Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I SYNC: therefore I am...

Remember how I said that it was my intent to blog about being a college graduate?  Well I must admit that being fortunate enough to become on of those recent grads who quickly found a job means that I have dropped the ball regarding my personal social media obligations.  But I assure you; I HAVE been up to some good stuff.

Starting with the first little tidbit of Good News:

I found a job!  

Evidently all of that hard work and real-time networking paid off.  I was fortunate enough to get hired at my alma mater as an administrative assistant in our department of Athletics.  Which is great, because when I received an email telling me that the position was filled I was certain that any candidate who beat me for the position would have had to have been exceptionally qualified.

I should probably warn you that my job has absolutely nothing to do with my degree. But my ability to research quickly using online applications like Google, Youtube & Wikipedia helped me brush up on the basics of the work I'd be doing prior to the skills assessment testing I had to take before my interview.  Critical thinking resources I learned to utilize while trying to crank out assignments for the courses I may not have been as emotionally attached to while I struggled to find time to pursue my real interests while finishing my degree.  Never underestimate the power of an electronic document and the ctrl-F feature.  For without these I may have never obtained my degree.

In an attempt to take my job seeking a little more seriously, I quickly amped up my Linkedin Profile and strategically keyword optimized it in order to better leverage my own personal brand.  What do all of those fancy words mean?

Well let's start with Linkedin

Linked in is AWESOME!!!

Seriously, where else can you connect with millions of people in your field of interest and collaborate professionally to help you find work that you love doing?!  Okay, there's always Facebook and Real Life, but where can you do that without spam or money?  The downside is that you DO have to know somebody, and I got into a little bit of trouble with the platform about adding people I didn't know.  But who cares, for anyone who is looking for a job who isn't already ridiculously well connected, having a completed Linkedin account is a necessity.  I'm saying this as someone who probably IS one of those people and I STILL understand the importance of using this thing.

Should College Students and Recent Grads Use LinkedIn?

The answer is an unqualified “yes.” LinkedIn is a powerful tool that can help you make the transition from college student to working professional. While Facebook helps you stay in touch and share your life with family and friends, LinkedIn helps you meet people in your field, connect professionally with fellow alumni, and create a personal brand. LinkedIn is a must for anyone who is serious about job hunting, career planning and networking with people who can assist you as you build a successful professional life.

Personal Branding

Sally Hogshead wrote a fantastic book called Fascinate that talks about why we find people fascinating and what psychological triggers they employ that make them stand out in our mind over other people.  What do people think when they think of you?  Or more importantly, what are you communicating to potential employers?

Dan Schawbel in his article Personal Branding 101 shares that

The single biggest mistake people make is that they either brand themselves just for the sake of doing it or that they fail to invest time in learning about what’s in their best interests. The key to success, and this isn’t revolutionary, is to be compensated based on your passion. In order to find your passion, you need a lot of time to think, some luck and you need to do some research online to figure out what’s out there.

Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan. Have you ever been called intelligent or humorous by your peers or coworkers? That description is part of your brand, especially if you feel those attributed pertain to you. To know if you’ve discovered your brand, you need to make this equation equal:

In short your personal brand should ensure that the messages you communicate through your resume, appearance, professional affiliations and so forth illustrate an alignment where

Your self-impression = How people perceive you
Who are the top innovators in your field? What makes them distinctive?  Are their idiots in the field who seem to be doing much better than you?  You may think it's the money, or access to people already in the industry, but it's possible that the only reason you haven't gotten where they are is because you haven't communicated your strongest attributes to your employers.  This could mean that you need to find better ways to keyword optimize your professional experience, play up your strengths, or revamp your image.  When marketing yourself to a prospective employer, sell yourself the way that you would market yourself to a potential client.  And you may need to read up on the basics of marking, sales and public relations in order to really understand how to get others to see more of your better attributes.
Starting today you are a brand.

You're every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

If your answer wouldn't light up the eyes of a prospective client or command a vote of confidence from a satisfied past client, or -- worst of all -- if it doesn't grab you, then you've got a big problem. It's time to give some serious thought and even more serious effort to imagining and developing yourself as a brand.
Start by identifying the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors -- or your colleagues. What have you done lately -- this week -- to make yourself stand out? What would your colleagues or your customers say is your greatest and clearest strength? Your most noteworthy (as in, worthy of note) personal trait?

Keyword Optimization of Your Online Resume

How you optimize your personal brand communicates how you add value to your field and the company culture

Is your resume SEO friendly?  That is, how easy is it to find on websites?  Hogshead mentions how something as simple as using a unique middle name for generic names make it easier for employers to find you during employment searches.  The same can be done to your resume to make it easier to find for potential recruiters.  A lot of HR directors will look for tags or specific keywords in order to find job candidates that match their job descriptions, so keyword optimizing your resume to match these targets, especially when you know very little about your employment options can be very useful.

Keywords and phrases reflect skills and experience necessary for the type of position and industry you are targeting. While an effective resume will include action verbs (e.g., develop, negotiate, analyze) for a human reviewer, keywords and phrases will play a crucial role when technology is used to select candidates.
 If you want an example of what a keyword optimized resume looks like, I'd encourage you to go onto Linkedin and look at how other job candidates in your field (or other high profile positions) keyword optimize their profile to leverage their resumes to get noticed.  I remember the first time I tried this exercise, I looked through the profile descriptions of the 1st and 2nd degree connections of my best networked connections and wrote down really great keyword phrases down on post it notes.  I distinctly remember thinking at one point:

hmmm...Strategic Development Coordinator and Operations Research Field Analyst; I don't have any clue what that person does, but THAT sounds INCREDIBLE!
For all I know that guy could have been in charge of ordering and stocking toilet paper rolls at Arby's.  Which brings me to my next note of caution: if you don't know what something means; google it.  Google your current job description and previous job duties for keywords.  You may know how to do things that you didn't even realize that there were keywords for.  But also Google these words to make sure that you haven't put something on your resume that isn't honest.  For example, as an employer, if someone submits a resume saying that they have experience as an operations research field analyst or strategic management, I'm going to have numerous questions in the interview about the work they did, and how they used those core competencies to develop specific projects.  So you better know the lingo and all of the work that goes into the work that you say you know how to do.  You also better be able to back up your resume with stories regarding specific experience.  Gains, losses, etc.  Your employers are going to want to know how you plan, how you implement strategies as well as how well you rebound from setbacks.  So keep that in mind when the time comes for the interview.

When I train my student workers; for every skill they learn, I provide background info about what kind of work they are doing, how it relates to their job description and how the specific applications can be used to enhance keywords on their resume.  They are also evaluated on flexibility in the workplace by requiring them to search for things that they don't know how to do online, construct their own tutorials, or if they must ask, do so using corporate or industry related buzzwords, to help them develop their oral communication proficiency.  They met me with a little bit of resistance at first, but now it's become a wonderful way to teach them valid skills as well as incorporate a little bit of play into the work environment.

For more info about today's topics, be sure to check out these articles for more info about:

Getting started on Linkedin

9 Linkedin Tips for College Grads
5 Linkedin Tips for Recent Grads
Getting Stated with Linkedin as a Recent Graduate

Personal branding
Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create your Brand
The 3 Rules of Personal Branding
When your Personal Brand Outshines your Corporate Brand
The Brand called You

Keyword Optimization
A Resume Writing Strategy that Makes a Difference
SEO your resume
Optimize your Resume with Keywords
Keyword Optimize your Resume
Resume Writing Resources and Tips: Leveraging Keywords to Get your Resume the Attention it Deserves


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