10d A Productivity Tool for Your Job Search

By: Vic Massaglia

Life is complicated and time is short, especially if you are someone who works hard and plays hard. Wasting a precious resource like your time can mean missing out on chances to grow professionally and engage socially, and let’s face it, managing the daily administrative tasks that accompany an ambitious lifestyle can be mind-numbingly boring!

For years I had tried to find the perfect productivity/planning tool to help keep me keep organized, on-task, and meet deadlines so I could focus on what’s really important in my life. I tried using many various tools such as:

‘To do’ lists – which I’d lose and extremely burdensome to transfer action items from one list to another.
Outlook or Google tasks function – I would miss tasks because of it’s linear design (listing tasks as a list).
Various types of planners (e.g. Day Runner, At-a-Glance, Franklin) which felt overwhelming because of the amount of daily and weekly maintenance I had to do.

My calendar as a place to put my tasks but had so many action items, it really would clutter my calendar and I’d confuse what I should be doing with where I would supposed to be.
Post-it® notes but would frequently lose the notes.

A PalmPilot (they were called PDAs – Personal Data Assistants – yikes!). This tool was a step in the right direction but was not compatible with other technology. In fact, many people carried so many devices, they looked like they had Batman’s Utility Batbelt.
So you see, I tried many different tools and systems, and none of these seemed to work for me. Perhaps they may for you.

A few years ago, however, I finally found a tool that works perfectly for me and have developed a system that I have found to be extremely effective. I use a free, web-based tool called Remember the Milk (RTM). It truly lives up to its creator’s claim that “it makes managing tasks an enjoyable experience.” I use the site for everything I need to do and remember. Since I’m the only one with access to my RTM account, I use it for both personal and professional reasons, and I believe it’s the perfect tool for students and professionals.
It’s also very helpful in managing the one’s job search.

With RTM, I love the global view where I can see all of my projects. Here’s how easy it is: You create “Sections” that will organize tasks. For example, you can create a “Follow-Up” section where you can list people you need to connect with or a section titled “Job Postings” to help you keep track and follow-up with the jobs you apply to. Then, you list ”Tasks” under the “Section” heading where you can include a lot of useful data: due dates, notes, websites, tags, etc.

In addition to being able to be sent reminders via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., an extremely helpful function of RTM is that it’s able to sync with your mobile device and with your Google calendar.

I use RTM particularly for tasks and use a calendar for is only two things: where I’m supposed to be, and what I’m supposed to be working on.
With all the organization/productivity tools I listed above, I have found Remember the Milk to be the most effective tool for me and, as I mentioned, have used it for years. Give it a try. It’s super easy and, more importantly, it will help you keep organized and productive!

Vic has a passion for working with students and professionals who are preparing to establish careers on a global stage. He has extensive experience in leadership, career and organizational development in both the public and private sectors. Currently, he is a career counselor and adjunct associate professor for the University of Minnesota Law School, where he provides career path, job search strategy, and life-work balance counseling for law students, alumni, and foreign-trained attorneys. He is also principal of Cygnus 360, a career development consultancy that helps career counselors, career services offices, and clients with their career needs which include creating their brands using social networking tools and other technology. Vic is currently serving on the board for the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP).
He is a former board member for the Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA), past president of the Minnesota Legal Career Professionals City Group, and former director of learning for the Minnesota Organization Development Network. You can follow Vic at Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.


The Five Commandments of Job Searching

By: Yolanda Owens

In the current employment climate, landing a job may feel like a task that can only be achieved through divine intervention. But if relying on a wing and a prayer isn’t part of your job pursuit, then here are five employment commandments to help you get to the occupational pearly gates.

Thou shalt not be a spaghetti thrower.
You know that old trick of testing spaghetti to see if it’s done by throwing some against the wall and watching if any sticks? Well many of you approach your job search the way.In your frustration, you’re throwing everything against the wall. We get the concept of casting a wider net. But there is no need to apply for every job on a company’s career site in hopes that one of the applications will stick.

Not only will this leave you with a mess you won’t want to clean, it will also leave employers with the impression you’re not serious about their company or putting any thought into your job search. Be strategic and thoughtful in the roles you apply to. Not seeing anything that fits what you’re looking for? Then check your LinkedIn contacts and find friends with connections to the companies you want to work for and ask for an introduction. An introduction now could lead to an opportunity later…And you won’t be wearing spaghetti on your face.

Thou shalt let hooked on phonics work for you.

Save yourself and the employers whose jobs you’re applying to some frustration and read before you respond. Whether it’s the job description, an email about an interview or potential meeting, an application, or an invitation, take the time to READ (not skim, assume, or guess) what’s being said or asked before you react.

Keep in mind that there could be hundreds of applicants applying to the same job. So the deciding factor could boil down to who’s able to read more effectively without interrupting the manager or recruiter with endless questions that have already been put in writing. Exercise patience and your reading comprehension skills and let hooked on phonics work for (not against) your job search.

Thou shalt always dress to impress.
Just because a company embraces casual Fridays or has a business casual dress code, doesn’t mean you come to your interview dressed for happy hour on the beach. Always dress in professional business attire (suit, tie, skirt, heels…) when going for interviews and make sure the clothing is clean, pressed, and presentable. You should never show up to an interview with mustardy armpits or look like a balled up piece of paper in sensible shoes. Be well dressed so you’re remembered for your many attributes and not your fashion flaws.

Thou shalt not commit stalking.

As a recruiter, this commandment is near and dear to my heart. We understand you want to get our attention and stand out among the masses. But invading personal space will not win you any brownie points in the attention grabbing game. So please don’t blindly friend recruiters and managers on their personal social networks, personal emails, websites, or personal cell phones in hopes of making a good first impression.

Trust me, this is the quickest way to get your credentials added to the recycle bin or blacklisted in larger recruiting circles. Use this as your litmus test; if you’d feel weirded out by someone doing the same thing to you, you should probably rethink your actions.
Thou shalt not talk in generalities.

Employers aren’t looking for generally speaking when reviewing candidates to fill their roles. They want candidates who can give them specific examples of what they bring to the table. So don’t come to the table regurgitating the job description or spouting what someone in the role would generally do.

Instead, talk about what you’ve done in your previous jobs to improve a process, save money, be more efficient, demonstrate your leadership or accentuate teaming skills. Then take it a step further and quantify these examples. Explain how your process improvement caused 25% fewer defects saved the company $5000 and freed up four hours a day in production time. That says a lot more to employers than the fact you created a spreadsheet.

Yolanda M. Owens is a recruiting sensei, intern whisperer and awarding-winning author of How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer. Learn more about Yolanda and her employer “dating” tips by visiting her website or fan her on Facebook.

5 Ways to Maximize the New LinkedIn Profile Layout

If you haven’t heard, your LinkedIn profile is about to get a face-lift – if it hasn’t already. LinkedIn announced in mid-October that it would be rolling out a new look to profile pages aiming to make it easier to showcase your experience and connect with others. To see examples of the new page, click here for an interactive example or click here to see my full profile in the new format (click the link on the right to view the Full Profile).

With the new layout, it is becoming more important than ever for you to complete your LinkedIn profile so that recruiters can gain better insight into your skills, experience and talents. Here are five tips to prepare your LinkedIn profile for the updated look. 1) Add a Professional Photo of Yourself

The new profile page has a prominent placeholder for a photo of you. As you seek to build relationships on LinkedIn, people will want to see who you are – just like on Facebook or Google+. Remember to use a professional-looking head shot and not your favorite pic from last year’s summer vacation. 2) Make Your Headline Meaningful

Use the title or headline as an opportunity to grab your page visitor’s attention. Rather than simply list yourself as a “student,” use industry buzz words to show your ambition and career potential. Perhaps you are a “Rising Culinary Expert” or an “Aspiring Writer.” Or, you could use this space to cite your own personal branding statement – citing your career goals. And, in your contact info, don’t forget to list your personal website, Twitter and/or blog URLs. 3) Complete Your Information!

Ensuring that your profile is complete and up-to-date is a key step in your LinkedIn success. Your Summary should be a concise snapshot of your experience and skills, much like an elevator speech, and provide a statement about your career goals in one short paragraph or two.

The revised Skills & Expertise section is a great place to list all of your skills. Next, use the Experience section to add any current jobs or internships, as well as any other positions you’ve held that lend to building your credibility and showcasing your experience. Much like a resume, this is your opportunity to tell the world about all that you are capable of achieving. So, provide some concrete examples of how you’ve accomplished goals, led a team to reach an achievement or took initiative to create a success. And, don’t forget to list any Volunteer work!

The new Projects section is a great space to provide detailed information about any project you have worked on – perhaps in an internship or volunteer capacity. Did you organize a fraternity/sorority event? Did you work on a special class project that required you to complete real-world tasks? Did you take on a leadership role in a project for an agency where you volunteered over the summer? Use this space to talk about those projects while describing your specific role and how you met objectives, surpassed goals or otherwise created success. 4) Personalize Your LinkedIn Profile Link

By default, LinkedIn assigns your profile page a nondescript link that includes a long numeric identifier. However, you can personalize this link to become something like: Having a personalized link makes it easy for you to remember when sharing your profile, and it helps build your personal brand by identifying yourself in the link. You can update your link simply by clicking the Edit Link hypertext next to your default profile page link on your profile. 5) Get Recommendations

Recommendations are a great way to have others endorse your skills and experiences. Ask professors, former employers, those who you have volunteered with or other leaders who you have worked with to write brief recommendations on your page. Third-party endorsements are one of the strongest ways to promote your experience and capabilities. Building your LinkedIn profile is an important step in maximizing your use of this social medium in your job search. But, don’t forget to join relevant groups in your career field and become an active contributor. Participating in conversations, sharing your knowledge and building relationships are all important for building your personal brand, advancing your job search and building your future career.

Make your LinkedIn profile stand out. Embrace the new profile and let your skills leap off the screen at those who may be interested in hiring you. Remember, you only get one chance to make a great first impression

Brand Yourself – or be the Next Scumbag Steve

“Brand yourself, or Google will” is wise advice from branding expert Dan Schawbel. Scumbag Steve is a case study of what happens if you don’t.
For those unfamiliar with him, Scumbag Steve is a meme gone viral. Entire websites have been created to showcase the best memes – customized captions on a photograph. The crazy part is that the guy in the photograph (his real name is Blake Boston) didn’t even know this was going on. His entire “brand” was created by total strangers without his knowledge.

It started simply enough. Blake’s mother was taking a photography class and took a lot of photos of her children including the iconic one of Blake. Only 16 at the time, Blake wanted to be a rapper, and used the photo for an album cover, some marketing materials and on a MySpace page. There it languished until someone copied it and added a caption, picking up the name “Scumbag Steve” along the way.

While Scumbag Steve had a huge presence on the Internet, Blake was virtually invisible. It was only after friends told him that Blake became aware of his alter ego. Eventually, Blake became Scumbag Steve – attempting to channel his notoriety into a music career. So far, he’s been unsuccessful – people seem to like Scumbag Steve a lot more than they like Blake Boston.
Can this happen to you? Sadly, yes.

You should not only create your distinctive brand and make sure your online presence is positive; you should also regularly Google yourself (web and images), and take immediate action if you see anything negative.

Take control of your online presence and position yourself for career success, not as the next Scumbag Steve.

Marilyn is the Assistant Director of Graduate and Alumni Career Services at Bentley University. She brings an uncanny ability quickly discern strengths and differentiators and turn this knowledge into strategic career plans. She is passionate about equipping graduate students and alumni with cutting edge skills. Marilyn has a great deal of corporate experience, primarily in the technology, biotech and healthcare industries. She is a long-time user of social media (she was mentioned in Fast Company’s “Most Influential People Online 2010”). She holds degrees in Psychology and Public Administration from The Florida State University. Marilyn immigrated from Cuba as a child and is bilingual. She is active in Boston’s Hispanic business community.

Think Different: Career Advice from Steve Jobs
Market Research on the Brand Called You
Learn to Appreciate Your Own Brand

12 common mistakes made in strategic planning

This article examines 12 common mistakes made in corporate strategic planning. Complimentary PDF resources on strategic planning are available at the end of the article.

1. The timeframe of the plan is too long

While business strategies should be expected to be steady and relatively unchanged for a longer period of time, strategic plans need to remain sharply focused on accomplishing strategic priorities in a timely manner. The plans also need more frequent refreshing to keep them from becoming stale and to keep the organization energized on plan execution. Long-term planning certainly has its place in a corporate world, but shorter operational plan horizons, going only 12 months out, allow organizations to utilize valuable current information and remain engaged in delivering to the plan milestones. A rolling 12-month plan that is updated on a quarterly basis offers more value to the organization in several ways. As long-term plan goals are partially or fully met, the operational component of the plan moves forward and is refreshed with more accurate and updated information for the coming 12 months. New objectives and sub-initiatives move up as others are completed and move out. This provides actionable data for managers to work from during budgeting and gives executives a more realistic sense of actual plan momentum and progress.

2. Too many strategic goals

Organizations often have a long wish list of goals, ranging from pie-in-the-sky to mundane. Dreaming up goals is generally not an issue. Instead, the issue is having the discipline to narrow down prioritized goals to a manageable and achievable level. Five goals is a good number to consider as a maximum. When you consider that each goal will lead to a sequence of programs, initiatives, activities and deliverables that will need to be managed and implemented throughout the organization, it’s easy to see how a long list of goals can inhibit implementation success.

3. Goals not tied to measurable outcomes

Organizational goals should be constructed in terms of outcomes that will mean something tangible to customers, employees and the organization’s markets served. Likewise, goals should be defined in such a way that they can be measured and managed throughout the layers of the organization. Goals should help propel action and achievement from the managers and workers who will be involved in accomplishing them.

4. Employees are unaware of the goals

Believe it or not, this can be a huge problem in many organizations. When the corporate planning process fails to consider the individuals who will actually implement the plan, breakdowns happen and desired outcomes are rarely attained. Detailed plans of action are needed for each initiative and goals should be carefully communicated throughout the organization so that everyone knows and understands not only the “big picture”, but what is expected specifically of them.

5. Key vendors and partners not considered

By communicating organizational goals to key vendors, distributors, suppliers and partners, much needed buy-in and assistance can be gained from these external parties to achieve desired outcomes. For example, asking for price reductions, extended payment terms, or quantity discounts can be greatly facilitated when suppliers and partners are made part of the process and understand what may be in it for them in the long-run.

6. Plan leaves too much room for interpretation

This mistake typically circles back to the way organizational goals have been defined. If there is ambiguity in the way the goals are explained, they will be easily misinterpreted by members of the organization and will result in execution that misses the intended mark. Starting with a clearly defined outcome, much of this interpretation and resulting ambiguity can be replaced by clearly defined expectations.

7. Job descriptions not aligned to desired strategic outcomes

When job descriptions and job responsibilities align with corporate goals, organizations see better results in strategy execution. Job alignment helps achieve accountability and also fosters needed cooperation from individuals throughout the organization. When job descriptions and responsibilities are effectively communicated to employees and when additional responsibilities are given to them related to accomplishing tasks related to strategic goals – these individuals become tuned-in with their roles and the expectations surrounding them. The goal is to create empowered team players.

8. Performance measures not aligned to organizational goals

Adding to the above, organizations must set performance measurements and incentives for employees and officers. These performance measurements should be derived from the job descriptions and job responsibilities, and the resulting incentives must be strong enough to empower all layers of management to measure and manage efforts toward the achievement of plan goals. While this adds a layer of complexity to the organizational planning process, neglecting this step will result in subpar performance.

9. Organizational culture is overlooked

The corporate planning process must consider the organizational culture. Without this, it is impossible to fulfill the organization’s potential to dominate within their marketplace. Culture determines how the organization functions and how work will be completed. Aligning strategy, tactics and governance to address these dimensions will positevely affect the outcome of planning efforts.

10. Customer value is overlooked

Customer-centric planning puts your number one stakeholder – the end customer – at the forefront of the organization’s activities and goals. By creating goals that reflect the type of value the organization can create for the customer, you’ll “put a face to the name” and more effectively connect members of the organization with the desired outcomes. This requires a competitive analysis in order to understand positioning, threats and the true current-day value proposition of the organization’s offerings. Not all goals need to be customer-centric in nature, but overlooking this aspect during planning can lead to missed opportunities.

11. Operational planning is overlooked

An effective corporate planning process allows the organization to plan strategically at the enterprise level and then operationally at the business unit level with each part supporting the other. Failing to reach all the way down through the organizational layers is a common problem with corporate planning processes. This is where inadequate budgeting can come into play, resulting in resource constraints that will undermine the plan’s execution down stream. Strategic planning, to be effective, must address the entire business ecosystem – from top to bottom.

12. Cyclical and seasonal peaks and valleys overlooked

It is well-understood that organizations must balance the realities of financial budgets during the corporate planning process. Yet, the organization must also take into account relevant economic cycles that will impact the strategy over time. Economic cycles will affect market conditions, access to capital, energy, focus, and many other factors (both positively and negatively) to inhibit or accelerate an organization’s ability to accomplish its desired outcomes. To the extent that economic and cyclical factors are understood and anticipated, the organization can build a layer of realistic contingency into corporate plans that address the peak workloads of workers, budget cycles and many other factors – thus improving the realism of the plan and ultimately the results.

To read more about strategic and operational planning, refer to these complimentary PDF downloads from Joe Evans:

Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Execution, a guide to successful strategic planning
Strategy Implementation Essentials, a guide to successful operational planning

Joe Evans is President and CEO of Method Frameworks, one of the world’s leading strategy and operational planning management consultancies, providing services for a diverse field of clients ranging from small start-up tech firms to Fortune 500 companies like Southwest Airlines and Bank of America.

The 10 Rules of Cash Flow 101

From Philip Campbell, CPA

Cash flow is the lifeblood of all businesses. Learn the Cash Flow 101 Rules to free yourself from money worries. The statistics on small business failure are alarming. Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It”, says that 40% of businesses fail in their first year. 80% fail within their first five years. Why? A main reason is they run out of cash. Don’t let this happen to your small business. Use the basic rules of Cash Flow 101 to help you take control of your cash flow so you can create the business you have always dreamed of. 1. Never Run Out of Cash. Running out of cash is the definition of failure in business. Make the commitment to do what it takes so it does not happen to you. 2. Cash Is King. It’s important to recognize that the basics of cash flow 101 are what keeps your business alive. Manage it with the care and attention it deserves. It’s very unforgiving if you don’t. Remember, cash is king, because no cash means no business. 3. Know the Cash Balance Now. What is your cash balance right now? It’s absolutely critical that you know exactly what your cash balance is. Even the most experienced person will fail if they are making business decisions using inaccurate or incomplete cash balances. This is fundamental cash flow 101. That’s the reason why business failures are not limited to amateurs or people new to the business world. 4. Do Today’s Work Today. The key to keeping an accurate cash balance in your accounting system is to do today’s work today. When you do this, you will have the numbers you need – when you need them. 5. Do the Work or Get Someone Else. Here is a simple rule to follow to make sure you have an accurate cash balance on your books. You do the work or have someone else do it. 6. Don’t Manage From the Bank Balance. The bank balance and the cash balance are two different forms of cash. Rarely will the two ever be the same. Don’t make the mistake of confusing them. It’s futile and frustrating to attempt to manage your cash flow using the bank balance. It’s a prescription for failure. You reconcile your bank balance. You don’t manage from it. 7. Know Your Six Months Cash Balance. What do you expect your cash balance to be six months from now? This one question will transform the way you manage your business and help you pass cash flow 101. This question really gets to the heart of whether you are managing your business or whether your business is managing you. 8. Cash Flow Problems Don’t Just Happen. You would be amazed at the number of small businesses that fail because the owner did not see a cash flow problem in time to do something about it. The key is to always be able to answer the question – what do I expect my cash balance to be six months from now? 9. Have Cash Flow Projections. Cash flow projections are the key to making wise and profitable business decisions. They give you the answer to the all-important question from Rule # 7. It’s impossible to run your business properly without them. 10. Take Care of Customers. Eliminate your cash flow worries so you are free to do what you do best-taking care of clients and making more money. Use these cash flow 101 rules to free yourself from cash flow worries. That way you can focus all your time and talents where you can make the most difference in your business. No more wasted time worrying about what’s going on with your cash flow. Instead, you can focus your unique talents and abilities each day on ways to grow your business and make more income each year. That is a recipe for success and wealth creation.

Avoiding Pain

The desire to avoid pain is greater than the desire to attain pleasure. This is why most people give into their fears and never do what it takes to make it big. The perceived pain of leaving their comfort zone is greater than the pleasure of being wealthy. Excuses are then produced and the mind will find a way to justify them with logic.

use this to make your own way


Young adults: Avoid these privacy red flags

By Jason Alderman

Young adults applying for college or preparing to enter the workforce are sometimes shocked to find out that that certain behaviors that were either tolerated or ignored when they were younger now fall under closer scrutiny and could actually hurt their advancement possibilities. Among the biggest culprits are oversharing sensitive personal information in public forums and getting extreme tattoos or body art that may not yet be fully acceptable in certain work environments.

Red flags. It should be common knowledge that many employers perform online profile searches of job or internship candidates. They’ll scour public postings on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube looking for inappropriate content like racy photos or videos, racist remarks or evidence of illegal activities that would rule inappropriate candidates.

But many people don’t realize that colleges, insurance companies, law enforcement and government agencies sometimes do the same. Thus, an underage student hoping to boost his cool factor by posting photos that show him engaging in drinking games could be disqualified for college admission or even have his scholarship revoked.

Privacy settings. According to projections by Consumer Reports, roughly 13 million Facebook users have never set, or didn’t know about, the site’s privacy tools, and 28 percent share all, or almost all, of their wall posts with more than just their friends. It pays to thoroughly read the privacy policies of all sites where you’ve registered, including social networks, your bank, retailers, blogs and news sites where you’ve made comments, etc.

Email is forever. Deleting an email from your computer doesn’t mean it no longer exists. Chances are your email provider – or employer, if sent from work – will retain a record for years to come. Plus, recipients won’t necessarily delete the email and may in fact forward it to others.

Haunting photos. Just like emails, photos posted online can live forever. That includes pictures of you that someone else posted and tagged with your name. My rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t do it, say it or film it. Also, don’t post photos of your kids that might embarrass them or hurt their professional reputation down the road.

Resume lies. It can be tempting to embellish the truth on your resume or during a job interview, but as recent headlines about disgraced executives being fired have shown, these lies can come back to haunt you. Employers can easily determine if the degree or past job titles you’re claiming are legitimate. Another no-brainer: If your resume is posted online on or LinkedIn, make sure there aren’t major inconsistencies with the one you submit to prospective employers.

Tattoos. One-fifth of adults have at least one tattoo – the percentages are higher among younger adults. A few years ago, job candidates wouldn’t get past the first interview sporting tattoos; today, depending on the industry and type of customer contact involved, many employers will look the other way.

However, some employers do enforce strict no-tattoo policies which, if based on sound business reasons, are legal. Fortunately, my own kids aren’t old enough for body art to be a consideration, but when they are, I’ll give them the same advice I’d give any young adult: Think about the long-term consequences of your actions.

Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. To Follow Jason Alderman on Twitter:

What A Massive Pimple Can Teach You About Resumes

By: Pete Leibman

Imagine that you have a big first date tomorrow night. You’ve been excited but nervous about this date for the last week. The person you are going out with is HOT and you want to make a great first impression. Unfortunately, you woke up today with a massive pimple on your forehead. Hey, zit happens.

So, you go the drug store desperately looking for a product that will help you remove this blemish in the next 24 hours. You find two choices. The 1st product is called Brand A. On the outside of the bottle for Brand A, it says:

“Designed to remove pimples and used by people all over the U.S.”

The 2nd product is called Brand B. On the outside of the bottle for Brand B, it says:

“100% guaranteed to remove pimples within 6 hours and used by more than 1 million people each week.”

Brand A could be just as effective for your acne as Brand B. However, Brand A simply told you what it was responsible for doing, while Brand B provided you with compelling evidence that it could get you the results you were seeking. If you could only try one product, your choice would be pretty easy.

What’s the point? Most people create resumes that are like Brand A. They just talk about what they were responsible for and they don’t provide any compelling evidence that they could get employers the results they are seeking. Then, they are somehow surprised when employers don’t blow up their cell phone and inbox with job offers.
You need to be like Brand B: offer compelling evidence for why you are the best person for the job.

If you are creative, you can offer compelling evidence for your credibility, no matter how inexperienced or unimpressive you might think your background is.

As a student in college, I had a part-time job as a personal trainer at Bally Total Fitness. One of my responsibilities was to sell fitness packages to members at the gym. The bullet point on the resume of most students would have said, “Responsible for selling fitness packages to gym members.” That would have been the Brand A way to describe myself.

However, I wanted to be like Brand B, so the bullet point on my resume said, “Generated over 400% of January 2003 sales goal.”

This was 100% true. My sales goal for January 2003 was $800 and I made one sale for $3,300.

Be like Brand B! Employers don’t care about what you were responsible for, so give them compelling evidence that you are credible.

Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy and the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You.” His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for college students and at conferences for people who work with college students.

What is this thing called brand?


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What is a brand? It is the prevailing idea, or feeling associated with a product, company or in this case a person. Branding differentiates you from everyone else in the market. It articulates what you are all about and how that would be of value to other people.

You need to ask the following questions in determining and articulating your personal brand.

1.What is the prevailing major idea of your life?

This is the basis of your brand, the core idea. What you are all about. Steve Pavlina defines his brand as providing personal development for smart people, specifically exploring and distilling knowledge on various parts of life into core principles and ideas. Chris Guillebeau explores unconventional ways of living and solving problems while travelling the world. Jay Z’s personal brand has evolved from street hustler/ganster to hiphop maturity and global business man. Steve Jobs centres around innovation, creativity and coolness. My personal brand? Well my core idea is the intersection of youth and popular culture, design communication and life paradigm shifts. I hope to create things that speak in the language of popular culture effectively changing the way people think and live, creating a better world for humanity.

Your brand can be highly specific or it can be loosely broad. But if it is broad, connect the pieces together under a theme.

2.What channels will you communicate your brand through?

How will you get your message across to your audience? Will you be centred around the internet and cyberspace. Or will your brand expression be predominantly in tangible products, goods and services. This is entirely up to you. We have seen a great proliferation of bloggers who communicate their ideas via the internet – websites, blogs, social networking media, and with the creation of intangible assets like ebooks, seminars, and so on. Others create organisations that provide a service or seek to change the world in some way. Some people design, dance, create music, write poetry, etc. Others build businesses.

3.Who is your audience?

Who will listen to you? What is your target market. Which group of people will receive the most value from what you have to offer. Focus on these people. Do not try to cater to everyone, it is one of the fastest ways to failure in any endeavour. Focus on your right people. Those who are attracted and interested in what you have to offer. Analyse them, interact with them, figure out their needs and fulfil them. For instance, Chris Guillebeau writes for people, artists, creatives, travellers who want to live an unconventional life, profiles them and provides resources and ideas for them. Mark McGuinness speaks to creatives and helps them make a living from their craft.

4.Why should your audience listen to you?

What sets you apart from everyone else, what value do you bring to the table. Why should your audience listen to yo? Why should they come back time and time again?

5.Nurture your audience

Now that you have your audience, and have determined why they should listen to you in the first place, take care of them. Nurture your audience, keep on creating value for them. Provide only those services that will actually be of value to your clan, your tribe, your band of merry men. Give them a reason to be loyal to you.

6.Grow your network
No dream worth pursuing is ever pursued alone. You will need to interact with many other people, within your field and outside of it. Ideas are transferable across niches and categories. We need various skill sets and personalities to create whole functioning systems and products. Connect with people, especially the best in the fields. Get mentors, collaborate, partner with people and learn from one another. With the internet these days, it is easier to connect and work with people from all over the globe.

7.Put the time in
Create the product. You have to put the time in to write the articles, make the art, write the poem, build the organisation. Whatever it is that you bring to the table, you have to create it. Ideas are no substitute for action and tangible products.