Boost My Career

Six Keys To Proactive Career Management

Today, This Happened

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Whether it’s age or a spiritual thing the passage of time seems of little consequence to me today. My New Years resolutions? I have none. I have been on a journey for four years, 10 months, and 24 days that continues to restore my soul and being to its natural state. In recovery we say that as time goes by, more will be revealed. I resolve every day to accept that.

The journey to find my authentic self has introduced me to some creative people, like Leo Babauta at ZenHabits.net. Leo and I don’t know each other. Leo has found a level of happiness through a minimalist lifestyle and a passion for creatively writing about it for the benefit of others to learn and enjoy.

One of Leo’s writing suggest having no goals.  ‘No destination in mind. Nothing to achieve. Just curiosity, fun, not knowing.’ Read it here:  http://zenhabits.net/journey/ .

At first I pondered the idea, disagreed with it vehemently, and pondered it some more. I’ve talked about it with friends and we pondered it together. Nothing great can be achieved with no goals, right? I keep returning to the idea in part because it is such a foreign idea. Especially in the life that ended February 8, 2008 or some time prior. The one I was able to walk away from after the atrocious and ineffable, spiritually induced snare.  The idea now seeded in my psyche.

Today, New Years day 2013, and everyday, I live with not knowing, with no destination, and with the freedom to be curious. Not concerning myself with others opinions of me, although honestly, I still do, it’s just that I have to make myself give up that notion when it happens.  I am able to seek out my passion, difficult to come by on the one hand, yet it’s as plain as the nose on my face.

Being authentic and finding passion has with it, its own reward.

Today, this happened. Tomorrow, more will be revealed.

Happy New Year!

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Writing Your Personal Brand Resumé In The 21st Century

a box of chocolates

FACT: The ‘typical’ resumé receives about 45 seconds of the screener’s or hiring manager’s attention – if it’s ‘eye-catching’ and ‘inviting’ enough to be red at all! And, over one-half of all resumés have some type of error that will immediately get the candidate excluded. – “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! , by Skip Freeman

‘Headhunter’ Hiring Secrets is the best job search book I’ve read this year. The author makes the case that in the 21st century the rules for a job search and getting hired have changed, and that most people are wholly unprepared for the new realities.

While it is true that much has changed, some things have not. First, the purpose of your resumé is still to land an interview. It is your central marketing piece.

Second, your resumé should be targeted to a specific audience and it must reveal to that audience your key value proposition, what an employer can expect for a return on investment (ROI) should they hire you. In other words, your resumé needs to express your unique personal brand. A personal Brand resumé stands out among the deluge of typical resumés.

It a recent interview with Deb Dibb, CEO Coach, and co-author of the soon to be released personal branding book Ditch. Dare. Do! She described your return on investment this way:

“ROI is value, fit, and chemistry; it is what the company gets when they get you!”

Every word of your resumé should be used to tell the story of your value proposition. My approach is to capture the essence of your value proposition in what is called a brand statement. This is one of the first things your targeted prospect will read. Your brand statement is top and center. It will compel the reader to read on. If it doesn’t, it is in the hands of the wrong prospect. A well prepared brand statement will be able to stand up to scrutiny and it will be unique to you. Everything that follows must support that statement and have it ring true.

Creating your brand statement requires careful introspection and self-searching assessment.

For my clients, I often employ the help of 360Reach Personal Brand Assessment. This tool will reveal your unique brand attributes as seen by the people who know you best, your associates, managers, friends, and family. With 360Reach, we cull powerful adjectives and nouns that together succinctly elucidate your brand taking into account your unique personality, key strengths, skills, and leadership qualities.

A key element of your value proposition is the skill set you would bring to the organization.

Your brand statement may address the top one or two skills, but depending on the level of employment you are seeking and your target audience, it may be desirable to actually list your skills using bullet points just below your brand statement.

Right up above your brand statement, included with your contact information is information about where the reader can find you on the World Wide Web.  A well managed personal brand includes a well crafted online presence. This is especially critical if you write a blog that is relevant to your work. I submit that this is far more important to include on your resumé than your home address in the 21st century.

Take your readers directly to your relevant profile pages.

Using live link graphical buttons will add color, dimension and get noticed. Of course it is paramount that what is found there supports your brand statement.  A resumé to be uploaded to an online data base should simply list your URL addresses and not use graphics.

The body of your resumé contains your accomplishments and experiences that demonstrate the value you bring, your unique skills as applied over the span of your career. The accomplishments and experiences expressed must flush out for the reader how you would either make their company money or save their company money, two of the most important reasons a company would consider hiring you. Here, it is crucial to quantify your past successes wherever possible.

Building intrigue for the reader is the goal.

Exactly which accomplishments and experiences to include depend on your audience and the job you are going for. There is plenty of reason to exclude certain experiences. If they don’t support your brand statement they probably aren’t necessary. It’s OK if your resumé raises some questions.

Ideally, you want to prompt a question from the reader – ‘wow, you did that, how?’

Finally, we will include all details about your education and relevant professional development course work, association memberships, certifications, and publications.

The one or two page axiom applies. This is a marketing piece that must be digested in seconds not minutes and every word and punctuation counts. The 21st century rules for a job search are designed to eliminate you.

Your resumé, your brand, in the hands of your audience cannot be ignored, it is designed to illuminate you!

Publish your personal brand resumé on the web and make it social.

Want to have your resumé become a searchable document on the Internet? Scibd.com is a powerful self-publishing site with excellent SEO, meaning that Google and other search engines give its content high ranking. Recruiters often use search engines looking for specific job titles. Key word tags associated with your resumé allow it to be found, read, shared, linked to, downloaded, and printed.  Now you have a 21st century, personal brand, social resumé!

What are some things your brand statement might say?

Unlock The Authentic You!

Proactive career management, building your bona fide personal brand, finding the vocation in line with what you want out of life, requires that you know yourself well, and understand how others perceive you. You were selected for your current position or project essentially because of other people’s assessment about the value you bring to it – your value proposition.

If you are unhappy in your job, find out why, for real.

If you find yourself blaming your boss, your co-workers, your commute, your pay, company policies, etc., step back from these externalities and invest some time to thoroughly examine you!  Consider your role in problems you identify as sources of discontent. Maybe you are just not doing things that make you happy on a fundamental level. You likely have no power to change your employer or the people you work with, but you can change things about you, where you work, and what you do. One thing is certain, wherever you go, there you are!

“We must know thyself to be wise; the unexamined life is not worth living.”  Socrates

Do not fall into a trap of letting others define success for you.

Knowing yourself well, understanding what motivates you, what your core values are, and what you are most passionate about is fundamental to achieving success as you would define it for yourself.

“The only way to great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” —Steve Jobs

If it’s so simple, just do what you love, then why do so many people settle? 

Why not take some time out to get the honest answers to four questions?

  1. When you are most happy and at peace with yourself, what are you doing?
  2. What motivates you?
  3. What are the things that you are most passionate about?
  4. What are your core values?
  5. What are some things you have always wanted to, yet have not

In her bookTHE TOP FIVE REGRETS OF THE DYING: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, palliative care expert, Bronnie Ware  shares her personal insight on the regrets people express on their death bed. Number one on her list was:

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Get honest!

Living true to ourselves requires that we really know ourselves, and really knowing ourselves requires brutal honesty. Consider the five questions posed earlier. We may be tempted to answer them with answers that we believe would sound good to others. That is a common mistake. What is your honest answer? Your honest answer might be far removed from the thoughts and ideas you have been conditioned to believe.

My personal encounter with fear and honesty

In the early days of my career, while still in business school, it was suggested to me that the best place to start my career was in sales. I set out to learn what it took to be a good salesperson. Over and over again, I would hear, or read, that the most successful sales people are motivated by money. I read stories about these super rich people that made millions through sales of real estate, cars, etc., and they owed it to their deep love for money! I felt that I had to measure up. I made up my mind that I will have to be money motivated if I am ever going to succeed. If anyone asked me what motivated me every day I would say earning as much money as I can. Duh!

Unfortunately, this did not honestly reflect my core values. I came from a family of modest income and money while important, was not an over-arching central focus of our lives. Money did not rank as high in value to me as did the people in my life. Just out of school, I was not sure what exactly motivated me. I had not given any consideration to the question. At that moment, because I didn’t know myself, and life was staring me head-on, I was simply motivated by fear.

If I had moved past the fear, and actually reflected on what was important to me, I would have understood that I am motivated by helping others reach their goals. Whether it is the goals of my family, my customers, my boss, or the company I work for, I want to be an integral part of the story and contribute to their success. Fortunately for me, and my sales career, success in sales has much do with helping people meet their needs and reach their goals. I was, and I am still, passionate about that.

How you are perceived by others is essential to knowing yourself.

People you trust to be honest with you can help you better understand yourself. Consider feedback you get in the performance review process. Seek out on a regular basis open, honest feedback by asking for it. There are some excellent self-assessment tools available from qualified career coaches, and some good tools can be found online. One that I have used is the 360Reach. You can see my full review of this tool and the associated book by William Arruda here 360Reach is a comprehensive, confidential 360 degree assessment survey that is emailed to your peers, co-workers, boss, friends, and family. Unlike many 360 degree assessments that focus on leadership skills, 360Reach gives you a reflection of your unique personality and character traits, along with skills, strengths and weaknesses that you portray to the people in your life.

All of these elements are the fundamental ingredients that make up your value proposition, and will factor in to understanding the authentic you!

Anonymity Is For Addicts, Not The Career Minded.

Honestly, if we are going to enjoy the full bounty of the Internet, trying to remain anonymous online is counter productive. Social media and the Internet are revolutionizing the way people communicate with each other casually and professionally. I say jump into the revolution–actively! Create an online identity you can be proud of. Be accessible and be distinctive online. Get found, stand out, and be sought out. Heck, be famous! For those of us who have something to offer and an audience who can benefit from it, we need to put ourselves out there!

Consider the findings of a 2011 JobVite.com survey:

  • 89% of employers indicate they will recruit through social media.
  • 87% of companies will use LinkedIn for recruiting.
  • 40% of employers use all the three top networks; LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

Whether you are involved in a traditional job search, considering a job search, or working to forge your own enterprise, you’d be crazy to dismiss the power of the Internet. How best to grapple with its vastness becomes a question. How best to present yourself there is even a bigger question. Left to chance, the results can be disastrous. You have an online identity. What are you hiding?

Facebook, that bastion of life’s minutia, can be a danger zone when one disregards their professional reputation and slides into their more personal persona without considering their privacy settings.  Hiding from employers or prospective employers is essentially compartmentalizing one’s  social graph to protect against potential shame, unwanted judgment, and unemployment.  Is this really necessary or desirable?

Our professional life is safely parked at LinkedIn.  However, the norm here are mostly career limiting profiles. I’m talking about sending people running the other way limiting. Limiting because they are tedious. Often, they are incomplete in some way and don’t show up in searches.  Too many are overly wordy, packed with acronyms, and inside-baseball jargon. Worse yet, they are just a cut-and-paste of a poorly conceived resumé.

If someone has 5 or 10 years experience doing anything it is understood that they have done a lot of things well. It is not necessary to list them all on LinkedIn. To me that is akin to listing every book or article you read in college to earn your degree.  It is better to get to the essence of who you are, and what you do in three sentences or less.  Rather than list of duties performed, think about more emotional elements of what you brought to your work experience.  Perhaps you are a leader, a team builder, a problem solver, a cost cutter, a bridge builder, or a connector. These are attributes that people are hoping to find.

This all shouts opportunity! Your competition can be beat. Properly expressing a personal brand online means that we understand what our brand is about.  We have given thought to what our story is, what our expertise is, what we are passionate about,  and what our  values are.  Our brand sums up who we are and what we do in the world and expresses the emotional attributes that attract people to us.

I love Daniel Pink’s ideas about using one sentence to describe a brand. He discusses this idea in his book Drive : The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Consider these one sentence descriptions of who they are and what they did:

Abraham Lincoln: “ He preserved theUnion and freed the slaves.

FDR:  “He lifted us out of the Great Depression and helped win a world war.”

Go to Daniel pink’s website and Watch this YouTube video. People recorded 15 second clips telling their one sentence. We need to think this way if want to stand out from the clutter that fills the Internet. If we can get our audience’s attention in the first couple of sentences, they are more likely to delve deeper into our story.

YouTube  streams  4 billion videos per day! Every significant brand uses video to support expressing their brand message.  Every author I have referenced and linked to in my blog makes good used of YouTube videos to support their brand message. This is the video age. Many people get all their information via video in one place or another.

Sam Mallikarjunan gained notoriety and got hired through the creative mix of his website, Twitter account, and YouTube videos to present himself to HubSpot, a firm specializing in inbound marketing.  Sam’s HireMeHubSpot campaign was first conceived when a friend asked his advice on how she should go about applying for a job. He executed that plan when he decided HubSpot was where he wanted to be.

Dan Schawbel,  in his book Me 2.0, 4 Steps to Building Your Future suggests that it is important to own your domain name before someone else does. Of course owning your domain is only a first step. The next step is to create a web site that tells your story and expresses your distinctive, bona fide brand.  Having a cogent message and a distinctive style are paramount.  In addition to carefully chosen words, your brand consists of images, colors, and other elements unique to you that provide authenticity and texture. Incoherent messaging, poor layouts, and haphazard navigation at best means your site gets lost in the vastness of Internet clutter. At worst it costs you an opportunity.

At 15 years old, the Internet web 2.0 revolution is still in its early years. Get in now and soon you can be a savvy player when your peers and competitors may be just casual bystanders who use the Internet as just another entertainment option.

If You Were Coffee, A Phone, Or A Car…

Not often thought about is how your favorite brands help you meet intrinsic emotional needs for love, safety, security, comfort, acceptance, and relationships with other people.

Why do some people own a iPhoneTM vs. an AndroidTM, ? Why choose StarbucksTM over Dunkin DonutsTM?  HummerTM  vs. Ford BroncoTM? Each of these products can fundamentally meet our extrinsic needs.

I like to start my day with a cup of coffee. Perhaps I am mildly addicted to caffeine!  I need a smart phone to conduct my daily affairs and stay in touch with friends and family and even get some work done on the go.  I prefer to drive a sports utility vehicle since I need to haul around stuff as well as people given the lifestyle that I have. Brands carry with them highly distinctive value propositions that their owners identify with consciously and unconsciously to meet their even more important, intrinsic, emotional needs.

Apple iPhones represent sleekness and functionality on the cutting edge of technology.  They have a “cool” factor that meets peoples needs for acceptance. iPhone is “cool”, therefore, how cool am I?  You don’t even need to see my phone because just walking around with my distinctive white headphones is all you need to see and you will know that I am “cool”.

Starbucks has melded high quality, distinctive, and bold coffee concoctions with a need for people to come together in a shared experience on a deeply personal level.  It meets our emotional need for comfort and connecting with others with a level of security that is literally felt by consuming one of our favorite drinks. Even when we are not in the bistro, that familiar ambiance is carried forth by the white paper cup ensconced with their universally known green logo, white SoloTM cap, and the tell-tale corrugated heat shield.

Automobiles represent some of the most obvious branding efforts. With status symbols tied to their purchase price, and the emotions that they ignite within their owners, but also of bystanders who can make some assumptions about their owners. Hummer is the brand chosen by people who want to dominate any situation.  They are owned by financially successful, type-A personalities with a strong competitive spirit. These folks are not fully satisfied emotionally until you know that about them and their Hummer will effectively communicate all of this to you without having ever met them.

The essence of branding is an alignment of a brand’s core values or projected values with the values we hold or seek out on an emotional level. This nexus of values will propel us to either own a brand or want to own it.

What about you? What are your core values and intrinsic characteristics that draw people to you and distinguish you from others? What skill sets have you developed? What are your strengths and weakness? What emotions do you stir in others? Our values, skills, and strengths, as well as our weaknesses are some of the attributes that form our persona, our brand.

In the workplace, people are drawn to us primarily on an emotional level then proceed to rational qualities such as degrees held, work experience, skills sets, and technical expertise. Rational qualities are really fundamentals. You can’t be an engineer for example without the proper degrees and perhaps certain technical certifications. Our peers, all the people we are in competition with daily, have very similar rational qualities. Emotional qualities distinguish us from everyone else. Our personality, core values, passions, interests, style, and many other facets of our lives form the emotional qualities that really carry the weight of our brand. Of brand You!

Brands live in the minds of the consumer. Our personal brand lives in the minds of our key audience.  If we are entrepreneurs our key audience is the niche of people that can benefit from our product. If we are trying to get a particular job or promotion, our key audience are the people making the decisions about whom to interview and whom to hire.  It is therefore important to understand how our key audience sees us. The best way to get that information is to ask the people we work and live with daily.

There are some excellent assessment tools available from qualified career coaches. The one that I use is the 360ºReachTM, a comprehensive, 360 degree assessment survey that is emailed to your peers, co-workers, bosses, friends, and family. It was developed by personal branding guru, William Arruda.

Here you can watch a video where William explains the process. He is also author of a best selling book Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand.

Unlike many 360 degree assessments surveys that focus on leadership skills, and are restricted to the workplace, 360ºReach focuses on brand attributes and includes the audience you select.  It gives you feedback on brand attributes, personas, leadership skills, and strengths and weaknesses as seen by the people  in your life. A fun, projective exercise is included that you select. It asks responders to consider the attributes of brands of cars, cereals and other things that would help to describe you. It is powerful for seeing patterns within yourself and understanding yourself better. It is terrific for developing your brand over time by thinking about what attributes you want to key in on moving forward, setting goals, and taking assessments periodically to measure changes.

Once you have gathered the information that underscores your brand you are ready to craft powerful messaging that expresses your brand. Your brand can then be conveyed in all the right channels including traditional resumes, social resumes, social network profiles, like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, your own web site, and interviews.

When asked what he thought the reason for his lead in the early poles in the run up to the 2012 Republican primary, Donald Trump answered:

“My message is a better message than the other candidates”.

A powerful message can be a single sentence that tells your story and defines your distinctive value.  In the book, Drive : The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Author, Daniel H. Pink asks two questions every brand needs.

The first question: What’s your one sentence? As an example: Abraham Lincoln’s one sentence could be “ He preserved the Union and freed the slaves. FDR’s one sentence could be “He lifted us out of the Great Depression and helped win a world war.” Watch this YouTube video from Daniel Pink’s website. People recorded 15 second clips telling their one sentence.

The second question:  Was I better today than yesterday? Pink suggests asking ourselves this question and consider the answer every day. If we are passionate about improving our brand, this question motivates us to take action every day and make small, but meaningful personal improvements. Over the long run, we are fulfilling our potential and strengthening our personal and professional brand. The result is distinction and standing out from the crowd.

Your distinctive brand becomes the foundation for every choice you make moving forward. It focuses your energy efficiently and productively on your core values. Choices are made with the following premise:

Actions that support your brand should be chosen; actions that do not support your brand, avoided.

Branding, as a powerful tool, is well suited for building a following for your expertise among colleques, employers, prospective employers, people in your professional network, or attracting customers to your business. Distinctive brands are sought out. Your audience will connect with you on an intrinsic, emotional level. Now, you are taking charge of your career.

Photo credits: iPod sillouette: http://artcodesign.com/index.php?a=33, Starbucks Cup: Larry Smith, Gulls: Larry Smith, Hummer H2: Unknown, Donald Trump: Larry Marano/Getty Images.

Fun In Progress!

“Fun in progress…establishing my personal brand across a variety of social networks with clarity and consistency. Need to update my avatar.”

That was my first tweet some ten months ago. The key word here — establishing. I set up profiles on LinkedInFacebookTwitterGoogle+QuoraTumblr, and my About page here on WordPress.

A key attribute of my brand is integrity. Therefore, it is important that I not embellish who I am or what I am doing. I am living a career transition for myself. My objective is to use the power of the Internet and the vast array of tools available there, many of them free, to build my brand, my business, and set out to help people with their own career transitions.

Ten months ago I was in the first days of my start up of a consulting practice that officially launches this week with the launch of my web site LEdwardSmith.com. Profiles like LinkedIn and Facebook, where I spend considerable time, reflect my current status. Sites less prominent to my story building do not. So, it is time for site inspection and profile updating. Consistency is the operative word now.

Fun in progress, indeed.

Poke The Box! A Book Review

Poke The Box is Seth Godin’s manifesto on starting something. Initiative, innovating, being fearless, embracing failure; these are themes that Poke The Box romances. No matter the scale, innovation comes from people who are non-conformists. People who know that failure is an option, and have failed before. In one chapter, Godin uses the analogy of a dandelion and its thousands of seeds. Most will land on pavement fail to grow. Fear of failure paralyzes some. Abundance of caution, short-term thinking, self-preservation stifle ingenuity.

I was shopping for another book when Amazon, in its brilliance, suggested I might like Poke The Box based on my search.  The thumbnail of the cover was interesting. No title! Just a cartoon image. It was only one dollar for my Kindle; I would have it in seconds. How could I lose? As it happened, this was the week that I decided to start something. I decided to develop a career coaching practice. I needed information, and a business plan. I started researching.  Poke The Box was inspiration when I needed it. One day I am  sure this is the right thing to do, and the next, I am just as certain that I will fail.  Poke The Box  suggested I stay the course.  There are many reasons why my idea won’t succeed. The expected course of action is to not try. If I stop, I most certainly fail by the very act of avoiding the risk of failure. What’s more, I can choose to follow the path of  ninety-nine percent of career coaches that just focus on how to get a new job. Or, I can innovate.

Godin tells the story of a new Twitter user as an example of how, like a child with a new toy, or even just a box, we poke it and see what happens.  He could have been talking about me. That week, I also sent my first tweet: “Fun In Progress!”…establishing my brand across a variety of social networks. Need to update my avatar” it read. No hash tags, I didn’t understand the relevance.  My profile showed zero tweets, zero following, zero followers, zero listed. So, would anyone read it? Why would anyone follow me?  There was no risk to sending my first tweet.  I got my first follower. I found people in my field to follow. They engaged, and I engaged back.

I see Twitter as hugely important and it intrigues me, even as I read reviews saying it is losing its relevance. Oddly enough, some people are ready to give up on Twitter while I am just discovering its power. I am preparing to launch a business with nothing more than an idea, a computer, and the Internet. And, something called Web 2.0. I am harnessing something that is extraordinary, life changing, used in one form or another by over half the population of the United States, but only a few understand its implications. Web 2.0, and what ever follows, will be a powerful tool in helping me to innovate.

Poke The Box inspired me to push ahead. It illuminated something innate about me. Curiosity and a passion for the path less travelled. I have visited failure. It has taught me volumes about myself. Now I am taking the path less traveled again with new found wisdom, and new tools. Thank you Seth Godin. Poke The Box, indeed!

See more reviews of this book and a biography of the author at Amazon.com http://amzn.to/fqA0gn

Be Proactive

“You’re Fired!

Can’t you just hear Donald Trump saying that?, The intrepid business tycoon passionate about seemingly everything he does including firing people on his reality show is a stark reminder about how competitive our lives and careers can be.

As I research all things career management, it is readily apparent to me that nothing motivates, and paralyzes people like suddenly having to conduct a job search. Searching the Internet, it quickly becomes apparent that there are thousands of websites and people ready to enhance your résumé, prepare you for an interview, show you the latest on online job search tools, and talk up personal branding. So, where do you start?

Isn’t the best time to consider all job search related issues long before you are forced to put them into action? 

Proactive career management is taking meaningful action every day.  

Proactive career management is taking meaningful action every day that advances you towards your career goals. To get started, there are two definitive books that I suggest as important reads for anyone just getting started on their career path, or for anyone who needs some new direction on this issue.

 The first one is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. Published by Free Press, 1989, 2003, and 2004. Habit one in Covey’s book is: be proactive. Here is small sample of Covey’s wisdom on what proactive people will do:

Be a model, not a critic.

Choose response based on values, not feelings.

Speak with positive language.

Create circumstances.

Work on things you can influence.

Keep commitments.

Acknowledge mistakes.

 There is no question that your mindset is completely different when you feel secure in your current position versus when you are under the pressure of being out of work, or even after you’ve made a decision that the time to move on from your current job is now. Why react to circumstances when you could turn the tables and gain control of, and create circumstances? When there is no pressure to do so, you can carefully consider every issue related to your future. This is the time to consider the following questions:

How well do you know yourself and the values that drive you?

What are your near-term and long-term career goals?

What are the obstacles that prevent you from achieving these goals?

What can you do to overcome these obstacles?

Have you considered the benefits of personal branding?

Being proactive versus reactive is the path less traveled.

Being proactive versus reactive is the path less traveled. Discovering your authentic personal brand and communicating that brand consistently in all your actions is an important and proactive step in gaining control of your career and securing your future. Which brings me to my second book recommendation. Career Distinction: Stand out by building your personal brandby William Arruda and Kirsten Dixon. Published by Wiley & Sons, 2007.

Career Distinction lays out for the reader the fine details of personal branding. It makes the case for thoroughly understanding yourself and how building your unique brand will bring value to your audience. Standing out from the crowd and being constantly sought out by potential employers is the payoff for putting these ideas in action. See my book review here.

 The tasks outlined in Arruda’s book may seem daunting. After all, your job and family life no doubt consumes a majority of your time. Being proactive; however, suggests that this work be done all along the way. As with any complex project, it is best to break it down into manageable pieces. The most important thing is to get started.

 Consider hiring a career coach. 

Consider hiring a career coach. The right coach can help you with important elements of proactive career management. Your coach can assist you with assessment tools and provide valuable insight into the following areas:

Understanding yourself and your core values.

Developing your authentic personal brand.

Preparing traditional job search tools.

Building an online and personal networking strategy.

 A career coach, like a personal trainer at the gym, gives you someone to work with, provides you a sounding board, can act as a mentor, and can keep you accountable. A good coach will guide you through the work, but the work must be done by you. Like at the gym, doing the work produces the results you seek.

 Over time, with practice, your skills at proactive career management will become second nature. You will progress towards securing yourself in your current position, develop an internal and external network, and be superbly prepared for a job search in the event that one becomes necessary. Moreover, you will be well positioned for advancing towards your career goals. In time, you should expect to have potential employers looking for you! You will be in control of events and moving in a direction that is consistent with your authentic personal brand.

Career Distinction Book Review

Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand, by William Arruda & Kirsten Dixon

Career Distinction lays out for the reader the fine details of personal branding. It makes the case for thoroughly understanding yourself and how building your unique brand will bring value to your audience. Standing out from the crowd and being constantly sought out by potential employers is the payoff for putting these ideas into action.

William Arruda does not hold back. He provides online tools the reader needs to perform the tasks detailed in this book. Moreover, Arruda and co-author Kirsten Dixon, are successful role models for every facet of personal branding. The reader can go out to the web and see how the authors execute branding for themselves. Every detail of their websites, blogs, tweets, and other online marketing tools support their unique brand.

The value of building a powerful online presence to support your brand, and the specifics on how to go about it, is the focus of several chapters. The reader is encouraged to take away just the tools that make the most sense for their unique brand characteristics and career track.

I am personally taking advantage of, and evaluating the 360º ReachTM personal brand assessment tool. It is free to anyone who purchases the book, along with an online workbook in pdf format. There is a premium report offered for a small fee that collates and interprets the data provided by the people you ask to give anonymous feedback. I found the survey to be easy and quick, with fun elements, making it a pleasure for respondents.

The principles outlined by Arruda and Dixon is the foundation for developing my own personal brand and associated career coaching practice. It is fun in progress. Anyone following my progress will see my brand  come to life in the coming weeks. Critical elements of my unique brand; color, font style, bio, profiles, writing style, content of tweets, and posts will soon be implemented consistently across my online and traditional communication tools.

Please stay tuned!

See more reviews of this book and a biography of these authors at Amazon.com http://amzn.to/dIliSU

What is your status right now?

Not your Facebook status. What is your career status? There is the obvious simple answer. Employed, or between jobs; unemployed. Perhaps underemployed and actively searching for the right job. Or, your career seems flat; you feel the need to actively or passively search for a new position with the hope that there is something better out there.

Are you happy and secure in your career;  doing that which aligns with your career goals, values, strengths, and purpose in life? Are you highly confident about your future?

According to Accenture’s, November 2010, IWD Research Survey: fewer than half of executives surveyed, 47% of men and 44% of women, are satisfied with their current job; citing pay, lack of opportunity, and feeling trapped as top reasons why. The survey also indicates that 70% of executives plan to stay with their current organization.

The upcoming white paper: Six Keys To Proactive Career Management explores proven ideas and skills that will boost your career, have you stand out from the crowd, be more valued by your current organization, and get you noticed by recruiters and hiring managers even when you have no plan to make a move. You can gain full control over your career and be highly confident about your future.

Six keys to proactive career management:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Know yourself well – get honest
  3. Discover, then develop your authentic personal brand
  4. Build a strong online presence
  5. Be prepared – always have up-to-date job search tools at the ready
  6. Actively network in person and online

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