Careers, Job Search, Personal Branding, job seekers, linkedin, personal brand management

Your Job Search Secret Weapon – Your Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | November 21st, 2016

When you think of popular brands you automatically remember the specific value that manufacturers focus on when talking about their products. Whether it’s Volvo and safety, BMW and performance, or Tesla and innovation – the focus is on the differentiating qualities and the value those qualities provide. And yes, they all get you where you want to go but that’s not what all the noise about. It’s about HOW they do it and the value they provide and that’s what distinguishes them from each other and from the competition.

The same holds true for you as a professional. Your personal brand is like a fingerprint – no two people bring the exact same qualities to completing the task at hand. How you do what you do – whether it’s the specific experience you bring to the table, the innovation you are known for, the ability to engage others to work with you – is very important in distinguishing you from your competition.

Here are some important lessons to be learned from those people who are masters of creating solid well-known brands;

1. Never present yourself as a jack of all trades – because you will be mistaken for a master of none. Generalists are not memorable and therefore not easily remembered. Identify those skills/talents/experiences that enable you to provide the unique value a prospective employee needs to be successful in the position for which they are recruiting. And then find the stories that back up the claim. If you can’t claim value that distinguishes you from the competition you will be thought of as a commodity – and pricing rather than value will be the differentiating feature.

In the example I used above, the cars I mentioned would never be considered commodities – although pricing may be a deterrent for some, their target audience makes the purchase based on perceived value, not on pricing. You’re not JUST buying a car; you’re buying a specific brand known for the qualities you want.

2. Know what your selling points are and make sure all your collateral materials (resume, LinkedIn, bio, etc.) reflect and validate these points. For example, a common mistake is to make your resume a comprehensive listing of every responsibility and task you ever completed throughout your career.

Companies with strong brands keep hammering home the points they want you to remember, to connect with, and use as part of your purchase decision. They don’t give all the details of their product because that would dilute the message they were trying to convey and make it harder for you to remember what they deem to be the strongest selling points.

A resume that has too much information is as bad as one that has not enough. A resume filled with more than what’s needed is asking the reader to pick and choose what he/she deems important. Instead a resume that highlights the skills and talents you want them to see puts you in charge of how you are viewed. The focus should be on the job you want, not the one you had 5 or 10 years ago. So take control of what they think, point them in the direction you want to go, and the odds of being singled out increase.

3. Never underestimate the value of a cover letter. A cover letter is another opportunity for you to hammer that message home – that you have the skills they need and want.

A cover letter is your opportunity to link your skills, experiences, successes, and abilities directly to the job for which you are applying. It’s not a rehash of what’s on your resume – it’s a time for you to show personality, showcase your writing capabilities, illustrate the knowledge you have of the industry and of them, and tell them something that would be relevant to the job but not fully fleshed out on the resume. This is an opportunity to let your differentiating qualities come through and let your personal brand be more visible.

In my days as a recruiter I always read the cover letter and if it was one that would be able to connect the dots for my clients – show them how this candidate might fit well with their needs – I always forwarded both the resume and the cover letter. After all, the candidate was making my job that much easier.

So don’t bury your personal brand in favor of being all things to all people. Instead highlight your secret weapon and use the resources that are in your control to spotlight the differences.

Whether you are in a job or looking for one, strengthening your personal brand is vital to your success. Need help?  Contact me.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigital Photos.net


Build Your Tribe of Supporters: Who Is In Your 150?

Mary Rosenbaum | November 19th, 2010

How many people do you know with whom you have a real relationship.? When I look at the numbers of contacts/friends/followers that some people have on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter it appears there are many people who have hundreds and even thousands on their list.

The proliferation of social media sites has created an environment where being “connected” with someone does not have the same connotation it once did. There seems to be some confusion about the value of these contacts and what it really means. Social media enables you to get the word out to vast numbers of people in a very short period of time. On such a vast scale, social media should not be confused with relationship building. Sometimes relationships develop, but those are isolated instances rather than common place occurrences.

Robin Dunbar is the director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University, author of How Many Friend Does One Person Need? According to Mr. Dunbar, 150 people are the most any one person can be in a relationship with involving trust and obligation. These are relationships where there is some personal history, not just names and faces and perhaps the occasional shared tweet. The reason for this is simple, it takes energy, time, and mental capacity to build and maintain relationships. According to our brain capacity, 150 is the limit.

Beyond the 150 number, the tie that binds you to greater numbers of people are superficial and never extend beyond the occasional message, tweet, or shared photo. Social media has created a new way for you to “keep in touch” with those you would probably never have contact with again before these vehicles became so prominent.

The question I have is if you are spreading yourself thin by trying to maintain some form of relationship with vast numbers of people, are you diluting even the ones that would fall into the category of “real” relationships? Are you confusing followers with supporters?

I think instead of trying to grow your contacts or following by including large numbers of people who you cannot develop any sort of relationship with, your time might be better spent deepening the ones that could be part of your tribe - those who support you and what you do and those you can support in return.

The challenge is to increase the breadth of your relationships without sacrificing the depth. There are many ways to increase your tribe to ensure that the connections between all of you continue to provide value to everyone involved. So ask yourself:

Have I succeeded in deepening my relationships to a level where I can provide support?

How many meaningful relationships do I have?

Am I anywhere near my Dunbar number of 150?

Do I have the right people in my 150?

If not, what steps can I take to move myself forward?


Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Twitter: Less is More

Mary Rosenbaum | September 29th, 2010

What is the relevance of having thousands of followers on Twitter? How many of these thousands read your tweets? How many of those would be driven to act on something you recommended?

Those who use Twitter and Facebook for marketing purposes believe that the more “eyeballs” that see their message the more likely they will sell their product or service.

Social media marketing cannot take the place of creating a product or service that is needed and wanted. Throwing mud at the wall and hoping it sticks is old school marketing. People today are bombarded by offerings, information, options for just about everything they need, want and use.

It’s not about the numbers. It’s about finding those followers who want what you have to sell or teach them. It’s quality, not quantity. Wouldn’t you rather have a 100 followers who read your messages and take an interest in what you say rather than a 1000 who either ignore or skim the content? I know I would.

I attended a talk on social media a few weeks ago and one of the attendees asked this question: “I send out a newsletter every two weeks with free give aways, free webinar offers, and free consultations. My email list is over 1000 people and I use Twitter and LinkedIn to deliver the same message. My response rate is single digits. What am I doing wrong?”

No one knows for sure but my guess would be that either he has the wrong target audience or is selling something nobody wants or needs. Additionally, his communications with his audience are all one way – out. The lack of connection, human contact, and relationship building – critical to growing a business – all contribute to this lack of response.

So how should you use social media?

- Make sure what you are offering is something people want or need.

- Use social media as tools, not as the only means of communicating your message.

- Relate, communicate, find out if you are hitting the right target.

- Modify your offerings as you learn from your active followers.

- Take your online contacts and turn them into real world relationships.

- Take your time.

What other advice do you have?

As an FYI, I read this great article in this week’s New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, a favorite author of mine called Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. It’s a great read.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru – it’s where I pass along articles I think might be interesting to you.


The Weapon of Choice in Your Job Search: Your Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | June 28th, 2010

Your personal brand is a great weapon in today’s economy. If you are looking for a job it helps to distinguish you in a crowded universe. Knowing your strengths, talents, values and passions helps you identify and achieve your goals. When you know where you want to go then you can more easily articulate what you offer and why you would be a great hire. Identifying your specific areas of expertise enable you to more easily promote yourself to your desired target audience.

There are common mistakes people make because they believe that casting a wide net will open up opportunities while specificity will limit their chances of securing a position. Here are some things to avoid when involved in a search:

1. Presenting yourself as a jack of all trades (and therefore master of none). Generalists are not memorable and therefore not easily remembered. Stand for something and identify a speciality or differentiating quality so that you stand out. You are not a commodity so find your unique talents and strengths and shine a spotlight on them.

2. Cover all your bases and make sure your resume includes every responsibility you ever held so that nothing slips through the cracks. A resume that has too much information is as bad as one that has not enough. A resume filled with more than what’s needed is asking the reader to pick and choose what he/she deems important. Instead a resume that highlights the skills and talents you want them to see puts you in charge of how you are viewed. The focus should be on the job you want, not the one you had 15 years ago. So take control of what they think, point them in the direction you want to go, and the odds of being singled out increase.

3. One cover letter will do because most people don’t read them anyway. As a former executive recruiter I can say that I read cover letters and often forwarded the contents to potential employers. A cover letter provides the reader with a reason for meeting you. The letter connects the skills they want, the experience you have and the successes you achieved using those skills. It allows you to show personality and to illustrate the knowledge you have of the industry and of them. This is an opportunity to let your differentiating qualities come through and let you personal brand be more visible.

So don’t bury your personal brand in favor of being all things to all people. Instead use the resources that are in your control to spotlight the differences.

Are there other myths or beliefs that should be dispelled when looking for a job or making a career change? Please share them with us.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Personal Branding: Treat Your Blog as if it was a Gift

Mary Rosenbaum | May 26th, 2010

If you are like me you have probably received countless birthday or christmas gifts that were not what you wanted or even needed. What did you do with those gifts, put them in the back of your closet, returned them if you could, re-gifted them to someone else? One thing is certain, you didn’t use this gift or benefit from it in any way. In fact, you probably forgot about it as soon as you put it away.

If you want people to read your blog or newsletter you have to think of these communications as a gift. All too often I receive newsletters or blog postings that either rehash old news or reword something either they or someone in the industry has already written about. What they don’t include is anything of value for me. Value can be defined in many ways. For example, it can provide me with a new way of looking at something, or a new approach I can apply to my business or life, or even a story I can relate to.

If you have read my past posts on the value of a strong brand, writing a blog and the rules of blogging then you know that providing your target audience with some added value is more important than just getting something out there with your name on it. Your blog or newsletter should convey your opinions in your area of expertise. One of the benefits of writing a blog is to communicate your thought leadership (your personal brand) in a way that exhibits your expertise in a “show” and not “tell” fashion. Distributing a blog or newsletter that doesn’t provide valuable content can only hurt your personal brand – your reputation. Why? Because people will immediately delete your emails based on their past experience with you.

Just like everyone else, my email inbox is filled with newsletters, email blasts, and blogs. With the limited time we have and the surplus of information we receive make sure the communications you send out are worthwhile. Let’s make sure the delete button is reserved for someone else. If you follow these rules they just might help you keep your audience and grow your following.

1. Know what your target audience wants and needs. Look at the responses (if any) you get from your postings and determine how they can be better focused to improve the content you provide and the engagement you develop with your audience. Research the work of other thought leaders in your industry. Read the comments they receive, see how you can address some of the issues that are being raised, but with a different point of view.

2. Make sure you are not underestimating your readers’ sophistication or knowledge. There is nothing worse than providing information that is so “been there, done that, old hat”.

3. Are you addressing the right target audience? I know I receive emails from companies and individuals providing valuable information on hi tech products for large businesses, classes on becoming a fashion designer, and courses on passing the bar exam, among others. Just because you have someone’s email address it doesn’t mean they want to receive your gift of communication and knowledge.

4. Don’t overuse the send button. Unless you have something worthwhile to write about, don’t write. I know I have said in the past that consistency and constancy in communication builds credibility as well as a following. You should write at least one time per week to maintain that following. But having said this, there is nothing worse than writing just to publish – because you dilute the value of your blog and of your brand.

5. Connect with your readers in a way that resonates with them not only on a business level but on a personal level as well. The more authentic you are in your writing, the more your ideas will resonate with your audience.

Having the right formula – original ideas and content, well written text, reader connection and engagement, – will result in a growing targeted following.

What tools do you use to keep their finger off the delete button? Please share them with us.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


What do Three Cups of Tea and Relationship Building Have in Common?

Mary Rosenbaum | May 20th, 2010

Make building relationships an integral part of your personal brand.

I had two very different experiences that made me think about writing on the topic of relationship building. One was an article I read in the NYTimes magazine section this past Sunday. It focused on our fixation with statistics. Watching our stats on social media sites is becoming as ubiquitous for social media marketers as the Dow Jones Industrial Average is for Wall Street professionals. But what are they really measuring? Are they measuring commitment, professional curiosity, respect or search or exchange of knowledge? What they are not measuring is relationship building. And relationship building is a critical underpinning to building your career, your business, and your personal and professional life.

The other prompt to writing this was an event I attended in support of the American Place Theater (www.americanplacetheater.org) where Greg Mortenson, author of “3 Cups of Tea”, spoke. He told a story that clarified what the reference was for the title of his book. It all started when he found himself disoriented and physically weakened from his hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro in Pakistan. When he descended he was taken in by a village elder who offered him a cup of tea. Over time the village elder described what the offering of tea symbolizes:

The first time I offer you tea it is as a stranger.

The second time it is as an honored guest.

The third time it is as a friend.

Unlike major cities, relationships in these small villages develop with time moving at a glacial pace. When the shift from honored guest to friend finally occurred Mr. Mortenson understood the value he derived from the time he spent in building these relationships – personal and professional growth and satisfaction.

Relationship building takes time because it’s built on a foundation of mutual trust. And mutual trust develops through a shared spirit of generosity. And yes, relationships can be developed through social media online (and then nurtured offline whenever possible). But that takes time and what the village elder was saying, as was the NYTimes article, rushing through life adding up your numbers won’t get you what you want in life – friends and colleagues who support one another.

If you are out looking for a job or career change or seeking to grow your own business chances are that your first outreach is to people you know, rightly so. Those people can be considered your first degree of separation – you know them, they will pick up the phone when you call, and you can ask them for something. You have a relationship with them.

Now let’s take a look at our connections through social media. It’s easy to confuse large numbers of followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook as something more meaningful than what they really are: people who think you have something to say and they want to keep abreast of what you and perhaps thousands of others are saying. It’s all very flattering and makes us all feel good. And in some situations, these online connections can grow into real relationships, whether they remain online or move offline. But it’s important to keep your eye on the ball – creating more relationships that can fall into the category of first degree of separation – and not focus on just the stats.

We all know how to make friends – get to know them, share some laughs and good times and generally support each other. Building relationships around business is pretty much the same. You want to:

1. Maintain a spirit of generosity. Give without thinking about how you can personally profit from it – whether it’s information, time, assistance. I have always talked about the Law of Reciprocity. Whenever I give to others I know that whenever possible that person will try to give back when they can. It’s not always a quid pro quo but it never fails to result in a positive experience.

2. Take time away from the computer and make sure you are meeting up with people in the real world. Transactions usually take place in real time and in the real world, whether face to face or on the phone. There is nothing that can replace the connection you make when you can personally shake hands and look them in the eye or hear the tone in their voice during a conversation.

One way to take your online friends offline – create a meet-up in your own town. Out of town? Let your contacts know and make time for some face to face.

3. Call even when you are not selling or asking for anything. In fact, call because you don’t want anything from them. By continuing to maintain contact you are gaining more insight into the other person, learning more about their business, and understanding their needs. Sharing information when you are not looking to gain something helps build a level of trust over time. And trust is what relationships and friendships are based on.

So take the time and move toward that third cup of tea and enjoy the status of friend.

What other pointers do you have for taking relationships into the real world?

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Blog Your Way to Success

Mary Rosenbaum | March 13th, 2010

In my last post on Social Media Marketing I discussed the importance of using a blog in your business whether you are an entrepreneur, a solopreneur, a small business owner or a professional interested in career management. In addition to increasing the penetration in your particular market, the benefits of blogging are many and include developing brand recognition, exhibiting expertise, creating greater inbound traffic to your website and business, and learning about the needs of your target audience (see an earlier post To Blog or Not to Blog for more insights).

According to Hubspot, companies that blog get 55% more visitors and 97% more inbound links. So if you want to grow your business and create greater credibility the time you spend on this endeavor will be well worth it.

Here are some typical questions, and hopefully some answers, on how to get started building a blog.

1. How can I develop the content?

Research and Read- You can’t get into the conversation if you don’t know what it’s about.

-         Join those groups on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook whose members are people you want to reach – potential clients, customers, employers, and those who influence the decision makers.

-        Read the postings on these sites and learn about the issues, needs and wants of this community. What questions are being asked? What is being addressed? What is missing from the conversation that you believe would add  value to this audience? Which topics are over-exposed?

-    Which links are being resent and retweeted? What information and type of format resonate with your particular audience?

The research stage will provide you with ample opportunity to read and learn more about the community you want to join.

2. Once I have the content, then what?

Make it relevant.

-     Write as if you were having a conversation with someone.

-     Be authentic – write about what you know and what you believe.

-     Write about something you are excited about – excitement is contagious.

-     Be generous with information.

-     Always be on brand and on topic in every post.

-     Always edit, edit, edit and then proof read your work.

3. How often should I write?

Put reading, research and writing into your daily or weekly calendar in the same way you schedule other appointments or meetings.

-     Be consistent – write as often as you can, weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly.

4. How should I deliver the message?

By now you have seen many examples of ways to structure your blog postings. Although this is far from exhaustive, here are some ideas for structuring your content:

-         Articles on how-to in your area of expertise.

-         Provide resources and links that can help your readers.

-         Provide your expert opinion along with the opinion of others on current news and events of the day.

-         Discuss case studies or client issues you have successfully dealt with that might resonate   with your audience.

-         Connect your readers to articles, blogs, reports published by others.

-         If applicable, write about aspects of your personal journey and how you got to here from there.

-         Use video to deliver your message.

-         Interview a thought leader in the industry.

-         Use some combination of all of the above.

5. How do I get people to read what I write?

-    Participate in your community of groups – comment on other postings, answer questions generously, establish credibility and visibility.

-    Once you have gained credibility and trust, inform your groups whenever you publish a new post.

-     Learn from each posting which subjects and styles resonate with your audience based on comments they provide, number of visitors to your blog, and retweets.

I know these lists are far from exhaustive. I welcome any additional ideas you have for creating a blog that is interesting, well read, and delivers the message of who you are and what your personal brand is all about.

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years, Mary Rosenbaum helps entrepreneurs and careerists position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead


Social Media Marketing is Here to Stay

Mary Rosenbaum | March 5th, 2010

When I started up my executive recruitment business in the early 80’s the only way to expand and develop my business was through real world marketing and by extension, word of mouth marketing. Much time was spent meeting with prospective clients, candidates, and those who influenced the decision makers. My marketing plan was centered almost exclusively on in-person meetings and presentations. Although my business grew over the 20 years I spent building it, I can only imagine the growth I could have achieved had social media marketing been around in those early years.

Real world marketing is still vital to growing your business and making those sales. However, in today’s world you must incorporate social media marketing in order to obtain many of the in person meetings and presentations that help you close the deal. Because consumers are inundated with messaging coming at them from all directions, they have developed screening mechanisms preventing old world marketing tools from being as effective as they once were.

What are the benefits of social media marketing?

-         Build trust, credibility and relationships in the virtual world in far less time than in the real world.

-         Reinforce your personal brand in ways that demonstrate your expertise – build brand recognition.

-         Find and build a like minded community that enables you to learn new tools and share ideas.

-         Engage your target audience across geographic borders without leaving the comfort of your keyboard.

-         Convert virtual relationships into real world contacts easier than through cold calling or other previously relied upon methods of spreading the word – they already know you and what you can provide.

-         Gain visibility in a more focused targeted way.

How do you start participating in the social media world?

-         Create a blog that reinforces your brand and demonstrates your expertise – this is where you give away information that your potential clients/customers WANT to know about. Crafting your blog so it markets your expertise rather than sells your service is the key to success.

-         Join Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter to engage and communicate with your target audience as well as your like minded community. Use these networks as a way to disseminate your blog postings, share ideas with others in your field, and respond to questions in your area of expertise. This will help you will increase your universe of potential clients, get the word out and create word of mouth buzz.

-         Participate and comment on other blogs that relate to your area of interest and expertise – demonstrate generosity as this often results in reciprocity.

What social media tools do you use to get the most visibility in your target market? Please share your ideas and comments with all of us.

My next posting will focus on how to write a blog that helps expand your following and your business.


Spread Your Personal Brand

Mary Rosenbaum | November 16th, 2009

Are your family and friends good ambassadors for letting others know what you do professionally, what your goals are, or what you are trying to achieve? It is important to define your brand to those who are close to you as well as to those who can more directly further your professional goals.

This was driven home for me this past weekend. I was visiting with some friends and inquired about someone they had known for years who had recently gone into consulting. It took them many attempts to try to identify what specialty their friend provided and finally gave up and admitted that they really didn’t know.

In providing your friends and family with information, it would be beneficial to:

§         Give them a detailed description of the type of work you do, the skills you employ in your work, the companies or industry you have worked for or the type of projects you have completed.

§         Provide them with an understanding of what you need – if it’s a job then be specific as to what you want to do (not only the title you want),  if it’s clients you want then what type of clients would be suitable.

§         Let them know what your qualifications are so they can more easily convey your expertise to others.

If this sounds a lot like your elevator pitch, it’s because it incorporates the same information. You need to let them know what you are good at, what makes you good at it (your validation), who you work with or for, and what you want or need. Don’t overlook the value of this type of “word of mouth” advertising. So go ahead, ask your friends if they can describe you in a way that conveys your expertise as well as your needs and wants. If not, get to work and spread the word.


The Entrepreneurial Quiz

Mary Rosenbaum | September 1st, 2009

With the unemployment rate hovering near 10% there is no surprise that many people are looking into starting their own business. Being your own boss sounds enticing – no more threats of being laid off, no one in control of your destiny but you. But are you prepared for taking on the role of an entrepreneur? The following Entrepreneurial Quiz was prepared by Career Coach Institute and I have found it helps weed out those that want to from those that can do. Although this does not address the “what will I do” of starting up your own business, it will help you in deciding the “whether or not” question.

Entrepreneurial Quiz

Do You Have the Entrepreneurial Personality?

Question Yes No
Is it important to you to accomplish something meaningful with your life?
Do you typically set both short- and long-term goals for yourself?
Do you usually achieve your goals?
Do you enjoy working on your own?
Do you like to perform a variety of tasks in your job?
Are you self-disciplined?
Do you like to be in control of your working environment?
Do you take full responsibility for your successes and failures?
Can you place the needs of your business above your family when necessary?
Are you in excellent physical, mental and emotional health?
Do you have the drive and energy to achieve your goals?
Do you have work experience in the type of business you wish to start?
Have you ever been so engrossed in your work that time passed unnoticed?
Do you consider “failures” as opportunities to learn and grow?
Can you hold to your ideas and goals even when others disagree with you?
Are you willing to take moderate risks to achieve your goals?
Can you afford to lose the money you invest in your business?
When the need arises, are you willing to do a job that may not interest you?
Are you willing to work hard to acquire new skills?
Do you usually stick with a project until it is completed?

Your answers to at least 15 of these questions should be yes if you are to be successful as a business owner.  While it is not necessary to answer all of these questions yes, but if you answer no to some of them, you will want to evaluate what that means to you and how significantly it may impact your ability to run your own business.

My next topic will be about the “how and what” of starting your own business.