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Career

5 ways to accelerate your career with your personal brand

By | Career, Coaching, Personal Brand

On Thursday the 24th of May, I was invited to speak at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide for the wine industry’s “women in drinks” event on how to build your personal brand and career. With over 100 women in attendance, in an industry where women represent only 22% in senior leadership roles and then less than 2% at the CEO and Board level, they were extremely keen to know what they can do and should be doing to help them stand out from the crowd.

Having a strong personal brand is a valuable career development strategy – it’s about managing your name, image and people’s experience with you. What do they think and say about you? I shared the 5 C’s of how to build a personal brand, which can contribute and open up further career opportunities:

1. Connections and building relationships – one of the most important factors in building my own personal brand, network and business has been based on building networks and connections. I encouraged the women in the room to think about who their target audience is and then the best ways, platforms and avenues to get front and centre with them. The ability to network inside and outside your organisation is critical to stay relevant and to ensure you don’t become insular, which could become career limiting down the track. Relationships don’t have to have an immediate pay off – it’s best to think more broadly about what access to knowledge you can gain, what you might learn or what influence your relationships might give you. Be curious and open – it’s a strategy I invest in every day.

2. Challenges – think about what challenges you will face in building your personal brand. In Australia, there are 6,900 recruitment firms, as an industry we generate $11.2bill in revenue, we employ 92,000 people and fill approx. 15% of all job vacancies in Australia. The gender ratio is 53% female, however when it comes to recruitment owners, only 28% are female. This is a very saturated market, with very few female business owners in a very male orientated owner market. I saw this as opportunity – away from the traditional (and somewhat outdated) service offering and the same old faces. This presented an exciting challenge to determine how to stand out in the market. Always remember where there is a challenge, there is always a greater opportunity.

3. Core message – once you see an opportunity, determining what do you stand for is the next strategy. When people think of you what comes to mind? You can ask people around you. For me, I used the technique of thinking of 3 words and asking myself, what am I qualified to teach others? Recruitment Retention and Results. I wanted to stand out from the crowd by being a thought leader in this space. My core message has always been recruit the best people, retain them and the results and success will follow. My messaging always has this undertone and link back. This core message becomes what you are known for.

4. Communicate – a great branding strategy is to ensure that you have a clear and consistent tone and story and to decide what is the best way to get your message out there. For me, to share my ideas and content publicly, I started a blog back in 2011. I’ve noticed that many people find it hard to talk about accomplishments (even at interview) or to promote themselves directly. I also see in general, that women struggle more so with this than men, as they don’t want to come across as pushy or aggressive. The best way to get around this is to share all learnings – yes this includes wins, but including stuff ups too is a great strategy to resonate with people and demonstrate an authenticity, which isn’t about self-promotion, it’s about sharing. For me, the blog allows me to share my knowledge and real experiences around leadership, culture and how to hire the highest performing talent in the market. This has been one of the best personal branding strategies in my career – it created the platform for my business Underwood Executive and has led me to new clients, new talent, different relationships and ultimately a successful business.

5. Commitment – building a personal brand takes discipline. It’s a long term commitment to yourself and your career. Some people come out all guns blazing with great gusto messaging through social media or blogging just because they think they should be. It looks like a scattergun approach with no real thought given to the strategy or content. This can be more harmful, as your target audience might make an incorrect assumption about your motive or be confused by your agenda. Do things regularly, post your own content, share others content that is consistent with your thinking, argue articles that don’t align with your thinking and build your profile consistently. That’s what will make you memorable. Once you get known for what you stand for, the right opportunities will come to you.

A personal brand is the single most important and powerful thing you can do for your career. Personal branding isn’t an ego play, it’s an increasingly effective way to differentiate yourself, connect with your audience on a human level and grow a valuable network. It takes time, persistence, energy, dedication and focus. Taking this time to invest in building your personal brand will help set you up for future success.

The reason why you may not be getting a job interview

By | Career, Recruitment

Photo LinkedInWould you go to a cocktail party in your cycling gear? Would you go to a business networking event in your wedding dress? Would you attend a job interview with a glass of wine in your hand? I don’t think so. It begs the question then, why do we see these types of photos being used people’s profile shots on LinkedIn?

In the business of ‘search and recruitment’, we spend a lot of time on LinkedIn – looking for talent and generally getting to know who you are and your experience within industry. This is especially helpful if we are meeting for the first time and want to see what you look like so we don’t approach the wrong person at a café or it may be that we are reviewing resumes and want to see a professional image consistent with your formal application. More and more we find that people are using photos that aren’t helpful, up to date or even remotely professional. Here are some of the biggest blunders we have observed: 

 

  1. No photo – if there is no photo, the assumption can be what’s wrong? What are you trying to hide? The whole point of LinkedIn is to network and increase your professional connections – so you need to be willing to share and help people recall who you are. Putting a face to a name is important.
  1. Using company logos for your profile shot – this is not you or who you are. That is what a company page is for.
  1. Cartoon picture – okay so you might have a good sense of humour, but we like to know who we are dealing with. I’m yet to meet Road Runner in the flesh!
  1. Group shots – hmmm are you the blond or the brunette? Considering this is an individual profile, it should be an individual picture.
  1. Social shot – this is not a dating site. Great that you enjoy cycling, fishing, walks on the beach, sunsets etc, just don’t use them here, save these photos for Facebook.
  1. No “Selfies” – Instagram maybe, but using a professional shot on LinkedIn is your best choice.

We know some of you will find our comments controversial, or you may think well I’m not actively on the job market so who cares – but a good mentor once said to me, think of Facebook as a pub, Twitter as cocktail party and LinkedIn as a networking function. With that in mind, think of your current photo and ask yourself is this how you would present at a professional networking event or a job interview? Having a professional, clear and up to date photo combined with a complete profile with current title and key skills and competencies, will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. Having professional consistency across all platforms is key.

Is your job draining your spirit? 4 ways to see the light

By | Career, Recruitment

light“I hate my job”, “My boss is a control freak”, “I don’t feel valued”, “The moment I see my perfect job advertised, I’m out of here”……

The start of a new year can be an emotional time …. There has been the pressure of getting end of year work finished, the obligation and expectation of Christmas and families and then the burden of setting new goals and getting revved up for the year ahead. I find through our coaching practice, that January is actually one of the hardest months of the year for people to get their mojo back and feel inspired to make changes. It is usually easier to have a whinge, stay stuck in a rut and leave things the way they are.

So far, this year has been no different. We’ve had people in tears describing how much they hate their jobs and their boss, the frustration of there being limited opportunities in the market and we’ve heard every excuse under the sun of why this year will be no different!

Let me ask you this – are you unhappy in your job? Did you get emotional at the very thought of going to work today? Or does the concept of working for your boss for another 12 months make you want to crawl under a large boulder? Yes? Okay here’s the good news – you don’t have a problem. You have an opportunity.

You can A. stay and play the victim, continue to not take responsibility for your unfavourable employment situation and continue to bitch and complain to any person willing to listen or B. you can take charge and do something about it.

Step 1:  What’s really wrong?

Get crystal clear on what is really upsetting you. What is it specifically you don’t like? What are three examples in the past month where you haven’t got the outcome you were wanting at work? Did your boss or colleague rob you of an opportunity? Did you encounter a challenging conflict? Were you unsupported or feel like you your values were compromised? Until you can be really specific about the situations where you felt frustrated, angry or helpless, it is going to be difficult to work out a plan of attack.

Step 2:  Are you prepared to do something about it?

In my experience, the difference between successful people and those who just coast through with complacency is action. Successful people are prepared to take action and know the price – being uncomfortable. This week, I said to a coachee who is extremely unhappy in her job – “do you want this situation to change?”. “Of course!”, she pleaded. “But are you prepared to be outside your comfort zone to get there?”. She got clarity that the responsibility is hers and her’s alone and the journey of change is going to be uncomfortable and certainly at times difficult and emotional.

Step 3:  Knowing what it will take

Once you have accepted the challenge and ditched the ‘victim’ mentality, you will need a specific strategy on what you are going to do. Will you give your boss constructive feedback? Are you going to communicate directly and more effectively when you are feeling unhappy or unsupported? Will you brave enough to ask for what you want? Will you put a plan in place to get your desired outcome?

Step 4:  Action junkie

Just do it! Don’t over-think things, don’t make it harder that it needs to be, don’t get bogged down in the “what if’s”. Day in day out, give yourself the permission and commitment to do something about it. Wise words were once given to me that propelled me into action – life is too short to work with dickheads!

You only have one life! If you are consistently having those days where you are unfilled and wondering what you are doing, that you are not learning or growing in your current work situation or you find yourself dreading every interaction with your leader – it’s a sign that things could be better. When you’re brave enough to make that step, you will not only inspire yourself, but others around you to follow your lead and not accept the status quo. Sometimes it’s just time to move on – go on, do something about it, no-one else will do it for you!

 

How to deal with job-hunting rejection

By | Career, Confidence, Recruitment

job rejectionLast week my article “3 ways to nail a job interview” was published by Women’s Agenda.

24 hours later I received an email from a frustrated job seeker who after being made redundant is struggling with the rejection of job seeking.  She is finding it increasingly difficult to stay confident and positive.

She writes:

“It’s starting to get pretty tough to persevere. I’m confident in my ability, I know why my skills outweigh my limitations and I bring personality in spades, but the reality is that job hunting is darn hard work and rejection is difficult to endure. Let’s talk about that.”

I have no doubt that “Samantha” isn’t alone. Finding a new job, let alone your perfect job, is hard. It is a full time commitment that requires research, preparation, networking, building relationships, investment, time and fortitude. It also often means rejection, frustration and disappointment.

When you are struggling to stay positive, how do you keep on going?

  1. Focus – do you have a clear career plan? Make sure you reflect on what you enjoy doing, what you are good at as well as aspects of previous jobs and cultures you haven’t enjoyed. Getting clear on your desire and creating a vision of where you ultimately want to be in your career will keep you focused and inspired when the going gets tough. Look at all your options realistically, what’s required and what action you can take right now to get one step closer.
  2. Optimism – the proverb ‘this too shall pass’ might sound flippant right now when you are constantly receiving “thanks, but no thanks” letters.  However, this is a moment in time that you can find positives in.  Who have you met on this journey? What extra time has this created in your schedule to do the things you love, that when working a 5 day week you couldn’t seem to fit in? There are always silver linings – you just need to be looking for them.
  3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable – this is one of the biggest discoveries that set successful people apart.  When you are uncomfortable you are learning and doing something different is more likely to generate a different result. If you keep doing what you have always done you will always get what you have always got. Try different things! If you are just applying for jobs on Seek, try something else – update your LinkedIn profile, connect with new people or ask someone who is doing the job you want out for a coffee.
  4. Feedback – gaining real and honest feedback about why you didn’t win a job is extremely helpful.  Most of the time you are simply told, “there was a more experienced candidate” or “we went with someone else” – nothing that is going to help your interview performance next time around that’s for sure. Asking for feedback is tricky. It requires you to be gracious and open to constructive criticism. The golden rule is never get defensive. This will ensure an automatic shut down from the other person and there goes your chances of finding out honest and real information that will help next time around. Be courageous, ask the question and make the other person feel comfortable and safe to give you this information honestly.
  5. Call in an expert – still getting nowhere? Just like professional athletes have coaches to help achieve their ultimate goals, consider paying an expert to help achieve yours. An expert in this area can assess your resume, critique your cover letter or role-play an interview with you. When you are paying someone for a service you can expect to get the honest answers you are seeking.
  6. Persistence – the ability to press on when you feel like quitting will set you apart in a competitive market. You could be just one more application away from winning your next job. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Getting the result you are after means taking action. More action. Consistently. If you don’t – nothing will change. Keep your focus on the overall plan and what you want – this will help keep you on track.

Finding a new job can be “terrifying” and sometimes all the research, preparation plus your new outfit and positive attitude still won’t get you across the line. Try not to take it personally and don’t let rejection get the better of you. Keep going! See the opportunity to practice, learn and improve. The right opportunity is out there for you. Keep focused on your ultimate goal and remember these experiences build character!