Check out Rebecca Anderson's presentation on creating Brand You, with tips on optimizing your résumé and LinkedIn profile.
So think about branding as not just you, but the perception of other people. It takes less than thirty seconds for someone to form a lasting impression; twenty further experiences to change that negative first impression. So it makes a difference. So am I here saying that you should all be better than the competition? No. Don't do that. If you do that you're going to be running on a hamster wheel. It's too hard. You can't be better than someone else at being them. Instead of being better than the competition, what I'm saying is focus on what you're good at, double down on it.
So find out what is your unique difference, first, that's step one. Find out what is my unique difference and then step two, who needs that? Where is that useful? Where would that play in the world? So we're going to start with that first thing, be different, be you. That's number one: how do you do this? The way I like to walk through what personal branding is, I like to consider people as holistic individuals so i've developed this over time with a lot of different books that I enjoy and speakers and then a little bit of my own thoughts and feelings. So what I like to start with is values, value-based branding—what do you believe in? What are you willing to commit to? One way to think about this is if you're at a dinner party and a topic comes up and you're like oh I'm going to argue about this, what topic is that, what thing is it that just gets you and you're willing to stand up for it? Think about those values and write them down and you only don't even have to know how these relate to your career, let's say your value is family, how's that going to relate to my career? You know don't think about that right now, this is the brainstorming part where we get it all on the page and then afterwards we kind of look and find patterns in that and we see what it tells us. So start with values.
Next go to strengths: what are you really good at? Has anyone heard of this concept of being in flow? Yeah I love this idea. So there's a lot of psychological research done about the concept of being in flow. Being in flow means when you're doing something you're engaged in, some kind of work, and hours can go by and you look up and oh my gosh it's already five o'clock! You don't even notice it because so much time is going by because you're just engrossed, you're just in it so much. It's like for me this is so sad, I love doing powerpoints, I can just do a powerpoint, all Saturday and I'm happy, I'm in flow. That's a point where I— Just hours go by and I'm just really happy doing the little details of powerpoints. What things are you in flow in and then opposite to that when are you not in flow? What drains you, and you find yourself constantly looking at a clock or getting up to get a glass of water or seeing if you have any snacks laying around or where is some coffee. What are those times? What do you never want to do again?
Next think about your passions: what do you love, what drives you in your life. Now if you've read anything about career changing or trying to figure out what you should do for your career, you've probably read they say you should follow your dreams! Right, you should follow your passions, yes? And no I kind of feel like this is the biggest I don't know I want to say the misperception that was sold to like my generation of follow your passions caused a lot of my friends in their late 20s to quit their jobs and go back to school. Then they discovered they didn't want to do that thing they went back to school for.
I'm not saying don't do what you love but sometimes what you love is not what you want to make money at. So consider your passions but consider them lightly; don't think that I need to make money at this thing but where do I want that in my life? How do I want that to show up? Do I want to be doing that in my day job or do I really like doing that because it fulfills some sense of community or some artistic thing on the side for me? There was a great example—Condoleezza Rice, so we know her because of why? Yes, Secretary of State obviously, she's really good at it. She was Secretary of State; did you know that she was also a concert pianist and she was really good at it, she went all the way, that was what she wanted to do. She wanted to dedicate her life and she wanted to be a full-time concert pianist. She ended up not doing that because she found she got to a point where she wasn't going to go any farther and she had to make a decision: do I want to do it at this level or do I want to try something else. Either one would have been fine but she decided that she really liked piano for her own purposes. She liked it at home; she wanted to share with their friends and family; what she wanted to give to the world was something a little bit different. And lucky for us that turned out.
So your passions: last thing to consider here is your communication style; how do you interact with the world? This is that idea in some ways of extroverted versus introverted: do you get energy by being here or do you get energy by one-on-one interactions? Do you like face to face, do you like phones, how do you like to communicate? Think about that. Another solution I'm going to give you like three different ways to look at your personal brand elements. This is one way. So you can look at these things.
Another way is to find your narrative. By your narratives all I mean is what stories what stories do you tell because sometimes we look at those other things and we just can't see a pattern but if you look at your stories there might be a thread there so when your stories you can think about challenges or opportunities, things you're known for. Ask your friend ask your loved one ask your mom what do you know if you were going to describe me in three words what would you say? And see what they say, do a check. Look at places you hold your ground, skills you love to learn, about classes you've taken at Extension, that you've really liked, classes that you haven't liked so much. So what are the stories you tell?
The next thing we need to do is make that concrete and personal for people and the way to do this, I like to start with a brand statement. Now that brand statement is not necessarily something that you, you know you tell the people it's not like you're at a cocktail party networking, you're like my brand's statement is “blahblahblah” but it can guide you and then you can use that to create your bio and all the other pieces. So the brand statement take all those things we thought about and then you have to filter that through what the target audience really needs and wants; what is in the market? What are they feeling, what are they looking for? And you can do that actually there's some stuff on that about the second handout you're going to get but you can do that by looking at job descriptions. I love to look at LinkedIn profiles for people that have jobs that I want—jobs that I want now and jobs that I want five years from now. Sometimes I look at job descriptions that I want ten years from now and I save them or I print them off because I know they won't be around online anymore they're my aspirational job and then I know that that's what this target audience needs and wants and I could see how I fit into that or how I don't fit into that and then I can pivot a little bit.
So once you have your brand statement you can use that to create your bio. Your bio depending on where you use it looks differently so here the guidelines say third-person perspective. That's a really like old-fashioned way of doing bios if I was going to do a bio for a conference I would do that. LinkedIn: first person, short (200 words long), transferable accomplishments, personality. You always need personality because that's gonna make it personal and memorable for people. Not too much personality. I had a student one time that at the bottom of his profile, I'll never forget it, he said his hobby was collecting sneakers. I was like that's really cool; I don't know if I want my optometrist to have that hobby, too personal, too personal. And then if you're looking at bios a job changer which many of you might be you also want to think about how you're going to pivot yourself.
So I get this a lot I have students that I had a student that used to be a high school teacher, actually was an elementary teacher, and she wanted to be a UX designer. How do you pivot that? How do I use any of that past experience? She's my favorite example actually because she did it really really well and she got the top UX job that year at Salesforce. What she did was, on her portfolio page she just spelled it out. "As an elementary school teacher, I was good at blank," and she listed something she was good at that was transferrable to the new job. Things like creating engaging beautiful lesson plans, creating engaging beautiful presentations. I was good at blank because blank; because I had these skills or this passion or this energy. This is how that would make me good as a blank.
Now the one thing you might add in there as a job-changer is a sentence about new skills you're learning, if you're getting new things, either through Extension or through self-study or volunteer. But I like to spell it out for people don't hide it because there's always going to be a question mark right, and what you need to do is get through that first filter when they're looking at your résumé and it stops because they are looking at it for a salesperson, and they see well you weren't in sales, you've never done this before, why would I hire you? So you have to just lay it out, answer the question before they even ask it.
So that's another way of looking at your professional bio. And then my favorite thing to do after you have this, as my mom always tells me, you have to check yourself before you wreck yourself! So show it to a friend, show it to five friends, show it to someone you don't like very much, so you can get their opinion to see if it makes sense. Show it to somebody who doesn't know you that well. And see and ask them what do you think what do you if you read this; what does it tell you, what story that it conveyed, and if it conveys the wrong story then you go back to the drawing board.
All right so résumés. Now we know goldfish, nine seconds humans, eight seconds. How long do people spend reading your résumé? They say about ten to fifteen seconds. Might be less than that now. But I can tell you I have talked to a lot of recruiters for tech companies, business companies, all kinds of companies around the United States. This is true and as you might know now a lot of times companies aren't even reading your résumé because it's going through a tracking system.
Personally I like to skip the tracking system and try to talk to somebody in the company because trying to get through that tracking system is a waste of time. People don't look at your résumés for very long. What's the point?
So we have to maximize their time by having a really well-organized predictable résumé. So a general rule of thumb is if you have five years or less experience then you should definitely have one page. It's always crazy to me when I see a new grad has got two or three pages, I’m like what have you done? You haven't lived. And if you have over ten years’ experience, two pages is completely acceptable.
So what employers are really looking at your résumé for is to find out your skills and strengths, how fast can you get to work? That's why they want experience because they want to know how long is it going to be before you're going to be contributing really highly here. So see if you can convey that in interesting ways and they want to know why are you applying to this job, why does it make sense as the next step? If you were this why are you applying for this. They want that gut feeling about how you would fit right?
So required sections for your résumé. You have got to have your name. Make your name big somewhere at the top. You've got to have contact information. You do not need to put your address. No one's going to mail you anything anyways. So no reason to put it there. Just put your email, your name, phone number, that's all you need. You could put your address if you'd like to. You need your education. If you graduated a while ago, put your education at the bottom or somewhere off to the side. If you recently graduated put at the top. Basically, it should only be at the top if it's the most interesting thing about you. If you've recently completed a certificate program here that might be worth moving it up. Or mentioning that in a summary of some sort; otherwise I would put it at the bottom. And you need professional experience. We'll get into that a little bit.
Optional sections: languages, skills and tools. Don't put a skill section if your skills are all soft skills. I love soft skills, this is what I do, soft skills, but it's hard in a skill section to mention that you're good at team building because that doesn't mean anything to people. But if you can put things like I’m good at developing team building scenarios, or I am familiar with Myers-Briggs, those would be examples of soft skills made harder, made more quantifiable, right?
Don't say you're good at surveys, say you're good at Survey Monkey or Qualtrics. In your skills please do not list Microsoft Word or Microsoft Office. You obviously know it, you've typed a résumé. Do not list Google Suite. By listing that you make yourself look dated. So only list like new high-tech skills. Do you need to know something in and out? No, you need to know something good enough that if on the job they said, you know, can you work with this, you could find out the answer and hack it together.
So for example I put on my résumé that I know Photoshop and I do know Photoshop. I've used it to edit my kids’ photos and make myself look better in my wedding photos. Do I know it good enough so that if you paid me to do a photo of you I would accept that? No, I’m not that good at Photoshop. Every time I use it I have to like go to YouTube and look up a tutorial, but I can figure it out. So I put it on my résumé. So not everything has to be at level 5. Just have it a level 2 at least and above and have most of them be a level 3 or above.
Okay all right, projects. Projects is a great section for your résumé especially if you’re a career changer. If you've done a really cool project in the extension class that's awesome to list, because it's going to showcase your new skills. If you've done a project for a local nonprofit group or a school, that showcases your kids’ elementary school, that showcases some new skills, put that in there, that's perfect. You don't have to say that it was unpaid, it's a project, so just list a project title and the client. You can put the data if you want or not, I’m not attached to that, and do a short description of the skills.
Professional profiles. I like professional profile sections when they make sense and when they add something. What you do not want to do is have a job objective “to get a job,” well obviously you want to get a job, you just applied for this job to get a marketing job, I know that's what you applied for. Don't have an objective in your professional summary, don't say seasoned professional with years of experience doing blah blah; say something like, I don't know, let's see, you can even use the first person if it's a tech company. So I use the first person of mine but you could say something like, you know, seasoned graphic designer skilled in Photoshop, InDesign and many other tools. Clients have included Nike blah blah or you can say something where we did with that job changer before, with the branding, where we say, “past experience in education which gave me skills and blah blah blah, making me perfectly well-suited for new position in x.” So consider the professional profile very carefully.
If you have a professional profile you probably don't want one of those core competencies, strengths section where you list out strengths, because that should be in your professional profile and what recruiters will tell you is, recruiters will say I don't like to see a strengths section because I should get all those in your experience. You shouldn't have to tell me you're good at team building. Put it in your experience somewhere so I can see how you're good at team building.
And then the last section of honors and awards: you also don't need this. What's the purpose in honors and awards section? Purpose is to show how good am I, look how smart I am, look how awesome I am. That's the honors and awards so you don't need to list every honor and award. You don't have to list any honor or award. If you have a couple that makes sense and that can help let people know that oh this person is pretty smart they did this thing, then sure put it on.
So those are the main sections in a résumé. Education. We went through this a little bit but I want to say one more thing: you do not need to include months or years and a lot of advice will tell you not to include that if you think there might be age discrimination involved, and there is a lot of age discrimination in the workplace today. I included mine because frankly I look really young and I want to look older. You would never be able to guess my age hopefully and hopefully I’ll be able to keep saying that for many years to come.
If you want an optional section like community activities or philanthropy, you should definitely include that. I don't have it on here, usually this is for people a little younger or inexperienced, what you want to keep them lined with that community activities is that. Only put it on if it makes sense, if it's only just showing how involved you are, then you don't need to talk about it. But if it's showing new skills or strengths that you might use in the job then it should be a whole section.
So what about hobbies, or personal activities like that? What I say is if the hobby definitely, if the hobby is like a big part of your life, or really unique, or could add something to the experience then, yes, put it in. So for example, if you had a hobby as a photographer, that's pretty useful for almost any profession, so I would put that on there.
If your hobby is rock climbing—my husband's hobby is rock climbing. He doesn't need that on there because he has enough other stuff that putting that on there it's just going to make it hard to fit into one or two pages. So you can always break the rules, definitely, and résumés are subjective, so the thing is, everything I’m telling you I can guarantee you you're going to find one other person at least who would tell you “I hate all that stuff.” So you always have to keep in mind, try to figure out who is looking at this if you can figure out who you're sending it to that's when they mean tailor the résumé right. So if you're applying for Facebook maybe you would make your résumé slightly different than if you're applying for gap.
So experience: keep it tailored and relevant, it can be unpaid. So a lot of times we put work experience, job experience. No, no, put professional experience. Professional experience can be: I was the chair of the pat, that's professional experience. Professional can be you ran a you know food bank drive, that's professional experience. Volunteer for food bank blah blah blah. And then that experience can showcase you and not just the company and the projects. A lot of times I see this, especially people who have been at a company for a while. In the experience section they'll talk about this cool project they did at Microsoft. I know a lot about the project by the end of reading that but I have no idea what you did. Tell me enough about the project so I can have some context but focus mainly on what did you do to accomplish this.
Actually I’m going to go back to here and I’ll come back for a second because this is really what it gets down to. So Laszlo bock is well actually he's not anymore the senior vice president of people ops at Google, because he stepped down and now is just doing his own thing because he has enough money to do that. But he says the key to is to frame your strengths as “I accomplished x relative to y by doing z,” so this is the kind of thing you want in your résumé. What did you accomplish? If there's any other things I should know about it? But then how did you accomplish it? And he gives this great example.
Most people just write a résumé like this: wrote editorials for the new york times. That's, I like to say that's just listing what you did. Don't just tell me what you did. Everything in your résumé or at least most things should not be “responsible for x; did x.” It should be just some kind of cool factor: what did you do plus cool factor.
The cool factor is how you did it, who you did it with, how much money did it make, how much money did it lose? Those are all cool things.
So his better example is: had fifty op-eds published compared to average of six by most op-ed writers. As a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years. So it quantifies it. And then he puts how did I do it, as a result of doing this, this is how I did it provided insight.
Always start your things with action verbs. Responsible for; never use that phrase! You might need to use it once. But use a thesaurus, don't go crazy. You could say collaborated with, created x, initiated. Use action verbs and if you Google “action verbs résumé” you'll get a whole list of good verbs to use.
If you are switching careers—when I made my career change years ago from being environmental engineer to doing career services, I could not have a chronological résumé. A chronological résumé is one with experience right from my first job. First or I mean sorry my most recent job first and then jobs back in history. If I would have done that my résumé looks like an environmental engineer, and it has things on there like “authored sanitary sewer report.” Who cares? I know a lot about sanitary sewers.
So what I did was I completely threw out the order. I created a functional résumé. And this is a thing, so if you Google functional résumé, I did not make this up. A functional résumé is instead of having professional experience be job-job-job, you have professional experience be skill category, skill category, skill category.
So what I did back in the day—this was I don't even know what year this is a long time ago, I did training and mentoring facilitation and organizational development, and program and project management. And those skill categories I gave examples from all of my jobs, my transferable things, and then I also included, and this is key, a little section called employment history, where I did list my jobs so I didn't sound like I had no jobs. I just didn't give you the skills in the context of the jobs, does that make sense?
This résumé style is a risk. It's known, recruiters know it if they see it they'll recognize it, but it's a little more new old spice and a little less old spice, if you get my meaning. Yeah it focuses mainly on the transferable skills. That's the key point of it.
Everything I’ve been saying about résumés comes down: to you do the work, not the reader. This is key the reader will only read what is written. What I mean by that is readers going to read that sentence they are not going to think about it any more than what they just read. They're not going to think into it, they're not going to intuit things.
So a lot of times I will sit down when I do a résumé review with somebody, and I’ll read a sentence, and I’ll ask them what do you mean by this? And we'll get into and it turns out that they led this project and there was all these leadership things they did and they worked with three different teams. None of that was written. All that was written was: responsible for launching new Intuit project. You have to write all the words that you want them to hear, okay? And then you want to do it in a way that's concise, easy to understand, and using their verbiage as much as possible.
So that's what I mean: print out their job description, highlight, get those things in your résumé. Second level, go to their company website find their values and mission, print that out, highlight. Facebook's mission, for example, is connecting communities, so you better say the word community on your résumé if you're applying to Facebook, right?