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.

This Week in Positive Change Management: Employing the Three Cs to Improve Your Personal Career Brand

Now more than ever it is imperative that any professional has a personal career brand. It is no longer, just do your job and update your resume. The average person will have in between 7-10 jobs in his lifetime. You must actively manage your career to find the next job; hence, the importance of creating and maintaining a stellar personal career brand. The three Cs are clarity, consistency, and constancy. They are necessary towards creating your best personal brand. The combination of these three guarantees that you’ll attract the people and employers in your target market.

Clarity

Dictionary.com defines clarity as ‘clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.’ It is essential that you get clear about who you are, but, more importantly, who you ARE NOT.  Clarity provides you with an opportunity to thrive as a specialist rather than merely survive as a generalist. It is better to know what you are not because you can create clear boundaries. You don’t want to transmit mixed messages, thereby, diluting your brand. Clarity communicates a clear message of what you do. For example, if you are in HR, you don’t want people coming to you about sales & marketing. The next step is to identify your competitors.

Scanning the professional landscape to see what your competitors are doing, and more importantly, what they are not doing is critical towards how you’ll position yourself to stand out. Learn from your competitors’ mistakes and capitalize upon the areas that they aren’t already in. Being the first mover in an unsaturated area, positions you to become an expert. For instance, if you’re in HR but there aren’t as many people working with newly returned war veterans, then this is a niche where you can employ your transferable skills and become an expert. Once you’ve used clarity to identify your competitors, you can then you can focus on marketing your competitive advantage to the world.

Your competitive advantage is the one thing that you do better than anyone else. Having a clear definition of this advantage will attract more people and opportunities. In HR, do you compile benefits packages in a way that new employee understand? Your ability to translate industry-specific jargon into layman’s terms without diluting its content is your competitive advantage. You can convert this into a special niche being seen as an expert. Once you’re seen as an expert, more people will come to you.

Consistency

Consistency is defined as ‘steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.’ In order to keep current in this increasingly global and competitive landscape, you must be consistent. This means consistently communicating the same message offline and online. Take some time to review how your professional brand comes across because it’s imperative that you are consistent in both areas.

Make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profile are the same. If you’ve attained a new certification or a promotion, list them on both. An outdated LinkedIn profile sends an inconsistent message. For example, if you’ve been promoted from HR Specialist to Senior HR Specialist, you must list this change. Recruiters who might be interested in you for one job, may not know that you have a new job or certification. It would be bad for your professional reputation if a recruiter contacts you about a specific position but learns that you’re in another position. Recruiters talk with other recruiters who might work at the company that interests you. You don’t want this kind of mistake to precede you before applying for a job. Putting the most recent information on your LinkedIn page guarantees that recruiters can see if you are the best fit for a potential job.

Constancy

Constancy is defined as ‘uniformity or regularity, as in qualities or conditions; invariableness.’ Being highly visible online & offline to your target market is indispensable. There are many ways to increase your visibility to ensure that the right people see your talents. Offline opportunities include joining meetups, alumni chapters, and professional organizations. In addition, you can be visible through business cards and stationery. Handing out your personal business cards is an effective marketing tool generating high visibility. Furthermore, you can send thank you letters using your own stationery. Regarding online visibility opportunities, you can register for LinkedIn professional groups, follow people on Twitter or like Facebook pages of companies of which you want to work. Moreover, you can also start a blog. Continuing with the HR example, you can write about interviewing new applicants, dispensing benefits information, handling attrition and completing retirement packages.

Creating a Communication Plan to Incorporate the Three Cs

A great way to merge the offline and online visibility tools to achieve clarity, consistency and constancy is by creating a communications plan. Your plan manages how, what, why, when, and where to deploy your offline and online strategies. For instance, you decide to post weekly HR-related articles in your LinkedIn feed. This action achieves clarity (HR), consistency (on message) and constancy (weekly). Your communications plan ensures that you regularly do something constructive towards promoting your personal career brand. Incorporating three Cs of clarity, consistency and constancy guarantee increased demand for your personal career brand.