Hey job seeker! It’s not about the CV stupid!

The world of job search has changed. This might seem pretty obvious, but a scary few haven’t quite noticed. Not only has job search changed, but it’s been completely and utterly transformed into something entirely new.

It’s these same people who when they join linked in, think that it’s sufficient to merely input their company and job title. And possibly, their responsibilities. But that’s OK, they have a job. They’ll sort it out once they need to find a new one. Oh please! Wake up and smell the coffee! Are you serious?! You’re not going to get a job if you can’t be bothered to make an effort. All the time. Whenever you do get round to looking for work, the first thing recruiters are going to do is Google you. And putting positive content online is not an overnight process.

In case you haven’t heard there are a shed load of people just like you looking for work. You might be unemployed or, or on the verge of redundancy, or maybe just bored of being treated like crap in your current job. Whichever it is, if you want to find work, you’re going to have to make an effort.

OK, so you think you have. You think you’ve done a pretty good job with your LinkedIn profile. After all, your CV has been perfectly re-created in the LinkedIn environment. You struggled a bit with the summary, but other than that, you’ve managed to fill it out quite nicely. Well, I hate to break to you, but you’ll never get that time back.

Now some of you are probably thinking “No! Hang on a minute! My summary rocks! I spent ages writing that – it’s awesome!” Well I’d like to invite you for a moment to see if you have included any of these words in your LinkedIn profile

~ Extensive experience ~ Innovative ~ Motivated ~ Results oriented ~ Dynamic ~

~ Proven track record ~ Team player ~ Fast-paced ~ Problem solver ~ Entrepreneurial ~

Well, have you? Did you check?

If you did, punch yourself. These phrases are the top 10 most used phrases in LinkedIn profiles. And that means that they are meaningless. Meaningless because every other lemming is using them which means you all look the same. And if you all look the same, you don’t stand out. And if you don’t stand out you don’t get picked. You don’t get picked you don’t get the job. Got it? So, if this is you, you need to overhaul your profile.

I know. I’m beginning to sound a bit harsh. But, life’s like that. Right now it’s competitive out there and if you want to stand out you need to start taking notice of the best ways of doing that. And to start with that means that you need to ditch the idea of a CV and think more along the lines of a marketing campaign. What’s your headline? What value do you add in a team? What can you be relied upon time and time again? For those familiar with marketing, you’ll notice how all these things are pieces of a brand. Yup! You need to start thinking about YOUR personal brand. And every good brand needs a good story.

So what’s your story?

If you can tell your story in an interesting, compelling and engaging way then you’re more likely to stand out. You want to know why? We all love a good story. Stories engage on an emotional level in a way that dry facts don’t. Coming up with your story isn’t a quick process. A great story will help to communicate your values, what you’re great at, who you do great stuff for and what you’re aiming for. When you have a great story you’ve then got the beginnings of what you need to stand out both online and offline.

If you want help transforming your online profile, there’s a great product that can help you do that. It was developed by @walterakana and @carolross .

If this piece has inspired you to sort out your LinkedIn profile, that’s great. But before you do, you might want to see what other people are doing out there to get a job. Like Kyle. Hopefully, you’ll realise how much the job search game has changed. And how much more you need to be doing to stand out and get chosen.

If you would like to receive articles and tips on personal branding then you can sign up to my newsletter. There’s a FREE 9-page guide to your personal brand waiting for you if you do.

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What’s the cost of not being digi-savvy?

An article I read in The Independent also asked the same question. It seems as though the idea of creating and owning a digital presence is seeping more and more into mainstream. Some of you reading this will think I’m stating the obvious. And you’re probably someone who spends a lot of your time in the digital space. But, it’s easy for us lot to forget that there are masses out there who’s only foray into the digital space is checking their Facebook page once a month. And even then they don’t post anything, they just have a peek about. They don’t engage.

These people are in their thousands. And, I’m going to push the boat out here: I’d be prepared to bet that most of them are either over 50 or employees. Employees, it seems, are the least likely to be digital savvy. Why? Because they have a cushy job. And because they have a cushy job, they don’t feel the need to connect with others in the digital space, because they get to do it at work. But also, their cushy job gives them very little time to explore, play and discover all this new stuff that’s happening online. And, their employers have probably banned access to most of the social sites.

When you run your own business or are a freelancer, connecting online is an essential part of business. So being digi-savvy is crucial. Big brands are a bit late to the party here, but they’ve been able to trade on their brands’ awareness for a bit to buy them some time to watch and learn. Now they’ve realised that if they’re not online, then they can’t assume that it’s business as usual. But how long will it take individuals to get digi-savvy.

A fact I’ve already mentioned is relevant again: in 2017 all 400,00 of IBM’s staff will become contractors. The implications of this for employees is staggering. The time will soon come when most workers will be freelance and be hired on a contract basis. So how are they going to get hired? Well, it’s not from having a polished CV and really nice chap at the recruitment agency to talk to. NO. It will be from being well connected in the digital space and being visible. But more importantly, for being known for something.

So, individuals had better smarten up at working out what their uniqueness is, and getting themselves noticed for it. And in the words of @thomaspower, because, if they don’t, they’ll starve

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The rise of the digital coach?

Yesterday I attended a session run by Ecademy’s Thomas Power. They’re in the middle of recruiting what they’re calling Digital Coaches for their Ecademy Digital School.

Digital Coach is a term that was coined by Seth Godin in few years back. I’ve only recently come across it. If it sounds new to you, then let me take a few moments to share with you how they define such a person;

• A digital coach teaches you how to do things digital and how to get those things done.

• They help you to use value and optimise Twitter, Facebook, Ecademy, YouTube, LinkedIn etc

• A digital coach understands the difference between personal branding and company branding

• A digital coach is a friend, ally, support service, professional lifesaver, protector and brand guardian.

• They are someone who is a companion and change agent who helps businesses transition and benefit from the Digital World.

During the session Thomas spent a lot of time delivering a very clear message:

if you do not define yourself you will starve

If you can’t define yourself, then other people won’t be able to either. And, if they can’t, then they can’t recommend or refer you. Bummer eh? But you know what? Working that out isn’t a quick process. I have the T-shirt!

Thomas shared a great quote from Penny during the session

“Network value happens when others talk about you when you’re not there”

This quote is very similar to another great quote by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

“Your personal brand is what people say about you when you’re not there”

So, what we’re talking about here is the same thing, we just can’t agree on a good name for it.

The old adage, it’s not what you know it’s who you know has never been more relevant than today. Thomas rammed this point home several times. Generation Zero have grown up having hundreds of friends, connections and followers. For them, having a network of people who know them for being them is natural. It’s everyone else who needs to worry. Everyone else needs to start thinking about growing their network. Not only that, they need to ensure that their network know who they are. And by this I mean, know what they stand for and what they can be relied on. Oh look! Now we’re back to branding!

So, both Penny and Jeff are talking about the same coin, just different sides. Yes, you need to know what you stand for and can be relied upon for, but then you need to leverage the power of the network. And today, that network is online. If you’re not engaging and publishing online, then you’re not visible. If you’re not visible, then you won’t be chosen.

Oh dear!

And that’s where Digital Coaches come in. They can help you to both these things and walk with you on the path to discovering and defining who you are.

If you’re reading this and thinking “I’m an employee not a freelancer or a business owner, I don’t need to worry about this sort of thing”

WRONG!

Just ponder this; in 2017 all of IBM’s 400,00 employees will become suppliers. How do you think that is going to affect other employees?

In the current climate of austerity and cutbacks, many businesses are moving to using contractors and virtual teams, so now more than ever, defining yourself clearly is a matter of survival.

Have you defined yourself?

If you want to have a chat about discovering and defining YOUR brand, give me a call!

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What’s authenticity got to do with onions?

We’re a lot more like onions than you think. Yes. Really.

If you’ve recently started working for yourself, one of the challenges you’re likely to come across is finding your true voice, your authentic self. Connecting to who you really are and what you really want is not always a straightforward process. One thing I have realised working with my clients is that the people that find it the hardest are those that were working in corporate environments that didn’t encourage them to be themselves. They’d spent so long trying to change who they were to fit in that they lost site of who they really are. This might have been because the organisational values and theirs were not aligned, or maybe they were doing a job that didn’t fulfil them or make use of their talents and strengths. Whatever the reason, once you’re free of the corporate machine you’re next biggest task is to do decide what to do next. And in doing so you’ll need to define yourself. In other words; develop your personal brand.

In making your next move, the chances are that you’ll use the online space to do so. Whether it’s on LinkedIn, ecademy or if you end up with your own site or blog. If you’re going to present yourself online, you’re going to need to make a call as to how you want to appear and what you want to say about yourself. That’s in addition to being clear about what you’re trying to achieve so that you know who you’re trying to talk to.

So, back to onions… like onions, when we’re an employee in a hostile environment we develop a thick skin to protect ourselves. It protects us nicely from the dirt that surrounds us; you know the politics, the falsities and all the other corporate BS. Then, when we get plucked free, the bit that people really want is the juicy fleshy bit. But to get to that, we need to shed a few layers first. How many layers will depend on how hostile corporate life was. Over to you Shrek…

Shedding these layers can take quite some time. I know personally, it took me well over a year to find my true voice. And believe me, the journey isn’t over!

The thing is, once you’re well on the way to finding your story you are blessed with the ability to really carve out a niche for yourself. Because in discovering your authentic self comes with it a renewed sense of confidence. This confidence enables you to inject your personality into what you do in a way that you’ve not done before. And once you get to do that, you’re on the road to uniqueness. The one thing that you can be sure of is that no-one else has got your personality. So, no matter what you end up doing for a living, if you do it YOUR way, then you will be unique and stand out from others. One of my favourite examples of this is Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth

Once you do this you will naturally attract others with similar values to you, which means you’ll probably enjoy working and being with them. And when you get to that, work doesn’t feel like work. And that my friend is success!

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3 reasons why you should NEVER use video on your site

1. Your livelihood does not depend on selling you as an individual.

So you might be an employee with a guaranteed job for life who sits behind a screen all day with no need to interact with anyone, ever.

Or, you’ve made your millions and spend your days either re-arranging your vast collection of fast cars around the estate, deciding where to berth your yacht next or pestering your butler for another Cristal.

If on the other hand, you’re in the business of selling you, (and who isn’t?) then video is an absolute MUST for your site.

There’s an even narrower list of people who ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY need to have video on their site. And these are those folk that are in the people business where your business is essentially you and your clients or customers interact with you directly. I’m talking to you entrepreneurs, business owners, consultants, coaches, trainers, speakers, mentors, PA/VA’s, therapists, counsellors, actors, porn stars, etc… you see where this is going?

2. You don’t want to progress in your work, earn more money or grow your business.

This is perfectly reasonable. With the planet running out of resources and space, buying & selling more things and using up more stuff is clearly going to end in trouble. So good for you by not wanting to contribute to the inevitable disaster that’s heading our way.

3. You’ve got 2 heads and think that people may be put off working with you.

This is wholly understandable, and to be quite frank, you should probably seek professional help.

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7 ways that social media can damage your personal brand

A report out today has highlighted just how careful employees and job-seekers need to be in their use of social media.

With more than half of recruiters saying that they check social networking sites as part of their research.

Interestingly, 43% stated that they had information that had caused them NOT to hire the candidate. Top reasons include:

  • no_jobLying about qualifications - 38%
  • Demonstration of poor communication skills - 31%
  • Making discriminatory comments - 13%
  • Posting content about them drinking or using drugs - 10%
  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information - 9%
  • Bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients - 9%
  • Sharing confidential information from previous employer - 8%

Glancing through this list, it’s easy to see why employers would react in this way. The transparency of social media means that you need to be very clear as what you stand for and what you want to be known for. If you choose to undertake questionable and unethical behaviour (lying, bad-mouthing, leaking confidential information) and live your life in the open, then you need to accept the consequences.

bothways

Social media can be incredibly powerful in helping you to build a strong personal brand, but it works both ways.

So, if you’re an employee or a job-seeker, here are some top tips for avoiding personal brand meltdown online:

  • Be honest about your achievements and your experience. The truth is easier to remember.
  • Decide who your audiences are for your personal brand and ensure that what you project to those audiences is consistent.
  • Don’t be negative, deliberately provocative or discriminatory in public. This is just bad form wherever you are, online or offline.
  • Seek out testimonials for work that you’ve done and show them off. LinkedIn is great for this.
  • Check your public photos! Make sure that all the embarrassing ones are removed, hidden or private.

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Don’t hire a Personal Branding Pro until you’ve answered these 5 questions

If you’ve considered hiring a professional to help you manage your personal brand, there are some things to bear in mind.

Personal brand management involves considering all aspects of your personal brand: your strengths, your results, your appearance, your knowledge and experience, your objectives and all collateral about you in the media - in the press and online. Large companies hire Brand Managers to manage their brands so why shouldn’t you?

Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself before you decide whether you need the help of a Personal Brand Manager, Consultant, Advisor or Coach.

1. Do you have what it takes?

Managing your personal brand requires a strategic approach, a plan and knowledge & experience of the various aspects of brand management. If you happen to be an ex-Brand Manager then you are very well suited to managing your personal brand. But if you’re not then you might find yourself having to learn many new skills and ways of working. These new skills and habits may be in conflict with your natural style.

2. Can you afford to be distracted?

Too much workManaging your personal brand is no small task. Depending on your line of work and your levels of activity, your personal brand management could be quite time consuming. Surely your main focus should be on what you do and doing it well, and not managing your personal brand. It’s all very well coming up with great plans, the real magic is in their timely execution. Your personal brand will suffer if there isn’t a consistent approach.

3. Do you know what you want to achieve and what’s possible?

Clarity around your goals is an important aspect of managing your personal brand. But equally important is knowing what’s possible. You may be familiar with what leaders in your field are doing, but by copying them you are not going to stand out. You need to be aware with what leading people outside your field are doing.

guardian angel4. Who’s keeping an eye on you?

It can be all too easy to come up with big plans for developing your personal brand. And, it can be even easier not to follow through. After all, if you’re doing it yourself, who’s going to find out? Right? Wrong! Who’s there to push you and keep you to task? Having a great team around you is more likely to lead to success.


pot-o-gold5. What are you missing out on?

Have you taken the time to consider how much you personal brand might be worth in the future? Do you know how your brand is worth now? Let’s say that that you’re brand is currently worth £60K (what you are able to earn in a year). Your future brand might be worth £500K. If mismanaged, you may take a lot longer to get there, if at all! Is it really worth not getting outside help to get you there?

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Why personal branding is relevant to business

When you talk about personal branding to employers, many are not interested. For them, they consider personal branding all about making the employee more valuable, which means that the employee may become more expensive and look to move elsewhere. Hardly something they want to invest in.

But what they fail to realise is that every time a customer interacts with their business through their staff, the customer is interacting with a person who has a personal brand. Now, that employee may not be conscious of their personal brand, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have one.

What impression does the employee create? Are they presenting themselves in a manner appropriate with the business and its brand? Are the employee’s values in line with the business values? If the company values customer service highly, is this reflected in the behaviour of the employee? Whenever you have negative experiences with a business it is usually down to your interaction with a person and their attitude. Often, if senior management are made aware of the problem it is quickly addressed. And let’s not forget, customer service isn’t something that is restricted to the customer service department. Internally within a business, every employee has customers. Their customers will include their fellow team members, other teams they interact with and suppliers.

Look at it from a different perspective. Let’s say your business is one of many in a highly competitive market where there is little differentiation in the service or product offering. For example, professional services such as accountants or lawyers. Typically in these businesses, the professionals will all have similar qualifications and backgrounds. By the nature of what they do, it is standard fair. So, what helps them to stand apart? The people! People do business with people. So, it follows that the most successful people will be those that have great people skills and act authentically and consistently. Isn’t that the sort of person you’d rather have in your team?

So now tell me that Personal Branding isn’t relevant to business.

Branding in a business is often thought of as belonging to the marketing department. But in fact it straddles the whole organisation. Everyone in the organisation has a part to play in bringing the corporate brand to life. A brand breathes through its people. It’s the X-factor that separates the stars from the wannabe’s.

Staff attitudes, what they say, how they look, what they do, what people say about them, and their office environment. These factors will not only influence what you think of the individual, but the company they work for. It all contributes to the overall brand.

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The 5 perils of personal branding

We can safely say that when the topic of personal branding comes up that most people would agree that it’s a good thing, and if they had the time or inclination, they would probably get round to sorting out their personal brand.

But, is it? Are there any perils with starting such a journey? There are a lot of things in life that start out as a good idea that turn out to be a monumental disaster. Like putting up your party pics on facebook, only to discover that a director at work has seen them and now you’re not getting that promotion. Doh! Now I’m not saying that developing your personal brand is in that league, far from it. But what I am saying is that there are considerations, and you should be aware of them before you jump in.

High visibility high_vis_jacket

Remember the whole point behind personal branding. It’s to stand out and be noticed. You want work to come to you, and not vice versa. But, raising your visibility stakes means, you guessed it - you’re going to get noticed! So, are you happy with that? You may be some quiet shrew who’s damn good at what you do, but you prefer to hide behind your desk. Imagine spending the day wearing a high-vis jacket, does that sit well with you? And, more importantly, can you keep it up?

Transparency

glass-of-water

Developing your personal brand is a beautiful process of self-discovery. For a truly authentic personal brand, you’ll need to work out who you are and what you stand for. Then, you’ll need to be that and stand for it consistently. If you don’t, you’ll be betraying your brand (otherwise known as brand suicide). Some personal branders talk about persona being a crucial part of the personal branding equation. I think this wrongly creates the impression that you have a “persona” and a “real you”. By the way, if you look up persona you’ll get words like role, character, mask, actor etc. These are not words that talk about transparency and authenticity.

Accountability

Devising and launching your personal brand is a big step. It’s a sign you mean business. As a part of the process you would have identified personal goals and ambitions. After all, your brand will be there to support you in achieving these. So, now you’ve put your stake in the sand, you’ve got to be seen to be delivering. You’re accountable. Are you ready to be accountable?

Keeping it up

man_lift_weightsThe need for consistency cannot be underestimated. As with business brands, a personal brand needs to be reinforced and maintained. Consistently, both in terms of the message that you’re putting out there and the regularity by which you deliver that message. It’s hard work. It’s called brand management not brand laissez faire for a reason.

Conflict with employer

Now, for some this is not relevant. But for bundles of you it is. How does your brand fit your employer’s brand. If you’re all about the outdoors, high energy, risk taking, and you work in an accountant’s firm, there might be a slight mismatch. Some companies will only be interested in you being an employee if you reflect the corporate brand. While other businesses may be up for allowing you to be YOU. So, beware of being authentic too soon as it might put you out of a job!

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Finding your personal brand

There are lot of articles about on personal branding, with the majority talking about how important it is to have a personal brand. The rest of them talk about all the ways that you can increase the visibility of your personal brand in the online environment. But, before any work can be done to raise your profile, you need to be clear as to what your brand is. And working it out is not always straightforward. Well sure, it sounds straightforward when you talk about it

“… a personal brand is a blend of your strengths, personality, passion, values and goals….”

Working all that out takes quite a bit of time and effort. Let me just look at each one of these in turn.

Strengths
How many of us know our strengths? If you’ve been through corporate training, it’s likely that you’ve been subjected to a Myers Briggs profiling or similar. So, for you guys, it’s a bit easier. But for the rest of you, identifying your strengths can be difficult. Why?

  • We don’t always realise that we’re good at something, because for us, it’s natural. We don’t know what we know. Often, it takes someone else to spot our talent.
  • We’re usually much better at identifying our weaknesses.

It’s always worth starting a list on your own, but ask your friends, family and colleagues for their comments. You’ll probably have a few surprises: things that weren’t on your list, and those that were that are questioned. Be prepared for this

Personality
This is an interesting one. I bet that if we were to do a straw poll, we’d find that our ideas about our personality are not that close to the reality. Do whining negative people consider themselves to be so? You might think you’re confident, but others think of you as arrogant. You get the picture. This is one aspect of personal branding that is crucial to get some outside help with. After all, your personal brand is how others perceive you, and your personality is the crux of this. So, again, ask friends, family and colleagues for some hints.

Passion
What are you passionate about? Do you know? Understanding your passion is mega mega important! It could even be the key to your personal brand. If you spend more time than is healthy taking photographs of roundabouts, then you might have hit upon a niche. A niche whereby you could become an expert. Think of Gavin Pretor-Pinney who just loved looking at and taking pictures of clouds. He went on to form The Cloud Appreciation Society and is now a recognised expert in the cloud world. His book, The Cloud Spotter’s Guide, was a best seller.

Values
Your values are those things that are really important to you in life. Things like recognition, honesty, health, love and achievement. You probably have a clear idea of your values. If not, just ask yourself “what has been really important to me in my life?”. Some people find they have around 5 values, while others have five times that. If you have that many, you need to be clear about what the top ones are though, as these are the invisible drivers in your life. The things that control your behaviour, whether you like it or not. So you may as well be aware of them.

Goals
If you were to ask around, you’ll probably find that most people have dreams not goals. The difference? Goals have actions and timelines against them. The other thing about goals is that they are reviewed regularly so you can track your progress. The level at which you decide to clarify your goals is up to you. Some people give themselves a couple of goals to achieve over a few years, while others have 1, 5 and 10-year plans with goals for each sector of their life (financial, relationship, career etc). So, wherever you want to be on this scale, just make sure you’re on it. Because if you’re not, your personal brand is a going to have a great big hole in it.

Having said all this, the key thing to understand is that your personal brand isn’t what you want to project; it’s what others perceive. So a high level of self -awareness is important because no matter what, you will need to be consistent in the application of your personal brand. As with great consumer brands, consistency is key. Your brand represents the promise that you’re making to help others to understand what to expect from you. You keep changing and people won’t know what to expect, and they’ll go elsewhere.

So, have you figured out your personal brand?

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