Soft Skills Are The Game Changer: How To Show Them Off

To select the leader for their next engagement, more and more clients are reviewing professional profiles online. They are not just looking for good technical people anymore, they want to know how you interact with others (are you a team player? a good communicator?). A recent LinkedIn article said that “degrees and credentials are important, but the development of soft skills—skills that are more social than technical—are in high demand.” Soft skills are the game changer when it comes to finding your next project. Being able to show you know how to use them makes a big difference between landing the role or not.

A degree or certificate proves hard skills.

How does one even show soft skills online or on their resume? Let’s discuss the balance between the two types of skills (hard and soft) and then I will give you some tips on how to include them in your digital profiles.

 

Hard Skills Gets You In The Door

Hard skills are easy to define and measure. That’s why resumes are full of them. They are how you do something: a procedure, a best practice, a method. They are proven by the measurement of training and knowledge that you acquire in a specific skill set (PMP certification or Bachelor of Science degree, for example). You spend years learning hard skills in school or on the job (i.e.: machine operations, computer programming, data analysis, a foreign language).

Hard skills are controlled by the left side of your brain. This side controls logic and your ability to perform a task. Common left brain professions are Mathematicians, Statisticians, Computer Programs and, of course, Project Managers. PMs usually have a long list of hard skills that they are good at – strategic planning, requirements analysis, Waterfall development methodology, building work break down structures, and so on.  I am sure your resume is full of good details on your hard skills.

 Soft Skills Gets You The Position

Soft Skills are your personality qualities, habits, attitudes, and even social graces. Unlike hard skills, which can be evaluated by a logic intelligence test (IQ), soft skills tend to use your heart and are evaluated by an emotional intelligence test (EQ). This is right brain stuff – artistic, creative. This is where you solve problems. These skills are harder to measure and difficult to prove.

Some examples of soft skills are: anticipating risk, motivating others, teamwork, innovating, listening, communicating. They are things that you hone and improve with a lifetime of trial and error. They are subjective. These are the skills that make you unique in how you do what you do. You can take classes to develop these skills, but it is your innate personality and strengths that ultimately determine which soft skills you excel in.

Clients today are looking for project leaders that understand organizational values, excel in teamwork and communications, and know how to leverage their personal strengths to maximize project results. The challenge is to show not only that you have certain soft skills, but how they have and will bring value to your role.

Showing Your Value

Before you can show the value of your strengths, you need to identify what they are. There are many EQ tests and online tools that can assist you with evaluating your soft skills. Here’s a list of 28 soft skills to get you started. These life skills are the things that add value to how you work. This is what clients want to know about you – what makes you unique.

A partial list of soft skills strengths.

The way to show that you know your stuff is by using narrative (by storytelling) on your profile and resume. Take leadership, for example, someone won’t know how you applied leadership if it is just a bullet on your resume but show it in connection with a situation, and they will clearly see how you applied it.

According to Jessica Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast, the way to show your value is by incorporating the skill within the context of an accomplishment that demonstrates it.

Here’s an example:

  •  “Increased productivity of a multi-year software development project by 10 percent by improving communications across geographically dispersed teams and the stakeholder groups.”

What client wouldn’t want a project manager who could increase the productivity of the team? This bullet is impressive because it shows that the PM used her communications and teamwork skills in the context of a real client situation.

You can incorporate soft skill evidence into almost any narrative in this way.

Tell Your Story

According to career expert, Alison Doyle, “Integrating storytelling elements into resumes … can help to paint a dynamic picture of achievement.” Using story rather than a bullet list of skills on your profile and resume shows the reader that your focus is on HOW you improved a business situation, not just WHAT you did.

Don’t be afraid to tell your story, incorporate your soft skills, and show them you are capable and ready for that next great project.

Feel free to comment below and I’ll do my best to answer your questions about leveraging hard and soft skills to enhance your digital reputation. Until next time, keep up the good attitude.

 

Virtual Communications: I’m Sorry, Who Are You?

I am sure that you have heard this one: “If a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any noise?”

No matter how impressive your ideas, or how creative your message, if you are not reaching other people through the internet, you have no digital reputation. If no one reads your blog, or your website, or sees your comments, then in the digital world, you basically don’t exist. You might as well be talking to the wall. This will not help you in business.

Building your reputation in cyberspace is not much different than the tried and true “old neighborhood” way of getting things done. When people lived in small towns, everybody knew everyone, and everyone knew everyone’s personal and professional business (think Andy Griffith’s Mayberry ). Towns and villages were self-monitoring. Children all went to the same school, most people went to the same church/temple, and the businesses serviced the local population. (And as Garrison Keiller believed, “All the children were above average.”) If the butcher was skimping on your cut of meat, everyone knew. If a child, or adult, was misbehaving, the community would ultimately bring them in line (think Harper Valley PTA). Everyone had a stake in the outcome of their actions because they knew they would be held accountable to their family and neighbors. In many ways, social media has brought us back to those days – the days of being part of a community.

Facebook has become the town square, or maybe even as intimate as your living room. When you have something to share about your life, you ‘STATUS’ it.  LinkedIn has become your office. When a business is doing something right, you ‘LIKE’ it and you ‘SHARE’ it. Ideas are ‘Tweeted’ across the globe like they used to be discussed at the local diner. In business, your expertise is ‘Googled’ and your community is built through ‘LinkedIn’ connections.  The pace is different, but the concept is the same: it is your community that stands behind you and supports you and helps you succeed, and your community is now online and talking.

Here are 4 reasons why you need to start using social media (immediately if not sooner):

1.  Everyone is using it.

That’s right. Your kids have been using it for as long as they can remember, but more importantly, companies, your company, my company, and the next company you want to work for, is using it. (Check out “Ranking the Top 100 Global Brands” and see how Dell, Toyota, Starbucks, and others are using social media)

Social media is part of our lives and it is not going away. Basically, adapt or die! (I know that is harsh but I think it is true.  “Adapt or Die” is the title of Chapter 1, of Socialized!: How the Most Successful Businesses Harness the Power of Social, by Mark Fidelman.)

2.  People are talking and they may be talking about you.

If you do not use social media, you are abdicating control of your personal message. Whether personal or business, people are talking, so why not make sure that you are in the conversation. Jeff Bullus, the author of “Blogging The Smart Way,” says that “The thing to keep in mind about brands that don’t want to engage in Social Media is that these conversations are going on about you whether you are there or not, and whether you want to hear it.”

I am sorry to break it to you but… your High School friends are talking about you on Facebook and pictures of your dog are on Instagram. But more importantly, your boss’s boss just ‘Tweeted’ about a new product that she thinks may be the next big thing and you missed it. I really think you want to be in the conversation.

3.   You have a passion, communicate it.

ringleader_yelling_thru_megaphone_sm_wht_23454Everyone has at least one story that they love to tell others. When you recite it, the whole room gets quiet and everyone listens. That, my blog friends, is the ‘it’ factor, your passion – the topic that makes your eyes sparkle. Maybe it is your recent trip to Paris or pictures of the baby, for many, it is their profession (I can wax for hours on project management), or something political like Global Warming. Do you love to tell people your ideas on building a better mousetrap, or a unique way to solve a tricky business problem? There is a passion in you and a story to tell.

Once you narrow in on your personal brand, social media gives you the ability to communicate to a wide audience. Sharing your thoughts, your views, your passions, helps to build an authentic picture of your expertise and let’s people know what value you bring to the global conversation.

Allison Graham, in her book “From Business Cards to Business Relationships: Personal Branding and Profitable Networking Made Easy,” says that “The two most predictable questions that will be asked when you meet someone are, “Do you have a business card?” and “What do you do?”  Your digital business card should communicate what you are passionate about. This is your chance to show your stuff.

4.   Patience. Your audience will grow and so will you.

Remember the ‘old neighborhood’ that I was talking about, well it now has gone digital. Whether it is your local church group or what Etienne Wenger calls a “community of practice” (a group primarily made of practitioners in a field or profession who are passionate about the work that they do), they are all connecting through social media. People want to be connected and they are connecting through online communities in the millions.   In the end, it is your communities that will be your biggest supporters and where you will grow your online reputation. (Check out Design to Thrive: Creating Social Networks and Online Communities that Last, by Tharon Howard)

Do you really need more reasons to start using social media? Here’s an easy way to add to your online reputation immediately: leave a comment below and connect with me now on LinkedIn. Welcome to my digital family.

4 Keys To Being Found Through Keyword Search

If you had to describe yourself in one or two words, what would they be?  OK, could you do it in five words?

KeywordResearch_graphicGetting to the center, the core, the least common denominator, is what identifying your personal brand is about.  These core words, your key words about yourself and what you do, are not much different then the market gurus have been using for years to brand their products.  Marketing people use the concept of keyword search to maximize business.  Why not use it in personal branding?

The Beginners Guide to SEO says, “Keyword research is one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the search marketing field. Ranking for the “right” keywords can make or break your website.”  (SEOMoz, Chapter 5)

When you research something or someone on the internet, more than likely, you use keyword search.  The more specific you are, the more direct hits you get for what you are looking for.  So lets use keywords to match our background and experience.  This takes a little work, but is well worth the effort.

Most companies today use recruiting management software to scan your resume for keywords before it ever gets to a human, so let’s use that to our advantage.

1.  Find Keywords to Use:  Look at some actual job postings in your field.  I ‘googled’ and I also used ‘LinkedIn.’ to find job postings that were similar to what I do.  Using a job search engine, like Indeed.com or Simply Hired, will enable you to find a bunch of job listings on major job sites, company sites, associations, and other job sites, full of words that you can incorporate into your brand statement (i.e.: your bio and resume).  Some of the keywords were way off the mark for me, but I also found some new ones that I would never have thought about.

2.  Choose Good Words:  Be as specific as you can and focus on a few good keywords instead of a million that really don’t fit you.  The better choices you make the better match you will be when someone is looking for your skills or experience.  I am not taking about action keywords like ‘delivered’ or ‘performed,’ I am talking about the skills and qualifications that are your key attributes.  Here are the first few from the Top 100 Resume Keywords:
  • Sales
  • CPA
  • Tax
  • Business Development
  • Marketing
  • Controller
  • Healthcare
  • Human Resources
  • Insurance
  • Software
  • Manufacturing

A person focused on project management skills might use the following keywords  (I brought up a PM job post and grabbed a few):

  • Risk manager
  • Team leader
  • Agile development
  • Communicator

3.  Titles Are Not Keywords: My previous position title was a keyword search nightmare: IBM Worldwide Project Management Competency Leader.  It basically does not tell people anything and is unsearchable.

When searching, I got 18,000 hits on Google for ‘Competency Leader,’ but very few were actually things that related to what I did.  Searching ‘Project Management’  (785,000,000 hits) was way to broad a keyword without a qualifier. To help people find me, I have now added keywords to my title on my resume and on-line profiles:  Talent Development and Learning Solutions: WW PM Competency Leader – this does not change my title, but makes it understandable.  What does “Vice President” or “Engineer” really mean when searched?

jobs4.  Is this really you?  Don’t just put words on the paper that don’t match the skills you are trying to promote just because they are in a job description. You want people to find you for those things you are really good at.  Take some time and maybe let go of some old words that you have been hanging onto since you first started writing your resume.  Anything that you haven’t done in more than 10 years, though important, is probably not a key skill or qualification anymore. Make sure that the keywords that you will be found for are the skills you want the world to see.  The whole idea is that you want them to find YOU.

Let me know how the search goes and if you discover any new ways to key in on those important words.

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDigital

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

6 Ways Not To Get Your Résumé Rejected

Clipart Illustration of a Group Of Businessmen In Colorful Shirts, Carrying Briefcases And Holding Their Resumes Up At A Job InterviewThe days are over when you can just type up your resume, fill it with wonderful words about the great things you did in the past, and expect that you will sail into an interview.  Today we have to do things differently to even get it through to a human.

I have learned a great deal about resumes lately, so I thought I would share some stuff with you and I hope you will share some back with me:

1.  Target the content of your resume sections toward the position you want.  I know that you have probably heard this a ton of times, but it is becoming increasing important, in a tight job market, to ensure that you highlight the skills and experience that are relevant to the position requirements, so that the reader does not have to go fishing for them.  You need to really pay attention to detail here and pull out the stuff that will help the reviewer understand that you have what they need.  If you are applying for a programming position, for instance, you might want to give more space to the experience you gained writing code three years ago on a small project than to your most recent assignment, which may not be totally relevant, like say you were a research assistant.  Give the relevant stuff more room.

2. Write your summary last.  Make sure that everything in your resume works in support of the theme that you are trying to get across (If you want to get a job as a Web Designer – all info should focus on things that support that field).  Then in the summary, pull out the things that are really going to capture people’s attention and make them want to read more.  Sometimes, the summary is all you will get – make it worth it!

3.  Value, value, value.  Employers want to know what you did for someone else to help assess what you are going to do for them.  So instead of saying something like, “developed quality review process for XYZ company,” you might want to let them know that you, “developed quality checklists and analytics in Excel and rolled out 10 offices in 4 months, improving defect tracking by 80%.”  Results, results, results.  Don’t have any?  Pull out your old performance appraisals (hopefully you have some good ones in there) and see what you used for measurements on the job.  You need to talk in numbers, percentage, something quantitative.

4.  Keywords are key.  Your resume (your LinkedIn profile and almost everything these days) is being searched for keywords. The game is how many matches your resume generates in relation to the job you applied for or want. So make sure to look at the job description and have exact words, even exact phrases, in your resume, that match what the company asked for.  If the job you are applying for wants a Project Management Professional (PMP) with 5 years experience,  then make sure that is in there.  This is not about making up details, this is about showing your background in the most ‘matching’ way that you can.  The more words that match, the more likely you will pass the initial screening, and that ultimately improves the possibility of getting an interview.  If you don’t match the requirements, save yourself the pain and don’t apply.

5.  Grammar and spelling counts.  It just takes one typographical error to have your resume thrown out.  If you are not going to pay attention to this critical document, what are you going to do when you work for me?  Spellcheck, proofread, give it to your friends, don’t send it out until you have made sure you have it perfect.  You really don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

6.  Get rid of the irrelevant and the ridiculous. Are you still using your original AOL screen name for business contacts:  HotMammaJamma@AOL.com ?   I highly recommend you get yourself a professional handle and move onto a server that shows you are up with the current times.  Yourname@gmail.com might be a little bit more grown up, don’t you think?  And, what about your profile picture?  Are you showing your best side?  Do you know what a perspective employer is going to see on your Facebook ?  Make sure you know what you look like out there in cyberspace (and keep your private settings PRIVATE).

Oh, yes, and one more thing you don’t need: none business details.  Just hold them for the interview (maybe), but don’t waste space on the resume.

why-resumes-are-rejected

What tips have you learned about resumes in today’s world?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

2 Keys To Rebranding Yourself After A Lay-Off

If you already have your digital brand in place then there isn’t much you have to do after a lay-off.  But, I found two areas that I need to tweak  to  free myself from anything that may not be authentically me.

keysAs discussed in previous posts, the first step in personal branding is to focus on what makes you unique.  Whether you worked for a public or private company, or even for yourself, if you have your digital presence in good shape, the task to tune yourself up is not as daunting as it may seem.

When ‘Big Blue’ laid me off earlier this month, I had this nightmare that I had to totally reinvent how I looked digitally for the business world.  I was chained to my desk and reworking my profile, again and again and again.  This scared me awake!  A big piece of how I define myself and my brand is my work, and for the last 18 years I have defined myself as being part of a big corporate machine.  Once I started looking at my actual digital footprint however, I realized that there was little I had to change.

Your brand is your personal message.  This message is picked up by the people you interact with (physically and virtually). Branding has less to do with ‘who you work for,’ and is more about ‘what makes you unique.’  So, as I was reviewing my dossier for my resume rewrite and social network profile updates, I realize that most of me is the same as I was a month ago (before unemployment). My competency has not diminished: my knowledge and skills haven’t changed; my critical thinking capability is the same as it was; my technical knowledge didn’t disappear overnight.  My appearance is the same; my great sense of style, my infectious smile, the way I enter a room.

So what really needs to change in my brand?

Here are 2 keys areas to look at when reworking your brand after leaving a company:

return to sender1.  Give your old company it’s ‘Point of View’ back.  An important part of your brand is your personal opinions on things, also known as, your POINT OF VIEW (POV). You communicate to the world what you value through your opinions and positions on matters of interest. This is your attitude or the way you view things.

Companies, and even departments within companies, also have POVs.  And, when we work in them and do business for them, we take on the company’s POV along with our own.  They may call it – company values, organizational culture – but you know what I am talking about.  When you negotiate a deal for a particular company, you are doing it from the POV of the company you are representing.  If you write blogs or post things on a company site, you are (or should be) representing the company’s POV.

With the large push in digital marketing on the internet, most companies are aware that having a clear POV that the customer’s understand, is a critical success factor. Howard Shutz, CEO and founder of Starbucks, in his book Onward, talks about how he needed to re-communicate Starbuck’s point of view when he returned to the company in 2008 to ensure that customer’s knew exactly what Starbuck’s stood for.  When you think about certain companies (Starbuck’s, Walmart, IBM)  their POV in business is very loud.

That, is the first hurdle.  Being able to identify your own POV after being part of a larger and louder voice for a long time.  Many people, when first trying to define their personal brand outside their company’s, have trouble finding their social ‘voice.’ (Hatch and Schultz)

As an employee, we take on our companies POV (which is what we’re supposed to do), but when we leave, we need to make sure we re-find our own. 

answeringmachine2.  Update Your Message.  I don’t mean your answering machine tape (no offense meant to those of you that still have them).

After a while in any company, we figure out what the communications expectations are and how to work within the company’s culture. Even sentence structure and vocabulary is influenced by a company through years of interaction.  How information is delivered is influenced by the culture and acceptance practices of an organization.

Dale Cyphert, PhD, in a paper about business communications, relates operating in a corporate culture to traveling in a foreign country.  She says that “successful travel through foreign lands involves learning to eat, talk and behave the way the natives do.  Similarly, success in a business involves acting, communicating, and thinking ‘like a businessperson.” (Dale Cyphert)

We all learn how to communicate in our company cultures through an “exchange of information and transmission of meaning” (Daniel Katz and Robert L Kahn).   We learn how to operate through our communications with co-workers and colleagues, as well as, across boundaries of departments, regions, and organizations themselves.  Over time, the corporate way of communicating becomes part of who we are and, many times, part of our personal POV.  No matter how comfortable you are with your old company, it is time to find your personal voice.  It is like coming home after being in a foreign country for a long time.  You may still like to eat the foods of that land, but you have more options now, so is that still your POV?.

Your values and perspectives are uniquely your own.  There is nothing wrong with holding on to many of the values and ideas that came from your previous work, but now you get to decide if they really fit who you are.  This is your chance to tweak your message – to speak with your own voice.

I learned how to speak from my company’s point of view and how to communicate based on their rules – I am just looking at whether that still fits the newly independent me.

Have you thought of any other areas of your personal brand that may need tweaking to raise your unique voice?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

  1. Relationship Between Organizational Culture, Identity and Image, Mary Jo Hatch, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University,Cranfield, UK, and Majken Schultz, Copenhagen Business School, Copenhagen, Denmark, European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 5/6, 1997, p p. 356-365 © MCB University Press, 0309-056
  2. Business Communications Self Study, University of Northern Iowa, College of Business Administration, Dale Cyphert, PhD, 2007.
  3. The Social Psychology of Organizations, Daniel Katz and Robert L Kahn, 2d ed, New York, Wiley, 1978
  4. Images courtesy of Google Images

Self-Worth Starts With These 5 Steps

confidence

I am a people pleaser.  That’s right – I admit it.  Right here – in front of all of you.  I spend waste a great deal of time worrying about what other people think of me.  My parent’s told me that I should always play nice and then people would like me. Winning approval from others is was important to me; partly because of how I was raised, and partly because of how I am wired.  It took me many years to realize that I was basing my self-worth on what other people thought of me instead of what I thought of myself.

“Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.” Wayne Dyer

When you make choices based on other people’s expectations (sometimes explicit and sometimes assumed) most of the time, you regret them because they are not coming from inside you. You probably know someone who has made important choices like where to go to school, what career to pick, even who to marry, not for their personal benefit really, but because they wanted the ultimate approval from their ____________ (choose one or many) parents, spouse, friend, business associate, etc.

Living up to someone’s image of you instead of your own makes you invisible.  In the end it erodes your feeling of personal value – of self-worth.  There are many people who do not value their own self-worth and this shows up in their work, in their level of happiness, and in their brand.  If you build your personal brand with no self-confidence, it is like a house of cards, it will fall as soon as the wind blows.

Here are 5 things to work on to improve your view of you:

1.  You can’t please everyone all the time.  This is a hard pill to swallow for us people pleasers, but it is reality.  The sooner you stop wasting time trying to make everyone happy the better you will start feeling about yourself.  Someone is always going to not like something, so just be true to yourself and don’t waste time trying to fix it.  “I am thankful for all of those who said NO to me. It’s because of them I’m doing it myself.” – Albert Einstein

2. We all make mistakes.  One of my favorite quotes is by Mary Pickford: “If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”  The past, is gone.  Free yourself by leaving the past, in the past.  My daughter rode horses when she was little, and when she fell off (which you always will sooner or later), I picked her up and put her back in the saddle.  We all fall off from time to time, it’s how you continue the ride that makes the difference.

cat.lion3.  Find what inspires you.  Only you know what makes your heart beat a little faster when you think or talk about it.  Listen to yourself.  Self-worth is not a one time thing, it’s about constantly improving who you are, about continually reinventing yourself.  The more you tap into the things that make you feel fulfilled, the greater your self-confidence will be.  “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

4.  Take responsibility for who you are.  You are in control of your attitude, how you react to situations, and your sense of self-worth.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent,”  so don’t let them.  It is your job to prove to yourself that you matter.  We can not always control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we handle them.

seuss5.  Value yourself. “Self confidence is the most attractive quality a person can have. how can anyone see how awesome you are if you can’t see it yourself?” – Unknown   I bet you could write out a nice list of all your faults right now, but what I want you to do is write down your skills and abilities.  A big part of valuing yourself is stopping the negative internal talk and focusing on the positive things.   Everyone is good at something – be real with yourself.  Just name even one or two things that you enjoy doing.

Walk tall because, as Dr. Seuss said, ” you have brains in your head – you have feet in your shoes – you can steer yourself – any direction you choose.”

What have you learned about your self-worth?  Have you reinvented yourself lately?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

Laid Off? 5 Attitude Adjustments To Make

change“To up the odds of survival, leaders at all levels, must become obsessive about change.”  “Change must become our norm, not a cause for alarm.”- Tom Peters, Thriving On Chaos, 1987

These were the opening lines of a speech I gave in 1988 on Change.  Funny, I must not have been listening to my own words.

I pride myself on being an innovator, a thought leader: of seeing where transformations are needed and helping others through their change process.  But, I, like so many of my colleagues, have gotten caught in this whirlwind of economic downturn.  I could rant here and say “why me?”  But, truthfully, it is not about me.  It is… just business as usual.  An expected norm.

Tom Peter’s said that being excellent is no longer enough; that companies people (my word change) need to be perpetually ready to innovate. They must be willing to make continual improvements because the business environment is so competitive. Rather than focusing on cost-cutting efficiencies, these improvements must stress providing customers with value. He predicted, in 1987, that this rapidly changing world – fueled by new technology – would be unpredictable, so companies people must learn how to “thrive on chaos” to survive the turbulent times ahead.  And he was right and these are those times.

As I have just learned on Wednesday, even when you do the ‘right’ things, make those constant improvements, show your value, and keep innovating, you can still get caught up in the undertow of corporate unpredictability.  So this Social Butterfly, me, has now been tossed aside, or given freedom, depending on how I chose to look at it, from my corporate parent after almost 18 years of service.  Ah, the lessons.

Though a constant change agent in my work, I question maybe I was not bold enough, loud enough, social enough, or something, to be of right value to the corporate machine.  Every day, in every way, I challenged my coworkers, my company, and myself, to move forward, just like Peter’s told me too. But the truth is, it had very little to do with me.  I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once the shock and the fuzziness of being laid off subsides (it has only been a couple days but I am not the wallowing type so I hope it is soon), I will get grounded and get going. So, let’s look at several steps I plan on taking over the next week:

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1.  Don’t lose focus

Remember that ‘it is just business, to them.’  Yes, it ticks me off!  But it is true. In most cases, when laid off, it is not personal. (That sounds so stupid doesn’t it? Because it sure feels that way right now.)  In my case, I think it is about the stock price and how they balance bad sales numbers – they’ve cut and cut everything else, so now all that is left to cut are the workers. There is absolutely nothing I can do about a corporate strategy from where I sit.  It is what it is. My job moved to a lower cost country and now, I need to move forward for me.

I need to really get down to the nitty gritty activities that are going to move me into my future and not wait until the dust settles.  I think that the key to staying focused is to create a very detailed ‘to do’ list that provides me with practical details and priorities.  Spending time every day designing my future is now my priority.  That IS my job (and shame on me, it always should have been.)

2.  Talk about it

That’s right.  It may be embarassing, but I can’t get caught in what the psyhcologist’s call “the dance of denial.”  Luckily, I have some trusted friends to listen to me.  It is important to engage in conversations with others in similar situations (heck, we don’t know the real numbers but there are about 6,000 of us just this week).  Be social. Seek out support both on and off line. (30 Websites to Visit When You Get Laid Off)  Find ‘healthy’ vehicles for catharsis, whether exercise, gardening, walking the dogs (that is mine).  I think it is best to focus on MY feelings about the lay off and not rant on about the ‘bad’ company (though that is easy to fall into).  This needs to be about me – not them.  Burning bridges, because of being upset or angry, is not the best path to the future – especially when you are a blogger.  Having an outlet is critical to moving on though.  This is a loss, it takes time to get over that: anger, fear, depression even, are all normal reactions.  I need to be gentle with myself (which isn’t easy for me).

3.  Let go of the past as quickly as possible

Generate small, success assured activities, even if it is just grocery shopping.  Right now, my self esteem is rocky.  I need to know that I can get stuff done.  I just read in some magazine that Sheryl Sandberg (Miss Lean In) writes down her  ‘to dos’ on a sheet of paper and then when done, tears it out of the notebook and throws it away.  I like that, because it is a physical act that celebrates completeness.  It is important to create rituals and celebrate closure on things so that I can start to embrace a new future.  Just keep putting energy into the future state (this may be a ‘fake it, until you make it’ statement, but I can do it, I have to do it!)

4.  Push the limits

Truthfully, I just lost my job and things (other than health) don’t get much worse than that for bread winners.  So why not experiment.  Identify next steps and go for them.  I need to find my moxie, my guts, and push myself to envision that which I really want.  Now is the time that I have to forge in a new direction: go back to school or maybe get The Digital Attitude consulting business off the ground ?  If not now – when?  If not me – who?  This could be a great gift – right?  As Dorie Clark says in her book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, ” To survive and thrive, you have to reinvent yourself and move on.”  Which takes me to my last point…

Shift-Happens-You-Are-The-Key-To-Change-300x2335.  Reflect and then move on

The one thing we know for sure is change is going to keep coming.  I will look back for a moment, do my lessons learned and move on.  Integrating this experience into the fabric of my life.  Give myself the time and space to reflect and review all the things that got me here and then articulate my vision for what will get me there.

How have you dealt with some of life’s major changes?  Any advice?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

Thriving On Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution, Tom Peters, Harper Books, 1987

Life Changes: A Guide to the 7 Stages of Personal Growth, Adams and Spencer. Paraview Press (November 12, 2002)

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sanberg, Knopf; First Edition edition (March 11, 2013)

Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review Press (April 9, 2013)

Increase Your Brand: Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, Celebrate Yourself

The Golden Brand

Why care about your brand? 

Because if you don’t, who will?

You’ve been working hard for years and feel you deserve rewards for your thought leadership and expertise – am I right?  How do you think you’re going to get those rewards?  Reality is you can wait and take your chances at success or you can make things happen.

Have you Googled yourself lately?  Does the first page of results represent who you are and what you want people to see about you?  It is up to you to tend your reputation on-line.  You don’t get noticed by accident.  You are the brand of YOU and you need to be presenting you OUT LOUD and SOCIAL for everyone to see.

My Father’s Advice Was Right For Then – But Wrong For Now

My father always told me that if I worked hard for a company for 25 years, kept my ‘nose to the grind stone,’ and showed my loyalty, I would have a successful career.  That made sense 60 years ago.  You see, my Dad was born to immigrant parents, in New York City, in 1912.  He was the first reinvented person I knew.  He was unemployed and penny-less during the Great Depression, and found meaningful employment as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  (The CCCs put thousands of unemployed young men to work on public projects.)  After World War II, my Dad returned as a wounded veteran and became a dress salesman.  By the late 1950’s he owned his own dress manufacturing business in New York’s garment district.  My Dad know nothing about self branding or reinventing himself (though he did attend the original Dale Carnegie seminar – I have the first printing of the book to prove it). Only movie stars, musicians, and artist branded themselves.  (Think Picasso or Liberace). The advice he gave me in the ’70s, when I graduated college, was true at the time: join a company and become part of a big family. The company will take care of you. And, if you are a good girl, and waited patiently, when the time is right, you will move up the corporate ladder, position by position. That, of course, was then and this is now.

In 2013, your work life is about your value as an individual. You are not seeing many people staying in one company forever anymore.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in January 2012, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.6. The fact is that people are staying in companies for shorter periods of time because employees are focused on building their personal skills/capabilities (resume) and then, when their current assignment is complete, selling themselves to the highest bidder.  The philosophy of one-company loyalty, or living the ‘company life,’ for one’s whole career, is a thing of the past.   Most people I work with at IBM have been in the company less than 5 year.  It is a new day, Dad.

Know Yourself

BeckhamPersonal Branding doesn’t work if you don’t believe in yourself.  I am not talking about a ‘fake it until you make it’ self talk.  You need to have confidence in your skills and in the you that you’re presenting to the outside world.  On the internet, fakery is exposed in seconds. You need to know the keywords that make up YOU.  That’s something my Dad never had to think about.  He was a keen salesman and walked the streets of Manhattan for years with a sample bag under his arm.  His business, like all business, was about relationships.  Everyone knew his values and what he stood for before he even walked in the door.  You could say, “his reputation, preceded him.”   But that can only happen when you know who are you are.

Your personal brand should be as clear in the minds of others as it is in your own.  For example, what comes to your mind when you think of:  Modonna, Donald Trump, or David Beckham? I think Modanna – rockstar, musical innovator, and sexy bras; Donald Trump – big buildings, return from bankruptcy, strange hair, and The Apprentice TV show; David Beckham – footballer (soccer), Spice Girl Victoria, Manchester United, and tattoos.

Why do these people stand out in your mind?  What unique things are the identifying features of their brand?  What are your unique identifying features?

Choose Yourself

cheer2If you are not cheering for yourself, why should anyone else?  Like I said above, you need to believe in your capabilities.  Do a good job with knowing what you have to offer and then have confidence in those qualities.  If you are a Baker, but you think you make lousy cupcakes, who is going to buy them?  In today’s day and age, those who wait to be selected, rarely are.  The winners are not the ones that wait nicely and ask permission to move ahead.  They are the people who took the moment into their own hands.

“The real trick is to not wait, but to pick yourself. To “turn pro” in your head. To believe you can do what you’re asking others to believe about you.” [Jeff Goins, Stop Waiting To Be Picked]

Celebrate Yourself

Are you your own worst enemy?  I have watched many people, especially women, make light of their accomplishments.  It is hard sometimes not be self-depreciating but it is important to learn to accept praise sincerely without belittling your accomplishments.  When someone gives you a compliment, do you ever say “Oh, it was nothing,” when it was really a good piece of work?  You should take the credit – even for the small stuff.

I want you to notice how young people have no trouble showing all their life’s tiny moments in the open on Facebook or Twitter?  Taking a lesson from the kids, the power of showing the world positive little accomplishments builds up into a wonderful celebration of achievements and, when viewed from the outside, a nice portfolio of accomplishments. You probably have no trouble Facebooking your kid’s minor accomplishments: “Sally got the role of the lobster in the Christmas play” or “Fido rolled over.”.  But when it comes to ourselves we tend to be self-defeating and we undervalue what we have done. Don’t lose the importance of the small stuff.  Celebrate your wins in the open and let people know how awesome you are.

Attitude Adjustment Homework: Blowing Your Horn

  1. Make a list of accomplishments you are proud of.  They don’t all have to be related to work.  You should include goals that you have met, skills you have cultivated, and problems that you have solved.
  2. Select 1 or 2 of the accomplishments on your list.
  3. Create a plan to publish highlights of your accomplishments across your social channels over the next 30 days.  [Note:  Having a plan keeps you from drowning your audience with too much of your good thing – which can be a turn off.]

Would you rather be the pickee or the picker?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

Exercises modified from About.com Small Business: Canada – Blow Your Own Horn: Business Success Program: Business Success Lesson 9 by ,

Your Image Matters: 10 Tips for the Right Profile Picture

It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make our first impression.[1] Like my mother always told me, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression,” and, in the case of social networking, your profile picture is the number one biggest visual impression that you make, every day, with every contact.

Your profile picture may be THE most important piece of information about you on the internet.  Really – just think about it!  It is the visual key to your digital brand.   It is the only visual connection that internet contacts may ever have with you.  Are you sure that the picture of you at your family picnic 30 years ago, or the one where you are making that weird face, is really how you want people to know you?

Your images matters.  And because we have less opportunity to be in each others physical space, the image of you in your little tiny profile picture matters even more. That digital representation of you is all that your colleagues, employer, prospective new employer, clients, followers, and so on, may ever see.

I’ve noticed that my profile picture shows up everywhere these days:  when I comment on someone’s posts, when someone sees me on Twitter or LinkedIn, when I send an email – it is that little ‘Lorian-head’ that people relate to first, before my text.

C.G. Lynch, writer of Social Media Matters for CIO magazine said: “Truth is, this photo may be used by people whom you don’t know very well as they try to size you up – personally or professionally. So it matters.”  You may not get a second chance to show them your face.

10 Tips To the Right Profile Photo

Here are a bunch of tips that I put together to help you pick the right photo for your online accounts:

  1. Use a current photo.  When I went to buy my house, I picked a real estate agent who looked about 35 years old in her advertising photo.  When we met face to face, she was in her 60’s.  It made me a little concerned about trusting her.  Realize that someday you may actually meet the people who see your profile picture, make sure that you are as recognizable as possible.
  2. Use a human photo of YOU — not an object – not an avatar. (Though I do love my avatar because she is eternally young and she may be the right version of me on my personal Facebook page, but not professionally.)

    mywebfaxe

    Lorian’s Avatar

  3. Use a photo of ONLY you – no pets – no children – no vehicles – no drinking buddies.  Also, make sure that there are no errant body parts in the photo – like someone’s hand from an arm that you cropped out (that would be tacky).
  4. Smile! Your face should radiate warmth and approachability.  Smiling gives a positive signal, even in one-dimensional viewing.
  5. Make eye contact with the camera.  People want to see your eyes – it’s a trust thing. Look directly at the camera.  Don’t take pictures with a webcam, they just don’t look right.
  6. Create visual contrast.: There should be equal balance of dark areas and light areas. Take note of what you’re wearing, along with your hair color, when choosing what will be in the back drop.
  7. Chose your best clothes colors.  Think about other pictures that you look good in – what color were you wearing near your face then?  Wear clothes based on the professional appearance you want to present.  For most of us that is no t-shirts, busy patterns, or Hawaiian shirts.  Black and blue outfits always work well.  Photo experts say avoid white.
  8. Have a quiet background.  The less you have in the background of the photo the less visually distracting.
  9. Take a head and shoulders shot.  Look at other people’s profile pictures and see how much of their upper body they show.  A shoulder is always good.  But the profile shot is very small, so you want to be able to really see your face.
  10. You don’t need a professional photographer (though it would be nice), but take multiple shots.  Then ask people for their opinion on which one makes you seem most “approachable.”
President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

Not to get political here,  Just a good example of a profile picture,  And, if you must have a building in the background, the US Capitol would be one to have. – President Barack Obama 2009

“The goal is for your photo to reflect how you will look when you meet a customer, not how you looked at that killer party in Key West four years ago. The best profile photo isn’t necessarily your favorite photo. The best photo strikes a balance between professionalism and approachability, making you look good but also real.” – Social Ben Martin from his Social Media business blog

Do you have more profile tips to add to the list? What has worked or not worked for you when it came to your profile picture?

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Keep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)

References

  1. Willis, J., & Todorov, A. (2006). First impressions: Making up your mind after 100 ms exposure to a face. Psychological Science, 17, 592-598.
  2. Image @ Trevor Aston Photography Bad Profile Pictures Are Like Limp Handshakes
  3. What Does Your Social Networking Profile Picture Say About You? How you portray yourself on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn matters. June 17, 2009 by C.G. Lynch
  4. Careerealism: Because Every Job is Temporary ,11 Tips For Choosing Your LinkedIn Photo,
  5. Analogue Chic, How To Look Better In Pictures: The Profile Pic, January 19, 2011
  6. Ben Martin, 6 Steps to a More Marketable Linked Profile
  7. BrandYourSelf, 5 Ways To Make Your Website Profile Photo Work For Your Personal Brand Image, July 15, 2009
  8. NJ Ledger, Allan Hoffman: Does that profile picture make you look like a schlub online?, May 10, 2013
  9. Photo from “President Barack Obama: Inauguration Day 2009

Your Personal Strengths Matter

Work posterWe live in interesting times.  Whoever thought that so many professionals would be worried about corporate restructuring, layoffs, and downsizing. Keeping your job in today’s unstable business climate takes new ideas and new ways to present yourself  – it takes personal branding.

Career opportunities have become as competitive as the market itself.  Knowing how to differentiate yourself from the pack will make all the difference in your career progression.

Personal Branding demands that you put your best foot forward. Taking a lesson from product marketing, you need to find and show your unique value.  You must clearly articulate what unique skills and strengths you possess.  Your online profiles and  resume represent your value statement – what you bring to the table – so it needs to be crisp.  Focusing on your strengths can provide you with a strong identity which is uniquely you.

”Most Americans do not know what their strengths are. When you ask them, they look at you with a blank stare, or they respond in terms of subject knowledge, which is the wrong answer”. – Peter Drucker

Selling your expertise has always involved putting your education and experience on paper (your resume or curriculum vide (CV)).  It usually was not until you were face to face with a client, or prospective employer, that you were able to impress them with your point of view. But today you rarely get the chance to have that face moment.  You need to wrap your point of view into your social presence.  Your online profile needs to not just talk about what you have done, but highlight your point of view, and what you can and want to do for others.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about identifying your soft and hard skill sets (2 Steps to Understanding Your Hard and Soft Skills).  To understand your soft skills, you really need to look at your CORE STRENGTHS.  These are the attributes of your personality that drive your ability to excel in certain soft skill areas, and the same one’s that drove your choices in selecting your hard skills (technical training and knowledge).

If you look around on LinkedIn or Twitter, you will see that many people define themselves by their titles (VP of Important Things), or the technical and business hard skills that they have (Network Engineer, Physicist), rather than the strengths of their personality (Leader, Innovator). But your core strengths, not your job title, will keep you moving forward in your business career.

Core Strengths

Core, or personal, strengths, unlike skills, are based on who you are, not what you know.  For example, one of my personal strengths is ‘Analytical.’  People with this strength search for reason and causes in things. They think about the factors that might affect a situation. (Gallup StrengthFinder)  It is important, as you focus on what makes you unique, to think about what your natural abilities are; the innate talents you were born with.

Attitude Adjustment Assignment – Define Your Core Strengths:

Looking at the list below, pick out 5 or 10 attributes that describe your top strengths.  Put them in an order from strongest to weakest.

strength chart(Chart adapted from Myrko Thum’s blog, Personal; Development That Transforms, March 2013)

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Differentiate Yourself

When you build your brand around your unique value, your authentic self, you start to standout from others.  Knowing and appreciating what makes you different from your peers and your competitors gives you a handle on what unique qualities you have to offer your team or your employer.  And it is in the knewing, that you are able to build a better online presence.

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It’s also important not to confuse strengths with likes. What you like to do is not necessarily what you do best. It can be, but it’s not a given. Of course, for a successful career you want to combine these two in order to overlap your strengths with your passion.

Over time, my core strengths guided me in making choices around work and also my personal life.  I chose jobs that felt comfortable and ‘right’ for me – not because I really knew why, but because I tend to ‘trust my gut’ (I am not sure that is a core strength, but it should be).

What I have learned over the years is that when my core strengths and my technical and business skills support each other, I tend to really shine in my work (and in my life), and I am the happiest.

Leverage your strengths as part of your personal branding process is a must for professionals today.  Companies are expecting employees that desire career growth to know who they are and to manage their own eminence.

What are your personal strengths and what makes you unique?

animationfinalKeep up the good attitude. See you next blog.

– Lorian

Email: thedigitalattitude@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lorianlipton/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LorianL

(All the Social Butterfly’s views are her own)