The following is a critique of a personal brand written for the purpose of highlighting possibilities for improvement.
You know, you really don’t understand the extent of your learning’s till you encounter a situation when alarm bells start going off in your head and you can’t help but point out the obvious. The obvious, in this case, is generally achieved when your experiential knowledge starts to transition towards good foresight and strong analytical skills.
A few moments earlier, I saw a tweet for OneCV from one of my followers and naturally started to pursue. Those wanting more information about the project can visit the website but the cliff-notes version goes as such. Andreja Pejic has challenged himself to applying for 1000 jobs in 100 days in what seems like a guerilla job hunt. Andreja’s aim is to use one single CV and get the attention of hiring managers in New Zealand, USA, Canada, Australia or “someone in Europe”. While “hire me” sites have been an innovative tactic used by some job hunters to the ends of successfully securing a job, this one in particular calls to question some serious issues; one’s that need highlighting as a form of constructive criticism.
Before I begin let me first state the intent of this post to Andreja and all others who are reading this. This is an exercise in putting my insight to use and providing constructive criticism and solutions where possible. I consider it only fair to warn those reading ahead, including Andreja, that solutions for improvement don’t always necessarily go hand-in-hand with stroking egos. The aim here, like Andreja’s site, is to better position him to land the job of his dreams. While there may be some points I might miss out on I am sure there are those out there reading who can fill in the blanks in reference to their own experiences. Please feel free to share.
A little context before we begin, one that will put my point of view in better focus. I graduated in end-2007 with a bachelors degree in architecture but found my creative calling more drawn towards PR & Marketing and unless you’ve been milking goats in the Appalachians for the last decade you can imagine the kind of journey that might have been courtesy of the gaping hole in time and space we like to refer to as the recession. The journey wasn’t indeed easy but what made me feel like I progressed a little each day was not just the passion I had but also my thirst for knowledge. I’d be hitting up career and personal branding blogs to better align myself with the expectations of today’s recruiters. J.T. O’Donnell’s blog over at Careerealism & Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog are two I have come to swear by mainly because of the relevancy and diversity of their content amongst countless others. I make it a point to weed through my social networks and see what people are talking about… if for no other reason, then perhaps just to keep myself informed and up-to-date with the latest happenings. With time, I have not only gained critical insight and understanding into my own field but have also managed to become a huge fan of brand marketing.
Here’s where those learning’s come into play in the case of OneCV:
1) One size NEVER fits all!
When you’re out shopping for clothes, do you go for your own size or buy a whole bunch of smaller sizes in the hopes of losing weight one day and fitting into them? If you’re picking the latter and never end up losing the weight you’re stuck with a bad investment that could only be made worse by you parading around in tight and uncomfortable clothing. It’s not a pretty sight and in that last example you can as easily be the shopper as you could, the purchased clothing. If it’s not a fit then what’s the point?
Tailor your CV to meet the requirements of the employer, their market and the person they wish to hire to fill those boots. Not doing so only calls into question the commitment you’re willing to offer their organization from the get-go! Oh, and explanations towards the contrary (like the one in the screenshot below from your site) don’t exactly further your cause. This “piece of paper” opens the communications gateway between you and your employer to connect further so give it the level of respect it deserves.
2) Be Specific
Simply put, global employers are looking for relevancy. There’s a huge pool of “qualified” applicants out there in the job hunt just like you. What makes you stand out, get noticed and hired is how you strongly you leverage your credentials as an effective sales pitch of your personal brand. Company operations vary not just with reference to their industry but also to the markets that they cater to. Have you identified the potential needs your employer might have for business growth? If so how well can you portray yourself as the individual that has the solutions that the employer may be able to utilize towards business development?
I cannot stress enough the importance of a good cover letter to help put your skill set into clearer context for the potential employers’ requirements. In your specific case you have to ask yourself what reason you’re providing an employer to not just hire you, but also to bear the multiple costs of your relocation half way across the world. Should you choose to change your mind, here are 5 steps to writing a good one.
3) Who am I hiring?
While being a good citizen, visionary and family man are important traits in any human being, professional expectations and requirements go much further. Your employer is seeking to hire a marketing professional with a certain background, not a dad with aspirations of moving half way across the world. I’m sorry if this comes off as harsh but someone in marketing should ideally be marketing themselves off in a manner that exudes a certain level of weathered experience and professional success. When given the opportunity to be specific, especially in the absence of a cover letter, your “about me” section doesn’t do any justice to the abilities and innovation that I’m sure your professional arsenal consists of.
4) Mind your language…
Considering half of the markets you wish to aspire to migrate to are primarily English speaking markets I would pay extreme caution to the number of grammatical errors on your site. My advice, have a friend proofread before you upload and finalize content. Your social experiment’s website is your potential employers first insight into your personal brand and in a world where everyone is busy being busy, your first impression needs to be impeccable enough to open more doors than you would have it close. This might not seem like a big blip on your radar but it may just prove to be the proverbial straw that breaks your brand camels back. Strong communication skills and the impressions they create are highly regarded abilities in the requirements for marketers worldwide, let’s make sure you check that off on your employer’s check-list of abilities.
5) Innovation through Insight
Brand your blog with your idea’s, innovations and aspirations. Use existing content and align it with possible solutions that you may have in mind for further improvements. Your blog, should you choose to actively keep and maintain one, is a potential employer’s insight into your world. Highlight your critical thinking by providing solutions that are relevant and not those that are based on assumptions. This will not only help highlight your problem-solving skills but it will also showcase your ability to research and provide credible data that helps steer marketing initiatives for an organization in the right direction.
Tell stories! People love stories and they’re a great way to effectively communicate your achievements!
6) Pace yourself for more achievable goals…
1000 CV’s in 100 days means you’re sending out 10 CV’s a day. Given the points that we’ve already discussed it seems imperative by now to make your marketable references more convincing and tailored to their targets. If you’re writing a cover letter for each applied position with an average of 30-45 minutes drafting each correspondence that’s 10 hours a day that are easily consumed. Keep in mind that this time does NOT include time spent on research that has gone into finding more about your potential employer and their organization. Do you see where I’m headed with this? If each cycle used to research your employer’s organization and draft up an appropriate correspondence letter is not made with the sincerity that is required for the effort then you’re wasting valuable time and resources, not to mention getting your hopes up high. If your aim is to establish an offbeat world record and not actually land a job then you’re on the right path. If otherwise, scale down the expectations you put in place for yourself to make them more achievable. Expectations, when unmet, can bring down your game plan like a house of cards. Quality over quantity!
7) Think outside the box
Your website alone will not be your only marketing channel. Stay true to your marketing roots and be innovative and varied in your approach. Use LinkedIn to source references for potential jobs you wish to apply to, they’re among one of the best resources that increase your chances of landing a job. Source out the best industry blogs in career counseling and recruitment, read what they have to say and absorb their insights into your own marketing initiatives to make them better with every step. Get out there and start networking with people face-to-face. The possibilities that you create from a situation like this can be limitless. Don’t settle for the mundane..
Ultimately, as much as we try to differentiate ourselves from our competition, there are certain tried and tested techniques that have a significantly higher rate of success. Bundled with a will to succeed and more relevant to your own individual stories, these methods can act as a catalyst to ensuring that your initiatives are more rewarding when executed. If you’ve got ideas on how Andreja and others like him can make their job hunts more successful please share your thoughts and resources in the comments.
Farhan Masood appears to be just an ordinary Pakistani at first glance. Inquisitive spirit in his eyes with a quest to learn and spread that knowledge. The unsuspecting people around him however were never once aware of what great feats Farhan has been performing and about his best, the one yet to come.
On August 9th, I received a DM on Twitter simply titled, “Show your patriotic colors for Independence Day, Go Green!” and shortly following that, an email with my original Twitter display picture turned “green” with a Pakistani flag superimposed in the background. In the true spirit of patriotism I jumped onto the “green” bandwagon. I began to notice others around me following suit to this flute player’s patriotic tune. Before you knew it, the Pakistani flag was fluttering around my social network and I too was enthused with the rejuvenated spirit of the fast approaching independence celebrations! It was only till I got into a meeting with him did I find out the astonishing facts behind this noble venture of Farhan’s. The entire movement began from the alarming rate of negative news being dowsed around on both social & traditional media about Pakistan. Farhan took upon the role of the crisis communicator unto himself and along with a few digital friends like Rumaisa Mohani, Awab Alvi, Faisal Kapadia amongst a score of others decided that the time was now. Pakiology, it seems was the birthblog of this movement which has now moved to its own domain here.
With Independence Day fast approaching, their rally garnered an astonishing conversion of 7000 Twitter & Facebook profiles. What started off with 37 members is now a movement with a subscriber base of a little over 14000 social profiles (as of 30th August, 2009), with several graphic designers and blogs joining in to volunteer for the cause. Those are the kind of numbers that brands pay good money to acquire in such short spans of time. These numbers include both Pakistani’s and foreigners, those who have titled themselves as “Friends of Pakistan”. “As an added incentive…” Farhan explains “we started turning people’s display pictures green ourselves and sending it to them in the hope of them rallying for our cause”. Farhan and the others started an ingenious method for the lazy social citizen by way of which you would send your picture to a Gmail account only to have it turned “green” and sent back to you. Those supporting the rally hail from all walks of life, many of them social media, some of them newcomers.
The whole experience has left Farhan completely humbled. Local media attention from notable platforms such as Dawn (The “Green” Revolution) and Geo TV has definitely been pouring in but no notable international coverage so far for a cause as noble as this. Farhan, who himself is a motivational leader heads up a local youth forum and is also an avid inventor working in the biometrics industry. He plans on forming a platform for social change by joining hands with other digital natives to spread the word and create better awareness about Pakistan. He also plans on forming a similar platform for different countries to parade their patriotism on the social web and help inspire those who share similar sentiments.
The reason I chose to share this insight with you all was simply because in a global newsroom surrounded by talk of corporate takeovers, mergers and foreclosures, we hardly ever hear of the little guy dreaming of big things. The mere objective of this entire movement was to rejuvenate a national passion, empower its people and show to the world that it isn’t “The Most Dangerous Place in the World” as Newsweek put it. Similar self-activated ventures by companies such as Talking Filmain and their recently unveiled documentary, Made In Pakistan (Trailer – Website) have also managed to sway public opinion both home & abroad while many more like Pakistan Rising are being nursed in their infancy both online & offline. It is the free-will of a group of citizens to take charge and make their homeland a better place to live in and should be the aim of all citizens of the human race. In a seemingly endless digital playground why must we let physical borders define our possibilities?
The story and struggle of a minority can inspire revolutions by a majority. Let it serve as an example that the digital age can inspire the human spirit rather than mechanize it and that the human spirit is alive and more vibrant than ever. If this post has garnered any amount of patriotic fervor (regardless of which country you belong to) I urge you to share this post with others you wish to reach out to.
Tajdar O. Chaudry
I was going through my Facebook messages today when I came across something that majorly “irked” me. Im an avid reader of this local publication called The Fourth Article, so as social media commands, I’m a part of their group on Facebook too. I got a Facebook alert on my Blackberry and I unassumingly opened what was a message from the community only to find an adolescently misguided girl talking about her “new line of designer handbags”. What came next resembled (in my head) a corporate takeover of biblical proportions. This “girl” somehow got hold of admin status on the Facebook group and proceeded to remove all other admins, changed the name of the group to her that of her own brand and started advertising her product line to the unassuming 300+ members of the group.
This is just a fine example of the lengths brands will go to, to promote themselves. While these tactics might be lauded in smaller more shrewd circles for their business acumen back in the day, the global chain has grown extensively since then and an example of this sort might get you shunned out almost instantaneously. Gone are the times when brands dictated to their consumers and those of one-way communication channels. The consumer today, is key, and the worst part for brands is that they “know” how important they are, entering into the brand psyche a certain set of rules & regulations that would now make the consumer more perceptive and less annoyed.
Branding methodology and its transition into social mediums has been marred by conflicts & celebrated with conquests. The key components to their successful campaigns might’ve been great viral value, innovate marketing tactics and great packaging, but when it came time to exchange cash with their consumers, the brands dealt in “credibility”. The more currency a brand had to pass around, the more consumers it attracted. This currency is one that holds true for personal branding as well and the example mentioned earlier along the same guidelines would make for a great Naukri.com advertisement!
Credibility, in the Google age, is the only term that collaborators, employers and consumers understand. When dealing with consumers in specific, be they interested in your personal or corporate brand, there are a set of guidelines which you should abide by or risk losing your clientele. Consumers aren’t a flock of sheep to be passed around from brand to brand. Identify & understand your market first and open up a communication channel with them, teach & learn all at the same time. Only on interaction with you will your consumers ever trust and rely on you and your services and/or products. Back words up with action and produce results; that’s always another good way to earn their appreciation, respect and trust. Portray a certain amount of aptitude and you will automatically see your corporate and consumer network growing effortlessly.
The bottom line here is that with the evolution of technology and its impact on the way that the human race now communicates, brands are adapting and following suit. There’s not much to say about the ones that stay stuck in their ways, because honestly each new day ushers the birth and death of brands. The ones that fizzle out are hardly heard of in this great talkative global conference room. The ones that survive have served a certain amount paying their dues before their services are heralded and credibility pays a vital role in their success.
As always, thank you for your patronage and if you’ve found this post to be educational or feel like a friend would enjoy reading this as well, please take a moment and share.