Posts tagged #youngprofessional

Managing Your Career in the Age of Social Media: Creating a Professional Brand (Part 3)

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

When I was researching information for this series, my initial hypothesis was that the best strategy for young professionals and social media was to make your accounts private and minimize your internet presence. 

I was wrong (and I hate admitting that).

Social media is such a prevalent part of our lives today that people expect to see some sort of online presence and will use the content they see as an additional data point in their hiring decision.   In fact, they want to see what content you are putting out there, especially (but not only) if your career path has any intersection with marketing, branding, social media, digital content...you see where I am going with this. You are your own personal brand ambassador, and what better way to assess your capabilities than to see how you market yourself?

Since this is not my area of expertise, I am going to direct you to the experts in this space.  I’ve read through their recommendations and not only agree with their guidance but am also in the process of implementing their recommendations myself.

The first article is from Alison Doyle, a job search expert for The Balance Careers and one of the industry's most highly-regarded career experts.  Click here to read her take on creating a professional online presence.

Alison’s website, CareerToolBelt.com, has been recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Websites For Your Career and included on the Job Search Bible list of 25 Best Career Websites, Alison has been noted as a leading person to follow on Twitter by Business News Daily, Career Sherpa, FlexJobs, The Guardian, YouTern, and Mashable, and one of the top people to follow on LinkedIn by CareerContessa, JobScan, Lifehack, and The Muse

The second article is from John DiScala, or @JohnnyJet.  Click here to read his five tips on creating a professional online presence.

John has traveled over 100,000 miles a year since starting his newsletter in 1995 and has visited close to 100 countries. He writes about how to maximize your credit card points, find travel deals and cheap flights, and benefit from insightful travel tips. He has hosted a television special on the Travel Channel and was recently named one of Forbes’s Top 10 Travel Influencers for 2017. He now appears every Saturday on Leo Laporte’s The Tech Guy show talking about travel and technology, and travels the world with his wife, Natalie DiScala, and their son Jack. 


Finally, here is a Q&A with tips on how to create your personal story and deploy it consistently and authentically across multiple online platforms.  Marketing expert and entrepreneur Vana Koutsomitis says that “We aren’t paying enough attention to how we market ourselves online” and that “the most common mistake I see is when someone ignores their online presence and hopes their story is told correctly.” 

Vana C. Koutsomitis is a speaker, a writer, and an entrepreneur focused on marketing, business development, and network-building. A former financial professional, she was a runner-up on BBC’s The Apprentice. She founded the financial networking company The CityStreet, flavored wine company VinobyVana, and, most recently, DatePlay, an app that combines online dating with gaming. Koutsomitis holds a BS from Cornell University and an MBA from Oxford University.

Are you already managing your professional “brand” online? If so, what tips and suggestions do you have for doing this effectively and efficiently?


Posted on July 22, 2019 and filed under Career Insights.

Managing Your Career in the Age of Social Media - Refreshing Your LinkedIn Profile (Part 2)

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As I mentioned last week, the internet and social media have transformed the way we communicate with others.  They have also created an additional lens by which other people inform themselves about who we are, and the content we post about ourselves online is of great interest to many recruiters and companies who seek a multi-dimensional view of a candidate.  Along with LinkedIn, 70% of employers are reviewing candidates’ other social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter as well as searching for you via Google, Yahoo, or Bing. This data also noted that 54% of employers found information online that caused them not to hire a candidate. I was shocked when I read that statistic, because our social media presence is in our control.


While you could shut down all of your social media accounts or change your privacy settings to the highest available in order to minimize what others see, companies are not only looking for questionable content on your social media but also how you use different platforms in a positive way.  For example, a professional, up-to-date LinkedIn profile shows that you are adept at using this platform and understand how to present yourself online in a polished manner. Along with your resume, your LinkedIn profile is another way to showcase your accomplishments to prospective recruiters as well as clients and other people in your network.

There are three main “sections” of a personal LinkedIn profile: the basic or “essential” components about you, the “about you” section that describes your career, and then additional/optional components that provides the space for additional statistics and facts about you.


Essential Components

There are a few basic components every LinkedIn profile needs, including:

  • A head shot - preferably a professional, high resolution photo

  • Your title - either your current title at work or a generic title that describes the type of work you are interested in.  For example, if you are in branding, you might label yourself a “Brand Manager”, “Brand Executive” or “Branding and Marketing Analyst” depending on your experience and interests

  • Your location - your geographic location 

  • Your contact information - a current email address

“About You” Section 

The “About” section describes your professional experience, including the option to highlight media and content you have created.

  • Company / Experience Summary - think of the experience summary as your 30-second elevator pitch.  If you had 30 seconds, or three to five sentences, to tell someone about yourself and the value you bring, what would you say? Use this section to highlight your unique talents, your passions, and the value you bring to an organization.

  • Media - one of the advantages of LinkedIn over a traditional resume is the option to upload or link media to your page.  This could include articles you have written or videos you appeared in or produced. Linking or uploading media samples gives others a better idea of your communication style and writing, speaking, or producing skills.

  • Work Experience - this section provides the space to list your work experience in chronological order, including the company and the dates you worked there. If the company has a LinkedIn profile, select their official profile when you list your employer.  For each job you have had, select the employer, dates of employment, and list your job title. Then, include a narrative summary or three to four bullet points that summarize your job scope and key accomplishments. Similar to your resume, it is important to include quantitative accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile so others can understand the impact you made.  For this section, you can start with the content from your resume and update it to fit the format and style of LinkedIn.

  • Education - List all post-secondary education, including undergraduate and graduate degrees, study abroad programs, and other adult or executive education.

  • Certifications & Licenses Section - List all up-to-date formal certifications and licenses, such as Six Sigma, CPA, or MD 

  • Volunteer Experience - In my experience, quality is better than quantity here.  For example, include volunteer experiences that used your professional skills or were more than a one-time, two-hour occurrence; things like a monthly visit to a food pantry or organizing a 5k in your neighborhood rather than visiting a nursing home for two hours three years ago.    


Optional Components

While these sections are optional, if you have noteworthy and timely information to include, it can help set you apart from others.  This includes things like publishing articles or books, securing a patent, and speaking another language conversationally or fluently.  You can also request a recommendation from people in your network. While this does not replace a formal reference, it does provide another data point for readers of your profile. Optional components of your profile include:

  • Accomplishments

  • Publications

  • Patents

  • Sources

  • Projects

  • Honors and Awards

  • Test Scores

  • Languages

  • Organizations

  • Request a Recommendation


How I Conquered by Fear of Public Speaking: A Year of Speaking Boldly

Photo by  Teemu Paananen  on  Unsplash

Up until my senior capstone presentation, I would have told you my feelings about public speaking were positive.  In fact, I grew up performing; between dance, musicals, plays, church recitals, and school presentations, I was comfortable, and even enjoyed, being on a stage or in front of a room.  For example, there is a home video of me in kindergarten narrating “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (in Spanish, no less) while my classmates acted it out and I am vying for as much attention as possible.  This was indicative of how much I enjoyed performing in front of people the first 22 years of my life. I saw speaking and performing as an opportunity to engage others and share something that I was interested in or passionate about.

After my capstone presentation; however, my feelings shifted from positive to fearful.  Why? I’ll blame a lethal mix of too little sleep, too much stress, one too many Starbucks Red Eyes, and too little food leading up to the presentation.  The combination caused me to faint mid-presentation. My blood sugar dropped from lack of food and the effects of too much caffeine, stress, and exhaustion. Thankfully, another student in the front row (in his ROTC uniform, no less) jumped up and caught me as I fell, sparing me from additional injuries.  

From that point, I started to fear public speaking.  I worried that something similar would happen, and that it would not end as gracefully as my capstone project.  Even though I logically knew that the situation was isolated, my body still went into overdrive every time I had to speak or present in front of a crowd.  I was in good company - there are estimates that 75% of Americans fear public speaking. That’s 238 million people!

Rather than confront my fear, I avoided it.  When I had to present, I created methods which increased my comfort level, such as putting a lot of information on a slide, or sticking to basic subject matter rather than sharing anything personal or telling stories that might make me more vulnerable.  It was not until a mentor gave me feedback on my presentation style, and told me that it would hold me back from leading at the level I aspired to, that I decided to take a different approach.

This feedback was the motivation I needed to do something different, but I was not sure where to start.  I spent a lot of time reading and researching presentation tips, observing other presenters in person and through online TED talks, and talking to public speaking coaches.  Over time, I compiled a lot of information from many sources about how to develop presentation skills and to inspire people through what I said. Then, I watched Susan Cain’s TED Talk about the power of introverts and heard her challenge herself to have a “year of speaking dangerously”.  This challenge was a way for her to step outside her comfort zone and become more comfortable promoting this idea she had across thousands of people. I thought, if she can do it, I can do it, and used the idea to start my own year of speaking boldly.

Using a challenge forced me to add structure to an ambiguous piece of feedback.  I decided that I would present at least once a month, using the skills that I had acquired to make my presentations more engaging, interesting, and collaborative.  I would keep adding and practicing new skills over time, so that by the end of the year, I was a dynamic, interesting, and inspiring speaker. I also asked people to share feedback with me over time so I could reflect on the positives and continue to improve in other areas.

That was four years ago. Since then, my challenge of speaking boldly has opened my eyes - and my life - to opportunities that I never imagined. While I still get nervous before presentations, I also have fun during them and I can tell my audience is enjoying themselves, which makes it even more rewarding for me. Presentations give me energy and give me a boost rather than deplete me. And, seeing that hard work, good advice, practice, and working with others can measurably improve something for me has given me the confidence to try other things that seem challenging or impossible.

One thing I wanted when I started this challenge was a cheat sheet that would help me structure my preparation and remind me to use various techniques and tactics that make speakers more effective. Since I never found one, I created one. This goes through my entire thought process and the methods I use to prepare, but is brief enough for the busiest of professionals to use. Good luck!


Networking During the Holiday Season

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While corporate productivity tends to slip during the holiday season, networking opportunities abound through the extra parties and events during this time of the year.  Whether you are home from college and looking for an internship or full-time job, or considering a career change, networking in November and December is a great way to set yourself up for big opportunities in January.  And as we approach a new year, what better way to get a head start resetting and refocusing your career than by expanding your network?

Be prepared.  You never know when you might meet someone in your industry of choice or at your dream company.  Always carry a handful of business cards so you can share your contact information easily.  For example, my husband and I met the CEO of his company’s main competitor at a post-Thanksgiving party a few years ago - what better way to meet someone from your industry than through a mutual friend at a party?  Also, make sure to have an updated resume ready to email out anytime; you never know when you might get a request for your resume, and you don't want to wait more than 24 hours to follow up on the request.  Which takes us to number two...

Follow up - within 24 hours.  A quick follow up not only shows that you are excited about the connection, but it also increases the odds that the other person will remember you.  It’s easy to be forgotten during the busiest time of the year, and the longer you wait, the easier you are to forget.  On the other hand, a fast and thoughtful follow up sharing how much you appreciated meeting the other person will go a long way toward building a real connection.

Strategize.  Just because you are going home for the holidays doesn’t mean your job search has to go on vacation, because your network at home is probably bigger than you realize.  Think about the careers and networks of your family, family friends, and neighbors for a minute.  Until I started looking for a job, I never realized the people and companies that were represented in my network or thought about how I could use these relationships to gain an introduction or information on a company.  Along with your immediate family, websites like LinkedIn make researching your home network simple and fast.

Practice your pitch.  There are a plethora of opportunities to meet people during the holiday season, which means there are just as many opportunities to introduce yourself.  Prepare and practice your “elevator pitch”; a 30 second summary of you, your current situation (student, employed in such-and-such field, etc) and your career interests.  Do not let a prime introduction opportunity go to waste because you aren’t prepared!

Job Search Toolkit: Cover Letters - Your Secret Weapon

 

With classes starting for many universities over the next week, recruiting season will be in full swing in a few short weeks.  For post-graduates, late summer and early fall is a great time to search for jobs as it represents the start of a new fiscal year and new staffing budgets for many companies, meaning that there are more jobs being actively recruited right now.  In addition to updating your resume, it's important to craft a cover letter for every job application.

Your cover letter is like the socket wrench of your job search toolkit.  It customizes your application and helps explain to a potential employer how you "fit" a number of different jobs.  In my professional experience, candidates who take the time to draft a well-written cover letter confirm the following for me: they have strong written communication skills, they go beyond the requirements to make a strong first impression, and they are attentive to details.  These are three qualities I look for in any candidate, regardless of the job.

A well-written cover letter accomplishes the following in thee to four paragraphs: 

  1. Explains your interest and unique qualifications in a particular job or company
  2. Highlights specific accomplishments and your unique value as it relates to the fundamental job requirements
  3. Confirms specific (and proactive) next steps as it relates to the application/interview process

Done correctly, cover letters are challenging to write but well worth the extra effort because they help the reader understand your unique value relative to  other applicants.  A well-crafted cover letter is especially important in instances of high competition or where you may not have the exact background or qualifications for a role.  In the former, a cover letter will set you apart and articulate your passion for and value provided to the company relative to all the other candidates.  This is critical when companies receive hundreds or thousands of applications for a job and are sifting through candidates trying to decide who to bring in for interviews solely based on pieces of paper.  In the latter situation, a cover letter can help describe how your background experience is transferable to a different industry or function; for example, maybe your first job was as a business analyst for a brick and mortar retail company and you’re interested in a project management position for an internet-based food retailer.  While your title might have been an analyst and the company may be traditional brick and mortar, maybe you had some project management responsibilities in your analyst job that could easily get lost in a brief sweep of your resume.  Perhaps you were also involved in establishing the retailer’s website and introduction to online sales, and were instrumental in setting up and tracking a sales dashboard with KPIs that you used to present to management and draw conclusions on the website strategy.  While these are great examples to put on your resume in your accomplishment statements, it’s even more important to highlight these topics on your cover letter.  Think of your cover letter like an executive summary of your resume, helping the reader understand the relevance and significance of these experiences as it relates to their company.

The ten items below will help as you craft your cover letters.  For additional insight, you can reference sample cover letters here, download a cover letter template here, and learn about expert coaching services on the Career Resources & Services Page.

Top 10 Cover Letter Tips

  1. Always include a cover letter with a job application.

  2. Keep the length to one page and three to four paragraphs.  Your reader will likely have a lot of applicants to sift through, so conciseness is key.

  3. Use proper formatting, with the date and addresses of the sender and recipient at the top of the letter.

  4. Highlight your interest in the industry and company in the opening paragraph, using research to articulate an understanding of the organization and their industry.

  5. Avoid describing how the company will fulfill your lifelong dreams and instead on how you can channel your passion to add value for the company.

  6. Describe two to four accomplishments that directly qualify you for the job.  Reference the job description to understand the most important skills or qualifications for that particular job, and then highlight your specific experiences.  For example, if the job requires strong project management skills, you might have a dot point list with "Project Management" listed and an example of your abilities.

  7. Be confident! Do not include statements like “if you feel that I am qualified for the job, please call me at…”.  Never invite the reader to question your ability to do the job.

  8. Close the letter with a statement about next steps, noting that if you have not heard back by a particular date that you will reach out to their Human Resources department via phone.  

  9. Note at the bottom that your resume is enclosed with your cover letter.

  10. Always customize every cover letter, even if you are applying to companies in the same industry.  While it is easy to search and replace keywords, these tactics are obvious to a reader and pose too great a risk for error.

Before finalizing your cover letter, ask your family, friends, or an expert to review the content and provide feedback.  This could be someone in your University career services department, a peer with solid resume and cover letter experience, a parent or experienced colleague, or, best of all, an expert.  An expert will take the time to understand and articulate your story, help you put it on paper, and review everything with a critical eye to eliminate the risk of errors.  

Best of luck and happy interviewing!

Photo via http://www.litdrift.com/tag/writing/