Energy Vampires at Work

Dear, Anita,

At work, we have a large special project and I have to work with a guy from another department on it. He is turning out to be hypercritical of everything I am doing. (My boss, in the meantime, seems to like and approve my work.) I go home feeling both mentally and physically exhausted. How can I deal with this [jerk] for the next few months?

Businessman_Fangs_iStock_000007557585_SmallDear, Feeling Drained,

Psychiatrist and author of Positive Energy, Dr. Judith Orloff, identifies six types of “energy vampires” and their antidotes:

  • The sob sister (or brother) loves to complain about their situation. At work, you’ll have to set clear boundaries to keep the “poor me” stories to a minimum.
  • The drama queen (or king) makes mountains out of molehills. Again, you’ll have to set limits and not get caught up in the drama.
  • The constant talker may be entertaining at first (or not), but you may have to interrupt this self-centered coworker to get back to your task.
  • The fixer upper wants your help with everything, from unjamming the copy machine to serving as a go-between in a contentious interoffice relationship. Offer solutions, but don’t rescue the fixer-upper all the time.
  • The blamer makes negative comments and tries to make you feel guilty for not getting things just right. Orloff suggests visualizing yourself in a cocoon of white light. If that sounds too new-agey, just think of it as ignoring the comments whenever you can. (Remember that kids’ chant, “I’m rubber; you’re glue. Whatever you say to me, bounces off me and sticks to you!”)
  • The go for the jugular fiend cuts you down with no consideration for your feelings. Don’t drink the poison; try not to take the pointed barbs personally.

Your coworker may be a mutant of the last two psyches (or Psychos, if the wig fits). Clinical psychologist Dr. Sophie Henshaw suggests a two-pronged approach to dealing with energy vampires. First, assess your emotional capacity to see just how much of this person you can take. Second, assess how much of a threat the vampire is to you. She even has an energy vampire quiz to help you with your appraisal.

Long dayCrazy coworkers are not the only energy vampires at work. Some of your very own behaviors can suck the life out of you. According to entrepreneur coach Helaine Iris, keeping details in your head instead of a system is not a good idea. Remembering everything on today’s to-do list – without the actual list – consumes the mental energy you could use to, say, write that major report. In an article, “Top 10 Office Energy Drains,” Forbes lists multi-tasking, technology, workplace noise, an uncomfortable environment, sitting still, clutter, boredom, and resentment as other vitality zappers in the workplace.

Feeling Drained, hang in there. Fight fang and nail to avoid the draining situations you can control, and minimize your interaction with your office vampire. It’ll be a treat once the project is complete.

Readers: Is your biggest energy vampire a coworker or one of your own self-sabotaging habits?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Stop Over-Apologizing

Dear, Anita,

I’ve recently been made a manager in my department, and I think I’m adjusting fairly well. One of my friends within the department called me out the other day, though, for saying “I’m sorry” too much.  I think it’s my way of coming across as sympathetic (as in, “I’m sorry, but the VP wants you to redo this report to include the new sales figures.”) As a woman in management, does this really make me appear weak?

Dear, Brenda Lee,

OverApologizing_Manager_300Is this something new, or have you always been an over-apologizer? It could be you’re feeling a little insecure in your new job. A people-pleasing mentality may be overshadowing your people skills. What new manager doesn’t want to be well-liked?

Saying you’re sorry in and of itself is not a form of weakness. It shows that you are socially aware that your actions may impact others negatively.

It’s a widely held stereotype that women apologize more than men. This Pantene commercial illustrates the all-too-common phenomenon of women apologizing for situations where they are not at fault.

In recent studies, Karina Schumann at the University of Waterloo discovered that women did in fact apologize more than men, but they also reported committing more offenses. (Men apologize less frequently than women because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior. I won’t apologize for saying, That figures!)

Your “I’m sorry” in your question above doesn’t mean you are apologizing for something that was your fault (“I’m sorry I didn’t get you those new numbers before you finished your report”) but is more of an “I’m sorry this happened to you and our department.”

There’s something to be said about women using our hardwired peacekeeping skills in teambuilding. But women managers have to tread a narrower line than men between appearing to be a powerless doormat or a strong ice queen.

Saying sorry too often can trivialize the act of apology, making the important ones less significant. Remember the boy who cried wolf? Save your “I’m sorrys” for when you really need them.

Readers: Do you find yourself over-apologizing a work?

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No Payroll Deductions

Dear, Anita,

I work for a small company. My employer pays me with a personal check and I never see the break out of my taxes. Is the employer required to give me a break out of my taxes? Also, my 18-year-old niece just got a job at a coffee shop. Her boss pays her in cash. Is that legal?

Pay_Stub_iStock_000006469037_SmallDear, Worried About Taxes,

If you are an hourly or salaried employee and not a properly classified independent contractor, your employer is required by law to withhold payroll taxes (Federal income, state, and any local taxes, along with Social Security and Medicare). Whether or not your company must provide an itemized pay stub varies by state. According to the American Payroll Association Basic Guide to Payroll, the only states NOT required to provide deduction information on an employees’  pay stubs are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona (only required if paid by direct deposit), Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio (oddly the law only protects minors here; employees over the age of 18 do not have the right to an itemized pay stub), small South Carolina employers (who have less than five employees for the past year), South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah government employees, and only on request in Virginia. Ask your boss to clarify the issue. If you are not satisfied with the answer, check with an employment attorney.

Cash paymentNow let’s talk about your barista relative. Some businesses pay cash “under the table” (restaurants and the construction trades are notorious for this). The IRS and your state’s employment taxation agency do not look kindly on this practice. Employers who are caught during an audit face the consequence of penalties and interest in addition to payment of back taxes and may be subject to criminal prosecution.

What happens to employees who receive cash wages? They won’t have check stubs, a Wage and Withholding Statement (Form W-2), or a way to verify their earnings (advise your niece to keep records of her own), and they may be subject to an income tax audits for not reporting the wages. Note that the IRS doesn’t care if an employer failed to take out taxes; each individual is still responsible for their personal tax obligations. Your niece is not paying into Social Security or Medicare, which will affect her ability to collect in the future. I know, an 18 year old is probably not even thinking about those far-distant retirement issues. But if or when she needs to file for unemployment (UI) or state disability (SDI), benefits may be delayed or even denied.

Your niece should not accept being paid off the books. If her employer is unwilling to abide by its legal obligations, I would recommend she find another job. Whistle-blowing is optional.

Readers: Have you ever had issues with an employer not withholding the proper deductions?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Show Your “Soft” Side on Your Résumé

Dear, Anita,

I recently heard the term “adaptive skills” and that I should add these to my résumé. What are they, exactly?

DPerfect_Employee_ iStock_000039264286_Smallear, Mad Skillz,

In human resources jargon, an adaptive skill is a general skill necessary to succeed at any job. More commonly referred to as “soft skills,” these are subjective personal qualities and abilities that are more difficult to quantify than “hard skills” or such job-specific occupational skills as typing speed, forklift certification, or event management, to give a random sampling. Sometimes there is a third category – transferable skills, which are abilities you can perform in different environments. Think of it this way:
– Soft Skills are “I AM” skills such as reliability, cooperation,  positive attitude, and friendliness.
– Hard Skills are “I KNOW” skills such as web design, foreign languages, or accounting practices.
– Transferable Skills are “I CAN” skills such as researching, teaching, or budgeting.
To pinpoint adaptive abilities you can boast about, check out this expansive list of soft skills at About Careers.

Soft skills concept on whiteMany soft skills are more visible in the interview process, but you have to actually land that interview to show off your enthusiasm, verbal communication skills, or artistic flair. A cover letter may be the best place to highlight those nebulous adaptive skills. Some companies don’t read cover letters though.  While you definitely want to hit the hard skills the employer is looking for when you tailor your résumé, be sure to include soft skills here too. Whenever possible, back up soft skills with hard facts. Quantify your accomplishments using time frames, number of people, and/or dollar amounts.  If you are highly persuasive person applying for a sales job, tell the story with some statistics about how many signatures you got on a recent community petition. Work well under pressure? Outline some specific project deadlines that you met or exceeded.  Did your attention to detail uncover an invoicing discrepancy that saved your company thousands of dollars? Boast about it on paper!

While the hard skills may be the first criteria an HR manager will evaluate, backing up specific job proficiencies with your soft skills may give you an edge in the hiring game.

Readers: How do you best highlight your soft skills on your résumé? Paste your best résumé blurb in the “Leave a Reply” area below.

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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All-Day Alertness

Dear, Anita,

I seem to notice a productivity slump every morning around 10:30. Another co-worker gets sleepy right after lunch, and my officemate hits a wall around 3:30 p.m.  Do you have any ideas on how to combat our various crash times?

Tired_Worker_14716631_SmallDear, Sid the Sloth and Friends,

Everyone’s internal clock is different. So you’ll each want to take advantage of your own circadian rhythm to plan to work on your most difficult tasks at your individual peak times. A morning java jolt may get you started, but for sustained energy throughout the day, look at the following four factors.

1)      To Sleep Perchance to Dream

Getting enough shut-eye at night is critical to maintaining productivity throughout your workday. WebMD claims that reducing nighttime sleep by 1-1/2 hours results in a 32% reduction in daytime alertness. Can you imagine getting only 2/3 of your work done tomorrow? Hit the pillow on time tonight.

Borrow an idea from the Spanish and take a siesta – or as we call it here in the states, a power nap! Granted, most offices don’t have spaces conducive to sleeping. According to Greatist.com, our bodies get tired after about eight hours of being awake, so the best time of day for napping is somewhere between 2-4 p.m. Be sure not to go over 10-20 minutes or you’ll end up feeling even groggier.

2)      Eat and Run
When you have a lot on your plate workwise, maintaining a proper diet around the Food_Clock16986477_Smallclock will benefit your efficiency at the office. Harvard Medical School is a proponent of smaller regular meals supplemented with a healthy snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon to boost energy (this plan may have the added bonus of weight loss).

Have breakfast – but opt for whole grains, not refined carbs like sugary cereals. A couple of hours after breakfast, your body has absorbed its breakfast and blood sugar levels dip, causing the mid-morning slump. But don’t let a diagnosis of low blood sugar send you to the coffee shop for one of those frou-frou drinks full of refined sugar. Have a quick snack of carbohydrates, protein, and fat (think veggies with hummus and pita bread or a few handfuls of trail mix).

For lunch, avoid sugar and flour and opt for a non-supersized low-carb, high-protein meal to avoid the Thanksgiving-esque desire for a post-meal sofa. Omega-3s found in fatty fish such as tuna and salmon are great brain food to combat fuzzy thinking. Foods high in iron enable the body to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body for energy. For that mid-afternoon snack, avoid the candy (although dark chocolate may improve brain function) and choose a piece of fruit or whole-grain crackers.

3)      Work Up a Thirst

Tired_Water_Cooler11855441_SmallYou may not be out running 26 miles, but marathon desk sessions require liquid fortification too. Sleepiness and headaches can indicate dehydration, so be sure to quench your body’s H20 requirement. Many people believe that caffeinated beverages are diuretic, negating the fluid intake. Coffee aficionados, rejoice! The National Institutes of Health could find no published support for fluid loss after consumption of caffeine-containing beverages. Caffeine after 2 p.m., however, can affect your night’s sleep, according to The Sleep Doctor, Michael J. Breus, PhD.

4)      Step it Up

People who exercised during their workday were 23 percent more productive than when they didn’t exercise, according to the International Journal of Workplace Health Management. You may not be able to squeeze in a full workout on your lunch break, but even a quick stretch can boost your spirits after hours hunched over your desk. See My Job is a Pain in the Neck – Literally for some quick desk stretches. Consider a stand-up desk. Juststand.org claims that standing increases energy in addition to the side benefits of toning muscles, improving posture, and increasing blood flow.  Regardless of your desk situation, if your job keeps you at your desk for a solid eight hours, get up and take occasional breaks. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discovered that brief diversions vastly improve focus.

So, tomorrow at 10:15 a.m., I expect you to get up, make a water or coffee run, walk around the block, and curl up under your desk for an eight-minute power nap. Just don’t do it on the down-low like George Costanza on Seinfeld:

Readers: How do you combat dips in your energy during the workday?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Run Better Meetings

Dear, Anita,

Five months ago, I was promoted to a mid-level manager position. I’m now in charge of meetings for 8 employees on my team. I’m noticing a lot of yawning, texting, and doodling. How can I run better meetings?

Dear, Ben Stein’s Protégé,

Your question brings to mind the monotone professor from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Meetings are a fact of life in business. So I’m glad you have a desire to improve on this necessary evil for your team. yaM Labs claims that executives average 23 hours per week in meetings where 7.8 hours of the 23 are unnecessary and poorly run, which is 2.3 months per year wasted. Another stat on their site will make you feel a little better: 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings. So it’s not just you.

Here are a few short and sweet tips to keep your meetings productive.

  1. Meet regularly. Outlook allows you to create a “recurring” meeting for good reason. If everyone knows there will be a meeting each Wednesday morning, they can schedule around it. Having a regular meeting to address team issues will prevent once-in-a-while meetings from dragging on and on. Which brings us to my next point.
  2. Have a time limit. And stick to it. Employees mentally check out when meetings digress. They’ll also be frustrated that it is eating into their time to finish the projects waiting for them back at their desks.
  3. Send a pre-meeting heads-up. Always have an agenda. This will help the meeting flow smoothly and not run off the rails. Sending the agenda ahead of time allows people to be prepared.No_Cell_Phone_Small
  4. Establish a no-phone policy. Unless someone’s wife is expecting a baby that day, most people can afford to leave their mobile device at their desk to minimize distractions.
  5. Encourage feedback. “Anyone? Anyone?” Alas, Ben Stein did not have much luck but if you create an atmosphere of lively discussion without going down rabbit holes (schedule brainstorming sessions separately), your team will be more engaged.
  6. Follow up. Make sure that any issues brought up at the meeting are assigned for action.
  7. Loosen up. I know you want to solidify your new position as a manager, but that doesn’t mean you need to be stiff. According to executive coach Susan Bates, “Humor actually increases your stature as a leader.”

You may want to incorporate a few other “feel good” ideas into your meetings. It’s a great time to acknowledge individual and/or team successes, project completions, etc., perhaps even award a dollar store trophy. Occasionally bring muffins or Starbucks; yummy treats are always a crowd-pleaser. Take a tip from kindergarten teachers and have show and tell once a month to facilitate getting to know individuals beyond the scope of work. Meetings don’t have to be boring to be beneficial.

Readers: Be honest, do you text during meetings?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Back to Class

A job seeker inquires:
Do you know any companies that are willing to train for the job? – Drooling for Schooling

A gainfully employed person asks:
I want to move up to the next level at my current job. Now that the kids are back in school, I have more time for taking classes. Should I research possible training courses to help position me for a promotion, or ask my boss for suggestions? Will my company pay for it? – Chalk It Up

Seminar_23548923_SmallDear, “Drooling for Schooling,”

Training magazine creates an annual list of the Top 125 organizations that excel in employee training programs. If you are lucky, one of these employers may be right in your back yard.

For most other companies, providing training is a bit less of a certainty. Employers often receive hundreds of responses for every job they post. While you’ll get the basic training required for any new position, fewer companies have the resources to train unskilled employees from scratch these days. When hired, you’ll likely be expected to hit the ground running. While you are searching for a job, lace up your proverbial sneakers and be proactive about learning new skills. Take certification courses or classes at your local community college or online – or try temporary jobs to develop on-the-job skills (see The Bridge from Temping to a Full-Time Position). When you complete a course or certification, be sure to add these to your résumé too.

Suit_Chalkboard23648570_SmallDear, “Chalk It Up,”

It’s always a great idea to continue your education to enhance your skills, to keep up with technology, to merit more money, and yes, to earn a promotion. Astute managers recognize that encouraging training opportunities benefits the company as well as the employee; the company gets a better-qualified staffer, and the employee is more fulfilled. In fact, cutting-edge companies offer subsidized training or tuition reimbursement as a perk. However, for a business offering education assistance, this can be a double-edged sword. Employers want to be sure that when investing in employee education, they will realize a return on investment (ROI) before the enriched team member moves on to greener pastures.

Given that school of thought, it may be wise to enlist your manager’s help with your career development – which is not to say you can’t put on your own thinking cap and provide some well-researched suggestions. Schedule a time to talk about possible areas your supervisor would like you to improve or develop new expertise, or be cross-trained with someone else in your department. For tips on setting up cross-training, refer to Documenting Worker Responsibilities in Select Family’s TradePost. Supplementary training must be well-chosen to benefit you in your current or next position at your company and dovetail with your own career goals.

Podium22445521_SmallThere’s a big difference asking your organization to fund an advanced degree versus a less costly seminar. For big-ticket degrees and certifications, your employer may be hesitant. You may be able to negotiate an agreement – in writing – committing to continue to work a set time period after receiving the degree, paying the tuition up front and then being reimbursed, or other arrangements to make both parties feel comfortable.

When considering seminars and training courses, don’t forget to factor in other costs, like airfare and hotel for out-of-town opportunities, and even time away from your duties for local or online training. Both you and your boss should look at not only the dollar investment, but the time expenditure required.

Lynda_SmallTo upgrade your skills in a less costly manner (which may be more palatable for your employers), online education abounds. Lynda.com  is a great resource for thousands of courses and tens of thousands of video tutorials, all available for a very reasonable monthly rate. One of my readers recommended Ed2go for inexpensive (less than $100) online classes from many continuing education partners countrywide.

After attending an approved seminar or convention, it’s a great idea to send your boss a thank you e-mail with a brief synopsis of what you learned and possible applications to improve your company’s business. Seeing measurable results will boost your chances for approval of future education requests — and also go a long way toward increasing your value as an employee in your manager’s eyes.

Readers: How do you continue your education to benefit both you and your employer?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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The Bridge from Temping to a Full-Time Position

Dear, Anita,

As a recent graduate, I opted to take temporary jobs rather than settle for a steady, permanent full-time job I didn’t like and in order to build a more diverse résumé. I have three questions. If I want to stay on at a company I am currently temping for, how many hours do I have to work before I can get hired on full time? Second, when interviewing with other companies, some employers like to pop the question, “Why temping when you can have a regular job?” I’d like a good answer for that. Finally, how do I include temp jobs on my résumé without looking like a job-hopper?

Dear, Pursuing Permanency,

Woman_Bridge_Stepping_Stone_9923095_Small

Temporary jobs can be a great stepping stone to full-time employment. A recent American Staffing Association (ASA) Employee Survey found that of temporary workers who cited obtaining a permanent job as their top priority, a whopping 99% achieved their objective! That’s a great reason to try temping – for those fresh out of school or for more seasoned workers still looking for a full-time employment.

The top reasons for choosing temporary work are:

Figure3If a potential employer asks questions that may indicate a bias against your temporary employment, counter with how your short-term stints made you more employable. Highlight the specific skills that you learned, and outline clearly how valuable the on-the-job experience was for you.  You can even throw out some ASA statistics from the survey to answer his objections.

Figure4

How to list these diverse assignments on your résumé? Group them all under the staffing company, using an umbrella date range. Then, indented below, list the different positions to which you were assigned and proceed to elaborate on these as you would any other job listing (duties, skills acquired, and achievements or accomplishments while there). If you had one particular assignment for an extended period that relates to your future career goals, you may wish to break out that position and list it separately to give it more prominence.

To answer your first question last, each company may have different criteria for its temp-to-hire process. Check with your personnel supervisor for the specifics in your situation.

Readers: Have you turned a temping gig into full-time employment?

I’m delighted to be back as a Human Resources Consultant at The Select Family of Staffing Companies. Select can help you realize your dream of a full-time job. Stop by the branch nearest you to discuss your long-term career goals and how temping can be the bridge to a full-time, permanent position.

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Help People Help You Find a Job

Dear, Anita,

I know networking is supposed to be important in finding a job. But I have not had any luck with it. People say they’ll keep their eyes open for me, but I never hear back from anyone. What am I doing wrong?

Helping_Hand_28212038_SmallDear, Unfavorable,

It’s often said that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Obviously, you need to know something to land that skilled job! However, statistics seem to indicate that 70%-80% of jobs are found through networking.  But these things can take time.

Develop relationships.
Just because you met someone at a chamber mixer last week doesn’t mean they’re going to vouch for you with their best friend who happens to be the HR director at a company you’d like to work for. Think of networking Chess_People_14866386_Smallas an old-fashioned Victorian introduction. While in olden times young men and women were not at liberty to speak to one another until properly introduced, you’ll fare better with a potential employer if a known third party gives you an introduction. If you’re feeling a little rusty at introduction etiquette at meet and greets, let Etiquette International help you out. (I’m sure Emily Post would abhor “poking” on Facebook.) Follow up with people with whom you’ve made a connection, whether you chatted about a mutual love of hiking or debated the merits of Siri vs. Cortana. You may not become BFFs, but who knows? Once you become better acquainted, you may even ask this person to be your mentor. .

Mine your Facebook and LinkedIn contacts for “virtual” introductions. See my post Lessons on LinkedIn for more details on how to maximize your online connections.

Define your target.
Businessman kneeling down looking up, portrait
Avoid telling people you meet that you are looking for “anything” in your job search. It may seem counter-intuitive, but casting your net that wide won’t make for a successful fishing expedition. Focus on your specific areas of interest, so that key words will trigger your networkee’s memory of you when they hear of a job opening in your field. You may even wish to develop a target list of a dozen companies that you would like to work for as examples.

Be specific.
Even if you don’t have a honed-in target list, you still want be explicit (not in the rated R kind of way, but in an unambiguous manner) when you ask for a helping hand. Ask, “Who do you know who… ” …may have an opening in their accounting department …has a need for marketing assistance …is expanding their sales force, etc.

When asking past and current colleagues and clients for permission to be listed as a reference for you, go one step further and request a recommendation or endorsement on LinkedIn. See tips in my post Atta Girl for facilitating a LinkedIn recommendation.

Return favors.
Small_Gift_9068942_Small
Don’t be a taker only; give back. It may not be like for like (after all, they may not be in the job market looking for a foot in the door). But be sure to reciprocate somehow – and send a thank you note at the very least. And while paying it forward always brings good karma, do your best to somehow repay that significant favor from a pivotal person.

Readers: How can you ask those in your network for specific help in your job search?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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5 Keys to Create an Unmistakable Personal Brand

Dear, Anita,

I have heard of people creating personal websites and writing blogs to further their career. This sounds like a lot of extra work. Is it worth it? How would I start?

Dear, Brand New to Branding,

These smart cookies are creating a “personal brand.” We all know about product branding – Coca-Cola, Apple, Toyota, GE. When someone mentions McDonalds, don’t you immediately think of the red and yellow colors, French fries, and the golden arches? But what is meant by developing a personal brand?

Personal Branding on Multicolor Puzzle.The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” When we apply the concepts of the marketing world to you and your career, this translates to what makes you special, unique, and different from other employees and professionals. Wikipedia explains personal branding as the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. I love Cornelia Shipley’s definition on Careerealism.com: “Your Personal Brand is simply the facts in discussion about you. The facts get introduced one of three ways:

  • What you say.
  • What you do.
  • What others say about what you said or did.”

Here are 5 keys to create a noteworthy personal brand.

  1. Determine your Brand Attributes. How would you define yourself? What’s your function? What words would you and others use to describe you? What image do you want to portray? What are your core values? Entrepreneurs and sales people often come up with an “elevator speech” – a brief commercial that communicates who you are in about 30 seconds (the time it takes people to ride to the top of a building in an elevator).  Succinct brand statements can be powerful; Reebok’s brand statement is “Fit for life. Having fun and staying in shape.”
  2. Social Media. In our electronic age, your online footprints can influence your career. Check out my blog about Online Reputation Monitoring. While LinkedIn may be the most important site for your work life, look at all of your social media accounts. Does every page, photo, post, and tweet reflect your brand attributes you generated in #1?

    Personal_Brand_Website

    Source: yourpersonalbrandname.com

  3. Personal Website. To increase search engine visibility beyond social media, personal websites are becoming more popular. I’m not going to lie; building and maintaining a website will take time and effort. While your résumé may be in a standard format to meet with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), a personal website can show more of your personality, from the design templates you choose to the bio paragraph you craft. Check out some great sample websites at Tutorial Chip for inspiration. You can go hog-wild and introduce videos, a blog (see #4), and loads of links to professional organizations, articles relevant to your industry, and testimonials. Be sure to keep your site updated, especially if you are in job search mode, so that it won’t detract from your image.
  4. Personal Blog. If you enjoy writing, and can commit to posting regularly, consider starting a blog. Writing about your industry will not only develop a deeper knowledge to help you in your career, but it can position you as an expert in your field. Make sure you proofread your post before publishing!
  5. Networking in Person. Building relationships in your current company, with others in your industry, and with your personal contacts can lead to promotions, career opportunities, and an outstanding professional reputation. Don’t neglect off-line relationships!

Unknown_iStock_000033005546_LargeSo is personal branding worth the toil? You’re already selling ideas every day, from convincing your spouse which restaurant to choose for dinner to proposing better ways of doing a task at work. Taking the extra steps with your career can set you apart. With so many people applying for jobs electronically, how much more will you stand out if you have invested the time and can provide links to a personal website and blog? (It’s working for me; after all, you’re reading my blog!)

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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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