Likely You Should Participate in Online Personal Branding

I recently read counter-arguments regarding the relevancy of personal branding. Some of the common themes include: heavy self-promotion, blog and social media commitments, and attention hogging.

My first reaction to the recent trend of “personal branding,” that it’s really just an ego-driven waste of time. (1)

Branding And Professions
Branding And Professions

Still, I think most professionals benefit from projecting their online personal brand.

I agree…

Not all professions require an online presence There are many jobs that do not require for you to be online and active in social media to perform your responsibilities. Although, considering how often a typical professional changes jobs and careers, you might be investing for something later in your career by establishing credibility and connections.  Perhaps it leads to a second career.

Not all professionals have to self-promote… Too many professionals associate personal branding with self-promotion, which is a big reason why they are turned off to it. I cannot deny that there is usually some self-promotion in personal branding; though, it might only play a minor role and does not have to be excessive or emphasized.

I define a functional model for online personal branding that relies less on self-promotion. I emphasize presenting and validating a skill set, radiating an authentic personality, and being connected. I also argue that prevention content, balances promotion content. So professionals have to engage in varying degrees of self-promotion and sometimes very little of it, yet benefit from online personal branding.

Not everyone has to blog and Tweet regularly… I agree that not all professionals have to blog or Tweet on a regular basis, especially if your job does not demand it. Adding these time-consuming responsibilities is something the personal branding naysayers harp on. Regardless whether it is a job requirement, create and curate content if you have something say! Why not? It is technically feasible (it is a file on your computer or mobile), so challenge yourself to be insightful in your area of expertise.

I disagree…

Only leaders and marketers must participate in personal branding… Most personal branding experts assert that if you have an online presence in social media then you should consider how it reflects on you; this reflection is essentially your online personal brand. It is clear that the majority of young Americans use social media; eighty percent of Millennials use Facebook. Many professionals use LinkedIn; there are currently 100 and 200 million monthly active users in the US and outside the US, respectively. Therefore, since most professionals participate in social media, most professionals should think about online personal branding.

Why does it matter? Most employers are going to check out your digital footprint before hiring you, regardless of the nature or your work. You should also have some understanding regarding the impressions you leave with your connections in social media. Why not project a meaningful, unified representation of you as a personal brand?

Personal branding is a waste of time… It can be a deep, effective way to plan and develop a career for most people. You think of a holistic view of yourself – something that is much deeper than planning a degree or profession. You are forced to think about skills, core-competencies, weaknesses, personality traits, values, passions, interests, impressions, relationships, and vision. And then once you commit, you self-reflect, continually learn, works towards mastery, follow a regiment, solicit feedback, and connect with an audience. Personal branding is a powerful maturation process.

Personal branding is all about the number connections you make…It does not have to be. In fact, I discourage professionals from hastily making a ton of connections to gain influence – avoid getting enamored by the ‘network effect.’ Instead, I suggest patience and restraint. First, get your identity squared away. Second, identify a reasonable target market. Third, calibrate the release of content and adding new connections – aim for a steady stream. An effective personal brand is based on differentiating your skills and talent within the boundaries of your target market (not the entire world).

Do not need to personal brand, so a personal website is unnecessary… A personal website acts as a centerpiece of an online personal brand and a replacement to a standard resume, becoming what I call a ‘multi-dimensional resume’. I read a blog where an author delineates between a ‘branding personal website’ and a ‘resume website’. Disagree with this separation. You should have a single website that adapts to various career stages; sometimes it is an employment evaluation platform and sometimes it effectively projects your brand. Since there is significant overlap in content and you want to establish an online identity, a single website works best. Ultimately, a personal brand is the best representation of you anyways.

(1) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140613175212-94869713-personal-branding-hot-tactic-or-hot-air

Survey: Employers Seeking Employees, Professional Website

It was fascinating making sense of the results from the survey, Employers Seeking Employees, because I was able to get valuable insights from human resource professionals who conduct employment evaluations; something I think can be improved upon with a professional website. I say this because of the following conclusions I was able to make based on the results of the survey.

First, the respondents are using various web services (primarily MonsterJobs, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn) when trying to find candidates, so it makes sense to link to your professional website in each of their profiles/resumes – create an identity.

Second, a resounding majority of the respondents are willing to review other media than a traditional resume and cover letter and a professional website allows for you share all of these types of media – video resume, portfolio, publications, coursework files, and a blog.

Third, a majority of the respondents (77.2%) agreed that a searching on a skill set is an effective way to find a candidate; the development of a skill set is one key component in the framework of a professional website.

Fourth, the most important factor in getting employed is following the traditional method of “finding and applying to job listings” according to the survey results; the administrative interface of a professional website has many tools to support this method, including: creating PDF resumes and cover letters;  managing contacts and applications; and delivering an application or sending an invitation to your website in an email.

Finally, in open-ended responses, many of the respondents suggested having accurate and error-free content and to use industry specific keywords and skills in material presented to them; through GroupShare, a professional website has tools for peer-reviews and counseling to address these suggestions.

Media Portrait
Media Portrait

Skills Based Approach, Doable

In suggesting a framework you might actually follow, it is must be accessible, actionable, not too tedious, and hopefully enjoyable; otherwise, you might read and understand the concepts but never do it. The skills based approach I have been discussing has these characteristics.

There are many books you read that guide you through a methodology and provide a table where you are supposed to pencil in your ideas;  personally, I cannot think of a time I actually filled out the table in a book and sometimes I have developed my own interpretation in an Excel spreadsheet. The integration of the skills based approach with a professional website allows for you to completely manage your skill set from within its administrative interface, so it is easily accessible in an intuitive interface. This integration includes a database driven table where you manage your skills, drag and drop interface to link them with your experiences, and a page where you can review your plans to obtain expertise with your skill set.

Sometimes you are presented with a framework that makes a lot of sense, however it is unclear how you can use it in your everyday life. The skills-based approach lays out a sequential path in developing a skill set and suggests specific, concrete actions at each stage. You can learn more about these actions by reviewing this infographic.

When you introduce something new to your life, you do not want to add something that is time-consuming and annoying – more clutter. Filling out long forms and/or paperwork can be bothersome to anyone. Managing your skill set is easy to do with a professional website.  Some of the suggested actions, such as taking a personality test, might seem tedious to you; though you can always find other ways to get the same results. The general premise of planning and tracking the development of no more than 15 skills in  your skill set should not be overbearing, however.

Thinking about what you want to accomplish in your career can be enlightening and exciting, planning exactly what you to commit to and the contribution you leave behind is very inspiring. The development of a skill set suggests a framework to help you formulate a plan to reach your career aspirations, so it should be an enjoyable experience for you.

Skills Based Approach Infographic

I have dedicated a website to promote a skills based approach: click here

Developing a skill set throughout a career should be the goal of every professional and can be accomplished in four stages: planning, building, presenting, and validating. This infographic shows what should be done at each stage.

Skills Based Infographic
Skills Based Infographic

A professional website has features to support this skill based approach at each stage. You can read more about this integration by following some of the previous blogs click here (scroll down to view previous blogs).

How to Implement a Pull Approach, Employment Seeking

In previous blogs, I defined what a pull approach is in employment seeking and provided evidence that it could be effective (Pull Approach, Employment Seeking, Evidence A Pull Approach Is Effective). I would like to discuss how you actually implement a pull approach, what do you need to do to get potential employers to visit your professional website. Many of the tactics mirror what businesses do to increase traffic to their websites, though there are some subtle differences; these tactics include: SEO (search engine optimization), social media and job board landing page, participation in blogs related to your field of interest, and presentation of a skill set. It is also worth mentioning that the idea of a pull approach is evolving, so there may become new tactics as web service companies develop technologies to work with a pull approach.

A professional website is built with strong SEO fundamentals, including: the use of meta tags, content rendered as HTML text, and the structure and naming of pages. Meta tags can be used to lure potential employers when they search on keywords in a search engine; you can create meta tags that describe your field of interest, past employment or education, where you live, core-competencies, something you worked on, and any other keywords a potential employer might search on. You can and should use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your professional website; keep an eye on how many hits you are getting, where the hits are coming from, and what search keywords are driving the traffic. Understand that it may take a few weeks before your website gets fully indexed by the major search engines.
Continue reading “How to Implement a Pull Approach, Employment Seeking”

Evidence a “Pull Approach” Is Effective

In a previous blog, I introduced a “pull approach” to employment seeking – where you “pull” potential employers to your professional website to find employment (Pull Approach, Employment Seeking). The effectiveness of this approach hinges on whether potential employers seek employees. For many reasons, I think this is where the landscape of finding employment is going and there is evidence that it has already gained traction.

One of the biggest reasons why employers are increasingly seeking employees is because the current approach – where employees seek employers –  is so inefficient. Potential employers are required to post employment opportunities in many places, such as job boards, newspapers, on their corporate website, etc. This is expensive because of overhead, time, and the use of other resources. However, the biggest problem is that strong candidates who did not find the job posting will not be considered for the opportunity. Evidence that the current approach – where employees seek employers – is on a serious decline can seen by the precipitous loss of market value of the major players offering related services, for example, MonsterJobs has lost a staggering 81% of its value over the last 5 years (according to a Forbes article in the July 12th issue).

There is a faster pace in finding talent for immediate needs. Much of this comes from the velocity of information technology development in the service industry. The current process can take months to hire the right candidate; a posting is added, candidates submit their resume, resumes are evaluated, and interviews are setup and conducted. With a “pull approach”, the first three of these steps go away. Theoretically a potential employer can be at an interviewing stage within a few hours.

Viewing a professional website is much faster and easier than a standard resume for evaluating a potential employee. A professional website is essentially a multi-dimensional resume with rich content (and multimedia), communication features, and an internal searching mechanism. Moreover, it is easier to evaluate among a team – simply share a professional website URL among colleagues.

With an effective search mechanism in place, a potential employer can quickly get a finely-tuned search result (or list) of talented professionals in a manner of minutes. A professional website, built on a skills-based foundation, has the necessary structure and keywords to be searched through.

The evidence that potential employers are seeking employees can be found in the success of LinkedIn and their flagship product Recruiter. It is one of their biggest revenue generating services and can cost as much as $8,000 per user (according to the same Forbes article mentioned above). Clearly, companies are purchasing this service and using it to find employees.

There are some issues in relying on a LinkedIn profile to represent you. First, you do not own all the content with your free profile, and LinkedIn can use the content to generate revenue with third party marketers. Second, it does not necessarily represent everything about you. Third, it currently does not support all multimedia content such as video, audio, etc.. Fourth, it does not have the stylistic appeal of a website. In summary, it is not necessarily setup as a way for you to project yourself in the best possible way. There is a place in your LinkedIn profile where you can share a link to a website – I suggest using it to share your professional website.

Finally, there is one subtle difference with the LinkedIn approach. The idea of a “pull approach” is to give you all of the functionality you need to best market yourself and effectively lure potential employers to your professional website. You are always in control. It does not mean just having your profile getting found in a search by an employer.

TheProfessionalWebsite provides a professional website, which is the ideal platform to “pull” potential employers to.

Read more from the July 2012 Forbes article referenced above: How LinkedIn Has Turned Your Resume Into A Cash Machine.

Employed, Why have a Professional Website

Every professional should have their own professional website, whether they are seeking employment or are gainfully employed; here are some clear advantages for someone not necessarily looking for employment:

  • Establishing an online professional identity.
  • Owning and choosing how to “project” your content.
  • Sharing a “body of work”.
  • Validating your proficiencies in technologies, languages, etc.

LinkedIn has built an effective network of professional profiles and a compelling argument that everyone (not only job seekers) should use their network – evident by the size and scope of their network and average age of their user (41 years old). However, as argued in our previous blog Network Vs Identity, they successfully built a network and have only started to develop depth in their profile. A professional website should substitute the need for a LinkedIn profile and act as the central node for all networks across the internet.

Continue reading “Employed, Why have a Professional Website”