After graduating college, it’s time to brush up your personal brand

Messiah College Class of 2005 GraduationMillennial expert Chelsea Krost offers advice for college graduates on building their own career personal brand, says Kelly Clay of PayScale. If there’s a new college graduate in your life, here are some pointers to pass along:

“Focus on what makes you unique,” she suggests. Consider asking yourself what you do really well, if you’re outgoing, or what you actually like to do — such as write or research. Essentially, try to discover what you’re good at.

Use your passion to guide you into a career. Do you dream of working outdoors or for the government? While you may not have much experience, you can leverage the experience you do have to establish your personal brand. What leadership roles have you assumed during college? Be sure to highlight these in your portfolio, on your resume, and especially on LinkedIn.

Speaking of online social networks, it’s especially important to be sure those are clear of any photos or updates that could damage your reputation. While college may have been fun, a potential employer looking to find any reason to not hire you (which they do) might not think that photo of you doing something irresponsible will represent the company well should you get hired.

Create new content to establish your expertise. If you use the right combination of blogging and social media, you could land your dream job within a matter of minutes, as Charlie Loyd, a self-described satellite image enthusiast, did using his portfolio and Twitter.

Become your own PR and marketing agent. Ask if you were a hiring manager, would you hire you? Also, be sure to promote your own brand. Join and participate in local meet ups, tweet-ups, and industry groups to help promote yourself in ways that highlight your unique talents.

Read the whole article.

Make your social networking F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.

peacock-new-zealand_10933_990x742You’ll never run out of conversation openers if you remember this one word. Writing on the Personal Branding Blog, Maria Elena Duron gives a great tip that will help you to avoid awkward gaps of silence in important networking situations:

You need to be better in real life than you are in social media – not the other way around. [tweet this]

Hopefully, these tips and this little formula will help:

First, remember whoever is the one asking the question is the person controlling the conversation.

Then, spend more time listening to people than talking at them. From their responses, this will help shape the context of the conversation.

Be F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.

Ask about their:

F = Friends and Family

A = Aspirations and Accomplishments (what are they hoping to do; what have they done lately)

B = Business

U = Understandings (what have they learned lately)

L = Loves (interests, hobbies, passions)

O = Organizations (non-profits or industry associations they’re involved with)

U = Undertakings (latest activities)

S = Sports

If you can do this when you’re in a conversation that’s seeking a topic, then you’ll see that people will find you to be – a great person to speak with.

Make it all about them. Put structure in your conversation without sounding like you’re interrogating them and you are one step above everyone else in making friends and influencing people.

Read the whole article.

And if you’re really bold, substitute Spirituality for Sports. One way to do this is to mention the latest spiritual book you’ve read — or your favorite — and ask if they’ve heard of the author. Not everyone is comfortable going there with a stranger, so use your best judgment.

When negotiating a salary, don’t look desperate

sundheim-ken-suit2Negotiating a salary or raise can be one of the most stressful things any of us ever do. Ken Sundheim, CEO of KAS Placement Sales and Marketing Recruiters, says that for best results we ought to base our plan on facts rather than emotion.

He writes on the Personal Branding Blog:

Considering the following 6 salary negotiation factors should give you an educated guess about the best course of action in your situation.

1. What is your current compensation structure? Running a recruiting firm, when I see that an employer is offering a new job applicant the same or only slightly higher (less than 10%) of a salary than they are currently making, it typically leaves room for successful negotiation. In the majority of circumstances, you can be successful negotiating a compensation package that is up to 15% higher than what you are currently pulling in.

2. Have you held more than 3 jobs in the past 2 years? If you have held numerous jobs in the past few years, employers will view you as less of a long-term investment and thus will give you less wiggle room when attempting to ask for additional compensation. Luckily, this can be prevented if you have sound reasoning for departing those past positions and you broach the topic earlier in the interview process, as opposed to waiting until you receive the offer.

3. Has the job been open for more than 2 months? The more desperate a company is to get a job search over with, the more flexible they are going to be when approached for more money. Our executive recruiters have noticed a significant change in flexibility around the 2-month mark, as by this time an employer has spent numerous hours trying to find the right applicant and has most likely endured a lot of disappointments during the recruitment process.

For more tips, read the whole article.

Facts are fine things to bring into a negotiation process. But they are no replacement for having confidence in yourself and conviction that you are asking to be paid a fair and appropriate amount.

Fast Company: Develop your unique strengths


Often leadership advice is given in one size fits all packaging. An article in Fast Company says that cultivating leadership isn’t about emulating Steve Jobs or some other ideal figure, but about finding ways of discovering and developing your Unique Strengths. For example:

1. Don’t compare yourself with others–but do approach people who inspire, and even intimidate, you.

Are there people in your life who wow or even intimidate you? Are you jealous of them? Go up and introduce yourself, allow yourself to be a part of their lives, and even offer to contribute to their milieu if you are so inclined. If they have a quality you are charged by, perhaps you have not given yourself permission to explore and develop those sides of yourself? Consider aligning yourself with people you feel competitive toward–it’s a new world and we have much to learn from each other.

via 5 Ways To Discover And Develop Your Unique Strengths.

Jealousy is based on a fundamental epistemological error: the idea that we are all separate beings so one person’s success takes away from someone else’s.

Approaching, befriending, and aligning with figures who inspire us is not a way of becoming something other than our True Self, it’s embracing more of who we truly are ourselves.

In this way, the simple act of introducing yourself to someone you look up to can bring a degree of genuine enlightenment: allowing our ego’s competitiveness to give way to your higher Self’s infinite openness.

On the non-arbitrary relationship between name and occupation


Your name is probably connected to your life’s occupation. Precisely why that is so is the subject of controversy and research.

Jessica Love writes in The American Scholar:

Cleverly designed experiments reveal a so-called baker-Baker paradox: we find it easier to learn that a particular face belongs to a baker than to learn that the same face belongs to a Mr. Baker. The word baker actually means something in a way Mr. Baker does not. Bakers wake up early, tie on their aprons, and bake. This preexisting knowledge constitutes something sturdy to which new associations can be bound. As for Mr. Baker, well we might suppose that he is male and, likelier than not, has an Anglo-Saxton ancestor.

The baker-Baker paradox has two caveats. First, we are considerably better at remembering names if we have assigned them ourselves. This is probably because the relationship between name and person is no longer arbitrary. We may see someone across the room and assign her the name Veronica because she reminds us of someone else named Veronica. This is no different than calling a fluffy creature Fluffy. If only we had more opportunities in life to name other human beings.

But caveat two is of more practical importance: to some extent, our names may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The very arbitrariness of Mr. Baker’s name, for instance, might land him a job. A number of studies have demonstrated that having certain names particularly those that sound ethnic or lower-class (and thus contain demographic information that makes them, well, less than arbitrary to many employers) will hurt job seekers chances of landing an interview. According to economist David Figlio of Northwestern University, a girl whose name sounds more feminine (as determined by a longer length and greater frequency of soft consonants) is less likely to study science than her twin sister with a less feminine-sounding name.

via The American Scholar: When Rosemary Should Be Rosy and Merry – Jessica Love.

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LinkedIn study: your first name is related to your professional title


According to data released by LinkedIn, women CEOs prefer to use their full legal names, whereas sales professionals and male CEOs tend to use shortened versions of their names. These are among the findings:

“It’s no secret that people often associate their title, employer and even their education as part of what defines them and their professional brand,” said Monica Rogati, LinkedIn’s senior data scientist. “What’s interesting about this data is that we were able to discover a correlation between a professional’s name and the industry or functional area in which they work.” For instance, in the U.S., there’s an interesting relationship between the amount of letters and top names for professionals in certain functional areas. Sales professionals tend to have short names, around four letters (like Chip, Todd and Trey), while engineers tend to have longer names, around six letters (like Rajesh, Jeremy and Andrew). U.S. professionals in the food and restaurant industry tend to have longer French names (like Thierry, Philippe and Laurent). “Typically hypocorisms, the shorter form of a given name, are used in intimate situations as a nickname or a term of endearment,” said Dr. Frank Nuessel, the editor of NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics (a publication of the American Name Society) and a professor of classical and modern languages at the University of Louisville. “It’s possible that sales professionals in the U.S. and male CEOs around the world use these shortened versions of their name as a way to be more approachable and accessible to potential clients. Interestingly enough, female CEOs appear to prefer to use their full names and not nicknames, which could signify that they want to be taken more seriously and want co-workers to think of them in a more professional light.”

Whether you choose to use a short version of your name or a longer version, stick with your choice and use it consistently. It becomes a part of your professional identity and will help in establishing an online presence discoverable by search engines.