Thursday, March 29, 2012

You: The Brand | Part Four - Make It Work

Gentle readers, on Tuesday, your MatchGirl promised to come back to you with some tips on taking all that you've learned over the last few posts - your new resume, your awesome social media presence and a little bit of chutzpah - and making them work together. To sell yourself to people you've never met before, to people you're just meeting and to people who you really want to get to know.

This is something your MatchGirl has written about before, for her friends at Brokelyn and for the fine folks at Social Media Week NYC, and it's something that I'd like to share with you.

Here are my five points to remember when attending a networking event or trying to sell yourself to a prospective employer:

1. Elevator Pitch: I've been talking about this since 2010, and I've written about it several times. Practice this. Most times you only get two to three minutes to tell your story. Make these minutes count.

2. Listen as much as you speak: Something else that your MatchGirl has touched on here. You need to remember that looking for a job, promoting your brand and building your business is all built on connections.

3. Keep moving: If you're at a networking event, don't spend the entire evening talking to one or two people. Move around the room. Excuse yourself and talk to some new faces. That's why you're there, after all!

4. Follow Up: After the event, or an interview, or even an impromptu meeting, where you've grabbed a business card, follow up. Shoot the person an email, connect on LinkedIn, or even Tweet at them to say hi. Keep the lines of communication open.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

You: The Brand | Part Three - Now What?

All right, gentle readers, if you've been following along the past couple of posts, you are prepared for the next step: Taking the pieces of what you've put together and doing something with them.

Come now. You didn't think that people would just come to you, now that you've got this beautiful resume and those coordinated social media profiles, did you?
If you are your own brand (hint: you are), you need to get out there and sell yourself!

And yes, gentle readers, your MatchGirl is well aware that this might be the hardest part of all.

As many of you know, I co-host networking events for creative freelancers and entrepreneurs in Brooklyn. I attend as many events as I can, that are geared to tech and social media especially. If I have an opportunity to network, I will do my best to get myself out there. When I was working for an agency, I did it on behalf of the agency - smiling, shaking hands, speaking in a positive way about all the cool things we were doing or had in the pipeline - and I'd do it for myself, as well. Here's the thing, dear readers, it's 100 times easier to sell something or someone else than it is to sell the idea of yourself.

A few things you're going to need to get started:

Business cards. Even in this digital age, many people still like to collect paper business cards to add to their collection. Don't use price as an excuse. You can get beautiful, custom cards a few bucks. Services like Moo Cards (where I actually got mine for free, using a Klout perk) and VistaPrint offer great products at very affordable prices.

A charged phone. Others may not be as on top of things as you are. Make sure your mobile is charged so you can take the phone number and email address of anyone you meet who you'd like to get in touch with in the future.

Chutzpah. Going to events and putting yourself out there requires a lot of gumption. You're going to need to go up to people you don't know and introduce yourself - representing the brand of you. You're going to need confidence to do this - confidence in what you're selling.

Next post? How to talk about yourself without coming across as a braggart or a bore.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

You: The Brand | Part Two - Social Networks

Earlier in the week, gentle readers, we wrote about beginning the rebranding of you - starting with your resume.

Today, your MatchGirl wants to talk to you about branding yourself across your social networks. You might think that this is the least of your worries, but in this day and age, where employers are Googling your name, where some interviewers are asking for social logins, and where unemployment is still over 8% across the country, you need to pay careful attention to how you come across. Everywhere.

Let's talk about that. Take a peek at my Google profile picture here on Blogger. Then head on over to my Twitter account. Check out my page and you'll see the same image. Pinterest? Yep. Instagram (viewed here with Webstagram)? Check. And if you were to meet me in person and see my business card, you'd see the same image. Why? Because your image on social platforms is a branding opportunity. And on social platforms, consistency matters.

I make an exception on LinkedIn, where a straight up, pro-looking headshot is more appropriate. You'll notice, though, the same color combos - navy and white (and me). There is no doubt that these networks are related. Are you on LinkedIn? Take a second and check that your photo is one a potential employer would be drawn to - no babies, no pets, no plastic beer cups. Refer to Tuesday's post and make sure your resume fits the brand of you that you're building now - not the person you were ten years ago.

Is your Facebook profile private? Or is it one that any one can see? That search engines can index? If you want to use Facebook as a place to espouse political views, to share pictures of you doing keg stands or anything else that a potential employer might find ... unseemly, make your profile private. My personal Facebook profile is private, while I have a page for Unemployed Brooklyn. And I use LinkedIn for connecting with professional organizations and people.

What about Twitter? What are you talking about and sharing? Does it reflect how you want to be perceived by others?

What other social platforms do you live on? If they are public, are you cognizant of what you are putting out there? Right now, you need to be all about selling the brand of you and if you're not paying attention to what that brand is saying, you may get overlooked for someone who is better at it.

I'll finish, gentle readers, with one big question to ask yourself when you're living online:

Is this something I'd be embarrassed by if my mother saw it?
If the answer is yes, you probably don't want a potential boss to see it either.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You: The Brand | Part One - Your Resume

You. You are a brand. Whether you like it or not. Whether you want to be or not. You are a brand and you need to sell yourself as such. Whether you are a freelancer, a person on the hunt for a full-time job or anything in-between. The brand of you is something that is more important in the digital age than it has ever been before.

Gentle readers, this is something that your MatchGirl has touched on before, but let's look at it a little more specifically - you're one person, on a job hunt, creating the brand for the product you are trying to sell - YOU.

First things first.

You need to tell your story.
Not sure what that is? Let's start with your resume.
Here's a great exercise:

  1. Grab a notebook and pen (yes - go analogue, it will be easier to edit and get your thoughts together).
  2. Write down all the key words that your dream job requires - whether you're looking for a job right now, or if you just have one in mind for down the road. Pull these words from job postings, from the LinkedIn profiles of people who have your dream job and from what you think your dream job requires. 
  3. Then write down all the qualifications that you have, for any job. I like to do this exercise using columns, but you can use different sheets of paper, too.
  4. Where do they meet up? If you've been working towards a goal, there will be loads of overlap.
  5. Pull up your old resume - I like a printed copy so I can mark on it, but feel free to use your favorite text editor.
  6. Take a hard look at your resume, at what it says. Are the key words for your sought after job in there? Can they be? Pen in hand, go through the bullets of your resume and insert the skills you've got, that match your key words, into your resume.
  7. Have stuff on there not related to your dream job? Spent a year slinging burgers but looking for a journalism job? Can that year. Unless you're looking for your first job, you've got relevant work experience, volunteer experience or even college experiences that will add weight to your targeted resume much more than that year when you were just working your bum off to make rent.
  8. Know someone who's working in your dream area? It's best if they're senior and have been in a hiring position before. Ask them to review your resume. Your MatchGirl has done this and it was one of the smartest things I did. Don't be proud - your friends and your close network want you to succeed. 
  9. Make the changes suggested. Seriously. 
  10. Upload to all job boards where your old resume was, LinkedIn and any resume section of your website or blog.
This is a really good start. Congratulations!

Next post, branding yourself across networks.

Photo  VivaScriva

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How To Make It

On Tuesday of this week, gentle readers, your MatchGirl had the chance to attend a very cool event, presented by the folks at Uncommon Goods. How To Make It: How To Make Money While Doing What You Love was an intimate event targeted at designers who are trying to make a career out of their passion projects.

The panel - Tina Roth EisenbergJeff DavisNickey SkarstadAnna Rabinowicz - are all people who know what it's like to pursue a creative dream (even if it's not the one they set out to follow), and were thus well-equipped to speak with Uncommon Goods' CEO Dave Bolotsky and to answer a few questions from the eager audience

What struck me, dear readers, is that much of the advice the panelists gave for those looking to get their creative businesses off the ground can (and maybe should) be applied to you, when it comes to building your own brand and moving your job hunt forward.

One of the topics that arose was that of being happy. SwissMiss (Tina Roth Eisenberg - your MatchGirl feels silly calling her anything else after following her on Twitter for so long!) said that when she was thinking about hiring people in her business, she made a list of everything that she had to do to get her day to day work and then put a smiley or frowny face next to each item. The frowny faced items on the list were the things she was not stoked on doing and that she ended up hiring someone else for.

One of my favorite quotes came from Jeff Davis, who said, "You have to be happy in your day to day life as a small business owner - otherwise, it's going to suck."

True story. And, in your MatchGirl's humble opinion, true of any job one takes.

Another great piece of advice came from Etsy's Nickey Skarstad, who reminded the audience to remember to pay themselves. Figuring out what your worth is tough, and something your MatchGirl has written about more than once. Whether you are figuring out pricing a product you're making, a service you are providing or answering a potential employer's query as to how much you'd like to make.

The topic of branding was also adressed, something that your MatchGirl has written extensively about, personally and professionally.

Gentle readers, the good folks at Uncommon Goods have told me that they'll be sure to hold more events like this one, hopefully in the very near future. What would you like to learn at an event like this?

image from UNH in my kinda hometown of Durham, NH.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Something For Everyone

Gentle readers, your MatchGirl knows it's hard out there.
She knows the job market is still touchy. She knows that you're all struggling a bit.
But she's here to remind you of something important.

Gentle readers, you can't be everything to all people. And your resume cannot fit all jobs. And... at the end of the day, why would you even want it to be?

When you're out of work and you don't have as much money coming in as you once did, it's easy to just go for any job that you're qualified for. It's easy to say, "Hey, I could do that." But, gentle readers, I need you to take a step back and ask yourself this question: Do I want to do that?

Especially as we get older, and here your MatchGirl knows of what she speaks, it's even more important that we don't settle for something that might be kind of OK. We need to strive for the great fit. For the work that excites us. For the kinds of companies that we want to work for.

Tailor your resume to the job you want to have. You can't be something for everyone. And, honestly, you shouldn't even try to be.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pick A Job | Advice from Mad Men

This is America. Pick a job and then become the person that does it.  - Bobbie Barrett, Mad Men "The New Girl"

Last week, gentle readers, your MatchGirl wrote about whether it was possible for one to truly reinvent themselves in the digital age. With our more connected world comes greater visibility. And less of a chance to hide who you might have been.

In thinking about it more, though, I wonder if we can use social tools to - not to hide from who we were - but to be open about our transformations. 

It's something I've certainly done, from the beginning of my time writing Unemployed Brooklyn through the fun ride of Hire Me Martha to me finally landing in a place that I truly love - thinking about, playing on, moving forward with and working in the field of social media

On some level, this quote still rings true. America is still the land of opportunity, the place where you can decide what or who you want to be and then work your ass off to do it. Sure, it matters, still who you know and who you meet. But you can know those people. You can met them. And social tools make it even easier.

So, did I follow the advice of Bobbie Barrett, Don Draper's ambitious lover in season 2 of Mad Men? Yes. I did. And then I went further.

I've been nothing but transparent about my career change. I've been nothing but honest about who I am and where I come from. I'm happy to tell would-be-employers that I don't come from a traditional PR or marketing background. I didn't study it in school. I learned it in the real world. In a country where Americans have, on average, 7 jobs in their lifetime, isn't it better to keep learning and growing as you work? To keep acquiring new skills? To keep making your personal brand stronger and more marketable? 

If I'd learned these skills in school, I wouldn't have been taught about social media. It didn't exist. And it's possible I would find myself in a much worse unemployment position than I do right now. Because it's very possible that if I had been taught PR or marketing at university I would not have figured out the social tools that are so very necessary in today's world. 

I wouldn't have fallen in love with social media because I wouldn't have found it on my own. I wouldn't have been in a position to take chances and express myself. I might not have thought to start this blog.

Or maybe I would have figured it out.

It's no good looking at what might have been, anyway. But, gentle readers, it is important to focus at the task at hand.

So, take Mrs. Barrett's advice: Pick a job and then become the person who does it.