got them, list them. Please don’t add a landline – unless you are there during business hours to answer it.
Now, write a small profile that tells your story in three short sentences: a) who you are (now); b) what you’ve done (in the past); and c) what you want (in the future). Just write the facts up, then you can pretty it up later with descriptors/qualifiers. Your profile should evolve along with you –just get the first iteration drafted.
Then list your hard skills, and a few soft skills. Add another section list the hardware/software you can use, and then list any tech platforms that you’re able to work on.
After that, it’s a regular resume. Put your professional experience in reverse chronological order. Stick to 3-4 bullet points for each job, and make sure they don’t just reflect your responsibilities, but also any accomplishments within those roles. Add dates, and visuals (read: logos), or hotlinks to companies where possible.
Then the education section. List your education, as well as any professional development courses you’ve taken, no matter how big or small. Employers and recruiters want to know that you’re a life-long learner!
Next, add apublic service (aka volunteer work) and/or a professional affiliations (professional memberships) section.
Run spell and grammar checks. I repeat: run spell and grammar checks.
OK, almost done… Last scrub/edit is for visuals, including formatting/layout, icons, logos, graphics, colors, fonts, tag lines, a/o hyperlinks wherever possible – whatever graphic/marketing elements you may have.
Save the file in PDF format “Smith, Jane CV.pdf”, and you’re done. Don’t name the file “resume 2017”. You’ve now got the first iteration of your reinvented “look” or “brand”.
Build your Brand Pro Tip 1: Once you’ve established your new look, it’s easy to migrate it to your other marketing pieces…That same “look” from the top of your resume, can be re-purposed in a template for your cover letters, your references and your bio — using the exact same layout, with your name, title, and all your contact information, and use of visuals. Migrate that same look even further, to your email signature, and your business card, your web page or blog. Let your marketing materials be recognizable and consistent!
Build your Brand Pro Tip 2:ALL of your marketing pieces need to reflect the same (relative) content, and “look” — that’s what establishes your brand. As mentioned last week, old-style “content resumes” have definitely transformed into “graphic resumes” (think info-graphic).Cannot stress this enough…The more “visuals” you have, the better: ie., word clouds, logos, graphics, hotlinks, icons, newsletters, flyers, blogs, videos, memes, podcasts, tag line, photos… All your marketing pieces should all be similar in look, and consistently laid out, with full contact info and web presence(s) front and centre.
Again, your name is your brand. Use your first and last name at every opportunity when answering calls, signing off emails, or introducing yourself verbally or in writing.
Your “signature look” will evolve over time, just as you do. Then it’s a simple case of “scrubbing” your marketing pieces once a year (I reserve my birthday to do this, along with my goals). This will ensure that your brand evolves over time, that it stays current with market best practices year over year, and that it deliverson your objectives.
…Now that you’ve got a career plan, it’s time to develop your brand…
We probably wouldn’t be human if we didn’t worry about how we are perceived by others. In this blog, I’m addressing personal brands: how we appear to others; how (well) we are received; and most importantly, take our marketing pieces to the next level…
Most job seekers operate off of the same “content resume” they’ve drafted through the years, adding to, or deleting items, as they go along. Most people set up a LinkedIn profile, and then neglect to update it over time. Most job seekers are not even aware of the many tools they have at their disposal to market themselves, and further, have not learned how to market themselves on all the digital platforms at their disposal. Most don’t do annual “scrubs” on their marketing pieces. And a lot of (old) marketing pieces have legacy formatting that jam up applicant tracking systems.
How do you build, and effectively manage your brand? …Start at the beginning…
Pro Tip 1:If you’re going to give your “overall look” a serious review, it’s highly recommended you start from scratch! Print up all the marketing materials you have, from your business card, to your resume, email signature, cover letters, web page or blog, business card, et al… Get them all into one pile, and take a good long look at how cohesive they are in terms of fonts, use of (white) space, visuals, contact info, digital currency/hipness, graphic design… Take all your established marketing pieces, and compare them to resume samples you can easily find online through a Google search. Think about Goggling “2017 resume samples” or, “2017 business cards”, etc.
Yesterday’s “content resumes” have definitely transformed into today’s “visual” a/o “graphic resumes”. (Don’t want to put you off, but you might also give some thought to the next iteration on the horizon: video resumes/video bios too…) Speaking of marketing materials, here are just a few samples of the “marketing tools” you will need to market yourself either for a full-time job, or as an independent contractor…
For those seeking staff jobs: resume (PDF format), references; a long format Bio; cover email/cover letter (best suggestion is to put your cover letter and resume in one PDF file and send by email); business card; LinkedIn profile (do not under-estimate the value of LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations!); email signature; and hotlinks to web pages that showcase samples of work you have created a/o delivered.
For entrepreneurs/freelancers: you will need “written copy” that outlines your product a/o service (read: all-purpose copy that you can use in all your marketing materials); testimonials (one-liners from top brands/names – go for the gold, always); a Bio (in short and long formats), a “business development email template” which introduces/outlines your product a/o service; your business card; internet presence on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, a/o Twitter, etc.; email signature; and finally, a web page, site, or blog.
Pro Tip 2: More and more, people are incorporating visuals in their marketing materials (read: word clouds, logos, graphic resumes, hotlinks, icons, newsletters, flyers, blogs, videos, memes, podcasts, photos, (did I mention videos? 🙂 …)
When you’ve finished reviewing and editing all the “content” for your marketing pieces, then you need to turn your sights towards building your brand, by using signature color(s), font/typeface for all your marketing pieces. They should all look similar, and be consistently laid out, with full contact info and web presence(s) front and centre. A title/role would be nice too ie., Content Creator or Project Manager or … whatever it is you specialize in.
Pro Tip 3: Start with your resume. Once you have finalized the content and the look of it, transfer/adapt the same “look” to your business card, cover letter template, email signature, etc. The trick is to establish your brand, be consistent in your look, and use these tools to increase your visibility, and build positive engagement with your community of peers.
Last but not least, two things: 1) Please remember that your name is your brand. Use your first and last name at every opportunity when answering calls, signing off emails, or introducing yourself; and 2) your signature “look” evolves just like you do, over time. Get the first iteration (read: YAY re-invention!) of your brand completed on all your marketing pieces, and then be sure to “review them annually” around your birthday – this will ensure your brand evolves over time, and stays current with market best practices year over year.
Establishing your look, and managing your brand, will indeed be well-received by professionals reviewing them. The amount of work you put into them will show/tell others that you’re a diligent, thoughtful professional, who understands the need to build, showcase and maximize a brand.
Keep doing your homework! Scrub those marketing pieces! Share on social media through the buttons below, and tag a friend or colleague in need. Everyone needs support in this market. Pay it forward for a friend!
In the next blog, we’ll be taking a look at the individual marketing pieces referenced above, and share best practices for bringing them up to 2018 standards!