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Is Personal Branding Crap? (taglines)

January 10th, 2011

In September I shared one of my favorite taglines I’ve ever heard in a post titled LinkedIn Professional Headline / Personal Tagline.

Last week I got a skeptical comment from Christine, who writes:

Perhaps I am dating myself , but it is not in my generations work ethic to brag , humor, or comply with the ADD issues of short one liners , bullet points or scanning databases of today’s resume.

A person may be perfect for the job and a hard worker , but the employer never sees the resume , because some twit thought you were “boring”.

It is a shame that the resume is only as good as the “CV”, (in old school it is called a SUMMARY ), and unless you can entertain their brain in less then 50 words, (in a FONT that resembles my granddaughters handwriting) forget it. No interview.

I find that many companies loose site of the professional aspects of a resume and would rather be humored with unusable tag lines or a personal motto.

If you own your business, use a tagline in your marketing, that’s great ! But in reality, when looking for employment with a fortune 500 company, where individuality and humor are not assets, the tagline should read:

“A subordinate that shows up for work everyday and will do what ever you tell them to do”
OR
” Have been employed for 3 decades. Ask me how!”

Is the professional headline / personal tag line for the employing company (they already have one) or for the bored recruiter?

I see nothing “professional” about it, and frankly find it embarrassing to use in a resume.

What do you think?  Is this tagline stuff a bunch of unprofessional phooey?

Here are my thoughts on her comment:

>> Perhaps I am dating myself , but it is not in my generations work ethic to brag , humor, or comply with

I completely disagree.  I think all generations can take to, or be offended by, the one-liners. I don’t think it has anything to do with age or generation.

>> the ADD issues of short one liners , bullet points or scanning databases of today’s resume.

“ADD issues” … funny, I have never heard it described like that. I haven’t done it but I’m guessing if you look up some older sales books you’ll find similar talk about creating a catchy, descriptive, engaging, etc. one-liner as an opener, or as a communication tool.  Also, these taglines are not only for “today’s resumes.”

>> A person may be perfect for the job and a hard worker , but the employer never sees the resume , because some twit thought you were “boring”.

I don’t think it comes down to boring or not boring.  I think it comes down to “ah, now I understand what you do for a living, or what you are passionate about, or what you can do for my company.”  The goal is not to out-wit, out-humor, or best anyone because your one-liner is more clever than anyone else’s.  I find most people’s one-liners are too witty and they lose me, become ambiguous, or are too filled with jargon or cliche.  I’m not an advocate of witty – I’m an advocate of clear communication.

>> It is a shame that the resume is only as good as the “CV”, (in old school it is called a SUMMARY ), and unless you can entertain their brain in less then 50 words, (in a FONT that resembles my granddaughters handwriting) forget it. No interview.

I agree, it is a shame that there are techniques and tricks that can lead to someone who is less fit to do the job than I am, but that’s the world we live in.  HR whines about being too busy and burdened, and they only give a resume a few seconds… this is a shame. But it’s the current system. Now, with automated “applicant tracking systems” a computer does the first round of weedout before that overburdened HR person gets to look at the computer-selected resumes.

>> I find that many companies loose site of the professional aspects of a resume and would rather be humored with unusable tag lines or a personal motto.

I can’t speak to what “many companies” are doing, or how they are making decisions, but I think a job seeker who can clearly, articulately, and clearly communicate what they need to has an advantage over those who can’t.

>> If you own your business, use a tagline in your marketing, that’s great ! But in reality, when looking for employment with…

Here’s where we really start to differ… I think that we ALL own our own business, and it is called Me, Inc.  We are all marketers of ourselves.  There is no “job” like there was 20 years ago… all we get now are temporary gigs, and we always should be working on identifying our next gig opportunities.  You say “if you own your own business,” I say “WE ALL DO!”

>> … where individuality and humor are not assets, the tagline should read:

“A subordinate that shows up for work everyday and will do what ever you tell them to do”
OR
” Have been employed for 3 decades. Ask me how!”

I read these and I wonder what that means for me.  Honestly, as a hiring manager, I expect you to show up for work, be a professional, do your job, add value, not be high maintenance, and not require lots of training and hand-holding. I expect you to have good judgement and to interact well with others. I expect all of these things, but I might not know how you are different than the 20 other resumes I’ve whittled it down to.  Can you tell me that?  Because if you think those are the differentiators, and the other 19 also show up for work and “have been employed,” you’ve lost me (especially when they start talking about their professional breadth and depth and expertise).  Your unique value proposition is not so unique, and you lose.

>> Is the professional headline / personal tag line for the employing company (they already have one) or for the bored recruiter?

The professional headline (in LinkedIn) and the personal tagline is for anyone who I meet, so I can communicate who I am, what I do, what value I bring to them.  It’s not for a bored recruiter, it’s to help any recruiter do their job well. If I say “I’ve been employed for the last 3 decades, ask me how!” … how does that help them fill some of their open jobs?  They can’t match that with an open job requirement, can they? But if I say “I’m every engineer’s favorite project manager” they can start to mentally match me to any open project management job they have.

Also, this tagline, which should not be gimmicky, would be used in network events, on a business card, in an email signature, in the LinkedIn professional headline, etc.  It is simply a statement to communicate something.

>> I see nothing “professional” about it, and frankly find it embarrassing to use in a resume.

If you don’t see it as professional then you are probably thinking of something too gimmicky.  Also, perhaps this “line” doesn’t show up on a resume… but it certainly should become a part of your language when you communicate to others who are wondering “what does Christine do for a living?”  Showing up to work for 3 decades is not “what you do” for a living, I’m guessing.

What do you guys think?

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Favorite Friday: The Job Seeker Scarlet Letter?

January 7th, 2011

Do you feel, as a job seeker, you have a Scarlet Letter readily displayed?

It talks about you as a loser, a failure, an untouchable?

One of my favorite posts from last year started out with a story about my then three year old cutting her bangs.

She loved it at first until she realized what she had done, and then thought everyone would notice.

In reality, no one would notice.

So many parallels to the job search here – please read this story and my thoughts here.

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The Discreet Job Search, Part III

January 6th, 2011

I didn’t realize this was going to become a series but I’m obviously fired up about it.

Part I:  How to do a Discreet Job Search

Part II:  Why Should We Have To Do A Discreet Job Search?  Kim Mohiuddin’s Feedback…

Today I want to follow-up on Kim Mohiuddin’s comment, that is worthy of repeating:

This whole topic (the hidden/discreet job search) speaks to the fact that people see career management as something to do when you’re unemployed, like eating really well and hitting the gym the day before your annual physical.

If you wait until the day before you won’t get the same results you would have gotten if you had spent a lot of time preparing during the year.

Another aspect of that is this: If you hit the gym the day before your annual physical, prepping for the big test, what happens the next day?

The way I’ve done it?  I’m so sore the next day I can hardly walk.  Or bend my arms!

Cramming for a physical doesn’t work!

Cramming for your job search can be just as painful.  The unexpected hard part is dealing with all of the emotions… :( (check out the ever-popular Depression in the job search post (and a follow-up on dealing with job search depression))

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Why Should We Have To Do A Discreet Job Search? Kim Mohiuddin’s Feedback…

January 5th, 2011

Last year (well, two weeks ago) I answered a question from someone who asked how to perform a job search without anyone (like, your boss) knowing about it.

It is a great post with great comments read here: How to do a Discreet Job Search.

kim_MohiuddinKim Mohiuddin, JibberJobber’s newest Partner, offered this comment (on Facebook):

This whole topic speaks to the fact that people see career management as something to do when you’re unemployed, like eating really well and hitting the gym the day before your annual physical.

She is so right!!

When do you network?

When do you work on your brand?

When do you do this stuff?

When your boss isn’t looking?

Or do you do a little bit every single day?

I bet you inadvertently do a little bit every day.  You communicate with people (aka network), you meet new people (aka network), you follow-up with people (aka network), you leave an impression (aka personal branding), you reinforce a perception (aka personal branding), EVERY SINGLE DAY.

It might be productive or destructive, but you are doing it.

Even if you don’t do something you are reinforcing that you are one who doesn’t follow-through or follow-up, or one who is nowhere to be seen (not good), or one who is really busy with projects (could be good!).

You are doing this stuff on accident all the time.

Imagine, for the sake of YOUR career management, you did it ON PURPOSE.

With a plan, and a strategy, and a goal, and objectives.

How different would your undercover job search be?

You probably wouldn’t be in a job search.  I’m guessing the hidden job market would find you.

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Intern Interviews: Is This The Standard? (I hope not!)

January 4th, 2011

On a Yahoo Group I’m on I saw this really intriguing email from Greg Brooks, a business owner who has done a fair amount of hiring.  Greg always has interesting feedback for job seekers, from an interviewer/owner perspective.

From Greg (with permission):

I’ve talked to three intern candidates in the last couple of days — well,
two intern candidates and one guy who wanted a job, but acted like an
intern.

Common elements across all three:

* All three acted like goofballs. I don’t mean being unprepared — although
they were *manifestly* unprepared — for the discussion. I mean not being
able to talk without giggling or going off on rabbit trails or saying things
that indicated they had done zero research. I don’t need you to be a
stone-cold serious interview zombie (sidebar: Interview Zombie is an awesome
band name!), but I do need you to stay on topic.

* All three did some variant of “Well, I’d like to get paid but really this
project is so interesting I’d work for free.”
Newsflash: You don’t get to
ride the fence on that — either come to the interview expecting to get paid
or don’t, but if you try to do both all you end up with is some guy (me)
sitting there thinking: “Huh… that’s funny. She doesn’t think her time is
worth anything.”

* All three had questionable life skills. If your objective is to find an
internship that will not pay your rent and groceries, and you don’t have
money saved up, then I’m going to question your mad planning skillz.

Anyway, thanks for listening to me rant. Don’t be like this when you’re
looking for jobs and/or internships.

Greg said to sign him off as:

Greg Brooks, principal, West Third Group — a marketing and PR firm that probably doesn’t want to work with you, either.

Personally, I think Greg is a brilliant thinker (I’ve followed him for years).  He is candid and, honestly, I’d love to work with him… what you see is what you get.

What do you think?  Are you doing any of the three things Greg is listing?  Those aren’t flaws that just interns can have…

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2011 THEME: The Job Search Rabbit Hole

January 3rd, 2011

I’ve traveled near and far and met with thousands and thousands of professionals who are in pain.

People who lost their jobs and their identity at the same time.

People who are feeling around in the dark, trying to figure out where they are and where they are headed.

People who are not sure if they fit into society anymore.

People who feel worthless.

People who are anxiously chasing the illusion (defined: an erroneous mental representation) that they are looking for their next job.

Unfortunately, the government (and governments across the country) perpetuate this illusion.  They report economic statistics, make baseless announcements, start meaningless programs, and celebrate over the creation of fake jobs, all leading us to believe that there is indeed hope.

Hope in WHAT?

I have an image of a job seeker running, chasing a job, or the concept of a job.

Just as a hound chases a rabbit down a rabbit hole.

But, could it be that the rabbit hole has branches, and the rabbit will never be captured by the hound?

Could it be the rabbit never went into the rabbit hole, and the dog is fruitlessly fighting to get deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole?

Maybe the dog chased a sick rabbit, or a small, puny rabbit, or some other varmin down the hole, instead of a succulent rabbit.

You get the point… what if you, as a job seeker, are fighting too hard to get down a rabbit hole that has no rabbit?

Or, what if what you are chasing isn’t a rabbit at all?

Maybe you should be chasing something else.

Maybe your journey, in this job search, will lead you on a completely different path.

Maybe that means starting that business you have been thinking about for years.

Or buying that franchise.

Or scaling back on your expenses (moving, selling a car, etc.) and taking a lower paying, less stressful, more rewarding job that isn’t a defining thing, but something to pay your bills and somehow giving you more personal reward and fulfillment back in your life.

Maybe it is changing professions or industries.

Maybe it is taking risks that you wouldn’t have taken before.

Maybe it is reevaluating EVERYTHING you ever thought about your happiness, your career, etc.

Maybe it is serving in more volunteer, community or society and charity organizations.

Maybe it is ____________________.

I think you already know what it is.  Deep down inside, it’s been screaming to get out, and you’ve been pushing it back with “but I already have a job!” “but I’m an accountant, and I can’t do that!”  “But _____.”

Maybe this year it is time to let go of the BUT and do what you already know is the right thing for you.

And maybe that means to never have a traditional job again.

Is it time to take “the corporate ladder” down, put it away, and do something else?

Maybe, for you, it is the opposite of anything I wrote above.  I can’t know that for you – but you can.  And you should.

The question that will be on my mind all year is this:

Are you running down the wrong rabbit hole?

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