On a trip to the mall, I saw two young ladies who obviously had coordinated their wardrobes that morning. That fact was rather apparent due to their blindingly white knee-high leather boots and matching white leather purses. They did make a bit of a statement there. It got me thinking about personal branding, job hunting, and the talk about “standing out from the crowd.” On his Facebook page, personal branding authority Dan Schawbel recently said, “Personal branding is a process by which you uncover what makes you special, relative to everyone else who is competing for the same opportunities, and then communicate that to the right audience.” I generally agree with this definition, but there’s one concern I have with it. For many people, I think the tendency is to assume this means that you have to be the lone person with a distinctive message to stand out. But if everyone is trying to promote their brand by emphasizing what makes them extraordinary, wouldn’t the efforts just get lost in a sea of uniqueness? As an observer, there would be so many different things attempting to catch your eye that it would become a blurry mess. It becomes nearly impossible to focus on any one thing when there’s too much that is different. What if a better tactic to stand out would be to draw attention to the features you have that you share with someone else? Say, for example, that you are applying for a position with a company you would love to work for, and you know someone with a well-established reputation who is employed there. Instead of making yourself completely different, work to craft a cover letter and résumé that would embody some traits that you share with the person you know. In an interview, highlight your experiences and results that are similar to him/her. In doing so, you become more of a known commodity, someone they can see as part of their team because they already have another person with those attributes in-house. Should you get so focused on emphasizing the characteristics you share with your acquaintance that you put your qualities on the back burner? Absolutely not. The goal here is not to become a clone of the other person, but to show shared strengths. Instead, mix in some of your aspects that complement the joint traits. This gives your interviewer a snapshot of how you could mesh with the team and enhance its activities with your unique talents. Another word of caution: make sure that the attributes you are promoting are truly ones that are a part of who you are. With the two girls I spoke of in the beginning of my post, I thought they were trying a bit too hard to match. It went beyond the accessories; the one mirrored the walk, mannerisms, etc. of the other so closely that it appeared contrived. Pretending to be like someone else simply to gain an advantage is not authentic and will backfire. With a job, interviewers are able to pick up on the deception much of the time and you won’t get past the initial screen. But if you do somehow manage to make it through the interview process and are hired, you then face the challenge of behaving in that manner all day, every day. And really, you can only keep up that façade for so long. A better option is to just avoid all of this by keeping it real. So when you apply for your next job, don’t just look for ways to completely differentiate yourself to get noticed. See how you can stand out by authentically blending in with the company’s crowd a little. Related: How Personal Branding is Just Like Riding a Bike. Melissa Cooley is a career consultant at The Job Quest. She is a diligent blogger, very active on Twitter (@TheJobQuest) and always happy to hear from job seekers and career advancers anywhere in the world.
Do you dream of working in a foreign land? Below are 10 insider tips that will help you if you are looking to grow your career overseas.
1. Identify your bright spotsSure you worked 15 years in shipping or marketing but this doesn’t mean anything to a manager in a foreign country looking for a new team member. Clearly state your transferable skills in your resume. Remember that years of experience back home often equates to ‘zero experience in the local market.’ Unless you have years of local market experience you will need to clearly show which skills will make you successful in your new career. These success skills are your bright spots. Make sure they shine in your resume.
2. Demonstrate your valueThe best way to show your worth to an expat firm is to focus on your achievements. Nothing speaks better than what you did well in the past. Remember your achievements need to answer three main points: • What was done? • For whom? • What was the result? (Figures speak better than words, use % or $) Make a list of your achievements, use them as a guide, they will help you define a credible expat career objective and also script the conversation during your interview.
3. Find mentorsFind someone you trust in your community and ask him or her for a referral to a person who works in a field you are interested in. The key word is trust. You want to build a tribe based on trust. Mentors will give you advice and what the main challenges are in their field. Always make sure you ask for referrals to other members of your mentor’s tribe. Do not be a user. Make sure you keep in touch with your mentors when you have landed your dream expat career.
4. Learn about the new homeWhen I first arrived in Dubai in 1999 nobody back home had heard of it. Later, many multinationals setup their MENA (Middle East and North Africa) offices there and expat professionals make up 80% of the population. As the expat population grew so did the ‘incidents’ with the local population, due to a lack of cultural knowledge. From losing your job to ending up in jail, cultural awareness can be vital to thriving in your new home.
5. Develop a strong personal brandNow that you have a good idea of your value, the cultural context and what the main challenges are in the field you chose, make sure you position yourself for career success. Developing a strong personal brand will enhance your chances to be noticed or recognized for your unique attributes and achievements.
6. Blogbrand. Launching a blog will help you establish yourself and assert your credibility in a field. You will notice that many high-level expat jobs are specialist jobs, and managers are always on the look out for specialists online. Just don’t write about your co-workers.
7. Learn to deal with doubtNothing will come out as planned. Get used to it. You can plan your career abroad to the smallest detail, and it will not happen that way. I always ask the same question when I meet a new client ‘tell me how you got where you are’. The most interesting and successful expat professionals answer ‘it’s a long story.’ There is no plan. Instead of planning, learn to deal with doubt in your life. Acquire skills to live with that little voice which wakes you up at 3am wondering if you will get a promotion/job abroad. The best tool to deal with doubt comes from judging situations and finding opportunities when they arise. Become a great decision maker rather than a planner.
8. Learn the languageOnce you have set your sights on a specific country, start learning the language. You do not have to be fluent but being able to shop at the local store and get directions, are a must. You will be overwhelmed during the first weeks of your arrival, learning the local language as well as local customs and cultural dos and don’ts will go a long way in decreasing this stress.
9. Prepare your exitEarlier I told you not to plan your career but this is one thing you know will happen. You will leave your current job and move to another one. Sooner or later you will have to do it if you want your career to grow. Please tell me you don’t still believe you can climb the career ladder in the same firm for the next 30 years? Ah! Good. Do not wait to be frustrated, fed up and angry with your current boss or job to do this. Prepare a professional letter to your boss, meet and explain why you are leaving. Stay courteous until the end of your notice period.
10. Choose wiselyJust because the posting is in a foreign country it does not mean the rules go out the window. A lot of times these days we are pressured to find a perfect career, defined as the job you would do even if you didn’t get paid. This is insane. Looking for an expat career with this mindset means you will look for a long time. It is totally impossible to simply do ‘what you love’. Rather focus on doing what you are. Do something that caters to your bright spots. Related: CV vs. Resume: What's the Difference and Who Uses Which? expat career blog and follow him on Twitter [url=http://twitter.com/johnfalchetto" class="aligncenter"/>@johnfalchetto
LinkedIn is a game changer for job seekers as well. It can put the power back into the hands of candidates and out of the hands of recruitment consultants. There are plenty of ways you can be proactive, rather than reactive in your job search. Here are my 20 top LinkedIn job hunting tips, in no particular order.
. There is no point being half-hearted. This point is my big bandwagon point for Australian professionals and job seekers.
Connect with people. Look up people from your past and find out where they work now. Use the connect email to invite people for coffee and find out what they are up to. Show some interest in them, and what you are looking for, job wise, will inevitably come up.
about a job, based on the thoroughness of a question he answered.
Find a role model networker who is working in your desired area. Look to see which groups they belong to and join those.
Start a group around your area of interest and expertise. Invite people who can add value to join. Welcome them to the group and ask them a question directly. You can build up your knowledge of their organisation, any problems they may be facing, and approach them with a solution in mind (you).
Look to see who has viewed your profile, and add them to your network. If they are recruiters, see if they have jobs coming up in your area. As a carrot to see you, mention that you may have useful contacts for them.
Look to see where people with your background are working and what their responsibilities are. That way if you want to approach a company directly about jobs, you are making an informed and targeted approach.
Invite people out for coffee to find out what they do. This is a good tactic if you want to change careers. You can find out the good, bad and ugly about their jobs, and whether that might be an area of interest for you.
Add value to your network. Be known as someone helpful. You often have to build trust with people before you can ask them for favours. If you see someone asking a question, then answer it. Be proactive and send them an email with a link.
Update your status with recent information of use to your network. You’ll give people a reason to contact you if you do that.
Link your LinkedIn profile to your personal emails.
on how to make it easy for people to connect with you.
Put your LinkedIn link to your Facebook profile. I have seen jobs come through friends, and Facebook is one place people tell their friends if they’re looking for staff. You want to make it easy for people to check you out.
. I have over 8000 first degree connections.
Go along to social events that are organized via LinkedIn. There is only so much you can achieve online. Trust is better built face to face.
Ask a connection for an introduction. That’s kind of one of the big points of LinkedIn.
from a former manager carries a lot of weight. This is one big area recruiters and employers focus on when they look at your profile.
Find out what a job really requires. Job advertisements often have a lot of woolly wording. If you can, find a company insider to give you the insight into what the company is about, or even what the job requires. They may even pass on your resume, and save the company a recruitment fee.
You can ask me a question there and I’ll answer it.
to hit the top page of your profession when headhunters search. I can give you tailored training to network effectively and mazimize your chances of being found by employers and headhunters.
Do you want to get hired for that new job? Follow these tips to learn how to ace your job interview and stand out from the crowd. It's not as difficult as you think and if you follow these things, you'll be sure to make a great impression.