Personal Branding Demystified

Posted on October 3, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips, Personal Branding | Tags: , , |


by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)

I really do believe that sometimes we (meaning the collective human race in general and career pros in particular) just like to make things harder than they really are. And that is especially true when it comes to “personal branding.”

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of the word, but then again, I am not a big fan of most buzz words. (And when it comes to the career industry, much like many other professions, we love our buzz words!) The reason for my frustration with the phrase is that for all the good we think we are doing by bombarding job seekers with these terms, it more often backfires than it does produce real good.

Here’s what I mean. You end up with two kinds of job seekers:

1. Ones who are obsessed with trying to unlock the personal branding puzzle. (They’ve been hearing all about this “new” concept, and they don’t want to miss out.)

2. Ones who are sick of hearing about it and reject it outright as just a ploy to sell them on more career services.

In both cases, it is a pity really because the idea behind personal branding is important and should not be rejected, but it isn’t all that new and it certainly isn’t a great mystery. What you have is a classic case of overselling, where you either set people up for disappoint or turn them off completely. Either way, it is not a good reflection on the career services industry, especially when I know that most career pros really do want to add value to a job seeker’s experience. They just fail to present it realistically.

It also doesn’t help that many job seekers are only interested in hearing what’s flashy, such as how social media is their savior and how personal branding will transform them into every prospective employer’s dream.

None of this should really come as a surprise as we find a similar issue with the terms “marketing” and “social media marketing,” in particular. As a small business owner, I am well aware of how obsessed you can become with these terms. We build these concepts up so much that we either chase after anyone who seems to grasp the mysteries behind them or run fleeing in the opposite direction just hoping our businesses will market themselves. And just like with “personal branding,” everybody loses (except the chosen few selling the online gimmicks).

Alas, however, like most things, once these buzz words enter the marketplace, they pull us all in. And they can’t be ignored because they do have some merit. The trick is in understanding just how much of the hype to believe and how much to throw out. That’s why I like to advise our clients to “keep it real.” We’re not looking for gimmicks but for real methods.

After all, we’re real people looking for real jobs with real companies run by other real people.

And although it might sound trite, that is really what personal branding is. It is understanding your place in that equation and articulating how you fit into it.

The best way to do that is good old-fashioned problem solving. Yes, problem solving.

The tools might be new (like LinkedIn or Twitter), the culture might be different (remote office, global teams), and the processes might be tedious (resume parsing systems), but the concept is still the same.

We hire people who can solve our problems.

That is exactly what an employer is looking for when he or she scans your resume. It’s not so much credentials (although they play a part); it’s whether you can solve the problem.

If you can anticipate and articulate that, then you understand your personal brand.

Likeability, background, cultural fit, age, and so on…for all our talk/worry about these issues…become less of an obstacle if you can convince an employer that you understand and know how to solve the problems he or she has.

Honestly, that’s all personal branding really is, and that is all that it will ever be. Polish or no polish. Introvert or extrovert.

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IT Resume Tips: IT Candidates Need to Highlight Team Experience

Posted on September 12, 2012. Filed under: CIO, Personal Branding, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

IT Team Environments

The business landscape has changed dramatically for IT over the past few years. The days of IT folks or departments operating in a vacuum are gone, never to return. Although this is a good development for business as a whole, it has required a change to the way IT works.

IT professionals must have the ability to directly engage business leaders, users, and process owners. This direct interaction is designed to eliminate the gaps in communicating needs and requirements that have plagued the business in the past.

The IT Resume

IT candidates must be able to communicate their ability to work well in collaborative team environments on the resume. Employers and recruiters today expect IT professionals to possess this skill. But simply stating that you’re a “team player” is not good enough. Everyone says that. They want the candidate to prove it in the meat of the resume.

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 to our followers. 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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The HR Dilemma with IT

Posted on September 4, 2012. Filed under: CIO, Personal Branding, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

Defining the Role of HR

HR serves many purposes in the corporate world. In most cases, HR helps to set strategy, plan the organizational model, define roles and responsibilities, set compensation levels, manage employee relations, handle orientation (or onboarding as it’s now called), ensure employment compliance, and monitor regulatory and legislative reforms. However, to the business or operating teams, HR is really in place to help them recruit, hire, train, and retain high-quality talent. For IT organizations or departments, the function of attracting, hiring, and keeping technical talent is more specialized than most other operating areas. Thus, IT presents HR with some unique challenges in this regard.

The IT perception of HR

In most corporations, HR is viewed by the IT team as an impediment to achieving their objectives. True or not, this seems to be the prevailing attitude from IT operators about HR. It seems that HR departments, or at least the HR representatives that engage directly with the IT team, are more focused on mitigating liability than anything else. These liabilities include equal employment opportunity (EEO) lawsuits, wrongful firing cases, sexual harassment cases, and the like. Human Resources takes a firm stance that the IT group cannot fire someone without reams of documentation. They are very committed to this. Yet, when it comes time to hire people so that IT can support and enable the business, there seems to be no sense of urgency.

Truth or reality?

So what’s real and what’s perception here? Experience indicates that it’s a bit of both. The real issue stems from the Information Technology Department’s unclear understanding of everything HR must do as well as HR’s unclear picture of what IT truly needs to be effective.

Communication

Really, it all boils down to communication and goal alignment. IT executives must come to the realization that it is one of their primary responsibilities to cultivate a strong working relationship with HR. In this way, HR executives can relate to their team the importance of the manner and expediency with which they recruit and hire for IT. Furthermore, this collaboration between HR and IT must extend to the onboarding and organizational development initiatives as well as compensation. Only by a joint effort will the company be able to generate a strong base of technical talent that is compensated appropriately, well equipped, with a clear sense of purpose and a career direction within the company that impels them to stay and incents them to perform to the utmost of their abilities.

IT executive, start building this kind of relationship with your HR executive today. The fruits of your labor will be rewarding.

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 to our followers. 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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