Monthly Archives: February 2014

Build a Successful Brand

Five Ways to Get SMART When Setting Goals

by Marietta E. Gentles

What is it about goal-setting that can be a task within itself? Sometimes it seems like you have to set a goal to set a goal. But it shouldn’t be so difficult. With the new year moving forward as quickly as it started, your goals can easily get lost as the memories of the countdown for the gigantic crystal ball to drop gets further and further away. Luckily, today is as good as any other day to work towards your goals and build your brand. As the saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.” Instead of trying to speed ahead to check off all the things you want to do, take a step back and set yourself up for steady progress.

Here’s five tips to help make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

1. Make sure that your goals are actually SMART. Yes, let’s take it back to the basics. It sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to create a SMART goal. Sometimes you have it in your head what you want to accomplish, but when you write it down it’s too general. For example, the goal to “Grow my bakery business and build my brand, so that I can increase sales” sounds great in your head, but does it pass the SMART test? Not really, since the statement is broad and doesn’t have a timeframe or way to measure success. A better approach would be: “Build my online brand and increase sales for my bakery business by 20% within the next three months by creating a social media campaign.” This example not only includes ways to measure success and a timeframe, but also has one of the ways to make it happen. Be sure that when you think (and write) out your goals, they pass the SMART test.

2. Narrow down your goals. If you’re an ambitious intrapreneur or entrepreneur, chances are you have a long list of goals (you secretly wouldn’t have it any other way). While it’s easy to get super motivated and want to conquer the world—as you should— it’s about quality not quantity. Start with the top three goals that are most important. If you want to work on building your network, plan ahead to attend at least four to six events for the year instead of RSVP’ing for every event that pops up in your inbox— or worse, not having a plan at all. If there are new certifications you want to add to your credentials, narrow down which ones are most aligned with your goals and make a plan to take them in order of highest priority. Effective goal-setting means that you have to choose wisely and realistically.

3. Tackle your goals in chunks. There’s a principle that says eat the elephant in chunks at a time. Now it’s not to say eating elephants is the “new green,” but there’s something to this metaphor that has been used everywhere from setting business goals to running a race. Once you’ve narrowed down your top goals, break them down into mini steps (your objectives) until you get to the finish line. For example, if you want to develop your personal brand in order to change careers, some of your objectives may be to take the 360°Reach survey; identify three brand-related books as resources; and research career paths aligned with your brand attributes. This is where the difference between goals and objectives are important to remember. A goal is an accomplishment: using your brand to start a new career. Objectives are the steps you take to get to your goal: assessing your personal brand, doing research, and targeting potential career opportunities. Remember, the steps to get to your goals are just as important as the goal itself.

4. Designate time to work on each goal. Try scheduling time to work on your personal goals just as you would for your professional obligations. Plan ahead the tasks you need to accomplish and make a commitment to keep to a schedule. If you want to work on building your LinkedIn network, schedule time daily or weekly to log on and participate in discussions or post useful articles. If you’re working towards a professional certification, schedule your study times throughout the week, so that you can break it up in pieces (remember that elephant!). You may need to rearrange your schedule because life happens, but if you keep your goals in front of you they won’t get lost in the shuffle.

5. Be an active participant. You’re no stranger to hard work, so it goes without saying that you have to actively stay on top of your goals once you have them in place. If your goal is to get a promotion or grow your business, make sure you’re doing things daily towards meeting your objectives and re-calculating timeframes as needed. Review your goals and objectives on a constant basis. Make sure you’re clear on the steps you need to take and give yourself an action to do towards each of them daily. Whether the steps are small or big, it’s still movement and that’s better than nothing at all. And don’t forget to celebrate the small wins in addition to the big ones. Building your personal brand is hard work, but if you play it SMART, you’ll be successful.

Marietta E. Gentles is a Personal Branding Advocate and Certified Professional Resume Writer for intrapreneurs needing a getaway driver to reach their career destination. With over ten years’ experience climbing through top corporate and government brands as a writer and trainer, her passion is sharing lessons learned along the way.

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10 Tips to Add Pizazz to Your Accomplishment Statements

by Nina Scott

Why are accomplishment statements important on a resume?

Accomplishment statements are the “meat and potatoes” of a resume, or, put another way, your achievements are the “special sauce” which could help you to stand out.

Without accomplishment statements that clearly show the magnitude and scope of abilities, a resume or CV (Curriculum Vitae) can appear very ordinary, boring, or even suggest there may not be enough motivation to excel in ways that matter.

As a Certified Professional Resume Writer (C.P.R.W) and Career Coach, I usually find this couldn’t be farther from the truth!  Often, candidates have great achievements and motivation to excel, but their successes are obscured from view unintentionally.

Why do some have trouble coming up with accomplishment statements?

There are several reasons candidates might have trouble coming up with accomplishment statements.

  • Many don’t realize the importance of being their own career historian, and tracking their achievements along the way
  • They are not fully aware of the skillsets they have, which are relevant to the direction  they wish to navigate their career toward They may feel too awkward to point out the positive things they did.  Upon probing further,  sometimes ingrained belief systems which highlight humbleness as a personal positive attribute, can spill over into a candidate’s professional demeanor and undermine their ability to market themselves with graceful confidence
  •  They may feel too awkward to point out the positive things they did.  Upon probing further,  sometimes ingrained belief systems which highlight humbleness as a personal positive attribute, can spill over into a candidate’s professional demeanor and undermine their ability to market themselves with graceful confidence
  • The perception is  they haven’t been in a situation where they were able to have an opportunity to shine
  • Important documents are not saved for reference, such as letters of recommendation, transcripts, testimonials, reviews, or other accolades
  • They just don’t know how to approach articulating or writing impactful statements, and so they avoid it

Do any of the above reasons sound familiar to you?  Accurate achievements with impact can always be uncovered, even when there is a termination in the work history.

Most people have accomplishments, but they don’t always realize it, or they unknowingly think it’s enough to simply list their duties.

How about you?  Have you invested your time into really thinking about your accomplishments?

If you are like most people, it is not easy to come up with your own achievements, but it is important to take the time and initiative to do.

Contrary to what many believe, introspection, integrity, research, organization, and thought is what needs to precede a series of good accomplishment statements on a resume.  Pensively and well written accomplishment statements are one important key element which can dramatically help your resume or CV to potentially deliver engagement from prospective Employers, Human Resource Staffing Specialists, and Recruiters.  On the other hand, if you are an entrepreneur, potential clients may need to consider your background before selecting your product or service.

Here are my 10 tips for how to add pizazz to your accomplishment statements, and significantly improve your resume or curriculum vitae’s impact.

1) Do your homework and research currently valued skillsets and industry challenges which will help you to recognize your relevant achievements.

Identify with what you learn about your target industry or occupation, and compare it with your own relevant experience, while looking for commonalities.

Arrange to talk with others in your goal occupation at networking events, but be prepared to reciprocate to anyone who may assist you, and offer to see how you might help them.  Also, don’t be shy to ask how you can genuinely support those who aren’t in a position to supply the information you seek, just be sure to reserve plenty of time for your job search.  Sincere acts of professional support are not only a kind gesture, but doing so can naturally result in enabling others to view you as a professional of value to be connected with over time.

In order to become in the know, both in-person and online networking is critical.  If you are computer proficient with social media, it’s highly recommended you follow online discussions that regularly have members posting about the current issues as well as trends in your target profession.

 2) If you don’t have computer skills, take the time and initiative to learn. 

Look for free or low cost resources at your local library, career one stop center, or visit the Goodwill Community Foundation International site for self-paced online training.  Don’t allow yourself to get lost on the wrong side of the digital divide with unmarketable computer skillsets!  Technology permeates many professions now, even the application process itself is riddled with it.

This point is critical.  If you find you are limited in computer proficiency, and want to create and distribute your resume yourself, think about this:  How can you type your accomplishment statements onto your resume document, if you are not familiar with how to use the software programs and hardware which can create it?  How can you apply online for jobs, or email your resume as an attachment, if you don’t know how to navigate via online digital correspondence platforms? Anyone, at any age can learn how to do this, if they have access, motivation, patience, and perserverance.  Take the time to learn, and be patient with yourself in the process.

3) Another free online resource where you can check the trends of a profession is with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Online Occupational Outlook Handbook. 

Here you can find how to break into a targeted occupation, tasks, trends, and more.

4) Keep a notebook handy for accurately documenting your accomplishments.

If transitioning between jobs, keep it readily available near your computer or where you spend the most time.  Being your own career historian is crucial so you can show how you shine, throughout the timeline, of your career and education.  Make annotations in your notebook whenever you intentionally realize an accomplishment or happen upon it in thought.

Having an accomplishments notebook is also a handy tool to provide to a Certified Professional Resume Writer, who is an expert at taking many other important factors into consideration when creating a resume or other career document.  A Certified Professional Resume Writer is generally fluent with helping you to discover your accomplishment highlights, and knows how to selectively market your achievements.

5) If a good rapport exists with a prior employer, ask for their input and perspective on your accomplishments. 

If the employer is willing, request they write a letter of recommendation which would help to support the accomplishments stated.

6) Be sure to track numbers, frequencies, increasing and decreasing percentages, dollar amounts, as well as timeframes that made a difference as a direct result of your efforts. 

If applicable, integrate how the accomplishment was achieved into the statement.  Here are a few examples with different combinations of measurements from a variety of occupations.

  • Led team of four in creating a 20 ft. tall Periactoid on wheels over 2 week duration
  • Inspected a total of 4,089 miles incorporating 3 roadway resurfacing projects in a 13 month period
  • Wrote Sales Training and Procedures Handbooks with a combined page total in excess of 100 pages, for distribution to approximately 200 employees
  • Increased department sales of diabetic medical devices by 75% in a 6 month period, and was featured in company newsletter

7) Remember even a small hourly or daily achievement average can be multiplied to estimate weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual accomplishments.

Example:  “I process 12 client intakes per day”.  Doesn’t sound like much right?

But when you multiply 12 intakes per day, by 5 days per week, that’s 60 intakes per week, even better!  Similarly, you can figure out monthly, quarterly, and yearly figures in this manner.  In the example discussed, that translates to 240 per month, 720 per quarter, and 2880 per year.  Wow!

8) Write down any unique challenges you experienced on a project, and consider the context, as well as how you overcame it. 

There may have been external factors making a particular aspect of a job difficult.

As an example, one of my clients directed an infrastructure project in which there were international government stakeholders based out of 3 countries.

The challenge was she needed to avoid costly miscommunications, which she was very successful at accomplishing, so it became important to show in her resume how she was able to do that.  Here is a statement designed to consider the unique context of her situation, and how it was managed.

  • Project evolved smoothly as a result of strategic planning, consistent dialogue (always confirmed in writing), frequent visits to construction plants in other territories to bridge cultural gap as well as operational development, and weekly progress meetings

No matter what level of professional you are or the type of occupation(s) you have had, it is possible for unique challenges to exist. Be sure to think about if such unique challenges existed when writing your resume or working with a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

9) Keep in mind the big picture and your percentage of contribution to a team’s bottom line, whatever that might be in your industry.

Here are three examples of accomplishment statements which magnify impact of contribution.

  • Created a risk management procedures matrix for categorizing project rankings and factors causing an estimated savings of over $90K, which was subsequently allocated to two additional projects
  • Carried 60% of department’s case management load, and identified over $100K in eligible services for improving the lives of community members attempting to contribute to their families and society.
  • Secured $30K in media sponsorship resulting in global audience viewership of 3,000 and approximately $52K in revenue

10) Above all, don’t give up! 

Stay focused and look inside yourself for the value you surely offer to prospective employers.  Become clear on your past as well as current contributions.

© By Nina Scott, C.P.R.W.

Nina Scott is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and Career Coach.

10 Websites every baby boomer should know but probably doesn’t

By Marc Miller

There is a set of websites every baby boomer should know to manage your career, and I am writing this post to expose you to them. Some of these might surprise you. Let’s get started.

General

Employee Benefit Research Institute – The mission of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) is to contribute to, to encourage, and to enhance the development of sound employee benefit programs and sound public policy through objective research and education. There is a ton of great data about retirement. They do a variety of surveys related to baby boomers ability to retire.

PBS Next Avenue – This PBS’s website dedicated to the baby boomer generation. Articles cover a full spectrum of issues and come from a variety of sources. Career Pivot contributed an article in February.

Harvard Business Review Blog – I have become a big fan of HBR. They follow a variety of trends that you must keep on top of for your career.

Let’s cover some recruiting websites every baby boomer should know.

Recruiting

ERE.net – ERE is a central gathering point for the recruiting industry. You will find lots of useful information on careers but more importantly trends in employment.

Recruiting Blogs – Recruiting Blogs is a central place where recruiters can blog on topics of their choice. There are over 14,000 recruiting blogs on this site. This is a great place to gain insight into what recruiters are thinking.

The Undercover Recruiter – The Undercover Recruiter is the #1 recruitment and career blog in the UK & Europe. Another great place to follow industry trends.

Recruiter.com – One of the largest websites for the recruiting industry. This link will take you to the Career Advice section of the website.

I believe every baby boomer should track trends in the recruiting industry.

Let’s cover some different websites every baby boomer should know.

Social

Social-Hire – This is a new and innovative career site around the new way to find a job. I particularly want to point you to the career advice section.

Linked Into Business Blog – This is a LinkedIn blog for business written by my good friend Viveka von Rosen. Viv runs the Tuesday evening Tweetchat called LinkedIn Chat. If you want to stay on top of changes in LinkedIn this is the place.

This one will surprise you!

Heidi Cohen – Heidi Cohen’s blog provides marketing related insights grounded in digital and direct marketing. Served with a creative twist, Heidi includes practical tips based on her extensive experience that readers can apply to their marketing. You need to understand online marketing tactics to market your own career!

Did I miss any websites every baby boomer should know?

Bonus

BoomerJobTips.com – Okay, I am being a bit self serving. I recently acquired the BoomerJobTips.com domain which was listed in the top career sites in 2012. The previous owner took down the website for personal reasons. My plan is to make BoomerJobTips.com the premiere career information website for baby boomers and keep it pitch free. Content is curated from around the Internet and posted through out the day.

Marc Miller is a Career Design Specialist, contributor to Career Pivot and author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

10 Ways to Generate More Leads and Referrals on LinkedIn

By Jeff Haden

It’s not hard–and may be the best 20 minutes you spend every day.

Everyone seems to be on LinkedIn. So you are too. But are you actually generating leads and referrals?

Here’s a blueprint for using LinkedIn to prospect more effectively from Sandler Training, a leading sales, management, and leadership training organization.

1. Prepare a digital version of your 30-Second Commercial and include that text in your LinkedIn profile. The main thing to remember about LinkedIn is this: It is a huge, never-ending, virtual networking event, and you have to be ready with the right response to, “What do you do?”

Your 30-second commercial is the answer to that question, as told from the point of view of a prospect in pain that eventually turned into your happy customer.

For instance: “We specialize in custom designed inventory management systems for manufacturing and distribution operations. We’ve been particularly successful with companies in the X, Y, and Z industries that are concerned about the costs associated with inaccurate inventory counts, unhappy with frequent paperwork bottlenecks that slow down the fulfillment process, or disappointed by the amount of time it takes to reconcile purchasing, invoicing, and shipping records. We’ve been able to create hand-in-glove inventory management systems that help our customers save time, attention, and money.”

If something like this isn’t on your LinkedIn profile you’re at a competitive disadvantage.

2. Add connections to your network. If you invest a minute or so each working day clicking the “connect” button on the “People You May Know” list that LinkedIn posts in your feed you will broaden your network, and you will become known as someone who broadens the network, which is just as important.

Remember: Everyone you talk to about business or meet during the course of the business day is a potential LinkedIn connection.

3. Play fair. But only “connect” to people you actually know. LinkedIn will backfire on you if you pretend to know people you don’t. (While we’re at it, here are nine other mistakes people make on LinkedIn.)

Always ask for introductions to people you don’t know.

4. Build out your lead list. Spend five minutes a day investigating the connections of your contacts to see whom you don’t know personally but would like to meet. Make a note of those to whom you would like introductions. Start first with the “Recommendations,” since those are most likely the strongest relationships of the LinkedIn user you are viewing.

Ask for the recommendations outside of your LinkedIn account via email or phone. You’ll get a quicker answer. (And you’ll get the chance to quickly reconnect with your connections.)

5. Follow your current clients and prospects. Spend another two minutes each day looking up your current clients and top prospects. Find out whether they have a company page. If they do, follow and monitor it.

6. Post an update. Spend 60 seconds each working day posting an “Update” to your LinkedIn network. Use the daily update to share a link to an article or a video that is relevant to your prospects and customers. Or use the “Pulse” (used to be known as “LinkedIn Today”) feature on your LinkedIn dashboard.

Each time you post an update you get displayed on the feed of all the people with whom you are connected. But never sell when you post updates. Add value and share expertise instead.

7. Join groups. LinkedIn lets you connect with people who are in groups with you. Use this as a targeted way to add value to others, share insights, and build out your network with prospects. Invest five minutes a day on this. (Here are tips to find the best groups to join.)

8. Use LinkedIn to celebrate the accomplishments of others. When you come across a news story or post that offers good news about your client or prospect, or any key contact, share the news as a status update. Recognize the person with an “@” reply. That will ensure they receive notification of the mention. Spend a minute a day on this.

9. Write a recommendation. It is often difficult to secure LinkedIn recommendations, if only because it takes the writer time to log in, write, and post them.

Instead of waiting for someone to recommend you, devote five minutes a day to writing and posting (reality-based) recommendations for your customers and key contacts. Once your contact approves the text, the recommendation will show up on his/her LinkedIn account.

This will align you with your contact, serve as a permanent top-of-mind promotional piece for you and your organization, show your network that you work together, and make it much more likely that your contact will look for a way return the favor. That could be either a referral or a recommendation.

Often, it’s both.

10. Stop. The key to success on LinkedIn is investing a little bit of time every working day–not six hours a day for a week straight, then nothing.

Do all of this regularly. The maximum total time investment should be 20 minutes a day, not including developing your 30-Second Commercial (which you should finish before you even log into LinkedIn.)

Invest that twenty minutes a day, consistently, for thirty straight working days, and you will start generating more prospects and referrals from LinkedIn.

Then… keep it up!

Jeff Haden is the owner of Blackbird Media and has ghostwritten nearly forty non-fiction books (four Amazon Business & Investing #1s) and am a featured columnist for Inc.com and CBS MoneyWatch.com.