personal branding

A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties

Sometimes I let my vocation boss around my self-esteem.

When I’m satisfied with my work, I feel like a rockstar. When I’m working under my potential or my strengths and assets aren’t recognized, I can feel like a speck of lint.

I’m not what I do, but especially living in DC area, what you do seems almost more important than who you are. You start to feel this way when at parties you’re introduced as, “Sally the the Social Media Coordinator,” “Joe who works in public health,” or when, right out of the gate you’re asked “So what do you do?” Sure I’m guilty of this too. It’s a great conversation starter, but writer Cadence Turpin reminds us resumes are just paper, people are more than what they do, and she offers:

 A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties

In an effort to continually remind ourselves we are more than our work, perhaps we should even start introducing ourselves this way.

What Do Employers Really Want?

http://teacher-express.com/Review_Resume.html

I’ve written about how to not get the job, what clothes to wear to networking events, and personal branding, but I recently had the opportunity to participate in applicant screenings and interviews and understand what employers really want. While my previous tips on professionalism hold true, here are just a few more tweaks that could mean the difference between the “yes” pile or the “almost” pile.

Be Brief

While you might feel like your resume is the platform to describe every detail of your work experience, it’s not. That’s called an interview. Human Resources screens dozens of applications everyday. Do the screeners a kindness and state your skills as briefly as possible. And words aren’t the only thing that matter–guide the reader through your resume by paying special attention to your layout. Incorporate the following:

  • Bullet points. See what I did there? Bullet points say, “Hey, look at me! I’m important.”
  • Consistency. Don’t distract your reader with mismatched fonts and inconsistent layout. Choosing an outline style with consistent font, weights, and visual elements keeps the focus on you.
    • White space. See what I did there, again? White space directs attention to the true focal point. So start thinking of your resume as a piece of art. It doesn’t have to be a Picasso or a Warhol, but is it pleasing to look at? Or are your eyes crying for a place to rest?

Your resume is a marketing piece. Make it enticing to read and appealing to view.

Be Relevant

I’m about to get controversial–and I’m not a hiring expert–so take or leave this advice: If you have enough relevant work experience, don’t start your resume with your educational background. I mean, are you applying for college or are you applying for a job? Two reasons:

  1. Sure, it’s important to be educated and your commitment to a 4-year degree makes a great statement about your drive and your ambition, but leading with education places too much significance on having a degree, and not enough on your experience. Which leads me to reason #2. . .
  2. Perhaps you’ve been fortunate to work some great internships or field projects, but more often than not, educational experience brings theoretic skills to the table. Employers want relevant skills and real results. Lead with real experience.

Be You

The applications that stand out are sprinkled with personality. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and use unconventional descriptions. Do you consider yourself a word nerd, a tech genius, a financial wizard? Say so, then deliver. My resume says “I eat tight deadlines for breakfast.” Guess what my new office mates remember about me?

Look, there’s no doubt that job searching stinks, but if I could offer any encouragement, it’s this: competition is stiff. If you weren’t called or you didn’t make it past the first round of interviews, it isn’t necessarily because you weren’t great. It just means one of the other applicant’s skill sets more closely aligned with the job description.

The difference between the “yes” and the “almost” pile is often razor thin. So do your best to make your resume sharp.

How Your Clothes Could Score You a Job

dresssuccess_sm

Remember those networking tips for introverts we talked about last week? I took my own advice and hauled my fanny into D.C. for a media networking event last night. My inner hermit grumbled the whole drive, but I reminded him that I only had to make one or two connections, keep people talking, and it was A-OK to leave early. Plus, I was wearing a bright new dress and my most confidence-inspiring ankle booties–I was ready!

If there is one tip I left off of my list, it’s wear something that makes you feel good.

There are three reasons for this:

  1. If you look good, you feel good.
  2. If you feel good, you’re more confident.
  3. And if you’re more confident, people notice.

I could add a fourth reason too: your personal style can even break the ice! That’s exactly how I met my first connection, and then my second connection, and my third. One even snatched me an hors d’oeuvre as a “best-dressed award.”

After an hour an a half, I had made two solid connections, recruited one person to join my organization’s membership, and exited gracefully. My inner hermit was pleased to be home by 8:30.

Success? I’d say so. I’ll have to write TJMaxx a thank you note.

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

overqualified

As a managing editor, a lot of interesting books cross my desk from authors soliciting their work, hoping for a byline. Sometimes a little crowd gathers in my office around mail time. Like last week, when I received the title “Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office,” by Lois P. Frankel. The book caused a stir with a few coworkers who feel their niceness causes people to overlook them.

Boy do I understand! I look way younger and way sweeter than I actually am. How’s a nice girl supposed to get any respect? So I did the only natural thing you do in this situation: I started a “Nice Girls” book club. Each afternoon, we meet in my office for 10 minutes to share a chapter, talk about how to transform our “nice girl” image, and give each other some personal feedback.

What’s the opposite of a “nice girl,” you ask? If you’re thinking of a word that begins with a “w” and is followed by an itch, you’re half right. It’s a “winning woman.” A winning woman knows who she is, what she has to offer, and how to leverage her qualities. Last week, my book buddies and I took a quiz to assess our winning strengths and weaknesses. It came as no surprise that I scored lowest in marketing myself. I’ve always preferred listening. I was taught it is obnoxious to brag and that nice girls are sweet and quiet. So I’ve struggled to figure out the difference between bragging and confidently stating the facts about my value, skills, and accomplishments. I’m learning, but it’s uncomfortable. And on the really hard days, I will comfort myself with the knowledge that I scored highest on physical appearance/presentation: no one may know who I am, or what I am capable of, but at least I look fabulous!

I digress.

Maybe you’re thinking but you write about yourself all the time! True. But can I tell you a secret? Even that is uncomfortable. Yet I believe God gave me a gift and a calling. I’m not really looking for a corner office. But I don’t want to hide my qualities either.

So what’s step one in becoming a winning woman? Frankel encourages knowing your personal brand. What do you do? What do you like about it? Why are you good at it? Start by listing two or three tasks you’re good at and why you enjoy them. Then weave your answers into an elevator pitch.

Example

  1. I am good at listening; I enjoy learning about people and helping them meet their goals.
  2. I am good at writing; I like weaving facts into story form.
  3. I am good at meeting deadlines; I like having tangible goals with a beginning and end.

Pitch

I work for a business education nonprofit where I manager 13 annual publications geared toward training the next generation of business leaders. I love learning about our members and writing stories about their accomplishments that encourage and inspire our 250,000+ readership. Meeting deadlines for this many publications is a challenge, but I love the feeling of a job done well . . . and on time!

The next time you’re at a party or networking sessions and someone asks “What do you do?”, tell them and market your skills. You never know who’s listening, or what opportunities they hold.

What about you? Do you have a hard time tooting your own horn? Why or why not?