Unfortunately, a lot of smart professionals are seeing pink slips and hearing the dreaded news: “Your position is being dissolved.”
First off, don’t take it personal. Many of these dismissals are consequences of the horrific economy and companies being mismanaged; not individuals doing a bad job. A confident attitude will get you a new job. Beating yourself up will just delay the process.
You’ve got to focus all your energies on steps forward; not being mad, resentful, or just plain peeved. Realistically, this life change could be your biggest opportunity in disguise.
Start by asking yourself
Do you want to stay in your field or try something new?
The answer to this question will direct your personal brand action plan.
If you like what you’ve been doing and want to remain in your industry and find a similar position, your mission is to sharpen your authoritative profile and your brand as an expert in your space.
Or, do you want to shift gears, try a new industry or seek a different professional role?
Then your game plan should aim to transform your skill set, expertise, communications, and branding tools to say clearly: “Yes, I can do that too.”
Here are 10 things you can do to strengthen your personal brand to get the ultimate career position you want.
1) Update your resume so it reflects your brand.
Make sure it’s concise and authentic to the real you. Address your experience, your points of distinction and your passions; what you love to do. If you are seeking a leadership position, highlight results and don’t blab on about small tasks. If grammar is not your thing, invest in a professional editor to proof your document. Has there been business publicity on you? Have you had anything published? If so, consider including these as “mentions” in your resume and have them scanned and ready to present professionally.
2) Be overtly mindful of your attitude; it’s one of your strongest brand messaging weapons.
No matter how upset you are about your recent career turn or how much you think your former company or boss did you wrong, a positive attitude will take you the distance. Whining or badmouthing anyone can kill your chances of getting your new opportunity.
3) Evaluate all your communication touch points and make sure they are “on brand”.
If you are a creative person, make sure everything echoes that style. If administration is your strong suit, demonstrate your organized management attributes with how well you write and have solved problems. Touch points include: how you answer all of your phones, what your email signature says and looks like, and what your thank-you notes say about you. Also, professional business cards that are consistent with your brand persona are a must.
4) Update all your social networking profiles and find niche networks relevant to your industry and desired career post.
Create a standard copy platform that tells your professional story accurately. Use the same photo on all your profiles; this is a great way visually brand yourself. And make sure it’s a flattering photo that is appropriate for your desired line of work. Also, do not post anything you would not want a potential employer to read.
5) Secure your own name URL.
Like karenpost.com for me. For a few bucks, this is a good investment. When people conduct a search on you, you can control what shows up on the top results page. This home page can be a simple contact page; positioning a bio and photo all consistent to your personal and professional brand.
6) Have your ideal career pitch down.
Be articulate, both verbally and in written form. When you are out at events, you should be able to state clearly what you are looking for with confidence, and the same goes in written communications. Have your friends pop quiz you.
7) Be at the right events and dress the part.
Identify the networking events where the potential to meet the right people is great. While you may be comfortable attending events with your buddies, unless your buddies are writing you checks, that’s a waste of time. Concentrate on the places your job prospects will be. Your wardrobe is part of your personal brand packaging—look the product that you are representing. First impressions are just that.
8) Follow up is a key opportunity to planting your brand further.
Handwritten notes show initiative and are another avenue for branded communication. Don’t rely on email for your follow up. The cost of stamp and personal note is wise investment.
9) Surround yourself with credible fans and ask for professional recommendations.
Brand-by-association is a reality. Your choice of friends and colleagues can add or detract from your brand status. Make sure you have a good collection of recommendations on your professional profiles like Linkedin. Then re-purpose these recommendations in your resume and other communication to hiring prospects.
10) Be proactive and goal focused.
It’s unlikely the ideal career opportunity will show up at your door. Be assertive and proactive. Ask yourself every day, are my actions aligned with my goals and on brand.
Finding your next career opportunity does not have to be like a root canal without Novocain.
Your personal brand has a lot of power. It can be the tipping factor with a referral or employment prospect. Your personal brand, just like those of products and companies, is the sum of all you do.
Leverage your brand, who you are, your distinct attributes, your purpose, your personality and your promise. It can help pave the way the best career chapter yet.
Yet another reason for traditional TV outlets to worry about their relevance: YouTube.com, the hot new outlet for people to post and share homemade videos, has caught the attention of big-name marketers.
Nike, Warner Bros., MTV2 and Dimension Films are among the firms seeding the site with commercial clips. Now, along with consumer-made videos of newborn babies, weddings and teens pulling pranks, is a short of soccer star Ronaldinho in his new Nike sneakers.
Part of YouTube’s lure is its ease of use. Consumers and advertisers can upload clips quickly.
The site, which is like a virtual photo album that hosts millions of short videos, is simple to search.
As broadband penetration grows, and consumer appetite for on-demand entertainment swells, video-sharing sites such as YouTube are taking off.
That buzz has piqued the interest of major marketers, ad agencies and media buying firms.
“From a brand standpoint, it’s become another way to reach consumers,” says Barry Lowenthal, president of ad buying company Media Kitchen.
In a world teeming with cynical consumers and ad-skipping devices such as TiVo, YouTube’s edge is that its users actively seek out content. When word-of-mouth built about Nike’s gritty Ronaldinho clip, consumers e-mailed the video to friends and embedded it in their profiles on social networking sites. It has been viewed more than 3 million times.
The price for Nike? Not much. The sneaker maker shot a digital video, then uploaded it for free.
As YouTube’s must-see status swells, some firms want more formal arrangements. E Networks and YouTube struck a deal for the site to feature various E program clips.
Deep Focus, a marketing firm representing studios such as The Weinstein Co., and MTV2 have both worked with YouTube on promotional opportunities.
Weinstein ran a trailer for Scary Movie 4 from its Dimension Films division. “Within 24 hours, we had 250,000 views of the trailer,” says Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer. “Within a week, we had a million.”
Deep Focus also placed the worldwide premiere trailer for Clerks II, which Weinstein released with MGM. It was viewed 150,000 times in the first two days, says Schafer.
YouTube won’t disclose financial or other details, but in most cases, those companies get preferential treatment, such as plugs on its home page.
Clips that run as part of more formal agreements are usually marked with the logo of the firm that placed them to let viewers know they are promotional.
Other firms aren’t officially working with YouTube but are uploading videos on their own. To hype Superman Returns, Warner Bros. posted video blogs from the movie’s director.
“It’s fantastic from a consumer research standpoint,” says Lowenthal. “You can type in a search for ‘shopping’ and then see (videos) of people showing their shopping habits. It’s almost like a global focus group — all for free.”
As it grows, YouTube’s challenge is to turn the rising tide of advertiser interest into dollars.
The company expects to reap ad revenue but is cautious. To remain relevant, it needs to serve paying advertisers without looking like a sellout to its millions of average users.
“We want to be sensitive on how we deal with that,” says CEO and co-founder Chad Hurley. “Because we really are a community, we want to build things for our users and not alienate them.”
No longer the province of teenagers or a gadget only perpetrated by nerdy early adopters, mobile media is gaining widespread use as new phones and new software make the Internet accessible everywhere. In no time we’ll all be tethered to the digital grid; connected by a single multi-functional device.
Consider several recent developments:
1) Almost two-thirds (63%) of cell phone users have received e-mail, used text messaging or obtained news and sports information on their phones.
2) More than one-third (38%) of mobile phone users access the Internet from their phone.
3) There are 40 million smart phones in use, closing in on 20 percent of the cell phones in use and the market is growing driven by iPhones and Blackberry Pearls and Curves.
4) 130 million phones have “highly capable Internet browsers” and the IBM Institute for Business Value survey recently found that 40% of those surveyed had Internet data plans in-use and that a third of those had already watched a video on their phones.
Once you start watching video on your phone, 45% begin to do it regularly which according to Black Arrow comes up to 800 million hours of mobile video viewing, still a tiny slice of the 389 billion hours of broadcast TV watched, but a bell weather nonetheless.
Evidently we have begun to solve the technical issues of compression, design and compatibility that bring the Internet off the desktop and out of the laptop and into our on-the-go daily lives. You can bet this trend will continue. Continuous improvements in speed, signal clarity and software integration will lead to a single compact, personalized device that becomes an indispensable tool for managing communication, interaction, commerce and most practical aspects of our lives.
Dick Tracy’s wristwatch videophone and the Star Trek communicator already exist. Soon we’ll all be using their progeny.
Then think about the mobile applications that people we know have already come to rely on. Many people use their phones to search, get news alerts or sports scores, interact with TV shows, vote or take surveys, play games, send or view photos, get directions or communicate with other humans.
Facebook access from mobile devices has grown 3X in the last year to 15 million users and many other social networks are making similar claims as consumers get used to the idea of telling everybody what we’re doing in real time like on Twitter and sharing everything we find, like or do with a gang of unseen others.
The NFL streams video of games to mobile phones.
Sears2Go.com allows you to buy Craftsman tools using a phone.
A Disney-Verizon alliance will use cell phones to interact with kids and families while they’re in the parks as early as next year.
Progress in m-commerce is making the interfaces and downloads between websites and phones easier, smoother and less cumbersome day by day.
Soon mobile wallet applications will allow us to use our phones to fill up parking meters, buy from vending machines, purchase movie tickets, and check out quickly at retail stores and complete complex financial transactions from a phone keypad.
And while there are a few indications that consumers expect and will tolerate advertising surrounding these nifty new tools it’s not really clear how much and what kind of messaging will resonate.
Therefore visionary marketers will get started now and get smarter about mobile media and marketing now, during the growth phase while prices are low, content and merchant partners are flexible and open to experimentation and before anybody gets a lock on a killer app, game-changing technology or critical market segments.
Nominated for 10 Oscars and a best-picture favorite heading into tonight’s Academy Awards, the popular Slumdog Millionaire is translating to more rubberneckers in the Mumbai, India, slum where it was filmed and is re-igniting a debate over the ethics of “poverty tourism.”
British director Danny Boyle’s film follows an orphan who grows up in Dharavi, one of the world’s poorest and most densely populated neighborhoods, and who finds improbable success on India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
The movie’s recent premiere in Mumbai sparked complaints among some of Dharavi’s estimated 1 million residents, who live and work in an area smaller than New York’s Central Park. But it also has boosted business for Reality Tours and Travel, which leads eight to 15 tourists a day on guided tours of the slum.
Reality Tours co-founder Chris Way estimates that sales are up by about 25% since Slumdog Millionaire’s release. Though he credits some of the increase to a gradual rebound in tourism after terrorist attacks in Mumbai killed more than 170 people in November, publicity surrounding the film has played a big role.
According to Way In India, “a lot of people think the movie is ‘poverty porn,’ But any criticism of his tours “comes from misunderstanding what we are trying to do … break down the negative image of slums, (and) highlight the industry and sense of community.”
Reality Tours charges $10 or $20 a person, depending on length of the tour, and pledges to donate 80% of after-tax profits to local charities. Though the business hasn’t yet cleared a profit, it paid for a community center.
Mumbai is one of several destinations to offer “poorism” options. In New Delhi, the non-profit Salaam Baalak Trust, spearheaded by Salaam Bombay! filmmaker Mira Nair, leads tours focusing on children living in and near the city’s train station.
forays take visitors to slums in Rio,Nairobi and Johannesburg. In New Orleans, companies offered post-Katrina tours that included the hard-hit Ninth Ward.
“If one takes such a tour out of a genuine desire to learn and a passion for social justice, the experience can be valuable, eye-opening, even life-changing. If one goes as a spectator, it’s little different than a visit to the zoo,” says Jeff Greenwald, executive director of Ethicaltraveler.org..
“Part of the key is interaction,” he adds. “Do visitors get to speak with these individuals, and gain a sense of their lives? … If not, this is the modern equivalent of watching people suffer in public coliseums.”
I have been there many times and it is only be seeing it live that you get a sense of the magnitude of the plight of the children there.
As millions seek new jobs to replace positions lost in the recession, keep in mind that the Internet gives employers unprecedented access to information about you.
Employers aren’t content with facts gleaned from public records. They’re also using the Internet to assess your character. That means they’re searching your name on Google.
They’re visiting social-networking sites and reading blog posts. Unflattering comments and photos can put you out of the running for a job. So, you will want to clean up your online reputation before job hunting.
Search for yourself
Your first step is to assess your online reputation. Start by doing a Google search of your name and its variations.
Do other searches that include your profession, previous employers and locations. You may be surprised what turns up.
You should also search networking sites. Pipl, Wink and PeekYou will allow you to search multiple sites quickly.
You will want to make two lists from your searches. On one list, place links to sites with unflattering information. On the other list, place links to flattering information.
Remove the negative
Maybe you posted some of the unflattering images or comments. In that case, remove them immediately. Err on the side of caution and remove anything that is potentially offensive.
Next, contact the owners of sites that cast you in a negative light. Send a polite e-mail message requesting that negative information be removed.
State your case clearly. If a post is erroneous, provide proof of its inaccuracy. It doesn’t hurt to mention that you’re job searching.
Things are more complicated with unflattering photos and truthful information. You will need to appeal to the writer’s sense of decency. Keep your requests pleasant and polite, and you may be successful.
Promote the positive
Some sites will honor your requests. Other sites may not. So, you may need to mitigate negative posts with positive ones.
I recommend that you start a blog highlighting your professional skills. Write posts on your field to show off your professional knowledge. List your full name at the bottom of your posts. Include links to the positive comments you found. And be sure to list your accomplishments in your bio.
These postings should push the negative postings from Google’s top search results. You can also use your blog to speak indirectly to potential employers.
For example, say you share a name with a porn star. You don’t want potential employers to confuse the two of you. So, create a post listing people who share your name. It’s a good way to eliminate confusion.
Don’t forget networking sites
Hey we are all on Xanga…use it to help your reputation. Networking sites like Facebook and MySpace are the biggest threat to your job search. Clean up any networking profiles you have.
If you don’t have networking profiles, create them. Then link to them on your blog. Employers will be able to find your profiles easily. Make sure these profiles are squeaky clean.
Why create the profiles? They can eliminate confusion. An employer won’t confuse you with that other Mary Johnson with a raunchy profile.
Create a profile on LinkedIn. Use it to showcase your professional accomplishments. You can also network with others who can help with your job search.