Posts tagged #Professional Brand

Are you applying for the wrong jobs?

We all have different work personalities and styles. Some of us prefer to work solo, while others thrive in a team setting. The key is knowing the best way for you to thrive at work and learn how to adapt if the right conditions aren’t present.

Most jobs require a balance of being both a team player and an independent worker. But, often, you’re called upon to be one or the other.

As employers remain careful and selective with their hiring practices, job seekers should be prepared to be asked about their work style. While you don’t have to take a hard line toward one or the other, you must recognize the ideal situation for achieving optimal performance and how to answer the question in the best manner. Here’s why:

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Posted on August 14, 2013 .

Struggling To Find A Job? A Low Level Of Occuprenuer™-ism Might Be To Blame

If you're a job seeker who has been looking for new employment for months or even years and you find yourself paralyzed by high frustration and few new ideas, then, like millions of others, you might be suffering from low levels of OCCUPRENEUR™-ISM. The job market has permanently changed and it's time we make adjustments to stay ahead of the curve. In today's competitive world, we must start looking for career opportunities and leave the job seeking behind. However, the good news is that you can stop being your own worst enemy and start taking action today, as the Occupreneur that you are, and help yourself find the next great opportunity. An OCCUPRENEUR™ is someone who manages his or her career as an Entrepreneur would manage his or her business. The main difference between an Occupreneur™ and an Entrepreneur is that an Entrepreneur is self-employed while an Occupreneur is employed by someone else. Or at least that should be the main difference in approach. Unfortunately, the common thread that differentiates employees from Entrepreneurs is that many employees see limits to their upside potential, while Entrepreneurs see the sky as the limit. However, there are a few things that you can do to make a significant impact in your career and start approaching yours as the Occupreneur that you are.

First, recognize what you have to offer, who is your target clientele (or employer) and how what you have to offer is unique from others. This is a very important first step and it helps you understand your purpose (or mission) and your personal brand. Keep this simple. Many people get caught up in the "right way" to brand themselves. Branding is nothing more than a snapshot of your personal & professional profile.

Next, create business cards for yourself. Then get out into the 3D world and start networking. There are websites where you can create and order business cards either for free or for a low fee. Being unemployed is not an excuse for not having them. They are most effective when attending networking events or when you meet someone in your daily travels who might be able to lead you to a great opportunity.  While applying for jobs online is the new normal, meeting in-person or attending events where you might meet new people remains the most effective way to find solid employment. Unlike applying into a black hole, this method puts you in the driver's seat for managing your own success as an Occupreneur.

Finally, while you are seeking a full-time employment opportunity, you should be doing something every day besides sitting in front of your home computer. Have you considered some freelance work? Most people are fearful of the freelance route for fear of being essentially self-employed, but the number of these opportunities is growing and once you get started you might even find that you enjoy the freedom of being your own boss. This does not mean you have to stop looking for a full-time gig, but keeping busy and involved is a good way to avoid feeling stuck.


Don't Let Your Social Media Footprint Kill Your Job Prospects

The days of keeping your personal and professional lives separate are a thing of the past thanks to social media. The two cannot independently exist without taking drastic measures -- and even then there are risks. Social media's (or SoMe) connection to personal and professional branding has been dominating headlines for awhile, and should be a reminder to job seekers in what continues to be a tight job market that they need to keep their online noses clean. Employers are using Google and social media sites to perform preliminary background checks on candidates before they step foot in the door for an interview. For that reason, your SoMe presence can kill the possibilities of landing a job.

The first--and most important--step toward repairing your SoMe identity is cleaning up your act. No one needs their dirty laundry hung out all over the virtual clothes lines for all the world to see. We owe it to ourselves to take a hard look at our online and real-world behavior and make choices that will not have long-term damaging affects on our lives and on our careers. What we do today can cause permanent online damage, similar to an impulsively-purchased bad tattoo. Despite our efforts to get it removed, the evidence of it can linger forever.

For some, this means...

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Posted on June 24, 2013 .

Classic Mistake #3: Ignoring Your Brand

Recently, I've touched on what it means to be an Occupreneur™ while leaving your old "Employee" title behind. An Occupreneur is anyone who is (or wants to be) employed by someone else but who approaches his or her career as deliberately as an entrepreneur. Classic mistake #3 that people make when looking for jobs is ignoring their personal brand. This is probably not the first time you've heard this but what I've found is that most people find this concept complicated and even overwhelming. To simplify it, your brand is who you are, not something you create. Recently, I heard a human resources professional say (and I'm paraphrasing), that in the old days we called it a reputation; today we call it a personal brand. Just because you don't acknowledge yours doesn't mean you don't have one. It's not about creating something that you are not, but rather about being clear about who you are and what you have to offer. Also know, that your brand will evolve over time as you grow and your career advances. Here are five questions to answer to help you. The sum total is your brand!

1. What are your goals? It's best to keep your goals broad and specific at the same time. This approach keeps you focused but leaves you open to unconventional opportunities. If your goals are too specific, you won't be prepared to deal with obstacles that pop up along the way. An obstacle isn't a dead-end but rather an opportunity to tweak your approach.

2. What are your strengths & what areas would it benefit you to partner with someone? No one is good at everything. Understanding what you are good at is vital to success; however, so is understanding what you're not good at. Partnering with others with the intention of complementing each other professionally makes you a valuable employee and even a leader.

3. Who do you serve in the work that you do (or want to do)? If you don't identify your clientele, you don't know who to target in your job search. Your clientele can be a list of companies that provide services that align with your professional goals.

4. What do you have to offer? This can be a good or a service. However, even if you're providing a good you are still also providing a service so understand what service you provide.

5. What makes you, and the way you provide that good or service, unique? You and I can provide the same service but how we provide that service is unique in some way.

Make sure you go through this process deliberately and write down your answers. If you're struggling with this, as many people do, start by asking friends, family & colleagues for help or hire a professional coach to assist you through this process.

Posted on June 22, 2013 .

Classic Mistake #2: Hiding Behind Your Online Profile

It’s clear how dependent we’ve become on social media, or SoMe (a mnemonic I’ve recently come to learn). We rely on SoMe for everything from job searches to career development and branding, to connecting with like-minded people, to finding friends and even to finding love. Some take SoMe to a level that replaces in-person, face-to-face human interaction or, to go even further, we often use it to avoid feeling rejected by peers, potential mates and potential employers. There is something about cyberspace as a buffer between us and the other person that makes us feel safe, but it’s also working toward our detriment. In the land of the unemployed, SoMe serves as a way to be satisfied that we’re doing SOMETHING to help ourselves and when a response to our applications never materialize into employment we can say “at least I tried.” While it’s commendable that you are doing something rather than sitting around doing nothing at all, your online dependency is hurting you if you’re not doing anything in addition. The question is, how do we create a hybrid approach that combines the best of the SoMe world with the old school approach that has worked for generations?

First, let me reintroduce you to the telephone. Somehow we have decided that texting, email and SoMe direct messaging is the only way to communicate. While it allows us to stay connected more regularly in a less intrusive way (as we can tap someone while not interrupting if they’re busy at that moment), online methods gives the recipient a license to get back to you when they get back to you. Picking up the phone has many benefits starting with its display of your confidence and tenacity.

Next, if you are spending day-after-day sitting in front of your computer then it’s time to step away from the terminal and get outside in the 3D world. Use SoMe to connect with people to set up in-person meetings. Even if that person doesn’t have a job to offer you, they could be a great resource or may know someone looking to hire someone just like you. This is where networking and being an Occupreneur is not only valuable, but essentially vital to your success.

Finally, don’t be afraid to go to new places alone. Most people feel funny about sitting in a coffee shop or bar, or going to a social event such as a fundraiser without a wingman. What’s amazing is that once you get used to and more comfortable with being in places by yourself, you suddenly don’t feel alone because the chances of meeting new people becomes so much greater than if you were sitting somewhere with a friend. When you’re with a friend it can make you seem less approachable. And you never know who you will meet or who that person may know. That said, always make sure you feel safe when going it alone.

And one final word; don’t get discouraged. It’s so easy to when we feel like nothing is happening or moving in the direction we want or need it to. That doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. Keep pushing through by talking to and meeting new people, while following up with those who you’ve already been in contact with. One of the best pieces of advice my father gave me was that if you throw enough stuff against the wall eventually something will stick. But please be deliberate with what you ‘throw’ because throwing everything all over the place will work against you!

Posted on June 19, 2013 .

Classic Mistake #1: Being Willing To Do Anything

Despite the weekly jobs numbers or the monthly unemployment numbers, the job market is still uncertain. These numbers are irrelevant if you're among the millions still struggling to find relevant and rewarding jobs. So, what can professionals start doing right now to find the opportunities they seek?

The first step is to stop making the classic mistake of being willing to do anything! This is one of the biggest mistakes professionals make because it sends a message that you are desperate. It also leads to underemployment because rather than commanding the job you are qualified for, you'd rather take anything to get a foot in the door. Unless you are a recent college graduate with little or no work experience, this approach can leave you underutilized and diminished. How you market yourself while searching for new employment is as important or even more so than your experience.
There are three ways to avoid making this mistake:
  1. Market yourself deliberately and confidently but be open to unconventional opportunities. When you market yourself deliberately you show you are focused. It's ok to say, "I want to work in a corporate setting managing client relationships," but don't say "at this point I'll do anything." Employers will be turned off if you seem desperate. Saying you'll do anything rather than being pointed but open shows that you wait around for direction from others rather than being proactive.
  2. Even if you're willing to do anything, make sure you offer ways you know you can contribute rather than waiting for the interviewer to tell you how you fit in the organization.  Ask questions about the company during the interview and then find a way to translate how what you've done in the past will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the team. Do not ask about vacation policies or benefits until you're offered the job.
  3. Prepare for the interview. Even if your interview is scheduled on short notice, spend at least ten minutes beforehand doing research. Know something about the organization, its history, its industry and how it fits into its industry. It would also help if you knew something about your interviewer. With the internet readily available, even on the go, there is no reason to show up to any interview unprepared.
Lindsay Broder is the president of Key Coaching, a New York based career strategy & consulting firm.


Posted on June 17, 2013 .