Tag Archives: job

Boasting Vs. Branding

18 Mar

The idea and importance of the self-brand is such an accepted thing today that almost every online persona is ready to promote the personal self at any opportunity. The idea of self-promotion has always been a  thorn in my side. Whether its the way I was raised or just an element of my personality, in any given situation there are a million other things I’d prefer to talk about than myself and how great I am. This week I decided to overcome this hatred of self branding and finally define for myself the line between branding and bragging. This task called for some external assistance a little more powerful than a simple google search; in steps LinkedIn Answers to the rescue.

What suggestions are there have for overcoming the dislike of writing about oneself? Whether it be cover letters, resumes or bios, it always feels arrogant to write about my accomplishments, skills and assets.

I posted the above question fully expecting to get the same canned answers that I’ve read a million times before, be data driven, record your voice saying it and then transcribe that. These are great suggestions… for someone who doesn’t have any trouble talking about themselves – but in my case the two kinda go hand-in-hand. I was thrilled that with in a couple of days I had received 15 very thoughtful answers about the topic from others on LinkedIn who were just trying to help for the sake of altruism. while some of the answers did conform to the standard advice you would find anywhere – others provided a totally new and very interesting perspective on the task.

Some hi-lights:

The important thing to remember is that you are helping someone who is in desparate need of your skills and accomplishments. – Sharon Bailly

Get more, not less personal. And tell success stories about how you’ve helped your clients – Sally Strackbein

What could I say about you that would really p___ you off? Your designs are utterly unoriginal! You can’t make deadlines! You can’t spell! You can’t take criticism! – William Bell

As a developer, maybe you could think about it more like writing a specification as you would for a computer program. – Taylor Winship

When writing a cover letter or a bio, I find it best to simply sit down and tell a story…your story. People tend to get caught up on how to brag about who they are, describe their accomplished, and highlight their unique skills. – Jon Fernandez

Some of the above items may seem simple enough once you read them but none of theme have every been on my radar when writing up a bio. Some are slightly contradictory to one another, such as being less personal vs being more personal, but I like both for different occasions. Last year I did an experiment with sending out overly arrogant cover letters, the idea was in response to the number of incredibly overconfident but under-qualified I had recently encounted in working relationships. The results of this were infact surprising. There could be very large holes in the skills defined by my resume but with enough boasting in the cover letter I would still get considerably more return calls than when using my usual writing style in cover letters. Small tests like this have given me insight into a couple of key things; people actually do read cover letter, and people care more about your personality then your background and list of skills.

And so with many new ideas I go forth to do many a bio revision. Tip: check back soon for a proper author bio on this blog too.


LinkedIn and Cute Black Pumps

9 Mar

At 18 I was managing a small coffee shop and enjoying many many aspects of it. I loved the interactions with customers and having a limitless supply of coffee drinks was very nice too. Aside from the very low pay, the thing I disliked the most about my coffee shop gig was the dress. Sure its nice to be able to roll out of bed 7min before work starts but its also nice to wear cute clothes an open-toed shoes. This was the mindset that prompted my first real job search, I was very open to any number of job options, the only thing I was really set on was that I wanted to be able to wear cute black pumps to work.

And so, at 18 years old I sat down and started revising my resume. To my credit, I did have a number of nice jobs during high-school but it was still the resume of someone that had only been supporting themselves all of 3 months. I worked tediously to express fully the asset I had been at each of my working and volunteer experiences. When all was said and done I had a very nicely formatted page that contained almost no information which would be helpful in attaining the type of job I was searching for. But with great amounts of optimism I started applying to job after job.

After not too long I found a temp agency that placed me in a couple of admin jobs – this was great, it payed well (compared to what I was used to) and I loved the change to a corporate environment. The problem was that the positions were temporary, I stayed anywhere from 2 days to 9 months but no matter how long I was a temp the rules made it very hard for the company to hire me outright. Little did I realize at the time it was this series of small opportunities that would ultimately give me the resources I needed to get the job I was looking for.

Almost a full year after starting my job search I finally landed a position as an office admin in a medical clinic. The dress code included cute black pumps and the atmosphere was just geeky enough that I really thrived and loved going to work. The funny thing was that I didn’t search for this job at all, it was just presented to me. In all honestly I haven’t really searched for a job since that first time at 18. Sure, I’ve had times when I’ve wanted more employment and times when I’ve wanted to adjust the criteria of what I do but its been the better part of a decade since I’ve dealt with truly hitting the pavement for a job.

So how does this happen? How is it that someone can have very little experience but still land a job they want? To be truthful I’ve wondered this myself and spent many a time thankful for my luck. But upon examining things I think there are two factors that likely have a significant influence on my easy job transitions: connections and a positive attitude.

Aside from the temp agency, every job I’ve ever had was acquired because of a recommendation. This is one of if not the most crucial thing that LinkedIn provides as a service. By connecting people to other people they work with and providing a way to see the degrees of separation between the person you know and the person you want to know LinkedIn creates meaningful interactions around networking. Not that facebook and twitter aren’t meaningful, I just wrote last week about the role they can play in job searching, but the networking provided isn’t nearly as powerful as the recommendation from a mutual colleague can be.

LinkedIn connections should be thought about carefully, you may love your goofy cousin but are they someone you’d bring along with you to an interview? If the answer is no, then I’d recommend leaving that relationship for facebook. Another asset of LinkedIn is that you can ask for written recommendations and they are available for viewing by prospective employers as well as all of your connections. I’m not overly active on LinkedIn but I still get contacted once a month or so about a possible gig, and until recently I wasn’t actually searching. This alone makes me really appreciate LinkedIn.

The other key thing I attribute to my past job hunting luck has to do with those black pumps. Indeed my priorities when vetting potential jobs have changed, from simply the most interesting attire experience to things more centered around security and growth, but the approach I take is the same. Searching for work is not about finding the ultimate most perfect job ever – that doesn’t exist. Successful employment is about focusing on the benefits that a job provides (new experiences, connections or even enjoyable tasks) and then moving on in a mutually beneficial way if all of these positive things don’t outweigh the negatives that a job may have. Simply being a happy worker will improve the relationships you have with coworkers and employers while you’re working with them and ensure you many great recommendations once you have departed.

The moral of the story… go visit LinkedIn, and always remember to enjoy nice pair of little black pumps.

Social Job Hunting

4 Mar

I’ve recently found myself in the job market. After 3 years of babies and studies I’ve decided its time to delve back into the type of work in which I have conversations that involve topics outside of elmo and dinosaurs (although I do really like dinosaurs). After a quick revisit to my resume I was stuck by the cold hard fact that I no longer had any idea where to start in hunting for a position.

Linked-In has become an asset for those of us in the tech industry to connect and network around work. But having a profile and a couple of recommendations does not mean job offers will just start pouring in. I decided it was time to seek some assistance with my hunt and create a new job seeking strategy. After reading a multitude of mostly useless articles about how to get a job it was clear that I needed more tailored advise. Kevin Randolph may be one of the most social savvy individuals I’ve met and happens to specialize in this topic specifically.

A good long talk with Kevin gave me insight into the tools social media has to offer to both the job seeker as well as perspective employers. The following highlights some of the key points from Kevin that have inspired me and influenced my social networking employment strategy.

How do you think the internet has changed the job hunting experience?

Initially I thought the internet opened a world of opportunities for job seekers; all the listings you could imagine in one place. Unfortunately that seems to have changed, and like everything good, there is a down-side. Now it seems that a high percentage of job listings online are scams, attempts to collect your personal data, and even your money. The average job seeker online has to now be wary about the post for the great job they’ve seen, for fear that it’s fake, and not only will it be a waste of time to apply, but now a stranger somewhere with a careerbuilder account has their name, physical and email addresses as well as phone number.

Do you think that social networking and social media are key players in finding a job?

It seems now that social media is becoming a key player in job postings/searches. I now make it a point to search twitter for jobs in my area. Granted a lot of the time it takes me to postings I’ve already seen, but there are times when I discover new sites that have a wealth of postings.

What is your best piece of advise for other job seekers?

There are days when I grow frustrated and think it will never end, so my advice to other job seekers is to continue the hunt, and if they feel overwhelmed or lost take a day off from all the submissions to collect yourself and try again the day after.

Do you approach social media with goals? Is it a means to an end or just another tool?

I do not approach social media with goals. I use social media exactly for that, social media. It’s a chance to connect with people with like-interests. Quite honestly because word-of-mouth seems to be the main way people are able to find positions, social media seems to be the best modern representation of that, allowing your online presence to be your brand, thus providing the means to enter the information exchange.

So what does all of this mean for job seeker? What about employers? The short and long of it is that like many other facets of life the job hunt has been affected by social media and we all need to be prepared to accept the changes that come with that. Whether its creating an innovative site like www.KevinNeedsAJob.com or simply networking about your job needs on a regular basis through facebook and twitter, we all will need to take a little more time to remember that online job searching is still about networking and not just submitting resumes.