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Personal Branding: Stand Out While Fitting In

A Must Read for Using Social Media (In Your Job, At the Office)

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you've likely noticed that I've written only sporadically for the past few months. I've spent most of my time off-line, talking to people, swapping ideas, and writing, writing, writing while collaborating vigorously with two great colleagues, Deb Dib (@ceocoach) and Susan Britton Whitcomb (@susanwhitcomb) and heaps of other collaborators and co-conspirators. You'll learn exactly what we've been up to in March when JIST Publications publishes theTwitter Job Search Guide, but I'll also be sharing some information about what I learned along the way in the interim. And to that end, here is one of my biggest take-aways from attending Jeff Pulver's Los Angeles 140 conference on Twitter's impact and potential.

Kodak is doing amazing things with social media. You may think that traditional film has gone the way of the typewriter, but Kodak is showing no signs of obsolescence that I can see. (I won a Kodak Z18 video camera at the 140 conference which I love.) they are paving the way for innovations in communications--and while they are at it, they are sharing their own best practices.

For a great overall summary of social media platforms and trends, check out Kodak's free Social Media Tips Guide.


In addition to providing a broad overview of social media platforms, user demographics, and tips for getting started, Kodak shares their own employee-developed social media policies. These policies are a great go-to guide for both employers and employees--and a list of best practices that you can use if you haven't been given any guidelines for social media etiquette.

My co-authors and I liked them so much that we asked for--and received permission to--republish them in our upcoming book. But you can look at them here!

Kudos and Thank You, Kodak!

Why You Don't Want to Be Called a Seagull

Do you have friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who get in touch only when they need something? If yes, I'm willing to make a bet with you: You're not as close to them as you are to those who contact you just to check in.

My friend Rob Blatt calls this kind of friend a "seagull."Seagulls only sharetheir expertise when it serves their need. They have little regard for participating in community dialogue. And tend to ignore proper conventions. Here's a seagull in action.

The seagull in the video, "Sam" from Aberdeen, Scotland, was caught on videotape stealing numerous bags of cheese Doritos. The formal term for Sam's behavior--is "Kleptoparasitism"
or the act of stealing food or other inanimate objects. Much like web surfers who usurp community discussions by changing the conversation to focus on themselves, Kleptoparasites "score" by stealing items they couldn't obtain otherwise--or by minimizing the time and effort required. They aren't nice.

For three tips on how to avoid being viewed as a seagull, see the extended coverage of this topic on Best Fit Forward.

To your success,


Building Your Personal Brand: 4 Tips to Tell Your Story

This is a guest post from Matt Wilson at

106351903_39a2eceae0Building your personal brand is all about getting the word out. It doesn't matter if you are the most talented personal on earth if nobody knows about it. If you want more people to hear about you, you need to start telling you story as often as possible. Make your story compelling enough and people might just tell their friends.

Start with a Problem

Great companies solve a problem in the eyes of the consumer. The bigger you make the problem sound the better story it makes. This is the story that people tell themselves every time they make a purchase and it's the one they tell their friends about your product or service. Great people should also solve a problem in the eyes of their employer. Figure out what a company lacks and offer that to them, whether you are an independent contractor or employee.

Tell Your Story Early and Often

Make up your story now and tell it to as many people as possible. If the story is well received than you have a much better chance of getting known. The more people you tell the story to the better--get feedback, learn how to answer tough questions, perfect your pitch and practice persuading those in doubt. The more people you tell your story to the better chance it has at spreading. You never know who you'll meet when you are out planting seeds. Each person you talk to has the potential to introduce you to someone, or tell your story to a friend. Every seed you plant has the ability to help spread that story.

You'll Never Get Discovered Hiding in your Basement

Want to meet your significant other? Get out there. Want to make a name for yourself? Get out there. In the old days, celebrity entrepreneurs were the only ones to launch a brand around their stardom. They controlled the big stage and because they had thousands of followers to tell their story to. Today, everyday people are launching brands easier than ever, growing their followings online and telling their story over and over. Better yet, this story has the ability to spread with the click of a button via social media.

Steal these Strategies to Tell Your Story

Start a blog: write good content and people will read. Write really good content and it'll go viral. Network on Twitter: every person you connect with on Twitter has the chance to hear your story. Tell it in 140 characters. Get on Camera: host a uStream chat, post your videos on your blog, or start your own show. Broadcast your story to the world! Connect on Facebook and LinkedIN or and make your profile tell a story!

mattwilsonAuthor Matt Wilson is co-founder of Under30CEO, challenging people to defy the 9-5, stop doing stuff you hate and get innovative. Wilson graduated from Bryant University after leading Bryant University to becoming the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization of the year and being named National Student Leader of the Year.

The Future of the Business Card

Over at Best Fit Forward, I've just questioned the future of the business card. If you are currently employed, do you hand your friends a company card--or one of your own creation? If you use your own card, what information do you include--or not include? Do you include contact information for LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter?Business_card

This Inquiring mind wants to know.

Check out my post, and let me know your thoughts!

Are you LinkedIn? (And a Special Grad Guide)

The last time I checked, 50-somethings were the fastest growing demographic on Facebook. We all know which generation adopted Facebook first.Linkedin

Millennials love to poke fun at Baby Boomers for being late to the game. But the truth of the matter is that many college students and other "Gen Y'ers" have been late to dance on adapting LinkedIn. And in professional circles, LinkedIn is often considered to be the premier site for business networking, job leads, and information sharing. There are many good reasons for this: where else can you find a question & answer forum, a searchable database of companies and people, and identify your relationships within three degrees?

As of September 2008, the median LinkedIn user was 41 with an household income of $109K. Not bad.

Since that time, LinkedIn has grown exponentially--and they've also made a great strategic decision: they hired my friend Lindsey Pollak, author of College to Career, to partner with them in growing their presence on campus.

I sat in on a webinar Lindsey ran for Career Services professionals last week, and got the latest stats on LinkedIn: The site now has approximately 45 million members, and is adding another million users every two weeks or so. Each second, a new member joins LinkedIn.

Are you LinkedIn? If not, consider it. And if you're a recent graduate, take a look at LinkedIn's 2009 grad guide, and see their special "networking offer."

Networking for Introverts

Today's blog post is authored by Catherine Ho, a recent Stanford grad and fundraising researcher at a large arts nonprofit. She spends much of her time networking, solidifying her long-term career goals, and advancing her interest in brand marketing. I asked Catherine to write a guest post after noticing her ability to ask thought-provoking questions on Twitter.Catherine_Ho (She also has a great knack for summarizing news and sharing interesting trends on Twitter.)
As you'll see, Catherine chose to wrote about a topic of interest to many of the job seekers that I work with--networking strategies for "introverts." (Thanks, Catherine!)

Transitioning into a new industry with little to no experience can be daunting. Over the last 2 years since graduation, I've taught myself the basics of successful networking.
As an introvert, networking never comes naturally. It requires quite a bit of planning and mental preparation. I see too many of my peers dismissing the power of networking as they sit comfortably in their jobs.

Regardless of whether you are job searching or not, networking can open many doors. With a lot of hard work, I've been able to secure a few volunteer and part-time opportunities that will boost my work experience in my chosen industry. If you excel at what you CAN control, you can trust in yourself that key contacts will come out of the woodwork and see you as a dependable, eager, curious learner. Confidence is absolutely key for introverts.

Tools needed: Linkedin, Twitter, resume, professional organizations, and of course informational interviews. The informational interview has been the most valuable for me because it is widely accepted as a way to meet people and receive real insight about a company or industry. Your mileage may vary. Utilize what works best. Here are my five recommendations:
1. Take Chances

When in doubt, take every little opportunity given to you. If you are nervous of the meeting's outcome, just remember that the worst thing that can happen is that he/she says no to your request, in which case you'll move on to the next possible contact. Last month I was given the option of meeting a CEO of a food startup for an informational interview either over the phone or at their office. I chose to go to his office despite the fact that it was all the way across town and quite early before my workday. This decision made a world of difference for me. I was able to get to know the company culture, study their product packaging, and meet one of the CEO's colleagues. I was also less nervous than I would be over the phone. I'm now working with his colleague on a very exciting volunteer project that will give me valuable experience to show to potential employers.

2. Know Your Objectives

Know your objectives before each and every point of contact. Have an agenda prepared before your meeting and do your best to stick to it. Make sure it includes thoughtful questions prepared in advance in addition to your research of a company. During the meeting you can gauge what direction the meeting is going and shift around your agenda as you see fit. To research the company, study the latest press releases, Google News and Finance, note any major changes in investor news and stock prices. A great resource is your local business times, well as Fast Company, BusinessWeek, and other business-related periodicals. If needed, prepare rough phone scripts and key points in notes form. I sometimes get flustered over the phone, so this helps me with my confidence level because I don't have to think on the spot about which questions I will ask. Obviously, this structure requires a bit of effort and preparation beforehand, but it will allow you to guide the meeting with ease and confidence.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

As an introvert, I find that the only way to improve my networking skills is to have more face-to-face time with potential contacts. It has become a skill that I can turn "on" when I'm in the right mindset and about to enter a networking event. Strike a healthy balance of online and in person networking. Joining a professional organization is also a great idea. I'm an active member of a great professional organization called Future Women Leaders in San Francisco. It has helped me learn how to effectively network while learning key business skills in the company of similar young professionals. Develop a busy schedule of networking events, which you can often find advertised online. Practicing face-to-face made me more confident as a person and has positively affected my social life as well, which is a huge bonus for me!

4. Be Professional, No Matter What

Always be as professional, courteous and polite as you would want them to be with you, even if you think the meeting was a flop. Think positively and don't let your own perspective cloud your judgment because you have no idea what the second party is thinking. Apply all the skills you learned about personalized emails, prompt thank you notes, and common courtesy in full force. Always ask if there's anything you can do for your contact. You are not networking just for a job; you are networking to build a great group of trusted professionals you can turn to in future times of need. Demonstrate your maturity level and your awareness in the importance of networking, which is often unexpected in young professionals.

5. Trust Your Instincts
Be prepared for a lot of "no"s and non-answers. Realize that you will not always be able to connect or "click" with a person. Choose to cold-contact strategic people that you feel would be great to have and trust your instincts. Raid your alumni database. If you hear of a name mentioned by someone, research how to contact them. If you read an article by an author you find fascinating, find that person. Be persistent and proactive! It's easier these days to find people with LinkedIn, web search, and email. For the contacts that stick, update them regularly (quarterly is a good rule of thumb) with each major stepping stone or ask them out for coffee and a chance to get out of the office to catch up. This will keep you on their radar. Many people are impressed and flattered to be asked to share their knowledge and advice.


I have met some true gems through my networking, and I will never forget their kindness, taking a chance on me as I navigate into an industry in which I have little to no experience. Most importantly, be sure to pay it forward when you have reached your success! Best of luck.

You can find and connect with Catherine on Twitter: @catherinewithac

Making the Most of a Social Media Resume

Recently, a CBS piece on innovative job hunting strategies caught my eye. I asked one of the segment's featured participants, Robert "Bobby" Hoppey, to share tips with us. A native of Setauket, NY, Bobby is a recent graduate of Elon University  in North Carolina. He is seeking full-time work in New York (leads are welcome). Here is his story--and his suggestions for how you can create your own social Bobby_hoppey resume.

I am one of the country’s many job hunting 22-year-olds and my background to date lies largely in public relations and social media.  I am an open book when approaching career prospects, but I ultimately want to do work that is creative, relevant and (with any luck) located in my favorite city in the world--Manhattan.

It recently occurred to me that the concept of a resume is deceptively simple. Don’t get me wrong: It is an essential document to market oneself and will never go out of style.
However, when looking over bullet points summarizing some of the accomplishments I am most passionate about, I felt there was a certain spark missing. 

I wanted to provide prospective employers with a window into who I am, as well as capture the elusive “way to stand out” in today’s undeniably competitive market. Like most of my peers, I am well versed in Facebook. I also worked as a social media communications intern for General Motors. So, making greater use of social media seemed a logical next step for my job search. I chose to create a social media resume on

The Visual CV site serves as a colorful and interactive supplement to my traditional materials.  Created fairly recently, my page has already opened doors for informational interviews with established professionals and was featured on a national segment for CBS Evening News.  This summer, I am on a 4,000 mile cross country cycling trip to raise money and awareness to help individuals with disabilities. I'm keeping a blog to document my trip, and am maintaining networking leads through my use of social media in preparation for my full-time job search. 

If you are a social media resume rookie, and would like to supplement your own job search with a Visual CV or other resume, here is some advice:

  • Think buffet style. When crafting a social media, don’t hold back in terms of diverse content.  If you have created multimedia assets in your professional or educational endeavors, show them off!  My VisualCV page includes videos, a podcast, writing samples, screenshots, a PowerPoint presentation and web site links that are easily aggregated together.  If you don’t have similar resources under your belt, or would prefer a more simple approach, you might consider alternative ways to make things pop and encourage a viewer to learn more--graphs, photos, etc.    
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is not to suggest a radical breakaway from professionalism, but rather a chance to have some fun and provide a broader look at who you are.  On my page, I have included a comedic (yet tasteful) YouTube video I created for a presentation, as well as photos of me "cheesing it up" at some of the places I have traveled abroad.  By including possible items as simple as a filmed introduction to the page or photos of you engaging in your favorite hobbies, you are presenting a well-rounded depiction of yourself and can stick out in the applicant pool. (As I see it, it is easier for people to relate to you when you've shared information about yourself.)
  • Shout from the rooftops. Once you have created a page to be proud of, don’t allow it to linger in "cyber" obscurity!  While your competitive side might be hesitant to let your personal network in on the still-emerging social media resume trend, these people may ultimately be the best place to start.  I opted to announce the creation of my page (and request feedback) on both Facebook and Twitter, while also incorporating it into my email signature and “link” section of online spaces such as LinkedIn.  By choosing to throw myself out there, I was able to establish relationships with new job search advocates and even receive news coverage.  There is no telling where your page could lead!
  • Make it a committed relationship. Once you have made the rounds with your eclectic, exciting page, there is no reason to let it fall to the wayside.  Whenever you have a new accomplishment or professional undertaking that enhances your credibility, pass ‘Go’ and report directly to your social media resume.  By consistently keeping your page fresh, you are maintaining an accurate living document online and advancing your personal marketability at the same time.

Hats off to Bobby for sharing his advice! If you have any additional suggestions or leads, please share 'em!

The Web-Based Resume: Do You Need One?

Amidst all of the noise about the "most difficult job market in memory," I see a bit of a plum: There's never been a better time to use technology to set your skills and experience apart.


Despite a crowded marketplace, those who distinguish themselves online are finding work. Over the last few months, I've had conversations with many of these individuals, including Jamie Varon ("Twitter Should Hire Me"), David Heiser, and Kelly Giles (see new guest post on my blog, The Emerging Professional). I've watched these individuals present their interests with a clear voice, and then land recognition and opportunities. It's been fun.

Early in my career, I had success with a web-based portfolio that I created during my final year of graduate school at the University of Virginia. The website included my resume, work samples, and career resources (I was applying for career-related positions). I applied for a handful of positions, and landed interviews at two very different institutions, Colby-Sawyer College and the University of Pennsylvania. I received job offers from both, though the offer from the University of Pennsylvania came a year later with a call back (I came in second to a much more experienced candidate the first time around). Bottom line: For me, having a website that showcased my skills and interests helped me stand out as a job seeker.

I've continued to believe in web-based portfolios, especially since they are not widely used.  I think developing websites (often referred to as e-folios) are a perennial way that job seekers can showcase skills and experiences and differentiate themselves from the crowd. After all, a well-designed website shows that you are tech-savvy and demonstrates the depth of your knowledge as well as enthusiasm. It "shows" instead of "tells." Have you ever met a high school English teacher who doesn't tell you to do this in one form or another?

Best Fit Forward is pleased to announce a new partnership and collaboration with Meg Levine Designs. Together, Meg and I can offer you comprehensive support in developing a web-based portfolio that showcases your skills (see example #3 below). Meg and I will work side-by-side with you to ensure that your online web presence aligns with your career objectives, and strengthens your chances for new opportunities.

That being said, working with us is only one option. Here are three "best-in-class examples" of web-based portfolios:

1. David G. Heiser (Website & Guide to "Film and Food")

David's website is an example of a Do It Yourself (DIY) portfolio.

A 2009 graduate of the College of Charleston, David is currently an intern at Ketchum, a leading global public relations agency. His website content has changed now that he is employed, during his job search his resume, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter account access were prominently featured.

Robert Hoppey (Visual CV)

Robert's website is hosted on Visual CV and is an example of a website where you can create your own web presence for free. Another site that provides a similar service is Optimal Resume (the "optimal" employment opportunity landed by @kellygiles)

Robert's job search techniques were recently featured by CBS in a piece on job hunting "do's and don'ts." A recent graduate of Elon College, Robert (also known as Bobby) is seeking employment in PR.

I have tried Visual CV and have found that it takes a great deal of tweaking to look as professional as Robert Hoppey's CV does. In addition, you'll note that both Robert and David have something in common: they are very tech-savvy and are also tuned into cutting edge PR techniques. If you'd like additional help, consider hiring a professional.

3. Laurence Rosenthal (Meg Levine Design)

This website was produced by graphic designer Meg Levine to showcase the diverse range of talents of writer, Laurence Rosenthal. This is an example of a personal "e-folio" you can develop to showcase your skills.

A skill writer and teacher with experience in film, tv, and publishing, Laurence's e-folio goes beyond the traditional resume to provide a sense of his previous client base as well as the high-level nature of some of his work. This is a great strategy for freelance and contract professionals, particularly as it allows the additional perspective of former client reviews.

If you are interested in having an e-folio of your own, please contact us to learn more about Meg's services as well as my resume writing, and personal branding services.

Kelly Giles: How I Tweeted My Way to a Full-time Job

The following is a guest blog post from Kelly Giles (@kellygiles), a recent college grad who I met via Twitter. I’ve been following Kelly’s job search since early this winter, and quickly identified her as a “walking example” of how you can conduct a job search while you are still in college even if you are still figuring out what you want. Here is her story:Me

I'm one of those Web 2.0 success stories you keep hearing about. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill on May 10, and I started working full-time as a social media strategist for on May 26.

I tweet, blog and Facebook about job search strategies and help people make the most of Optimal Resume's software.

I’d be lucky to have this job in any economy, but especially in this one. It matches my interests and skills, the company and environment are great, and I'm able to contribute and learn a lot.

So where did the Web 2.0 come in (aside from the job title)? Here’s a hint: even though Optimal Resume is based in Durham, NC (where I’ve lived for the past two years), my connection to the company started in Maine.

Here's how I landed the job.

Sherry Mason, a career counselor at Bowdoin College, introduced me to @OptimalResume on Twitter, which was really Optimal Resume’s COO. From there, we exchanged Twitter messages and set up a meeting. Within a week, I had a job.

Now here’s the back-story of how I met Sherry and why she introduced me to Optimal Resume. (You could also see this as "best practices for using Twitter in your job search learned along the way...")

Be clear about your interests and skills in your bio.

When I joined Twitter in January, I was debating between going to law school and venturing into the real world, and my bio said so. It also said I was looking for a way to be strategic, creative and efficient.

Find people to follow.

Your job search probably won't work if you don't increase your network. You can use to find people in your industry, and to find people near your desired geographic location. Once you've found people tweeting about things that interest you, reach out and connect with them.

Be genuine in sharing your thoughts, interests, and goals. It will expand your community.

For a job seeker, it's important to strike a balance between providing value to your followers and demonstrating that you're up on industry news (most often done with links to articles) and showing that you're a real human. To do that, sprinkle your tweets with personal commentary.

I started tweeting what was on my mind, which included everything from law school essay topics to job-search strategies to how I thought UNC’s Career Services could improve.

That’s how Sherry at Bowdoin found me. One day I tweeted that I thought Career Services should teach personal branding, and she messaged me to ask what else I thought they should do.

Share what you learn, and ask for input and advice.

A few days after I joined Twitter, I started blogging about Web 2.0 job-search strategies for college students (thinking I should put all the research I was doing to good use), and I asked Sherry for her input about content.

As luck would have it, she not only helped with that, but as a former practicing lawyer, she talked with me about my law school decision. She’s one of the people who helped me decide it wasn’t for me.

Continue to engage your network.

Once that decision (not to attend law school) was made, I kept tweeting about articles that interested me, and that were relevant to my job search. Sherry and I also kept in touch, tweeting and e-mailing occasionally, and one of those tweets was the introduction that landed me this job.

My story is a lesson in how it pays to be authentic and active in your social media use. Yes, I joined Twitter and started blogging because all the job-search articles said those were two keys to jump-starting a job search, but I didn’t blog and tweet what I thought employers wanted to hear, or just advertise that I needed a job.

I also didn’t talk about how I was procrastinating on term papers or eating a ham and turkey sandwich.

I stayed “on brand,” while talking about things that interested me, things that were naturally on my mind, and I found a job (or a job found me, depending on which way you look at it) that matches.

Thanks, Kelly! Do you have any additional "optimal" tips for the Web 2.0 job search?

Lessons from Jamie Varon's Hire Me Campaign

Back in March, I wrote a "Tale of Two Hire Me Campaigns," a post which featured two very different "guerrilla job search" web-based campaigns: and


Both websites received a lot of national attention: was featured on CNN online and reported interest from Oprah and Dr.Phil; Jamie Varon, the creator of has been featured in Fortune Magazine, interviewed by CNN, and had talks with the Ellen Show. (She had a great lunch at Twitter, and is now working to establish her own business after fielding several employment offers.)

Obviously, "Hire Me" campaigns such as these initiatives are not for the shy or the reserved: they require a certain amount of risk, bravado, and transparency. As such, I thought I'd ask one of our protagonists:  Is there a price to pay for all of this sudden attention? Has it been worth it? What do you wish you had known?

Here is my interview with Jamie Varon, creator of

Jamie, Chris Brogan recently wrote a post on the rise of microfame or the ability to use social media platforms to become famous within your area of expertise or for something you've done.  Jamie, with all the attention you've received, I think it's now fair to say that you are in fact microfamous.

A few questions:

1. Were you prepared for the surge of attention--and microfame--that came with the debut of ""?

I wouldn't say that I was exactly prepared, but I wasn't unprepared as well. I was hoping that it would take off the way that it did, but I wasn't expecting it. It made it a pleasant surprise that it did launch and gather so much attention.

2. How did you deal with the traffic? What were the hardest things about it?

The traffic was intensely exciting. The hard part was dealing with the critics and a lot of the anonymous comments that were posted on the site. I had to moderate a bit and for a few days I held my breath every time I checked the comments. Some were just downright cruel and inappropriate. I tried to handle it as best I could, but it definitely got to me.

3. Is there anything that you wish someone had told you, but weren't prepared for?

I wish there was a way to know how to capitalize on and utilize microfame. It's very exciting while it's happening, but difficult to translate into anything lasting. That would have been nice to know.

4. Would you do it again?

Absolutely, no doubt, 100% yes.

5. What would you do differently?

I would have created something that would be more lasting. There's not much more I can do with the site and there's not much I can update there. It's difficult to see all that traffic come and then go, because I didn't find a great way to keep them in any one place.

6. What advice would you have for someone else attempting an aggressive "hire me" campaign? Do you recommend the "public" approach (the path you took)? Do you have other suggestions as well that might suit more reserved job seekers?

I think that a public, aggressive "hire me" campaign should be used with caution and should fit the context of the position you are looking for. Sometimes this approach just doesn't suit the industry or position one is searching for, so in this respect, standing out publicly like I did wouldn't be the best option.

For more reserved job seekers, I would suggest becoming clear on what position or industry you want to be in (preferably be clear on both!) and then zone in on how to get their attention. Too often people scatter their job searching efforts instead of focus and they end up spreading themselves thin and probably not getting the job they want.

7. What's your favorite one sentence piece of career advice?

There's always going to be a reason to settle, so don't start today.

I expect we'll be hearing more about Jamie Varon in years to come. In the interim, check out her company Shatterboxx and her personal blog, Intersected. (And Jamie, thanks for sharing?)

P.S. Does anyone know whether to put a hyphen in microfamous? I'm a fanatic about spelling, and  micro-famous looks better to me. But since it's a relatively new term, I am following Chris Brogan's lead on this--and he says "microfamous." Any thoughts on this?

A Tale of Two "Hire Me" Campaigns

Over the past week, two very visible "Hire Me" campaigns have drawn public attention.1084673_doubt

I saw the first on CNN: a California wife went public with the website The website summarizes the experience, career, and education of "the husband" Mike, a recent Georgetown MBA. There's a resume, a brief YouTube video (Hi, I'm Mike" ) and a very brief introduction of Mike's career goals: he wants to work in brand management or marketing.

Jamie Varon, a recent college graduate, is also taking the "hire me approach." At face value, one of her recent moves comes straight out of the "don't do" column of the hiring playbook: she wrote a blog post on why she quit a job after only two weeks.

That being said, her headline gets my attention--and she articulates her decision well. Her next move--she goes out on a limb to say that she'd like to work for Twitter, and states a case for why they should hire her.  Through her website,, she provides a clear, concise presentation that demonstrates how companies can use Twitter--and how she could contribute to Twitter.

Mike and Jamie are both keeping blogs on their website to update their new fans...not surprisingly, Jamie's landed an interview at Twitter. Mike reports hundreds of e-mails and a few potential leads.

I'm a former recruiter and here's my take: This is a simple case of "show" (Jamie demonstrates) versus "tell" (Mike's approach). In a tight economy, show frequently trumps tell--it's easier for employers to see the potential value of a new hire. 

When I look at Jamie's website, I can easily see

  • who she wants to work for,
  • how she can add value (thus also demonstrating her understanding of the work environment), and
  • her knowledge of the field in which she wants to work (new media). 

With Mike, I see his resume and his career goals, but the statements are vague. I'm left wondering why he wants to work in brand management and marketing, and what's he's done to pursue those interests while he's "on the beach"?  The marketing gimmick is a clever introduction but the fact that his wife is behind the website is less compelling.

My prediction: Jamie lands the first offer by at least 45 days (unless Mike rebrands himself in the interim). I'll be monitoring websites for Mike and Jamie to see what happens next, and would love to hear your thoughts on these two as I wait. What's your call?

To Your Success,


P.S. Many thanks to Monica O'Brien for her great post on the Personal Branding Blog alerting me to Jamie's efforts.

Psst--Want help developing a compelling approach for your own job search? I can help. Contact me, and let's talk about how you can put your best fit forward.

The Great Friend Debate

How many friends can you have? How many friends should you have?1093768_crowded_street

Users of Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and other social networks often find themselves engaged in debate over a question that reminds me of my middle school days:

  • How many friends can you really know?
  • Should you connect with everyone who asks or should you only connect with those you know well?
  • What is the ideal number of connections?

From the perspective of the engineers who write the code for LinkedIn and Facebook, there is such a thing as too many friends. Too much traffic limits your bandwidth (capacity). Facebook limits you to 5,000 friends; LinkedIn recently capped limits for open networkers at 30,000.

Deciding how many friends or contacts you should have is a personal decision. I take LinkedIn's suggested guidelines to heart: I only connect with those people I know, and who I trust.

I know that statistics routinely show that networking is one of the most effective ways to find a position--and if you limit the number of connections you have, it theoretically limits the number of opportunities you have. But I don't think so. My philosophy of networking was inspired by the late Walter Annenberg, former U.S. Ambassador and TV Guide founder, who said, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you back."

How many of your friends and connections would "know you back" if presented with an opportunity that suits you perfectly? Are they aware of what you are looking for?

How do you define online friendship? And how many is enough? I look forward to hearing your take on this.

Linked In: On the Surface & Under the Hood

I am frequently asked questions about how LinkedIn. Here is the first installment of a three part series on using LinkedIn for networking and as a strategy for relationship management.

If you take a quick look at LinkedIn, it may seem similar to Facebook: it's a list of who you know. Here's an overview of LinkedIn and how it can help you on "the surface":

  • An estimated 80% of mid-to-senior level job offers are the result of Networking. LinkedIn helps you expand your network.
  • Your chance of success increases with an introduction: Just as your friends can help you get a job, so can your “friends of friends.”  LinkedIn provides a transparent way for you to see how people are connected to one another so that you can build strong relationships—and request appropriate introductions for networking.
  • A complete LinkedIn profile allows you to develop a snapshot of another individual’s job history and interests. LinkedIn helps give you an opening.

Dig a little deeper and you'll see several not-so-obvious features that you can use to present yourself:

  • LinkedIn allows you to be a snoop—and make the information work for you. Evaluating other people’s profiles allows you to see how others with your skill set present themselves—a cheat sheet for resume writing since it may provide you with an additional perspective on your work.
  • LinkedIn is a safe place to search for answers to the questions you may have—but are afraid to ask. Search the Question and Answer section for previously asked questions and how they were answered.
  • LinkedIn limits the number of characters you can write in your profile summary as well as each job description. As such, LinkedIn is a guaranteed tool for resume development—it forces you to be concise and to have a consistent tone.
  • LinkedIn is a shortcut to resume writing. Your profile becomes an abbreviated resume as you write it. Note the PDF icon in your LinkedIn account—it is a pdf version of your profile that can easily be sent to others.

Are  you an active LinkedIn user? If yes, do you have any other tips and strategies you'd like to share?

Taking Advantage of a Gap in Resolutions...

Recently released results of their annual survey on New Year's Resolutions. The findings: fewer people will make job or career-related resolutions in 2009.

Could it be that  "The Year of Living Gloomily" has led to a sense of hopelessness? Are you thinking "I won't find a job if I look, so I might as well not go there..."

Resist the temptation to be an ostrich and dig your head in the sand. When people stay out of the game, there's a silver lining: less competition!

I dare you to look for a job anyway. You can get started with a single question designed for the times: 

What do employers most need and how can I provide it? 

Craft your application and skill development around the answer to this challenge and you'll improve your chances of landing a new position.

Here's a free e-book on Resolutions that Work from Serge Prengel at Proactive to help jumpstart your resolve.

Cheers and best wishes for a successful 2009,

Five Must-Reads of 2008

As we welcome 2009, here are five must-reads of 2008 that will help you stay ahead of the curve:Times_square

  1. It's tough to make a resolution that sticks if you're putting up with something that's always in the way. In I Hated My Lawnmower, author Jason Alba provides a lesson in the satisfaction that can come from fixing a simple but nagging problem.
  2. If you're not on LinkedIn yet, you should be. Statistics on successful job searches routinely show that at least 60% of job offers come from networking, and LinkedIn is the granddaddy of social networking apps (some call it "Facebook" for grown-ups). Here are tips on how to write your LinkedIn profile for your future from social media whiz Chris Brogan.
  3. If you're applying for a front office position--or seeking positions in a very competitive field-- you'll want to differentiate yourself. I recommend subscribing to Dan Schawbel's personal branding blog. (Note: If you decide your job search strategy should include starting a blog of your own, see his tips on how to do this.)
  4. Do They Care About Your Personal Brand? As important as it is to differentiate yourself and stand out amongst other candidates in the actual job search, employers search and hires based on their own needs. This piece by Louise Fletcher, founder of Career Hub and Owner of Blue Sky Resumes, is a great reminder of the need for balance between branding and positioning yourself to meet employer requirements and mission critical demands.
  5. 10 Ways You Stop Yourself from Getting the Right Job. In a tough economy, it's easy to shy away from the job market or feel overwhelmed. Don't. London-based Sital Ruparelia's tips will help you keep a stiff upper lip and keep your career moving forward!

To Your Success,

How to Generate Buzz with A Blog

Several months ago, I called David Heiser a rock star. A current student at the College of Charleston, David is pursuing a public relations career in the hospitality with focus, gusto, and an impressive portfolio.David_heiser 

I asked David to share strategies with us, here is the first installment of how David does it:

As a senior scheduled to graduate this spring, I’ve felt the looming threat of life after graduation for quite a while. In an economic landscape like this, where even people with years of experience are getting laid off left and right, it’s a little frightening to be heading into the workforce with nothing but internships under your belt.

For students pursuing a career in public relations, like myself, it is important to have some experience or skill that differentiates us from the hundreds of other individuals who are applying for the same positions.

This past February, I began attempting to differentiate myself by creating and maintaining a blog. I knew a blog would help establish my personal brand and increase my visibility on the internet to potential employers.

When it came time to choose a subject for my blog, I made my decision based on two criteria.

  1. I needed to pick a topic that I was passionate enough about to ensure that I wouldn’t get bored and stop writing in a few months. Too many blogs start out strong, only to fizzle when their author loses interest and stops posting.
  2. I also needed my topic to be related to an industry which I was interested in doing public relations for. This will help potential employers feel confident that I will be able to effectively communicate their client’s messages the media and other publics within the industry.

I eventually settled on restaurant reviews (I also write movie reviews, but that is mainly to insure that I have a steady stream of content). I went in this direction because I’ve always been interested in food and the restaurant industry. I love going out to eat and I’m the one my friends turn to for restaurant recommendations. I’ve also worked in restaurants and for restaurants for years, so it seemed like a logical choice.

In the nine-plus months that I’ve been writing for my blog, I’ve written 88 posts and slowly crept up the Google results for my name (I’m currently in fourth). I’ve had my reviews syndicated on two local news websites, which has helped to increase my site’s visibility. I’ve also made sure to keep a consistently updated resume, a variety of writing samples, and a current list of all of my social media profiles easily accessible for anyone (especially potential employers) who may be interested.

To help push my blog entries out to everyone in my network, I have used a variety of social media tools. First, I set up an RSS feed and an e-mail feed, so visitors would have multiple ways of subscribing to my site. I use TwitterFeed to send a tweet every time I make a new post. Facebook’s Blogcast application and MySpace’s RSS Reader share my entries with my friends on each site. Most people (even your close friends) won’t check your Web site every day, so it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to know when you’ve produced new material.

While a blog/Web site won’t get you a job by itself, it can certainly increase your chances. You will still need to have a well-crafted resume, network like there’s no tomorrow, and prepare for interviews like they are midterms if you want to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you. So, how is it working for me? Well, I don’t have any offers for after graduation yet, but I have managed to leverage my blog experience to help land three internships. From here, I just need to keep up the hard work and hope my effort pays off.

Many thanks to David for sharing his expertise on blogs, and stay tuned for more information on how his job search progresses. I'm predicting big things.

Predictions on Brand for 2009 (& How to Start Hooking Yourself Up)

Over at the Personal Branding Blog, social media guru Dan Schawbel has posted his list of personal branding predictions for 2009. Dan specializes in personal brand management for Gen Y and has a book coming out early next year which I plan to review soon.

Check out Dan's hot list of branding trends. Regardless of whether you believe that personal branding will be a "top of mind" catchphrase in 2009, I agree with Dan that managing your online presence is essential and his statement that,

One of the biggest challenges with building a personal brand, in bits and bytes, is managing it over your lifetime"

With that in mind, here are three very quick things you can do now--even if exams or holiday obligations are looming over your head--

1. If you don't have one already, set up a LinkedIn profile. You may find this advice from Chris Brogan on how to write your profile for your future to be helpful

You can mark it as private until you're ready to use it. In the interim, claim your public URL (i.e. address) through the "Edit Public Profile" settings.

One reason why this really works: When you want to be known, you'll come up quicker in searches.

2. Set up a Google News Alert on your name so that you can monitor information about yourself (this may or may not work with Facebook tagging of photos--but you should be monitoring these, anyway).

3. Consider following Dan Schawbel's advice and buying your own domain name with your name--if it is still available. This way, no one else can snag it, and you'll have the space to place your own online portfolio if you decide that is something you want to do. ( is one place to do this, but there are multiple vendors for domain names on the web, just search "domain names.")

In my opinion, branding alone won't get you hired--you need to be able to demonstrate your fit for a position and fit organizational needs--but it can speed up your search. And these three quick moves will help you lay a foundation for "being found" once you are ready to kick your search into high gear.

To your success,

The Great GPA Debate

Over on Lindsey Pollak's blog, there's a great debate worth reading on whether GPA matters--and on how to get a great job with a low GPA.

Take a moment and check it out if you have time. If not, here's a brief recap: corporate recruiting programs often use GPA as a filter, but some studies show it matters less than you might think in the long-term. Dan Schawbel suggested that internships and personal branding can go a long way in filling the gaps, another comment by Jun Loayza suggests that effective use of social media and personal branding is good but that we have a long way to go before companies with highly selective recruiting programs view it over GPA.

Here is my response, which I thought you might find relevant to your own career:

I agree with Dan that having strong internship experience can sometimesallow one to trump a candidate who has higher GPA; I also agree with Jun Loayza that social media and personal branding "can’t get you a job with Bain." I’d just add one suggestion to their comments–it is sometimes curiosity and depth of interest that “lands the job.” The job doesn’t always go to the candidate who has the strongest GPA or internship experience, but sometimes goes to the candidate who is the most articulate about the skills they offer and how they meet the needs of the organization at which they are interviewing.

So from that angle, I recommend candidates study companies as if they were writing a research paper–i.e.

From the Company Perspective:
* What do press releases say about new developments and initiatives, or the impact of the economy on the company?
* How is the company performing relative to the industry?
* What are future goals and corporate strategic plans? (i.e. Look for annual reports)

From the Job Perspective:
* What are the responsibilities of the position and how does your background align with the qualifications and job functions?
* What are the *most important* skills you can have in this particular role?
* What do employers need most for success in this position? (Ask someone who works in a similar capacity at another organization/ I once asked an architect what he needed in an entry-level hire and he said, “business skills--because it’s not just about design–we run a business, too.")

If you apply for positions using this perspective and demonstrate that you understand the role and the company, you’ll stand out regardless of GPA because you start out by demonstrating your relevance–and that can go a long way!

Do you have any thoughts and suggestions on how to counteract the low GPA challenge? I'd love to hear them! (And in the interim, I thank Lindsey for her thought provoking post).

To Your Success,

What You Can Learn from Prince

180px-Theartist Several years ago, Prince made a major branding decision: he decided to be known as "The Artist formerly known as Prince" and to use a graphic symbol for his branding.

If you want to be found and known, following "the artist's" lead is a good strategy for managing your online presence. Here's why: If I "Google" you, I should--theoretically--only find hits that relate directly to you. Strive to develop and use your name consistently across platforms--i.e. don't sign up with one name in LinkedIn and another on DIGG unless you don't want to be found in both.

You want to make it easier for potential employers to connect the dots and learn about you.

Some of us are lucky, we don't share our names and don't have to create our own unique moniker. For example, I have only met a handful of people with the name Chandlee in my life. Most of them have Chandlee for a last name (I was given the name Chandlee in honor of my ancestors, the Chandlee family of Quaker clock makers)...I don't know of anyone else named "Chandlee Bryan." So if I post anything online or find anything online under the name of "Chandlee Bryan," it's typically about me. (This, is--mostly--a good thing, though it means I run the risk of also being easily found when I make a mistake!)

If someone else has your name, consider using a variation of your name to present yourself--i.e. you might use an initial, your full name, etc. Then use the same exact name across website and social networking platforms...and check your search results. You'd be surprised how much this simple change can increase your ability to be known.

To your success,


P.S. Of course this also works in reverse, too: take care to not be known for the things you'd prefer to stay in the background...

Crash Course in Landing a Job: Position, Position, Position

My friends would tell you that I'm almost a perpetual optimist when it comes to the job search. I have a fundamental belief that if you work hard to identify:

  • your natural strengths and areas of work that you enjoy;
  • skills and experience that employers are looking for; and
  • strategies to align and present what you offer with what employers need...

        The end result of any given job search will likely be a positive one in the long-term.

(Though it is quite likely you will have to work very hard to make it all happen, and the search may take longer than you anticipate.)

This week I attended a two-day conference on the future of the recruiting industry, a mini-conference on Branding for Sustainability. and capped it off by time at the registration for desk for an International career fair and a conversation with a Communications Director of a Healthcare system. In short, I feel like I've taken a condensed crash course in the current state of the economy.

There are fewer silver linings in this economy than I would like to report. In fact, there aren't even any copper linings--in Philadelphia, many homeowners are reporting thefts of copper drainage pipes--the metal can be recycled and is quite valuable in a melted down form). From positions in the recruiting industry to hospital bed admissions, numbers appear to be down across the board.

Despite all of this, I remain optimistic that there are jobs to be had--and that the best way to claim them is to position yourself to take them. Here's a great post on how to do this, courtesy of Dan Schawbel and David Heiser, a college senior and current PR intern. Among Heiser's tips:

  1. Determine an area of expertise,
  2. Strengthen your knowledge of that Expertise
    (Educate yourself about the area in which you want to be known, and get advice from others who work in the space).
  3. Demonstrate your expertise.

David's a rock star and his approach to his career is--in my opinion--spot-on. It doesn't matter if restaurant numbers and consumer spending is down...he's positioning himself to be found by an employer who will value and appreciate his expertise.

I couldn't have said it better myself. So, meet David. Then share your story--and own tips to be known here!