This Week in PCM : Reputation Management as You Climb the Corporate Ladder

Reputation Management

 

Climbing the corporate ladder is an arduous task. It can consume a lot of time, energy and resources. Although most people focus outwardly on people and skills, establishing and protecting your reputation is critical towards your ascent. Reputation management is essential throughout your career. I will document how I have crafted and protected my reputation from entry-level, mid-career to senior-level.

Entry-Level

Protecting my reputation as a junior economist was about my showcasing my tactical skills (how well and fast I process data). I was judged on how I programmed in SAS and Excel. At the entry-level, registering for continuing education courses to improve your tactical skills are a vital part of preserving your reputation. However, do not stop there. It was important that you are establish yourself as a leader because you needed to develop strategic skills. In order to move from entry-level to mid-career, you needed to show that you were more than a worker bee. As a junior economist, I discovered new estimates and data sources. These two things set me a part from other junior economists moving me up to mid-career.

Mid-Career       

As I transitioned from entry-level to mid-career, I balanced both tactical and strategic skills. Protecting my reputation at the mid-career level meant still displaying my tactical processing data skills; but I also had to manage more autonomy. Autonomy was the beginning of my developing my strategic planning skills. I was no longer an entry-level employee whose boss had to watch my every move.  In addition, I applied for a leadership development program to learn more about the entire department not just my immediate agency. Strategic planning meant having a global perspective; whereas, tactical planning meant having a local perspective. As a mid-career economist, I had to know how my work fit into the bigger cog of the wheel. I was selected to participate in the leadership development program. Upon graduating from this program, I became the lead for a methodology change project due to my leadership program. Furthermore, that program let me network outside of my current workplace which was crucial because your network equaled your net worth.

Another thing setting me a part from my mid-career colleagues were being open to change. Although I led a project, I did not feel that I advanced as far as I anticipated so I started learning project management. This came about from seeing one of my leadership development participants took a temporary assignment and received a promotion. I asked her how she got promoted and her response was taking management analyst slot. This was a different job than economist. It made me realize that I had to diversify my skillset. I had to be open to getting a senior-level promotion in another position besides being an economist.

Flexibility was a key differentiator between those whom ascend to the top job. You had to become flexible with the result. When I earned project management certification, I told myself that I was okay with the reality that my next promotion may not come at the same employer. A lot of people said that they wanted change but wanted to stay in their current job. That was unrealistic which was why most mid-career professionals did not get the senior-level promotions.

Senior-Level

At the senior-level it was 100% strategic planning. You were now responsible for drafting the overall company’s mission. Yes, knowing how to do an entry-level job might be okay but you were getting paid the big bucks to make strategic decisions. Here your reputation lied in developing your leadership, negotiation and public speaking skills. I leveraged my previous Toastmaster International speaking skills towards presenting to upper management. As a senior-level employee, you had to overcome your fear of being the leader because people were looking towards you for guidance.

Constant throughout your career

Continued education and professional development would serve you throughout your career. You were your biggest investment; and, if you did not invest in yourself don’t expect your employer to do it. Yes, many companies had leadership development program and tuition assistance for employees. I used them to receive a promotion; however, I budgeted my own check towards paying for math classes and my two certifications. When I accepted my junior economist position, I had only algebra    I. During the next 3 ½ years, I completed precalculus, calculus I, calculus II, calculus III, linear algebra and advanced statistics. In addition, I paid for two project management exam prep courses, the study guide materials and online courses to sits for the CAPM and PMP. You cannot be so dependent upon the company for career advancement. Investing in yourself had an enormous benefit: your company would see you as a self-starter giving you more responsibility and opportunities.

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This Week in PCM : Spring Clean Your Career

03272016 spring-clean-career

 

Spring cleaning is not just for your house. It can also be used for your career. Spring is a great time to dust off the cobwebs of your professional brand to make it stronger. If you want more opportunities this year, you must spruce up your brand. Here are my five tips towards spring cleaning your career.

Review your mission statement

You have to have a centralized focus in order to make any kind of progress. Before you spruce your resume and LinkedIn profile, write down what your mission statement is. What do you what to accomplish? There are too many people aimlessly wandering throughout their lives and careers. Don’t be one of them! You need to have a roadmap in order to (safely) arrive at your destination. A solid mission statement serves as the guide for the rest of your career package.

Dust off your resume

Your resume is a dynamic document not a static one. Therefore, you must update it at least twice a year. Have you done anything new this year? If so, is it on your resume? The biggest mistake people make is that they update their LinkedIn profiles but not their resumes. This is a grave error because most potential employers request your resume before viewing your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, if key information is missing then you will not be considered although you have the experience. Your resume and LinkedIn profile should have the same current information on it. If these documents aren’t aligned, then you can be missing out of numerous opportunities. Furthermore, some employers may think that you are trying to hide something.

Ensuring that your resume is properly formatted is another key consideration. Make sure that all of your fonts are legible and scannable. Yes, sometimes you want to try out the newest fonts available, but I recommend that you learn if they are scannable. If they aren’t, then the computer databases cannot read your resume and you’re automatically disqualified from the job.

Finally, please remember that your resume is not an autobiography. It should be longer than 2 pages. It should have all relevant information. Although some experts say up to 10 years, if you’ve experienced a lot of career change, then certain positions are irrelevant even though they fit the 10-year time frame. For example, you have been in the workforce for ten years and you are now a mid-career professional. There is no need to continually list your undergraduate internship just because it fits in the 10-year time frame. Your resume should serve as a snapshot.  That internship can stay on your LinkedIn profile.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

I must start this section off with a bold statement regarding photos:

Stop it with the cookout, selfie, driver’s side and Glamour Shot profile photos! No potential employer wants to see you (and your seat belt) as your LinkedIn profile photo. Selfies are not professional photos. Please take the time and money to invest in a couple of professional photos. Your personal brand is at stake!

Whoosa! I have seen far too many people upload camera phone photos on LinkedIn. These make you look very bad. There are several places (Sears, JC Penney’s, Walgreens, etc.) that offer affordable business professional photo options. Remember, every photo taken is not multi-platform. This is LinkedIn not Instagram.

Your LinkedIn profile format is important too. Make sure that you have uniformity in bullets, numbers and italicized words. Another thing I would recommend is requesting new recommendations from LinkedIn connections. Having new recommendations increase your visibility. In addition, if you have received a new certification, completed a new report and given a new presentation, then upload it onto your profile. LinkedIn now has those capabilities. Moreover, you can upload your presentations onto SlideShare which is owned by LinkedIn for greater visibility.

Finally, you can optimize your name field by adding a few certifications and degrees. For instance, my name is Carla Jenkins, MBA, PMP. One or two is enough. You don’t want to go overboard listing every certification that you’ve acquired. Although I have CAPM and CSM, I don’t list them because you want your name field to be crisp instead of jumbled. More importantly, listing all of these certifications might make you appear as a professional test taker instead of someone with real-world experience. Employers do value certifications, but they also expect work proficiency.

Conduct a Gap Analysis

Ask yourself this question: right now do you have the skills necessary to realize your mission statement? If the answer is no, what classes do you need to take in order to acquire those skills? Make a list of things that you need to obtain. I would recommend joining a local Meetup.com group. These are one of the cheapest ways to acquire new skills. There is a Meetup for everything. Every Meetup has people who already work in the fields and companies you aspire. This is a built-in network right there. These participants know all of the players and the ways to infiltrate the system. Moreover, Meetup workshops are cheaper than the average continuing education course. Meetups allow you to mind the gap and your wallet at the same time. Here is my article on Self-Investment is the Best Investment where I list other low-cost options towards. You can check it out here: http://positivitychange.com/2015/10/this-week-in-positive-change-management-self-investment-is-the-best-investment/

Hire a Professional

There is nothing wrong with hiring a resume writer or career counselor to spruce up your resume, LinkedIn profile or personal brand. Remember, you only have a limited amount of hours in the day to do everything. You can research your options or ask your colleagues if they have had someone revamp their profiles. I would recommend visiting the Better Business Bureau so that you don’t get scammed out of your hard earned money.

These 5 recommendations will help spruce up your professional brand now and well beyond springtime. Visit PositivityChange for tips to manage positive change effectively in your personal and professional lives.

How to Reposition Your Brand when You Switch Careers

01272016 Reposition

In today’s workforce, it is rare that you will stay in your same position your entire career. You will move into other positions and even other companies. When you do, your brand will shift along with the move. For example, you start as a customer service representative in the call center. After 3 years, your department’s manager sees that you are really good at your job so you get promoted to customer relationship management (CRM) assistant in the market research division. Although you are in the same department (customer service), you are no longer talking with customers every day. You are now processing customer data to generate effective marketing campaigns. There are a lot of changes here. Not only have you been promoted but your new job is vastly different from your old job. Your professional brand has shifted and you need to reposition yourself for your new job. Below are my tips:

Pivot on your competitive advantage. In branding, competitive advantage is called your brand promise.

You must now discover what you do well on the new job. Using the CRM assistant as an example, your competitive advantage is that you can spot outliers in the data because you’ve spoken with the actual customers. This background knowledge helps you know that certain transactions are not in the correct group.

Over the course of my career, I have repositioned my brand five times (thus far). I have had to reposition my brand when I relocated from Cleveland to DC; promoted from economist to Program Analyst; became CAPM certified; transitioned from the public sector to private sector and, moving from employee to employer. Each time, I have to rely on a new competitive advantage to reposition my brand for greater success.

Identify what to keep, what to let go

Some things in your past career don’t work in your current career. For instance, in the call center, your key metric is reducing churn (telephone attrition). Now that you are the CRM assistant, you are responsible for data integrity. Although keeping people on the phone and making the sales were important as a sales representative, these skills are no longer important now.

Grow your new network without alienating your current network

The important thing here is to look at the overlap. Remember, your network is your net worth. For instance, both the customer service representative and the CRM assistant work in customer service and track customers. Therefore, if the CRM data is showing irregularities then you could still leverage your call center connections to discover why. Whenever I transition jobs or sectors, I always keep in touch with my former bosses and coworkers. You never know when you might need a favor or an unbiased professional opinion.

Hopefully these tips will help you reposition your personal brand because you deserve the best career! Check out more personal branding tips and positive change management strategies at my website is http://positivitychange.com/

 

This Week in Positive Change Management : Personal Brand Strategy Tips

01242016 You are the brand!

Developing a personal brand strategy is essential towards career advancement. Even before you walk into the office for an interview, your personal brand proceeds you. Here are several tips towards creating a dynamic personal brand strategy.

Your Competitive Advantage is Your Foundation

Your competitive advantage is the one thing that you do better than anyone else. It is also the foundation towards building your personal brand strategy. You must discover then market it to employers to guarantee landing that job offer that you cover. The main question you must ask yourself is what sets you apart from everyone else? (I discuss competitive advantage steps in my article here: http://bit.ly/1ZXCRzH)

Know your target market (companies that would benefit from your talents)

This is a critical step. One of the biggest mistakes that people often make is being everything to everyone. Well, you cannot do this which is why I stress knowing your target market. Once you’ve discovered your competitive advantage, research which industries are best suited for your talent. For instance, if you are a fashion designer, you wouldn’t apply for a construction job. You must know which industries complement your competitive advantage in order to successful craft your strategy.

Know how you want to position your brand

Brand positioning is another critical component. How are you marketing yourself? Are you entry-level, mid-level or senior-level? These are just the basics. We can drill deeper down into a category. For example, at the senior level, are you vying for a director, vice president or chairman position? These three different jobs require three different brand positioning strategies. That’s why you cannot be general here because you will get too many jobs that are not great fits. These generalities also waste a lot of your time sifting through these numerous positions.

Develop your pitch

Whether you like it or not, you are always in the business of selling yourself. Developing your pitch is your way to communicate your personal brand strategy. Your pitch should be in between 15-30 seconds long and include these four factors:

  • who you are,
  • what you do,
  • what you are looking for and
  • how you can solve a problem

Own yourself and your content

In the 21st century, owning your name domain is essential towards controlling your personal brand strategy; but, there are so many people who don’t own it. You must have your own platform to control what kind of message you want to transmit. Although social media is free, you don’t want to be at the mercy of Twitter, LinkedIn or any other sites to communicate your message. Go to Name.com, Domain.com or GoDaddy.com to search your name. If it is available, then buy it. Next, buy a self-hosted WordPress site not anything with name.wordpress.com! That’s unprofessional but more importantly, WordPress controls your platform. Go to WordPress.org, BlueHost or HostGator for self-hosting sites. There are many others.

I would also recommend that you start blogging on your site. Part of crafting your personal brand strategy is positioning yourself as an expert. Blogging about your professional expertise is a way to get noticed. Create content that supports your brand positioning. Write articles around your competitive advantage. The majority of my articles center around economics, brand management, change management and project management. For example, I publish my articles on my blog first before posting it on LinkedIn and Medium. There are so many people naively posting on LinkedIn who don’t have their own platforms. You cannot control your message when you don’t own yourself. LinkedIn owns all of your copyrights when you publish there first.

Develop a comprehensive brand marketing strategy

In marketing there are 4 Ps : product, price, place and promotion. Here you will create a comprehensive brand marketing strategy in order to capitalize upon all available opportunities. Once you have completed all of the previous tasks, doing this is fairly easy. Here is my 4Ps:

  • Product: you
  • Price: current or future salary
  • Place: Anywhere or your preferred region
  • Promotion:
    • In-person
    • Online: LinkedIn, social media, blog, website, podcasting

You are the product. The price is your current or future salary. If you are going for a promotion, research salaries through sites like Glassdoor.com, so that you aren’t lowballing yourself. You can also look at professional organizations because they keep salary profiles. For place, you can market yourself in a specific region or be open to relocation. Your strategy will change based on this. With promotion, you can sell yourself online as well as in-person. Always have an in-person component because you need to meet real people because it will be they not the computer algorithm that hires you.

New Positive Change with Carla Airing This Friday

Blogtalkradio

As previously announced on www.carlarjenkins.com, this week’s Positive Change with Carla will air on a special day. It will air Friday instead of Thursday. The new episode ‘Evaluating Your Annual Personal Career Brand Performance’ will delve into how to use your most recent performance rating to map out this year’s work performance strategy.

Check out the Blogtalkradio Positive Change with Carla episode link here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/missphenomena/2016/01/22/evaluating-your-annual-personal-career-brand-performance

This Week in Positive Change Management : Getting out of the Middle

01182016 No More Middle

This is the time of your when people start looking at how they can have a better New year than last year. Oftentimes, receiving a promotion is at the top of the list. Well, there are certain things that are holding you back. I have four tips that you will get out of the middle and ascend up the corporate ladder.

Focus on your brand and not just a job

Unbeknownst to me, I focused on my brand early and I professionally benefitted from this. When you define your personal career brand, I looked at how my transferrable skills fit in with other positions. It is an egregious error to only identify yourself as your job. This is dangerous because you become confided to that box. Had I been so narrow to only economic jobs, I would still be a GS-11 economist. Once a layoff hits, then you are through. Identifying your transferable skills repositions yourself as a brand because you can work in other areas.  Your career brand transcends your job.

Obtain certification

Certification distinguishes you from the rest. Take my field, project management for example. Earning your PMP certification separates you from everyone else. PMP requires a certain amount of work experience. You don’t see many young or middle-tier professionals with PMP certifications. Furthermore, obtaining certification means that you are a self-starter. This gets you noticed internally and externally.

Expand your network vertically

The one reason why you’re stuck is because all of your networking friends are at the same level. You know everyone you’ve started with me but nobody one or two levels above you. That’s horizontal networking and that’s problematic when you truly want to advance. Find a professional organization and attend the formal functions (Christmas party, annual charity ball, etc.). These events have the board members and senior officials. Once they know your name, they can become your mentors and sponsors guiding your career upward.

Get out of career inertia

I broke out of career inertia by leaving my first fed agency. I saw career inertia upfront. I left my economist position to grow. Although disgruntled, many coworkers stayed because they were comfortable. Now this year, my formal agency is moving out of state. Those same coworkers are going right along with the agency even though they hate leaving DC. Career inertia sneaks up on you. You start getting comfortable then make excuses for your fear. Getting out of the middle means putting yourself in motion.

These four tips will help you lay the groundwork towards realizing this year’s career ambitions.

Evaluating Your Personal Brand Annual Performance

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Evaluating your annual personal career brand performance is essential. If you want to realize positive change in your personal and professional lives, you must take a hard look at how you’ve performed this year. Here are 5 things that you should use to evaluate your annual personal brand performance. They are: stickiness, retention, responsiveness to change, tactical planning and strategic planning.

Stickiness

Stickiness is how well people remember you. Let’s ask a question: do people remember you for something? It can interpersonal skills, programming, project management, HR or marketing? Is there a trait that whenever someone mentions your name, that person immediately says ‘blank’? If so, then you’ve achieved stickiness.

Now let me ask a deeper question: have you attained subject matter expert status in your discipline? www.ISixSIgma.com defines subject matter expert as ‘individual who exhibits the highest level of expertise in performing a specialized job, task, or skill within the organization.’ Becoming a subject matter expert is the highest level of stickiness. When you’re at this level, whenever someone asks for an expert, they think of you. You are exploiting your core competency when you are a subject matter expert. If you have achieved this status, document the process then list the 3-5 steps towards maintaining your subject matter expert for next year. It is one thing to get there. It is another thing to maintain your status. You want to increase your stickiness in the New Year.

Retention

Retention is indispensable towards leveraging your personal career brand. You retain people based on  delivering high quality work. Ask yourself this question: have people continually returned to you for a particular thing? Retention is the next step after stickiness. Once you’ve reeled them in, do they stay? Evaluate if you are retaining your clientele. If there are less people coming to you to solve their problems, then you should reexamine your personal career brand. Furthermore, if you are retaining more people then take these lessons learned and use them as inputs for next year’s plan.

Responsiveness to change

Change is inevitable. It is the only constant; and, your personal brand must be responsiveness towards it. Ask yourself how flexible are you? Rigidity hurts your career brand. Don’t fear changing your plan because you are not the same person on January 1st as you will be on December 31st. Your personal career brand must incorporate the latest industry changes in order to stay relevant next year.

Tactical planning

Tactical planning is short-term planning that supports strategic (long-term) planning. It’s used for non-annual planning (quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily). With tactical planning, you have to evaluate how your personal brand has performed this year. Has everything you planned for resulted in above-average performance? Has your brand gained more momentum with each successive quarter? Which things have worked for you? Conversely, which things haven’t gone accordingly to plan? When you dissect underperformance, has these things been corrected during the next quarter? If you cannot improve, then drop it this year. Answering all of these questions are crucial towards measuring the effectiveness of your tactical planning. If your tactical planning has exceeded your expectations, then document 3-5 steps per your time metric (quarter, month, week, day) to improve your personal career brand for next year. These steps will be the inputs for your strategic planning.

Strategic planning

Strategic planning is long-term. It is the high-level planning that you do when you start the year. The first objectives that you’ve drafted serve as a guide throughout the year. The tactical planning objectives support the strategic planning ones. The question you should ask yourself is has this year’s strategic planning positioned you towards a better New Year? If it hasn’t then what steps are you taking towards guaranteeing that you’ll sidestep the pitfalls? If it has, then document 3-5 steps per your time metric (quarter, month, week, day) to strategically improve your personal career brand for next year?

You will use these variables to examine the effectiveness. If you are underperforming or ineffective in any of these places, then you can correct these problems now instead of letting them follow you into the New Year.

 

This Week in Positive Change Management: Self-Investment is the Best Investment

10262015 Self-Investment Is the Best Investment

The global workplace is uncertain. You don’t know if you’ll be with your current employer by the end of this week. Even the federal government isn’t safe from layoffs with sequestration. Self-investment is certain but the question everyone poses is how do you afford self-investment on a shoestring budget?

Regardless of what happens, start saving 5%-10% of your monthly income.

It provides you with a cushion to afford options. I’ve used this cushion to self-finance my PMP certification and community college courses advancing my career.

Look at your employer’s resources

Your company might offer training programs, tuition assistance for college courses and leadership development programs. These corporate courses let you cultivate and develop the necessary skills to get to the next level. I have been selected into two leadership development programs with two separate federal agencies. I have acquired new skills and obtained new sponsors who would advocate for me internally.

Community colleges

They have residency discounts with people in the county. Community colleges also specialize in workforce retraining so you won’t feel out of place with younger students like at four-year colleges. Community colleges have perennially catered to the needs of older workers retooling themselves for the current marketplace.

Libraries

Don’t sleep on libraries. They offer the best career resources. Many libraries provide free computer courses and databases to upgrade your skill set. Furthermore, they also have career books and magazines that you can read to refine yourself.

Professional organizations

Professional organizations offer continuing education through their chapters. Furthermore, they provide discounts on industry certifications. In addition, these organizations also have continuing education seminars and workshops to educate their members on current industry trends.

Alumni Associations

Many college alumni associations have online and offline educational discounts for their members. You can also use their networks to ask other members for career resources.

MOOCs (Coursera and MIT OpenCourseware)

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer free resources to upgrade your skills set on your own time. MIT OpenCourseware possesses a wealth of free courses. Coursera offers free courses and certificates for $49. Some of these courses might qualify for personal development units to renew your professional certification.

Online Courses (Ed2Go)

Ed2Go is an affordable online course website that many community colleges partner with to offer their students more options. Depending on the college, classes range from $99-$130 apiece. I have used Ed2Go to take and renew my project management certification.

Hopefully, any of these free or low-cost options will enable you to jumpstart your self-investment journey. Self-investment is the best investment.

This Week in Positive Change Management: Handling High-Visibility Projects as a Newbie

Follow these four tips towards handling high-visibility projects as a newbie.

  1. Be thankful that someone had entrusted you with this opportunity.

This is a positive change event. Instead of being overwhelmed, be happy to view this as a chance to prove yourself in the marketplace and increase your professional credibility and visibility. Taking this more optimistic viewpoint enables you to devise an approach towards capitalized upon this new assignment.

 

  1. Conduct project and personnel research

First review the project materials. You have to know what you are undertaking. Possessing familiarity with it lets you excel. Next, research the people. You can view their bios on the company Intranet or their LinkedIn profiles. It is essential to know your future colleagues’ personalities and previous work histories so that you can effectively create a staffing management plan to effectively execute the project.

 

  1. Create your own personal project schedule

Creating your own personal project schedule helps you envision it. You can also incorporate a what-if analysis covering any and every possibility because projects never go according to plan. These ready-made answers are necessary because management wants a definitive response regardless of how the people act and the project is going.

 

  1. Practice presenting your plan

Although you’ve never done it before, you are still the project leader and must exude confidence to your workers and management. Having these ready-made answers from your personal project schedule are necessary because management wants a definitive response regardless of how the people act and the project is going.

Visibility Photo 2