Yourself In The Workforce
It took Carl over 4 years, but he
finally graduated with a bachelors degree in Accounting while he was still
working as a fork lift operator in a Mesa, Arizona warehouse. This degree
could help him get the bank management career he had wanted for the
longest time. The problem for Carl was the interviewing process. He was
able to get several interviews with banks, but he wasn’t even offered a
bank teller position. He had the necessary degree, so what could be the
problem? After going on several job interviews and being turned down he
started looking harder for reasons why.
Carl put himself in banker’s shoes so to speak. What would a hiring
manager at a bank see when they looked at and listened to Carl? By talking
to other bank managers Carl began to see what the problem could be. The
bank was looking for a “type” of candidate, a brand of candidate. This
isn’t to imply that illegal disqualifiers, such as Carl’s race or
religious view, were working against him. The bank wanted managers that
fit the description of what they believed a bank manager should be, and
not everyone with an accounting degree met that ideal.
Difference between category and branding.
You can make yourself stand out in a particular skill category by
creating a brand for yourself. Your brand is what makes you a different,
more attractive choice for employers. Your brand is a mix of your skills,
experience, and education. It is also bound together by the intangibles
you offer such as attitude, confidence, and communication skills. Your
personal brand is a collection of those indicators that demonstrates
congruency in your message and reassures the interviewer that you are the
Employees in a particular category are everyone that is minimally
qualified to do the job. In Carl’s case his accounting degree put him in
an employee category that was at least minimally qualified for a banking
job. However, there were many people similarly qualified. The employees
who has a personal brand will stand out and will appear to be a better
People trust brands because they know what to expect. The fear of loss, by investing in something untried or unknown, pushes
people towards brands. The same can be said about the hiring process. The
interviewer needs to make a good choice, but doesn’t know you at all. In
order to avoid making a bad hiring decision she will look for any and all
indicators, such as the ones listed here, that would signal you are an
Online footprint and reputation
If an interviewer can log onto Facebook and see pictures of you and your
drunk friends acting wild at a party so can the interviewer’s customers.
Is that the image she wants her customers see when one of them looks you
up after a bad experience with the company?
Your brand is your image and it is includes many aspects of your life that
used to be unseen. With the web it is fairly easy to find out a lot about
someone’s background and experience via ChoicePoint or their personal life
via Google and Facebook. What does your web footprint say about you?
Both a Geo Metro and a Chevy Corvette are cars with brand names. Both come
with 4 tires and provide transportation, but there are many obvious
differences between the two. One glaring distinction is their appearance.
Think about what your appearance at a job interview says about your
knowledge about the industry and the specific company you are applying at.
If you are applying for a carpenter’s job, and look like a polished office
manager, it may be difficult for an interviewer to believe you know the
difference between ripping wood and ripping paper.
If you are applying for a bank management job do you talk like a bank
manager? Every industry has its’ own lingo. Be sure to talk the same
language as your interviewer and potential boss. That reassures others
that you know what you are talking about.
Do your references reiterate what you told the interviewer? Some companies
have come to rely on independent third party companies to complete back
ground checks on applicants because there can be a tendency to list
references that have been coached to say the appropriate things.
Why not get your references to write a letter of recommendation and
include some kind of visual or written evidence that you can do the job?
In the case of Carl, a forklift operator, his reference may state that
Carl was instrumental in helping him get a home loan by walking him
through the application process and getting his records in order. He may
include a copy of his loan approval letter.
Your personal website
Ever sit in an interview and wish there was a way to demonstrate more of
your work and accomplishments? A website allows you to design a
presentation that showcases your achievements. It also can be fashioned to
enhance your own personal brand. Even without a website there are plenty
of web based sources that allow you to showcase your skills to the world.
In Carl’s case he made a YouTube instructional video that showed the world
how to increase their chances of getting a home loan.
No one hires fork lift operators out of the warehouse on Monday to be bank
loan officers on Tuesday. Banks hire bank loan officers to be bank loan
officers. Your previous experience will back up the image you are
presenting. You do not necessarily have to have done that exact job. You
only need to be creative in how you market your related experience.
In the case of Carl he may not have actually worked in a bank or held the
title of “bank loan officer”, but he did have lots of experience. He had
been helping others with different types of loan applications and problems
and nearly all of them had been successful in getting their loans. He was
able to demonstrate that through his blog, videos, and references.
If your primary education is in something far removed from the industry
you are trying to get into, focus on highlighting any other classes or
seminars you took. Perhaps you took relevant non-credit classes at the
community college, or educational seminars at a small business center.
Evaluations from previous employers can be excellent proof that you can do
what you claim to be capable of. It is one thing to tell your interviewer
that you were able to solve the XYZ problem and save $20,000.00. However,
it is much better to show an interviewer your evaluation that states that
Use previous evaluations when they support the image you are projecting.
Even if the evaluation came from a company you worked for in a different
industry, you can highlight criteria on the evaluation that supports
reasons you should be hired or proves you can solve the interviewer’s
problems or issues.
Tie it all together and solve the problem.
The reason you are being interviewed is because someone has a problem that
needs to be solved. By tying all of your positive traits together into
your personal brand you will make yourself stand out from the crowd and
appear to be the solution to the problem.