What is a Personal Brand and How Do I Use It?
As a professional resume writer serving clients in Calgary and beyond, I routinely discuss the importance of a consistent personal brand across all platforms with many of my clients. If you are in the process of writing your own resume or seeking out the assistance of Calgary professional resume writing services, this blog entry may be of value to you in shaping the way your approach or think about your personal brand.
If you think brands are the exclusive property of companies, think again. Your "personal brand" might be the difference between finding the job of your dreams, or spending years in career limbo. Maybe it’s time to perform a little due diligence on your end to bring personal brand in alignment with your resume or CV.
Understand the Term
Personal brand does not mean you need a logo and a color scheme, what it means is that you are comfortable being who you are and are confident enough to share yourself boldly with the world.
Your brand is not a listing of your wonderful executive accomplishments. Your brand is who you are, your creativity, your innovation, your motivation, and your deep commitment to excel.
Comprised largely of perceptions of who you are, a personal brand is an amalgamation of:
· Your online presence
· Track record
Understanding the state of your personal brand is as simple as running your name and province through a series of online searches. Results will be similar to those that a potential employer sees. As you analyze, put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter and look for anything that could throw up a red flag, for example, something that is inconsistent with your resume.
Your personal brand comes alive when you combine your personal attributes, strengths, and passions with your core value proposition – and then communicate that message effectively in your resume to your target audience. This is a central component to understanding what you have to offer, how you differentiate yourself from your peers, and what you are able to do to add value for your target company.
Personal branding, as it relates to this activity is a process of developing a message that is created around your name or your career. You can then apply this message to express and communicate your personal values, professional/personal skills, and personality.
Many people I talk to about this start off by telling me they don’t have a personal brand, they don’t understand what that is, only major corporations have brands..etc..however we all have the ability to be a brand and to harness our power to stand out, get noticed, and get hired. It is these unique qualities that draws people to what you have to offer – your message. Your personal brand should be about who you are and what you have to offer.
So, what do I say to people who say, but Ken, I don’t have a brand…or what do you mean...how can I get one of those….? Well, nature abhors a vacuum...so where there is no personal brand, you leave the other people the opportunity to create one for you..and it may not be all you had hoped. Never leave your unique message to others…take ownership of it, take accountability for this process of developing it and you’ll be able to craft a compelling personal brand capable of winning over the most intransigent of hiring managers. Your personal brand is what will make you stand out from your competition.
Why Personal Brand Matters
Along with your resume and cover letter, various bits of information lingering in cyberspace come together to create a sketch of your personality and attributes. They result in first impressions that can determine whether you will get the opportunity to compete for a position.
Personal brand also matters while employed, especially if you have a prominent position or work with a reputable local company. Showing you are comfortable with yourself is one of the most beneficial aspects of managing your personal brand. To many recruiters, this level of confidence can be irresistible.
Your personal brand can be an excellent way to share interests, opinions, and the ways you are preparing for the future. Those pieces of who you are do not normally come through on a formal resume or CV.
Managing a Personal Brand
Define how you want the world to see you. Do you want to be known as a conservative professional who studiously gets results or do you want to be seen as a gregarious marketing professional? Each of these types of brands has different needs.
Next, look at what is publicly visible on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Each platform offers some control over how your information shows in search results. Account settings in Google and Facebook can control privacy and search engine visibility. The 'public profile' is what LinkedIn shares with search engines. Modify visibility to meet your needs, and delete content that is contrary to the image you wish to portray. Finally, update your profile pictures to display a professional headshot and proceed with a smart strategy about what to post.
Allow your personal brand to develop with you, naturally. As you learn new things and take on new interests, share your findings. Be proud of the steps you take to improve and advance, even if it is in contrast to something you did before.
Bringing your resume in line with your personal brand is also especially important if you are in search of a new position.
Ken Docherty is a Certified Master Resume Writer, Certified Executive Resume Master, and Certified Professional Resume Writer. Ken provides professional resume writing services throughout Calgary and beyond.
How Do I Develop an Effective LinkedIn Profile?
Over the course of my resume writing career, acting as a resume writer to a huge client base throughout Calgary, I've often advised the need for professionals in Calgary to add a LinkedIn profile to their career marketing strategy.
Although most employers still require traditional resumes, a LinkedIn profile can be an active complement to your resume and provide added insight into your professional network in Calgary and beyond.
Many people simply don’t make use of their profile space. What’s the point in having a placeholder profile with no summary, bare bones information, and no obvious representation of your capabilities? Are you hoping to be contacted by friends? Join Facebook. Do you want to connect with potential hiring managers or peers? Then give them something to work with. Give them a reason to reach out and connect with you, or accept your connection request.
Choose an Appropriate Profile Image
LinkedIn is akin to a non-stop virtual networking mixer. Would you wear a mask to a networking event in person? Not likely, so use a current headshot on your LinkedIn profile. Few things diminish your credibility like having no picture or an image of something besides your smiling face.
Make your Headline Pop
As the most prominent piece aside from your picture, the headline is a hook that should pique the interest of potential employers & colleagues. Like any intriguing headline, yours should offer a preview of you, without giving it all away. Headlines can only be 120 characters, make your words count.
Pay Attention to the Summary Section
It is essential that you craft compelling commentary for the Summary section of the profile. This is where you take control of the message. Don’t give the reader an opportunity to skim straight down to your employment experience. At that point, they’re forming snap judgements about the type of company you work for, the level you’re at, the length of time you’ve been there and then you’re relying on the first two or three bullet points of the first entry to sell yourself.
You need to OWN the message in that summary section – sell them on who you are, what you’ve done, and what you can NOW do for them. Yes, it’s a sales pitch – and even though you may not be looking for a job, highlighting your key skills, abilities, and accomplishments won’t do anyone any harm.
As LinkedIn is all about first impressions, draft the first paragraph to highlight your top skills or accomplishments and include just enough biographical information to humanize your profile. For example, compare the following two examples:
•"I have been serving clients well for many years with XX brokerage"
•"As a 10-year veteran of the financial services industry in New York, I have highly developed knowledge of current regulation, a talent for identifying emerging markets, and a sincere devotion to my clients' success …"
In the second example, you discover this person has at least a decade of experience, is local to New York, and claims expertise in three areas of significance to his or her industry.
Experience Section: Details Matter
Much like the body of a resume, the experience section is where you detail work history and experience. Mind the details and make sure the dates, titles, and names accurately reflect your resume or CV. Recruiters will likely check your LinkedIn profile and will be wary of inconsistencies.
Add photos and links to online content to both the experience and the summary sections. Portfolio pieces, images and YouTube videos that show you giving talks or presentations will help your profile carry greater weight than descriptions alone.
Of course, having a knock-out LinkedIn profile may lead to questions from a colleague or employer as to why you’re looking so stellar on LinkedIn, however if the goal isn’t to look great then what’s the point?
Just be careful not to divulge commercially sensitive information on your profile or you may find yourself in breach of confidentiality clauses or at the wrong end of a telling-off. Unless otherwise cleared, you should avoid using financial metrics (I made the company $10M this year in XYZ market), avoid disclosing pending deals, products, or technologies, and otherwise avoid giving your employers competitors any kind of commercial or competitive advantage/information that could lead to any kind of loss.
Participate in Groups
Networking is easy when you join groups that discuss areas of your expertise. Participate in conversations and show your expertise through involvement, not self-promotion. Ask intelligent questions, share interesting content and offer specific examples when you discuss your personal experience to foster connections.
Interact with Peers
Aside from groups, interact with your personal network regularly. Endorsing your peers for skills, making intelligent comments on material they share, and thanking them when they endorse you are effective ways to connect. Recommendations are another key element, so be sure to give them and request them regularly. Remember that interactions are often reciprocal in that you receive when you give.
Stay Active and Engaged
Like most social networks, the key point of LinkedIn is to show you are active and engaged in your industry. With interactive examples of your work and the chance to learn more about you as a person, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to raise an employer's interest.
With effective networking, your profile can even bring offers to your doorstep.
Whether you need the services of a professional resume writer or not, you should consider updating your LinkedIn profile to make sure it reflects the true value you can offer an employer.
Ken Docherty is a Certified Master Resume Writer, Certified Executive Resume Master, Certified Professional Resume Writer. Ken assists clients in Calgary and beyond in developing a professional resume.
As the premier provider of resume services in Calgary, I have encountered thousands of resumes and cover letters over the years. As a former executive recruiter and employment agency owner, I can tell within a matter of seconds what each job seeker is doing well with their resume/cover letter, and what they're not doing well! In this blog, I'll focus on giving some cover letter tips for professionals in the Calgary area.
For almost every job, a cover letter is an essential part of the application. Effectively constructing your cover letter can open the door to the interview. As an experienced recruiter, former staffing agency owner, and career marketing consultant, I can attest to numerous examples of cover letters that fast track an application to the "No, thank you!" file.
Although I customize the structure, tone, and content of each letter to suit my resume client’s needs and overall objectives, I’ve put together a general overview for you should you need a basic ‘how to’ when drafting your own cover letter.
Too many letters are, quite honestly, as waste of a perfectly good piece of paper. They’re often long, boring, fail to communicate jobseeker value, and fail to address the needs of the role. When I was recruiting, I was often staggered by the number of cover letters that left me wondering “So, why are you applying for this role?”. That should NEVER happen. Yet it did, continuously and from job seekers at all levels across all industries.
What’s the point of having or using a cover letter?
Well, if the hiring company ask for one, it represents another opportunity to SELL yourself into the role. So, there are two reasons for having a cover letter 1) if the company asks for one, you give them what they want, and 2) you get another wonderful opportunity to differentiate yourself from the chasing pack of hounds looking to snaffle that role from under your nose.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? So why do 95% of cover letters fail to sell the job seeker into a role?
So, we know the purpose of the letter – SELL yourself into the job. Avoid the cookie cutter introductions and faux deference to the company that you were taught in college. I’ve seen so many of these things it’s comical – I immediately know you’re copying a template letter given to you by a college career advisor, and they’re generally uninspiring.
I remember one cover letter in particular sent in application to a gaming (gambling) company. The opening stanza followed the standard college career advisor template, and in this case the job seeker pledged to do all they could to support the company in their quest to “uphold their mission to ensure responsible gaming”. The job seeker was applying for an accounting role.
Clearly, the job seeker had gone to the company website, saw that blurb about responsible gaming and slapped it into the cover letter. That’s what these templates look like, isn’t it? There a space underneath the opening line for you to add in a little ditty like that! Please don’t.
The cover letter is a one-page document. Never, ever more than that. Don’t resist..I can already hear a small number of you trying to make a case for a 2-pager – DON’T DO IT. When I received 2-page cover letters, a little thought crept into my mind that this was borderline rude. I kid you not. Maybe that’s just me!
So, it’s a one-page document and real estate space is limited. There’s no room for waffle. No room for platitudes, or inane chatter copied and pasted from the target company’s mission statement.
The letter must be concise, highly-focused, high-impact, and leave the reader in no doubt that you have the skills and experience needed to this role. In addition, they should understand that you are able to ADD VALUE. If you’re super strategic about it, you can also seek to eliminate any potential objections to your application in there.
For the meantime though, here are a few pointers.
Appearance and Format
Help your cover letter to stand out by keeping it clean, simple, and professional. Above all, carefully proofread, so it is free of grammatical and spelling errors. Self-editing is not trustworthy, so enlist help from a friend or family member. Double-check the spelling of the company's name and person to whom you are addressing the letter.
Follow standard business formatting guidelines, as seen in this image. For a digital version, format your cover letter and resume as a PDF. For a hard copy, consider using unique paper stock and custom letterhead.
Tone and Structure
The tone should be positive, direct, and professional; it should also be free of quips and idioms. Moreover, write to a person, not an entire organization. Focus the letter on how you will add value to the company, not your skills and experience. Three to four paragraphs is an appropriate length.
First paragraph: Introduce yourself and discuss why you want the job. Briefly mention your most relevant experience and emphasize why the company or the job interests you and more importantly for the target audience, what you would be able to do for them. Be specific!
Avoid generalizations such as, "… because your company is a leader in XX industry…" or "…I want to work with a quality organization…"
Second paragraph: Next, discuss how your unique experience, skills, and attributes will add value to the company. Look for clues about what to highlight in the job posting. For example, if an employer asks for an outgoing personality, mention you enjoy working closely with clients, because of xyz reason. If the job requires specific technical skills, mention your certifications and summarize your experience with those skills.
Third paragraph: Depending on your style and the job, you might want to include a third paragraph or a short list of bullet points to highlight specific examples that substantiate key points in the second paragraph. Share specific examples that are not included on your resume or CV. Be prepared to discuss these examples in detail during an interview.
Conclusion: Graciously close by thanking the reader for his or her time. Always include when and how to contact you, and insert a statement such as "I look forward to speaking with you in person about this position."
I have been writing high impact resumes & cover letters for Calgary's top professionals for over a decade. If you're looking for resume services in Calgary, get in touch!
Originally released Sept. 30th 2014 - http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/ken-docherty-awarded-international-master-level-resume-writing-certification---becomes-only-cmrw-in-canada-515725481.html
KEN DOCHERTY AWARDED INTERNATIONAL MASTER-LEVEL RESUME WRITING CERTIFICATION – BECOMES THE ONLY CMRW IN CANADA
Ken Docherty, Owner, Docherty Career Management Inc., has been awarded international certification as a Certified Master Resume Writer (CMRW) by Career Directors International (CDI). This Master-Level certification is the pinnacle level of competency for CDI, and is the industry's oldest and most prestigious master-level resume credential. Ken is the only Certified Master Resume Writer in Canada.
To attain the credential and become recognized as one of the world’s elite resume writers, Ken had to demonstrate his superior knowledge and experience in contemporary resume writing through an intensive examination of his professional writing. Ken was assessed on his broad range of industry knowledge and expertise in the areas of strategy, branding, advanced visual appeal, and contextual narrative. Recognition as a CMRW sets Ken Docherty apart from the competition and distinguishes the high caliber of his credentials in assisting clientele with professional resume services.
Docherty Career Management Inc. offers expert resume writing and career coaching services to entry-level through executive clientele in the global marketplace. Ken’s expertise is in empowering clients to navigate the complexities of job search and emerge as successful candidates. To learn more about the services offered, visit www.expertresumewriter.ca for more information.
CDI is an international association that provides proactive resources and assistance to empower its members to apply world’s best practice in career development, resume writing and job search.
Long gone are the days when you chose a career path and worked the same job for thirty or more years. The new normal is that you will likely work for several employers and in several capacities. Although changing industries is easier than it was for previous generations, your career will fare better if you take deliberate steps to ease the shock of the transition.
Give Yourself Permission to Dream
Change can be frightening, especially if you have invested years in your current industry. On the other hand, change also brings exciting new opportunities and can be your chance to become the person you wish to be deep down inside, which can be a dream come true. Focus on the running possibilities through your mind, rather than worrying about the unknown or your ability to earn a competitive income.
For many of my clients who utilize my professional resume services in Calgary, the decision to move to a new industry is a matter of practicality. However, people who choose to move because they dream of invigorating opportunities tend to experience a more fulfilling transition.
Research the Industry
Although it is perfectly normal to feel apprehensive when changing industries, it is less intimidating when you know what to expect in terms of pay, advancement opportunities and overall prospects for growth. Here in Alberta, one of your best resources is the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS).
Leading up to the transition, be sure to keep informed of the latest developments in your new industry by monitoring the news and industry insiders. Setting up Google alerts and subscribing to interesting columns and RSS feeds can help you in this effort, as will following industry thought leaders on social media.
Assess Your Skill Sets
Your first objective is to identify which skill sets will be most valuable in your new industry. Soft skills such as leadership, communication and technological savvy are often at the top of this list. A close second would be universal business skills such as finance and budgeting, project management, regulation, and human resources expertise.
Defining the industry-specific skills you need is the next step. Recruiters, contacts within the industry, and the ALIS can help you identify which competencies to develop in order to ease the transition.
Create a Roadmap
Transitions can take up to five years to complete, and it is surprisingly easy to lose track of your progress. A specific, achievable roadmap with defined benchmarks is one of the most effective means to keep your spirits high and your motivation strong.
Include education and certifications, necessary connections, and financial preparations, and attach an estimated timeline to achieve each benchmark you define. Timelines should be negotiable, as you must allow for unexpected obstacles. Remember to acknowledge success when you achieve your benchmarks!
Be Positive, Confident, and Open-Minded
No matter how well you research and prepare, you will encounter surprises along the way. Keeping an open mind will help you manage interruptions and reinforce your confidence. The transition is a journey to enjoy, so maintain a positive outlook every step of the way. As I remind many of my clients, you have found success in your current industry, and you will do it again.
If you would like help preparing your resume for transition, please consider me your personal resume writer in Calgary.
As a certified professional resume writer, former executive recruiter, and recruitment consultancy owner, I understand the value that work experience on a resume can confer upon graduates seeking entry-level roles within their chosen profession upon graduation.
In spite of a recent CBC documentary highlighting the plight of many graduates, unemployed or underemployed with mountains of debt, I still receive requests for resume assistance from undergrads with zero work experience. Usually, the reason given for the lack of work experience on their resume is that they wanted to focus on their studies, or that they received advice from an elder that working in the usual coffee houses or restaurants is beneath them and wouldn’t look good on a resume.
Nothing could be further from the truth. To be clear, having no work entries on your resume at the time of graduation will put you at a severe disadvantage when competing with thousands of other applicants for your entry level role. An employer respects the drive and determination shown by graduates who can demonstrate an ability to balance their academic studies with regular part-time employment. It looks good on your resume.
A recent client who worked at a well-known coffee house gained experience of working in a customer-facing role in a highly-dynamic working environment. He had responsibility for delivering outstanding customer service, supervising junior staff members, enforcing corporate policies and procedures, adhering to safe workplace practices, opening and closing the store, processing orders, handling cash, and producing daily operational reports for management. He even won an award for outstanding customer service. Not working during your studies is not an option. If I were reviewing resumes with a view to recruiting graduates, I’d exclusively seek out candidates with work experience on their resume.
As part of the information discovery process, I usually ask clients to bring along to our meeting any additional information they feel is useful, relevant or in some other way important. Last month, one of my clients produced an old "questionnaire" they had been asked to fill our by a resume writing firm about 8 years ago.
The first thing that struck me about the document was how impersonal it all was. Stock questions, soliciting the inevitable stock answers, strengths, weaknesses, lists - endless lists of attributes to circle. What i was looking at, was a template to build a template.
The end result, the resume, was as bland and uninspiring as you'd expect from such a process. I was amazed by the blatant listing of attributes throughout the cover letter and resume without any supporting narrative to put the clients skills in context.
Here's a section from the cover letter;
"I am a great communicator, can multi-task, give and take orders, have listening skills, organizational skills, planning skills, speak french and have good computer skills".
The above extract is absolutely meaningless without context. It looks like every other D.I.Y. cover letter project out there and was clearly lifted verbatim from the questionnaire and deposited unceremoniously into the cover letter.
Is that what you really want from a process and service charged with the responsibility of demonstrating your unique qualities to a prospective hiring manager? Templates are for the masses - let everyone else use them.Tags: professional resume consultant Calgary.
Did you know employers frequently research candidates prior to choosing who is worthy of an interview? Research often extends past LinkedIn and reach into Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and any other information to be found on the Internet. If you are going to invest in the services of a certified professional resume writer in Calgary, then also invest a bit of time in optimizing your online presence.
In this day and age, employers are likely to google your name to access and assess your online activity. Tweets, Facebook/google+/YouTube video/forum comments can form part of the job candidate acceptance review. What do your comments say about you? How will they be perceived by a prospective employer? Are they conciliatory, antagonistic, confrontational, emotional, intelligent, logical, irrational, mean, or uplifting? Whether you like it or not, your online activity in all its forms is now a core component of your personal brand.
The social media scene can no longer be seen as a playground for reckless abandon where you're free to say whatever you want and to whom. There can be consequences, and they could very well negatively impact your career. Assess your own activity before an employer does and try to have unprofessional content removed from google permanently. Take great care with your posts and comments. If you're smart about it, you can use social media to build a very positive image of yourself across multiple platforms.
Do you have a presence?
LinkedIn is the most popular network for professionals; however, it is prudent to have an alternate personal profile to supplement this. Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ are the most popular networks, each with its own set of benefits. Regardless of whether your profile is personal or professional, most recruiters prefer to see your real name, not a modified version, or even more off-putting, an alias.
Activity levels are another point recruiters often consider. Showing a healthy level of activity will help to improve your position in their assessment. Excessive activity such posting an update every few minutes can be a turnoff, while one post a year can make you appear disengaged.
Industry and profession also play a role in the level of your engagement with social media and in a recruiter's assessment. For example, a recruiter usually expects a candidate applying to a marketing agency to be more active than a person applying for an actuary position.
Do you demonstrate tact?
Consider the tone, diction, and style of your posts and comments. Ask yourself these questions before you post:
· Do your posts and comments enhance your professional image?
· If you speak the way you write on social media, would you be able to keep your job?
If you answer "yes" to both, then you are on the right track with your social media. If you say "no" or feel a twinge of doubt, then you need to take action immediately to clean up your social presence. Comb through posts and comments and delete anything that could turn off a recruiter. Privacy settings are not a trustworthy safeguard to protect against online indiscretions.
Are your profile pictures and photos appropriate?
Headshots are by far the best profile image for a professional in search of a new position. Photographs, both those posted by you and those where friends have tagged you, also deserve scrutiny. Consider taking down images that present a less-than-professional you. These could include pictures of social occasions, wedding pictures, family portraits (it might not be wise to inadvertently reveal your family or marital status), and poor quality snapshots of the mundane.
Mind your P's and Q's
Although you might hear conflicting information about how to manage social profiles, the key point to remember is that anything you post on the Internet can come back and rear its head. The best practice is to post and say things you would not mind your boss repeating to the team during a meeting.
As your professional resume writer in Calgary, I can also help you develop your LinkedIn profiles to enhance your standing in the job market.
Ken Docherty is a leading authority on resume writing, interview coaching and LinkedIn profile development.