career advice, career management, Careers, Job Search, job seekers, Personal Branding

Resumes That Work

Mary Rosenbaum | September 16th, 2014

Do you believe that having a strong resume is important in landing a job or an interview? If you answered yes, then it’s time to rework your resume.

Although this post is geared toward job seekers, I believe that everyone would benefit from a resume redo once a year. Whether you are looking for a job or are content in your current position, it’s always a good idea to go through the exercise of writing your resume. Why? Because it’s important to you have a clear understanding of what you have to offer, what your expertise is, what successes need to be highlighted, and how to best represent yourself to others.

In reworking your resume think of yourself as the Product. And if that’s the case then your resume, along with your collateral materials, have to reflect your product’s personal brand. Gone are the days when your resume used words such as:

  • responsible for
  • managed
  • handled
  • led

Instead, your resume should be much more focused on your major accomplishments and the value you add for your employer. It should be skills focused and success oriented with quantitative results used whenever possible that demonstrate your impact on revenue generation, cost reduction, team building, problem solving, and relationship building.

Hard skills (years of experience, education) are what get you in the game. It’s the soft skills (accomplishments, how you work) that provide the differentiating factors when decisions are made between who to bring in for an interview and which resumes to delete.

Think of how you can “show” rather than “tell” your story. For example, if you led a team through a particular project, rather than state that you led a team on Project A, start with the result, the impact, and the benefit to your company.

A strong resume speaks to an employer’s needs and demonstrates how you can help them.

When putting together your branded resume, try to answer the following questions:

  • What are my assets? Hard and soft skills, job and life experiences, education, extra-curriculars.
  • What are my greatest successes? Quantitative examples should be used here to validate.
  • How am I different/better than my competitors? For example: language skills, international experience, awards, promotions, education.
  • What do I bring to the job/company that is unique? Brainstorm with others: co-workers, coach, managers, mentors.
  • What are the prospective employer’s greatest needs and how does what I offer help them? This is a great place to “show” by using examples.
  • What weaknesses or shortcomings do I have that might prevent me from getting the interview/job? How can I ameliorate them?

Your resume should be geared to the particular job for which you are applying. The more tailored your resume, the more time you spend customizing it, the better your chances at getting that call you’re waiting for.

Have any questions? Contact me.

What Do You Want Your Job To Look Like?

Mary Rosenbaum | February 25th, 2014

Are you looking for a new job? Are you deciding whether it’s time to look for a new job? There are important factors to consider to make sure the job you’re in or the one you take positions you for the career goals you set.

There are always tradeoffs but there are also a few non-negotiables you might consider before making any decision. Based on my years of experience as an executive recruiter and a career management coach, here are my thoughts.

1. Reputation. Whether you are a seasoned employee or someone in the early stages of developing your career, there is value to working for a company that is respected and successful in its industry.

What is the company’s reputation? How does it compare with its competitors? What is the company’s track record?

If the company is considered among the top in their group the chances are that they are ahead of the curve in how they do what they do. The learning opportunities are greater. The skills you learn and the knowledge you gain will be leading edge.

If they are at the top of their industry they are respected for their ability to succeed in a competitive environment. Unsurprisingly, a halo effect of that respect trickles down to their employees.

As a former recruiter in the financial services industry, I found that there were a handful of companies whose name on your resume greatly enhanced your chances for future employment. These companies were considered to be the “Harvard” of the financial services world. Their names always helped open doors. And companies like this exist in all industries.

At the same time, working for a company with a dubious reputation has the exact opposite effect. In my experience, it’s not unusual for a company that has problems, internal and/or external, to make offers and promises to potential candidates that are above what they might expect from more successful and well regarded competitors. Careful research into what those problems might be and how they could impact you and your career would be advisable.

2. Risk/Reward trade off. I’m often asked by clients whether they should consider moving to a start-up. Whether you are a seasoned professional looking for an opportunity to stretch your intellectual muscles or a young professional enticed by the new kid on the block, here are some things to consider.

If you are someone just starting to build your career you might be willing to look at opportunities in companies that are just emerging. Start- ups and young companies present excellent opportunities for professionals without a long track record. These companies tend to operate leaner with a more egalitarian approach to advancement based on success and performance rather than years of experience. They offer the ability to increase your knowledge and skills and move up the ranks faster than larger and more established companies.

If this risk doesn’t pay off, a younger professional has more ability to bounce back and secure a position with a more established organization down the road. Their “investment” in the startup could be viewed by a prospective employer as a skill building opportunity without any of the negative overtones.

Conversely, if you are a seasoned professional you would have to evaluate, aside from any financial considerations, how you could benefit from this move as you have a lot more at risk should the effort not pan out as anticipated. And just as important, you might consider what your exit strategy might be should you need one.

3. Impact/Responsibilities/Control. Any position should offer you intrinsic rewards that make you want to come to work each day. The following questions should adequately answer the “What’s in it for me?” question.

What impact will the work you do have on the company and it’s bottom line? Will you be able to expand your knowledge and skill set on the job? Will the company offer opportunities for you to grow professionally? How much control will you have over your day to day responsibilities? Will there be opportunities for professional advancement?

4. Culture. You will be spending most of your time at work and as we all know, work often occupies your mind most of the time regardless of where you are. Make sure you will be spending your time in a place where you feel comfortable and respected.

So ask yourself: What’s the company culture like? Will I fit in? Does my work ethic correspond with those I’ll be working with and for? Will the values I live by be respected? Can I be myself on the job?

4. Compensation. This is always a factor but not one that deserves the top spot. In most situations, compensation is largely determined by industry standards.  As I wrote earlier, an outsized offer is often a red flag that should be carefully evaluated.

If you are new to your career, compensation should play a much smaller role in the decision making process. Opportunity to learn, exposure to the industry, relationship and network building opportunities, and career building responsibilities should be the focus of any new position.

If you are a seasoned professional, the focus of your evaluation should be improved opportunities for advancement into leadership roles, the ability to leverage past experience into new areas of responsibility, increased visibility inside and outside your organization and industry, and increased autonomy and control. If you are the right person for the right job, the compensation will be commensurate with your expectations.

What other factors do you consider when making job and career decisions?

Want to grow your career opportunities and define your next role? Contact me.

Get Personal, Build Relationships and Have Fun Doing It

Mary Rosenbaum | July 14th, 2010

No one ever wants to be compared with a used car salesman (not that there is anything wrong with being a used car salesman) because it has always been shorthand for someone who is slick, dishonest, shallow, and self-interested. These qualities have never been considered attributes but in today’s world where connecting is an integral part of doing business, this type of behavior would be self defeating. Did you ever consider that you might be coming across differently than you think?

Recently I received a phone call from a stock broker pitching his company’s service. My name was on a prospect list made up of past clients. During our brief conversation he went into a monolog of the products and services his company offered and how I might benefit from them. The one thing he never did was connect with me. He seemed nice enough but I could just as easily have found the information he was giving me on the internet or the company’s website.

I wouldn’t say he came across as slick or dishonest, but he didn’t come across as expert, caring, personal, or unique. Rather than try to start a relationship which requires an investment of time he was focused on SELLING 101.

I know you are probably sitting at your computer reading this and saying “I don’t make cold calls so this doesn’t apply to me”. Have you ever attended a cocktail party, a conference, a networking event, a new client meeting? Do you whip out your business card after a few minutes? How do you break the ice? What do you talk about? Do you connect or do you sell?

Success in business is based on relationships. And relationship building is not only good for business; it’s fun if your intentions are genuine. So have fun and remember to:

1. Be Authentic – People have to like you. You may be selling the best product or service in the world, you may be the smartest person out there. If you don’t get people to connect with you on some level, to like you, you won’t get the business or do the deal or get the job. Be honest about who you are and let your personality show through. Connections are made memorable by sharing your stories, experiences, and passions – in other words, your personality.

2. Be Real – People have to trust you. I want to believe that you “care” about me and what I need and that you are not out to just close the deal or get the job. It’s a simple as Making Friends 101-  be curious and get to know them rather than sell them on you.

3. Be Giving – Generosity of spirit is integral to building relationships and of course, to being liked. Real relationships are not based on a quid pro quo. Give help, provide value without expecting anything in return. “Giving is it’s own reward.”

4. Be Consistent – Don’t change gears on me. I have to trust that if I decide to befriend you or hire you, you will consistently deliver on that promise of value.

5. Take Your Time – Make your goal getting to know them, not closing the deal. And that takes time. Lead times are long if you are building real relationships.

You never know, letting people you might not  consider “friend worthy”  into your life in an authentic way may yield some surprising results.

So let’s get to know each other and form some real relationships. Let me know what you think about this post and if there are topics you would like more information on – shout it out.

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

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-Value Your Past in Creating Your Future

Mary Rosenbaum | June 17th, 2010

I love going into antique stores. For me it’s about learning the history of some object that caught my eye – who crafted it, who owned it, what it was originally used for, where it was found or from whom it was purchased. This information provides me with the substance that makes the object more real, more interesting, and more memorable.

Believe it or not, the same holds true for you as a professional or entrepreneur. We are always talking about the value of being authentic as part of your personal brand. When your brand is authentic it includes everything about you as well as your history. Your history is as vital to your brand as it is in making the antique more desirable.

Early in my career I worked in investment banking. As an analyst I learned how to compare and evaluate companies, synthesizing vast amounts of information including earnings, market penetration, comparability, economic conditions, consumer sentiment, and so forth.

That doesn’t sound like it would be useful for someone whose expertise is in personal branding and career management. Yet, it’s those same analytical skills that provide the underpinning for me to help clients evaluate, compare, synthesize and communicate how their talents, experience, skills, passions, vision, and values enable them to stand out from the competition. This past experience is a piece of the puzzle that makes up ALL of who I am and what I offer. My history is part of what makes me more interesting, more unique, more memorable, and of course, it helps me stand out.

When you are working on your personal brand try to answer these questions:

1. What are you are good at – what comes to you easily?
2. How did you come to own this particular skill?
3. How does it enhance what you do?
4. How can it enhance what you want to do (remember, brands are aspirational)?
5. Why are you good at it – does this fulfill a particular passion, interest, value?
6. Does this help you differentiate yourself from your competition – why?

The experiences in your life should not be compartmentalized, instead they should be mined and brought to the surface. They are your precious gems. So take a walk through your past, connect the dots to your present, and set the stage for your future.

If you have any personal branding stories to share I would love to hear them.

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 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 ( 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

Brand Your Personal Brand in the Minds of Others

Mary Rosenbaum | April 30th, 2010

If you were to ask three colleagues, three friends, and three family members to describe your attributes, strengths, and abilities do you know what they would say? Would they all say the same things? There has been much written about personal branding, in fact, I have written and spoken a great deal about it as well. But have you thought about what it actually means?

Personal BRANDING is the process by which you determine how you want to be viewed by others and then go about BRANDING the words you want them to use when describing you. You are in effect BRANDING your “reputation” in the minds of others.

How do you do this?

1. Find out what others think of you? Have a conversation and ask them the questions that would bring out how they would describe you to others. If you want more detailed information, a 360 assessment is a great tool to use because it offers anonymity and that ensures a higher degree of honesty and accuracy.

2. Do a Strengths, Weakness, Attribute, and Talents analysis (SWAT) using information they provide and include your own self analysis. Once you have this information determine which skills, talents, abilities, attributes and strengths are ones that will further your career. Those are the ones you want to highlight. If there are weaknesses that might prevent you from attaining your goals, think of ways you can ameliorate them (take courses, connect with those who can help you overcome them, partner with people who can fill in your gaps). If they are not road blockers, just forget them and move on.

3. Do a comparative analysis of the skills and abilities you bring to your work. Try to determine how you are the same and what makes you different than your competitors. What gets you in the game – education, years of experience, similar skill sets – should be the same. What makes you different is a combination of what others think of you, special talents and skills you bring to your work, and the way in which you provide your service or do your job.

4. Develop an elevator pitch or personal branding statement that provides the listener with information on what you do, why you do it, what your differentiating qualities are, and the value you provide. You don’t have to be looking for a job or pitching a client to develop a strong personal branding statement or pitch. The reason you are doing this is so that you can “brand” this description into the minds of all you meet and already know.

5. Make sure your messaging is clear and consistent. Everyone should understand what you do and the value you provide. And it should be consistent for everyone you meet.

6. Always be on brand. Make sure that the work you do and the way you present yourself, on and off line are always on brand. It takes a great deal of time to build a reputation, to solidify your brand in other peoples’ minds. It takes considerably less time to destroy it.

Are there other ways you have in identifying your unique promise of value, your personal brand? We would love to hear about them.

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.

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru

Do I Need A Personal Brand? If So, How Do I Know It’s Working?

Mary Rosenbaum | March 19th, 2010

An interesting question came up in a conversation I had last night with an HR representative of a major corporation: “Why is it important for people who work in corporations to have their own personal brand? After all, doesn’t the company itself have a brand?”

Corporations have their own brand and you, as a representative of that corporation express this brand wherever you go, whether it’s dealing with internal or external clients.

Yet each of you brings something unique to the table whenever you promote or provide the services your company offers. Your brand, the way you communicate with others, the way you do your work, the way your successes and failures are viewed by those who matter, have tremendous implications on your career. Understanding the underpinnings of your brand, what makes you unique and what helps you stand out enables you to create your career by design.

Consequently, it’s important to understand how you are viewed, both internally as well as by the outside world. These are some questions you should be asking yourself.

1. Is my reputation, what people think of me, equal to how I view myself?

2. How do I really want people to think of me and to respond to me?

3. Have I been able to differentiate myself and what I do in a positive and productive way?

4. Is the way I am viewed going to help me achieve my professional goals?

5. Is my reputation helping or hurting my work and my future?

6. Is my personal brand (my vision, purpose and values) in alignment with that of the company?

Understanding your personal brand is integral to obtaining satisfaction from your job, enjoying the company you work for, and in obtaining the career goals you set for yourself. Having a strong personal brand plays a critical role in your success in managing your career.

So ask yourself these hard questions. If the answers are not what you expect then you have some work to do; it may be difficult but worth it.

How do you measure whether your personal brand is working for or against you? I would love to hear from you.

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.

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.

Personal Branding – Not the Latest Fad

Mary Rosenbaum | September 30th, 2009

What are the similarities between a job seeker, someone in career transition, and an entrepreneur? The basic and most important similarity is that each one has a personal brand. I spoke at a career seminar last week and after my talk someone came up and commented that personal branding is just the latest fad and that job seekers need more than words to secure a new position. No he’s wrong and yes he’s right.

Personal Branding is not the latest fad; in fact it’s been around for decades. The only difference is it didn’t have a name when it was applied to individuals as opposed to corporations. As a former recruiter for over 20 years, I instinctively knew how to “brand” my candidates by highlighting their differentiating qualities – the strengths that would enable them to stand out from those competing for the same job. At the time I called it positioning rather than branding.

Simply put, Personal Branding is being able to plant words that you want others to use when they describe or think of you. My work with clients helps them find those words that not only focus on their strengths, abilities, skills, and experience, but also targets how those words should be used and to whom. The adjectives they use to describe themselves reflects their value added. Your value added is the benefit your employer or client derives from working with you. It’s what distinguishes you from everyone else. It is the essence of your Personal Brand.

The definition of a Personal Brand is the reputation others hold of you in their hearts and minds. The words you plant become your reputation if you are consistent, clear, and constant in your messaging to others. A consistent message that clearly demonstrates your unique promise of value, your value added, repeated often to your target audience will result in gaining the visibility you need and want when opportunities arise.

Judging from the comments I receive from clients, having a brand makes them feel like the expert in their particular field or area of specialty. Identifying what it is and formulating the right words to convey their brand is hard work, but the rewards are worth it. So whether you are an entrepreneur, a job seeker, or someone in transition, knowing how to sell yourself so you stand out from the crowd is a critical ingredient to achieving your goals.