Personal Brand Assessment: Why You Need One

Posted on May 14, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips, Personal Branding | Tags: , , , |

personal branding

Personal Brand Assessment

By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

Each of us, whether we like the phrase “personal branding” or not, has one: who are we, personally, professionally, and so on, and the message that we project. In today’s job market, we are now forced to think about our “communities” and our spheres of “influence,” and how well we engage in those communities is becoming a key component in our careers. Honestly, it’s a lot of blah, blah, blah that basically comes down to what the job search has always been about: meeting needs and providing value.

A lot of people think that personal branding is just about keeping your Facebook profile clean and having a professional LinkedIn profile. And although those are decent starting points, they miss the overall point. Personal branding is about differentation and problem solving. What about your background and skills is unique, and how can you leverage that experience to meet a real need that a potential employer has?

The problem for most of us is that it is diffuclt to assess ourselves objectively and in light of our targeted audience. Therefore, the message that we are putting out there is often quite different than the message others are receiving.

It’s not what you say; it’s what people hear.

Therefore, you want to make sure that you are sending a clear, consistent message that brings real value to your audience. A personal brand assessment is the best way to get an honest look at what your personal branding is saying today and what adjustments you can make to strengthen it. The days of just putting together a resume and a cover letter and sending them out are quickly coming to an end. Today, you need to be leveraging both traditional and social media, and the best way to do that is to look at the unique experience and skills you bring to the marketplace.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a FREE Technical Jobs report & Personal Brand Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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Your Job Search Requirements Statement (Part 2)

Posted on May 1, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , |

technical job search requirementsby Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of taking the time to elicit requirements for your job search. It seems practical enough, but it is amazing how few job seekers actually do it. They think they have all the requirements in their head, but when pressed, they often aren’t as sure as they thought they were (or when faced with a job offer have a hard time remembering what those requirements were!).

Just as with any project you are asked to manage, taking the time to document the requirements and scope of the project are the key first steps in achieving a successful outcome.

In Part 1, I provided some sample requirements statements to follow. In this post, I am going to list some basic, but important, questions to ask when gathering your job search requirements. It’s important to recognize that it’s not so much the questions themselves that are any great mystery; the problem lies in the job seeker’s ability to answer them honestly and then to stick to those answers.

1. What type of position are you seeking? In what industry? Sounds basic enough, I know, but you would be surprised at how hard this question can be for some people to answer….Why? Because we often don’t like the thought of being nailed down or pigeon-holed, so we “keep our options open.” Some flexibility is fine, even good, but those who have a niche almost always make out better than those who don’t because they can narrow their job search focus to a specific target market.

2. What type of work environment are you looking for? Cultural fit is more important than we often realize, so it is important we take that into consideration as part of our requirements statement.

3. Where would the job be located? Another seemingly basic question that often trips people up. Listen. If you can’t move, you can’t move. It’s best to be upfront with yourself first about it, so that you can be upfront with a potential employer later.

4. What skills/experience do you want to use or develop in your next position? None of us is perfect in everything. What areas do you excel at? Which ones would you like more experience in? Knowing the answer to this question will help you narrow your focus even more.

5. Are there any aspects about the next job that you consider absolutely necessary, e.g., a certain salary, particular hours, certain benefits, work ethics, and/or company mission or vision? Really think this all through before you answer it. Separate out needs and wants. Be realistic. That doesn’t mean you can’t dream or hope, but you need to know what your bare minimum is, and you need to consider these requirements in light of your level of experience, work environment preferences, and so on.

6. What concessions are you willing to make for the next position, e.g., move, travel, work long hours, go back to school, etc.? If you found the perfect job and it was an hour away, would you commute, move, or let it go? If you had to travel 60% of the time, would you really take it? Again, be honest here.

As we mentioned in Part 1, the reason for asking these questions is that you need to identify your target market, and you cannot do that when you do not have a clear understanding of what your requirements are. Of course, we want to avoid being too rigid, but we don’t want to be blowing in the wind either. Most people believe that they should open themselves up to more opportunities, especially in a tough job market, but that is false. You actually want to narrow your focus even more. Make yourself stand out to one market so that you are clearly defined for the potential employer. A strong job search requirements statement is an imperative first step in doing that.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount on our solutions. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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Job Search Requirements Elicitation (Part 1)

Posted on April 30, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , |

job search requirementsby Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

When most of us begin a job search, we rush into it without taking the time to really assess where it is we want to go. Typically, all we can think about is, “I just need a job.” “I would like it to be in field X.” We shy away from the idea of writing a short-term goals statement or in eliciting the proper requirements for our project: finding a new position. That is why at ITtechExec, we believe in using project management lifecycle terminology to help guide a client through the job search process.

Project Planning Phase

“What do I need to do that for?” “I know what kind of job I want or where I am going.” Although it is true that we may know in our heads what it is we want to do, there is something about the act of putting it in writing (or on screen) that makes it official. When we see it in print, then it becomes real, and it becomes something to which we are accountable. Also, it allows us to have a standard to stick by as we go through our job search. This doesn’t mean that things can’t change, but it should be a backbone to where we are headed.

At ITtechExec, we believe that, before you can build an effective job search strategy, you must first have a clear direction. If you aren’t certain about that, it will be reflected in the type of job search that you conduct and the type of results you achieve. So to help you get started, let’s look at some samples. Part 2 of this series will include some sample questions to follow.

Job Search Requirements Statement

So what should a job search requirements statement include? (1) It should state the direction you want your job search to head in; (2) it should identify the industry and/or position(s) that you are seeking; (3) it should include morals, ethics, and standards that are important to you; (4) it should be focused and not vague, but at the same time not too restricting; and (5) it should give you an ability to measure up potential opportunities against it. In other words, it will serve as a yardstick as you are considering different options or job postings. Does this position match up with my goals, or will it pull me in a different direction?

A lot of times we are worried about the length of a statement. In actuality, it can be as long or as short as you want it to be. However, usually two or three sentences are enough to get your point across.

Sample Requirements Statements

To help you out here, we have provided 2 sample short-term vision statements. Let’s examine the first one:

To further develop my career in academic/scientific publishing by expanding my role as a freelance copyeditor to include more Web-based publishing experience as well as to take on more project management responsibility. To offer my skills, dedication, and resources to a team-oriented environment that is focused on publishing high-quality materials that affect people’s lives for the better. To maintain the flexibility that being an off-site independent contractor affords and to avoid any part-time or full-time in-house positions as a way of ensuring that I am readily available for my daughter.

OK, so what does this sample do? It outlines the industry (academic/scientific publishing), the goal (more Web-based publishing experience and more project management responsibility), the environment (team-oriented), the focus (high-quality materials that affect people’s lives for the better), and the setting (an off-site independent contractor with flexible hours).

What does this sample NOT do? (1) It doesn’t discuss salary, (2) it doesn’t mention specific companies, and (3) it doesn’t discuss how the writer plans on making this happen. Points (1) and (2) are optional. This writer must have decided that she did not want to limit herself in these areas. However, that does not mean that you cannot include them in your statement. Many times we have bottom-line salaries that we want or need to make. If that’s the case, then salary is a good thing to put in your statement because you need to be clear on that. Point (3) we will address in Part 3 of this blog series Right now we want to focus on gathering our requirements. Then we will develop a strategy on how to get there.

Now let’s look at sample 2:

To achieve a director-level position in the Rochester, NY, area in the call center industry with a base salary no less than $125K.

MUST HAVES: Center must do outbound/inbound calls and be spread across multiple locations (2 or 3 in or out of state/region/country). Company must have solid reputation for offering quality products/services and be stable (no layoffs, lawsuits, or startups). Company must offer 3 weeks of vacation (or more) and bonus.

WOULD LIKE TO HAVE: At least 75 representatives, team leaders, and supervisors. A state-of-the-art phone switch. An international footprint. Stock options. A company car.
So what does this sample do? It takes the form of a list, which can be a really great way of getting your desires down on paper. (1) It lays out salary and location clearly. (2) It firmly states what the seeker can live with and without. (3) It gives a sense of the scope of companies that will be able to meet these requirements.

What does this sample NOT do? (1) Although it puts some strict limitations in place, it still allows room for some flexibility. (2) It doesn’t compromise on the things that are most important to the writer. (3) It doesn’t say whether these goals are realistic for this writer. Point (3) will be discussed in more detail in Part 3 of this blog series.

Requirements gathering and documenting shouldn’t take a long time to do, but it is so important because it provides the yardstick that you will need to help you fend off scope creep and stay on task: all problems inherent in any project lifecycle.

The ITtechExec Way

To arm yourself with more tools in your technical job search arsenal, we offer a free Technical Jobs report & Online Identity Assessment to our followers. We also offer a 10% discount on our solutions. Take advantage of our offer just by signing up to follow this blog or go to our website ITtechExec (be sure to indicate in the “How did you hear about us?” box that you found us through our blog).

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