Discovering Your Personal Brand Vocabulary

Discovering Your Personal Brand Vocabulary

vocabularyDo you have a personal brand vocabulary?

What words do you use to describe yourself? These should be words that describe yourself personally and professionally.

I am currently working with two clients who are struggling with finding their personal brand vocabulary.  Here are a couple of methods to discover your personal brand vocabulary.

How do people describe you?

The reality is, you probably do not know how people describe you. You may think you know, but do you really?

Pick 6-12 people who you trust and ask them for the following:

  • Please give me 3-5 words or phrases that describe me.
  • If I were an animal, what animal would I be? Okay only give this one to people you really trust!

Evenly divide the list between people who know you from work and friends from outside of work.

I will almost guarantee you that you will be surprised at the answers. I have heard clients say, “I never thought people saw me in that way,” or “I know I am a certain way, but I did not think people saw it in me.”

What words do you want to use to describe yourself professionally?

This is where keywords come into play. This vocabulary list should contain words and phrases you use commonly. It should also include words and phrases that are commonly used within your industry.

What if you are pivoting your career or changing industries? Harvest the vocabulary from LinkedIn!

This is where LinkedIn Advanced Search comes into play.

What job title(s) do you want? Fill out the title field with each job title you might want. If you want to narrow by industry, click the check boxes of the industries that you want to search. Finally, fill in your current zip code or the zip code where you might want to relocate to in the Postal Code field and set the appropriate range (it defaults to 50 miles or 80 kilometers). Click on Search.

You now have a list of 100+ people in your network who have a title similar to the one you want. Look at each profile in the following fields:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Current job description

Do you see a set of common phrases? You may want to automate this process a bit using a word cloud tool like Wordle or Tagcrowd. Read this article Finding Keywords to Manage Your Career [Video] to learn more.

What you are looking for is the vocabulary that is commonly used by everyone else!

What next?

Combine the two lists and then weave these phrases into you resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and your day to day language. The key is to be consistent when you write material that you will post in Social Media.

Once you have discovered your personal brand vocabulary, use it everywhere to create a consistent brand.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Volunteering to Get a Job – Guest Post

Volunteering to Get a Job

VolunteeringThe advice to “volunteer to get a job” when you’re looking for employment shows up everywhere. It’s one of those pieces of advice that sounds easy when it’s on paper, but job seekers who have actually tried to follow the advice discover that it’s anything but. Often, the non-profits you’d like to volunteer for, don’t have volunteer positions. Even if they do, they’re often for low level jobs like envelope stuffing that wouldn’t help you even if you did put it on your resume.

In this post, I’d like to show you what those other books and articles simply don’t talk about: The nitty-gritty of how to actually get resume relevant work through volunteering, using a process I call the skill-bridge technique.

Step 1: Decide What Skills You’d like to Develop

The first step to getting resume relevant work is to figure out what skills you’d like on your resume. Make a list of all the skills needed for your desired job title, and find the weak points on your resume. What skills are critical for the job but for which you don’t have much (if any) experience?

Step 2: Figure out what the organization needs

The next step is to do a bit of networking. This can be through volunteering at the organization in the low level jobs mentioned earlier, or through going to events that people from the non-profit will be at in high attendance. The goal is to have conversations with people who work there, and figure out two or three issues that are on everybody’s mind. What are the top problems, challenges, and opportunities that the organization is facing?

Step 3: Show the organization how your skills can solve their problems.

The final step takes a little bit of creativity. The goal is to figure out how you can use your desired skills to tangibly effect the problems, challenges, and opportunities that you identified. Then, ask one of your contacts at the company for the email address of a decision maker. Send them a short email saying that your contact gave you their information, and create a crisp, clear proposal showing how you can help solve their problem using your skill (for free).

Conclusion

If all goes well, you’ll take on a relevant project that will not only fill in the gaps on your resume, but also give you passionate advocates and connections who know you can solve problems, and will assist you in your job search.

Interested in seeing how a real life job-seeker used this strategy to go from administrative assistant to business analyst? Listen to the original interview here!

About The Author:

Matt Goldenberg is the creator of the Skill Bridge Technique and the founder of Self-Made Renegade, a website for liberal arts grads and career changers who’d like to get their dream jobs.

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for September 6

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

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Career

Social Media

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Baby Boomers

Career Pivot

 

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

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Do You Have a Plan B for Your Career

Do You Have a Plan B for Your Career?

plan bYou have probably been told that you should have a Plan B. What if something does not work out?

How about having a Plan B for your career?

I entered the job market in the 1970s when I expected to work for one employer for most of my career. Well, that lasted 22 years and I have had six in the last 16 years. Most of those transitions were planned, which means I planned very well, or that I was lucky!

What should you be prepared for?

Cyclical Professions

In my most recent past, I have been involved in the two very cyclical professions:

  • Recruiting
  • Learning and Development (Training)

Recruiters are the first hired when the economy picks up AND the first to be let go when the economy slows down.

Learning and development professionals know that their mission can easily be eliminated.

Ask any recruiter or trainer whether they have a Plan B for their career.

Mergers and Acquisitions

I have worked for two successful tech startups that were acquired. Both eventually started to lay staff off. This can be due to eliminating redundant positions, or because expectations of growth after an acquisition are not attained.

Rarely has there been a merger or acquisition where layoffs do not eventually follow! It may take a couple of years but…

If you work for a company where an acquisition or merger is possible, you better have a Plan B for your career!

Patents

I currently have multiple clients in the pharmaceutical industry. Many companies have patents on pharmaceuticals that are going to expire in the next few years. Several of these companies and announced multi-year staff reduction plans.

Patent protection is key to profitability in many industries, but when the patents expire it is like going over a cliff. Profits dry up over night!

If you work in the pharmaceutical industry or any other industry dependent on patent protection, you should always have a Plan B.

Economic Bubbles

We all know what happened in the last two recessions. Having worked in the semi-conductor and telecommunications industry during the dot com bubble, I knew the end was coming and acted accordingly. Similarly, I was working in the non-profit industry raising money from the financial industry at the beginning of the great recession. In hindsight, I saw the collapse coming but did nothing about it. I got lucky and moved to a safe place in late 2007.

If things seem just too good to be true, you need a Plan B!

Unforeseen Situations

Sometimes stuff just happens. I recently wrote about being put in a highly unethical position by my employer. I had a Plan B already in place, but I was not prepared to act quickly enough.

What will you do if your employer places you in an untenable position? Do you have a Plan B?

If you follow the steps of the Targeted Job Search, you will always be prepared to move to your next position.

You never know when you will need a Plan B for your career.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Are You Defined by Your Job?

Defined by Your Job?

definedFor many of us, our own self image is defined by our jobs. When someone loses their job, they may feel they no longer have value or purpose.

This topic was brought about by Dustin McKissen, who wrote a post called If You Lose Your Job, Remember This. Dustin wrote about his father after losing his job:

My dad is also good at more than just building things—he is a good guy, with a good heart, and people love him. I love him. He is a great Grandpa.

But when he lost his job, he lost part of himself.

When you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, the search to find that missing piece can take you to some very dark places. It did for my dad, and much of the last 15 years have been hard on him, and the people that care about him.

My Own Father

My father was an economist for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In 1978, my father was handed a retirement package and was asked to leave. He was in his late 50s and was not ready to retire. Financially, my father and mother were fine. The retirement package kept my mother living well into her 80s.

However, the retirement package killed my father. It took another 15 years, but it killed him.  His entire self image was defined by his job. Dad had twice pursued a PhD in economics, but each time a child came along, he put it aside. When he pursued University teaching positions, he was always turned down. He did not have the paper credentials.

He eventually landed a teaching position at York College, but by that time, he was pretty beat up. His mental health declined and that is what eventually killed him. He was defined by his job.

IBM Meltdown

During the holiday season of 1992, I ruptured the L4/L5 disc in my back. I decided to take three months of disability and let my back heal rather than be operated on. I do not like doctors with sharp implements.

While I was gone, IBM nearly went bankrupt. IBM discontinued the famous full employment pledge. Thousands of employees were given generous retirement packages to leave. Just like my father, who would pass away a few months later, this was a death sentence for many. They viewed themselves as IBMers. It was who they were.

When I returned to work in early April of 1993, I was clear. I had had a moment of clarity while I was out on disability. I saw what was important to me and it was not my job. I was not defined by my job.

My definition of myself was further reenforced by what I saw when I returned to IBM.

How We Forget!

Fast forward a few years later. I left IBM on my terms in January of 2000. I went to work for a successful high-tech startup, Agere, which was acquired by Lucent. Then, in July of 2002 I had another moment of clarity: I had a near fatal bicycle accident.  I had a head on collision with a Toyota Corolla, where our combined speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour. By the way, I lived!

The following year, I pursued getting my Texas High School Math teaching certificate. I taught high school math at an inner city school for almost two years. I was very successful. It tore me up emotionally and physically.

When I left teaching, I was lost. I wrote a post on this called Dealing with that Directionless Feeling, which is found daily on Google search.

Ten years earlier, I became determined not to be defined by my job, but I was struggling…just like my father! The difference now was I wanted to be defined by my life purpose and not my job.

Job Club

I have served on the board of directors of Launch Pad Job Club since 2006. I have seen many who have been laid off who struggle with the lose of self image. Whether the job loss was involuntary like my father and fellow IBMers or voluntary like my departure from teaching. It still stinks!

I have to go back to the time when I returned to IBM and remind myself it is my choice on how I define myself.

I am not defined by my job! I desire to be defined by my life’s purpose!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for August 30

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

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Social Media

Baby Boomer

Career

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Does Your Personality Mesh with Your Career

Personality Mesh with Your Career?

personalityYour personality is a key factor in finding happiness in your career. Unfortunately, when we make our initial career choices, we may ignore certain key traits or just focus on where we can make the most money.

Kinetic Programmer

I learned to program computers in high school in the early 1970s. Yes, they had computers back then!

I decided to study computer science at the Northwestern University Technological Institute, which is now the McCormick School of Engineering. I loved to solve problems. I enjoyed writing programs in a variety of languages, even assembler code. I would often find myself writing programs for a couple of hours at a time.

I graduated in 1978 and went to work for IBM.  My job was to program the latest trend—word processors. I was supposed to sit in my office for eight hours a day with a coding pad and write assembler code. This kind of code is directly translatable into computer instructions (it is very tedious to program and hardly anyone does it anymore). Once I was done writing a significant amount of code, I would sit at my desk and review it. Then my team would get together and perform code reviews.

The problem with this is that I am a very high-energy guy. I cannot sit at a desk for more than an hour at a time. I am social. I like being around people. My personality was not suited to just sitting behind the desk and programming for hours at a time.

I spent six years being miserable before I moved into a new role where I no longer wrote programs, but supported Computer Aided Design (CAD) systems. I got to work with people, solve problems, and often got to work with my hands.

I was not genuinely happy until I moved into a training function where I taught the latest technologies developed at IBM. That transition took over ten long years.

My personality with the need for high activity was in direct conflict with sitting at a desk for long hours as a computer programmer. My personality did not mesh with my career choice.

Structured Anarchist

I have a client who has been a finance guy in the non-profit sector for most of his career . He appears to be very structured and orderly.

After graduating from college with a liberal arts degree, he became a non-profit executive director. He decided to get an MBA from a prestige business school because they had a non-profit track in their curriculum.  When he started the program and was sitting with his advisor, he asked when he would get to take the non-profit courses. After a few perplexing questions his advisor said “We should have removed those from the course catalog years ago.” Despite this, he stuck it out and finished his MBA in Finance.

He appears to structured and orderly, but he only works well when it is his structure. He is really good at creating order out of chaos, but once he finishes, he gets bored. He wants another problem to solve.

He has been in one non-profit organization after another, fixing the problems, then getting bored and leaving.

He is now building sales programs. He does not sell! He creates sales systems and then trains sales partners on how to implement them. He creates the structure and gets to interact with people to implement that structure. Not your typical finance guy.

His personality told everyone that he was very orderly, but his need for very little outside structure caused people to place him in positions where there was already a lot of structure…that he could not change. Therefore, he was often unhappy.

It was only after he sought out a role that was compatible with his personality, rather waiting than being placed in a role, that he was happy. He became proactive and not reactive.

The Challenge

Just because you are good at something does not mean you will want to do it for a career. We are often pushed into career paths because we appear to have certain traits. I wrote previously a post titled Are You Your Authentic Self at Work.

Just because we have certain talents does not mean you can apply them in the business world.  Just ask artists and musicians about applying their talents in the business world. This is why it is important to try a career before you fully commit. Try before you buy!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for August 23

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Multi-Generational Workplace

Social Media

Job Search

Career

Baby Boomers

Career Pivot

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

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Probing for Pain Points in an Interview

Probing for Pain Points?

Probing for Pain PointsProbing for pain points should be one of your first steps in an interview. Every business has problems. Your first job is to ask probing questions to uncover those pain points.

Initial Phone Screen

Most of the time in the interview process, there will be an initial phone screen with either a recruiter or HR professional. Your first questions should include:

  • Is this a newly created position?
  • What are the responsibilities of the position?
  • Are these responsibilities new to the department, organization, or company?
  • What are the new business requirements that are causing you to fill this position?

What you are looking for is insight into whether this is a newly created position and whether these are new responsibilities. If it is new, then they are likely working on solving an existing problem. If it an existing position, why is the position currently vacant?

You want to be a detective. Ask probing questions to look for problems. You are looking for problems that you know how to solve!

Post Phone Screen

Now you need to do your research. Check on LinkedIn to see who currently or in the near past had the title for this job. Did this person leave the company or move to a different department? Connect with this person on LinkedIn and ask for 15 minutes on the phone to ask for AIR,  advice, insights and recommendations.

If they left the company, ask them why. You may find that you do not want to work there!

If they moved to a new department, ask them whether it was a lateral move or a promotion. If it was a promotion, make sure to congratulate them. If it was a lateral move, ask about the business reasons for the move.

Carefully read anything and everything about the company, looking for pain points. It may be that the company is growing fast or moving into new markets, or that sales have stalled. What are the potential problems?

Interview Questions

Bring a minimum of five pain point questions with you to the interview. They should be open-ended questions to uncover problems that you have already thought about—know how you would solve them!

  • Are you satisfied with current growth of the business?
  • Are you meeting service level agreement targets with all of you important clients?
  • What are the areas where you are having problems meeting deadlines?

Notice that all of these are open-ended questions. Your goal is to get the interviewer to give you insight into the pain points that you know how to solve.

Pain Points Uncovered

Once the pain points have been uncovered, you can explain how you have solved these problems in the past.

The best way to do this is to tell stories how you previously solved the same or similar problems for your employer.

Let me tell you about the time when I encountered …..

This demonstrates that you have the skills to do the job.

So plan on being a detective. By asking good probing questions looking for pain points shows that you have done your homework about their business. The more you uncover the better you can demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

When Your Ethical Boundaries are Crossed

Ethical Boundaries

Ethical BoundariesWe all have ethical boundaries. We know what we think is ethical behavior at work, but what do you do when your ethical boundaries are crossed?

Have you really thought what you would do if asked to do something that you considered unethical?

Have you considered what you would do if your boss or others in corporate management did something that you considered unethical?

Until a little over four years ago, I had never really thought about it. That was, until my last employer was acquired. I started to see changes in behavior in the senior management that concerned me.

We were also in the middle of the great recession. We were hiring when many other companies were laying staff off.

It started with a director who tried to hire a close relative. The relative interviewed for a lower level position and was about to get an offer when this individual’s background check did not pass corporate guidelines.

There was a sigh of relief that could be felt throughout the office.

This was not in my management chain, but it was a warning—and I ignored it. It was 2010, and the economy still was in the tank.

Pushing Against My Ethical Boundaries

Several months later, I received a resume from a senior executive. It was the resume of a close relative that the senior executive wanted me to consider for an open position.

The problem was that this individual was not even vaguely qualified.

I was then pressured by my boss to interview this individual. I should have started to make plans to leave!

It was a phone interview, and I explained that he was not qualified for the current position. I also offered advice on where he might want to look for employment in the city where his qualifications would be valued.

To make a long story short, I was pressured to interview this individual in person. I did so against my better judgement.

I refused to hire the individual.

My boss then created a position working for him directly and hired the relative. I found this out through indirect channels.

What to do next?

I had not created a Plan B. I knew it was coming, but I ignored the possibility.

I confronted my boss and was told it was a done deal.  There was nothing I could do about it. I was even expected to train the individual for the newly created position. My ethical boundaries were crossed!

I strategically did the following:

  • Kept my mouth shut. I mentioned that my ethical boundaries had been crossed to my HR representative, but when asked whether to carry this up the management chain, I said no. I trusted no one!
  • Consulted my financial adviser. It was comforting talking to someone about the financial risk and having it confirmed that I was making a rational financial decision.
  • Finished the legal paper work to create my business. My business plans were already in the works. I accelerated everything by 9-12 months.
  • Calculated to the day when I would give two weeks notice and get the greatest financial benefit. This included getting my quarterly bonus, getting within 14 days of my next options vesting, and having the company pay for health insurance for the rest of the month.

It was three months from the time I confronted my boss to when I turned in my resignation. This was a miserable three months.

I wish I had spent time formulating a Plan B when I got the first indication of bad ethical behavior. My mistake!

I had never thought about what I would do if my ethical boundaries were crossed. I now teach in the Targeted Job Search to always be prepared to leave your current job.

You never know when you might be laid off or have your ethical boundaries crossed.

Do you have a Plan B?

Do you have a similar story to tell? What did you do?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group