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Personal Branding Lessons from the Late King of Pop

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This is a guest post by Chris Perry. Chris is a Gen Y Brand and Marketing Generator, a Career Search and Personal Branding Expert and the Founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Blog.

Being an avid fan of Michael Jackson, his music, his moves and his effect on the evolution of music itself, I was truly sorry to hear of his death on June 25th.

However, all of the recent media attention and tributes to his life and his music career made me realize how effective his personal branding efforts were throughout his career and how powerful his personal brand has become as a result.

While personal branding did not exist in its now-better-defined form when Michael first started to shine in the Jackson 5, Michael, like all musicians, did encounter the need to build up and protect his reputation in order to continue to rise to greater levels of fame and success.

Michael Jackson was a personal branding genius with respect to music and dance.  He never ceased to push the limits with his look, his dress and his new moves and dance routines, and he continued to produce hit after hit in the height of his career, thereby totally revolutionizing the industry.

Despite multiple factors that detracted from his overall personal brand, including his eccentricities and the legal allegations against him, his natural strengths and promotional efforts in music and dance were so overwhelmingly powerful that they have almost overridden any negative memories of him.  Regardless of whatever personal problems he grappled with, I have respect for his personal brand and the unique and differentiating value he brought to the table throughout his life.

What are some lessons you can learn from the late King of Pop about personal branding?

  1. Establish your own personal brand by identifying your true strengths, values and goals and by combining them into one-or-two-word personal brand and supporting brand pitch or statement. Remember, Michael Jackson was the self-proclaimed King of Pop; however, because he always reinforced that claim with his unique strengths, hit songs and musical and dance performances, that′s how he will always be remembered.
  2. Make yourself present and be heard on each and every stage on which you play a role.  No one had any doubt when Michael Jackson entered the stage, because he made himself known and promoted himself and his personal brand through his performances.  Make yourself, your strengths and your personal brand known whenever you enter "the stage" through your performance and actions.
  3. Be consistent in all of your personal branding efforts both online and offline and both professionally and socially.  This includes your one-or-two-word personal brand, your appearance, the look of your online social networking profiles, your performance on the job, your contributions at and outside of work and more.  MJ′s peculiarities and the legal allegations against him unfortunately weakened the social side of his overall personal brand; however, his professional side was so strong that it frequently compensated for the personal.  Imagine how powerful your personal brand could be even on a more local scale if you remain consistent across all of the spheres in which you choose to exist and be active, both publicly and privately.  Declare yourself, and then be what you declare.

Fast Food Nation release

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Candidate Question: Am I being used as a "back-up" candidate?

Questioned Proposal

Q:

I have been working with a recruiter for more than six months who has told me they have presented me for a number of different positions in a firm where I would very much like to work. I consistently see job postings for this firm in various places, but the recruiter has not been forthcoming with details about any positions available or the timing of interviews, etc, only to say... "they work slowly", "they have to coordinate a lot of people to see you" and "any day now".

I'm beginning to feel like I'm being strung along as a "backup candidate" to present if others do not materialize. Can I contact the hiring firm directly through their job listings? And if so, how do I approach them if I may have already been presented by the recruiter?

A:

If this recruiting firm said they presented you for multiple positions with this company, then it's a safe bet to say they probably have. If you are a fit for the position, I can't imagine the firm is holding back your candidacy. If you have some of the qualifications, but are not the ideal fit for the position, then your suspicions may be correct. Also, if you aren't local, the firm may be holding out to find a local candidate to present at the same time as you.

It's important to remember how recruiters are compensated: They only get paid on a contingency search if they successfully make a placement and that's most likely the case here. The firm is not going to hold back a candidate who is a placement waiting to happen. If the firm said they sent you in, more likely, the company didn't feel it was an exact fit and has said, "keep her warm, but we want to see more candidates." The recruiter doesn't want to tell you that because the company may come back and he wants to keep you interested. Recruiter rationale is that stringing it along for a bit is better than saying the company didn't jump to see you and said they want to see more candidates - implying you are not a strong fit and leaving you with a negative impression about his client.

The other scenario is the company isn't communicating with the recruiter, so the recruiter has nothing to tell you. If he is at a stand-still, you are too. That happens typically when the company isn't really serious about hiring.

In any of these cases, if the recruiter has sent in your resume and presented you for multiple positions, you should not go over his head and re-submit your information directly to the company. The company is contractually obligated to work with the recruiter if he already submitted your information. The company will question why you are going around the staffing agency and you will burn a bridge with a recruiter who could be an essential part of your career toolbox for years to come.

Regardless, I'd continue to look into your other options. If it takes six months and counting for a company to move forward with an interview, they aren't serious about you or they aren't serious about the position. A job posting online doesn't mean the position actually exists.

On another note: Not all recruiting agencies or recruiters are created equal. If you feel like the recruiter is dishonest and lying, cut your ties and use your best judgment. Just remember, if he or she has presented you for the position and your efforts pan out in an interview, you'll be working with them anyways.

Photo credit: Eleaf
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Top 10 Things to Leave Off Your Resume

Craig Fisher (twitter: @fishdogs) on his Career Branding for Social Animals blog shared the results of his informal LinkedIN query to recruiters and hiring managers about the  top things to leave off the resume. You can read the post with the top 10 list or check out the Wordle image he put together that tells it all.

Craigs' top 10 things to leave off your resume.

10. Religious or Political affiliations
9. Toastmasters
8. Hobbies
7. Photos
6. MENSA
5. Compensation
4. Family info (marital status, children, pets)
3. References available upon request
2. Anything not relevant to the position for which you are applying
1. Objective

What you think?

Image credit: Wordle @fishdogs

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Ten Things to Not Say or Do in an Interview by Stephanie Lloyd

262 out of 366 - I say NO!
Stephanie Lloyd is a Recruiter and the Principal of the Calibre Search Group in Atlanta, Georgia. She has more than 15 years experience in financial services recruiting and sourcing and started her own firm in 2006.

In this two-part guest series, Stephanie gives us some humorous examples of what NOT to say in an interview and why.

1.    Interviewer: "Why did you leave your last job?" Candidate: "I was met with a string of broken promises and lies, as well as cockroaches."

Do *not* say anything even remotely negative. This includes past employers! You even enjoyed the drive to the interview"¦no matter how long you were stuck in traffic.

2.    Interviewer: "Why are you interested in this position with our company?" Candidate: "I need money. I want to have a life, party, give my wife expensive gifts, and eat something besides soup."

Do *not* take the interview for granted! The interview process is your opportunity to sell yourself for the position, as well as to learn more it. Be fully prepared with your notes with regard to: 1) the company, 2) the position, and 3) yourself (resume).  You then are able to come across as organized and articulate. Use specific examples when answering questions; stress your achievements, records and accomplishments.

3.    Interviewer: "What questions do you have for me?" Candidate: "Hey, did you catch that Braves game last night?"

Do *not* show up to the interview unprepared to ask good questions. Who′s been successful and why? Why is the position open? Who does the position report to; who does it supervise?  What needs to be done in the first six months; the first year? Are there any major challenges that need to be addressed immediately? Tell me about the history of growth of the company. What is your highest priority in the next six months, and how could someone like me help? What are the characteristics of your top people? What are your personal satisfactions and disappointments since you have been with the firm?

4.    HR Professional: "Candidate (falsely) claimed to have been a professional baseball player."

Do *not* lie about your salary"¦or your education"¦or your employment or criminal history. These things can be and are checked!
5.    Hiring Manager: "Candidate wore turban, one-shouldered top, & sandals. When asked if appropriately dressed she said, "Don′t you think I look pretty?"

Do *not* dress inappropriately for the interview. What you wear has an impact on the first impression you make and significant influence on the entire interview. A decision is made about whether you may be the right person for the job in the first five minutes, and the hiring manager spends the next half-hour trying to defend that decision. If you can, prior to the interview find out what the company′s dress code is, and dress better than suggested. Most times, it's best to wear a suit, particularly when it′s a first interview. Conservative is still the rule of thumb for interviews.

Come back later this week to see Stephanie's remaining five things not to say or do in an interview.

You can find Stephanie on Twitter at @atlrecruiter, on LinkedIN, or on the Calibre Search Group website.

Photo credit: Tyla'75' The Painted Veil download [Flickr]
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How One Marketing Pro Landed a Job on Twitter

As most of you probably know by now, I'm a huge advocate of using social media tools to expand your job search. On Sunday, I was scanning my Twitter feed and noticed one specific message from Jacqueline Duignan (@JDuignan) that caught my attention. She acknowledged and thanked another Twitter user for sending out a tweet that ultimately landed her a job.

Twitter + Job posting = Success?!?! Well of course that caught my attention! I immediately reached to ask her if she would mind sharing her story here. I hope you find some inspiration in her success!

Congratulations, Jacqueline!

I read on your feed you just landed a job through one of your contacts on Twitter. How did you find this job on Twitter? Where did you land and can you tell us a bit about what your new position entails?

I recently graduated form the University of Central Florida last May and started a position as an Account Coordinator for a full-service marketing agency in Orlando. Prior to that position, I held several internships at some of Central Florida's most influential companies, particularly in the hospitality and tourism industry, both in agency and corporate settings.

As most can relate, the economy is in a fragile state and many have lost jobs. Unfortunately, I was included in that statistic. I was laid off on February 2nd. As soon as I packed up my personal belongings and loaded up my car, I immediately got on the phone with everyone I knew from previous internships, networking contacts and those I knew through Ad 2 Orlando, the young professionals segment of the American Advertising Federation.

The moment I realized Twitter was a valuable resource for this new "generation" of job hunting was when I received a direct message from a contact I had though an internship. It said "Got your v.mail & am looking around for you. Send me an updated resume." That's when I started to think, hey, this Twitter thing could really be an asset to my job search.

I immediately started searching and following recruiters (including you!) and Pro's in PR. One of the people I followed was @PRsarahevans. One day she posted an all-call tweet for any PR job openings. I swear I checked Twitter on my iPhone about 1,000,000 times that day and sure enough, there it was:
"PRsarahevans: Looking 4 a PR job? AE position open in award winning PR agency in Miami (1-2 yrs exp, agency background a +) #EntryPR CONTACT @alecjr."

I immediately followed @alecjr sent him a DM (direct message) asking for his email address so I could send him my resume. I was in contact with him throughout the next week, scheduled an interview and... got the job! One minor problem was that I lived in Orlando, but no big deal, my Dad lives in the Florida Keys. So packed up my things and moved within two weeks back home. Lucky for me, I am a young twenty-something with the ability to up and move within a moment's notice - a major perk in this economy.

I just started as an Account Executive for AJR & Partners, a small marketing firm in Coral Gables, Florida, this past Monday. Everything is going really well thus far. I'm so thankful to have been able to be laid off and land a job in less than a month. I didn't even get to collect unemployment!

How long have you been using Twitter and how to you typically use it?

I started using Twitter a couple of months ago. I sit on the board for Ad 2 Orlando (the young professionals segment of the American Advertising Federation) and there was some chatter about Twitter amongst them and how "cool" it was. So, I decided to check it out. I was a little unsure about it at first, I didn't really understand the point or its purpose. But as time went on and I started following people of personal and professional interest, I began to see the value. Now I use it for local/national news, event calendars, personal contact with my friends and network, and to learn more about social media and grow professionally. I just started dropping by for #journchats Thieves' Highway - a very valuable resource!

What other social media tools did you use in your job search? Besides Twitter, which ones did you find most helpful in your job search?

Twitter was really the only social media tool I actively used in my job hunt. However, I did use Facebook to reach out to friends (some I am frequently in touch with, others a little more distant)  that live all across the country - asking about the job markets in their cities, if they have heard of any openings, job board recommendations etc. My next step was to start searching around on LinkedIn and reengaging  older contacts through some of my internships I had a few years ago. Everything (thankfully) moved so quickly with the position I have now that I didn't really have time to explore that route. I, of course, also poured over every job board known to man - Careerbuilder

8MM 2 film

, Monster, Indeed, Jobing, Craigslist, and the list goes on and on...

What advice do you have for others who are currently job hunting?

The biggest advice I can offer for people looking for jobs right now is to be expansive and aggressive in your search. I'm not telling anyone anything they don't already know, but there are a lot of people looking for jobs right now. Each day the pool gets bigger and deeper. Now more than ever you have to stand out. Twitter has been a great tool in several ways. You can expose yourself to tons of recruiters through following and engaging them. Twitter is about interacting interaction too; Lurking on Twitter isn't going to get you anywhere - you've got to engage in conversation. Also, the whole idea that you are searching for your next career move though Twitter shows that you are ahead in social media trends and understand its power and value (clearly, so do the recruiters and companies posting the jobs).

This next statement most likely applies to recent graduates and those early in their careers. If you can afford it, intern, even it isn't paid (most aren't anyways). This shows dedication, not to mention you are gaining experience and getting valuable additions for your resume while your searching for a job as well as expanding your network and contacts. Eventually, this economy will turn around and if you are sticking it out with a company, when they start to grow and expand again, you're already versed with their operations, structure and culture. They would certainly prefer to hire someone who already "knows the ropes."  Of course, you could always do it part-time and have another job on the side to bring some money in. You do need to have a cash flow. When I was in college I had five internships - I  truly believe I would not be employed right now as a recent college grad if it wasn't for my diverse intern experience I had under my belt right after graduation. Although I was "entry level" I was leaps and bounds ahead of my competition.

Get involved with organizations relative to your background and the industry you were working in. As I previously mentioned, I sit on the board for Ad 2 Orlando. Through my time as a board member, I have expanded my network extensively. As tough as the economy gets, it always helps having people in your corner looking out for you.

You can follow Jacqueline on Twitter at @JDuignan.

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