One of the biggest skills people are often lacking is also one of the ones we take most for granted: Good Communication. Because everyone is a “Strong Communicator” and has “stellar interpersonal skills”, right? Wrong.
I’ve seen it all, personal branding faux-pas’ ranging from straight up boring, static language, to using words that aren’t even in the English language (or any other), and not bothering to correct or research them. And that’s just on the resume – imagine what I see out there on social media, even on LinkedIn! These things are all part of your personal brand, and keeping up with professional appearances is important. You want to know what I see as the biggest mistake people are making across any platform, hands down?
Their content and messaging is all about them, and not about appealing to their audience.
Remember the article a few weeks back about convincing hiring managers to give you a raise, a promotion, or a shot at a new career? It all came down to effective, persuasive communication.
It’s one thing to paint yourself in a positive light by positioning your skills and experience as something of value that people ought to pay you for; it’s another thing to sound like they owe it to you. I see way too many people out there, on their resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, social media streams, websites, talking about “I’m looking for…” or “I’m targeting a job at…” or “I have 5 years of experience doing X and I’m ready to do Z…”. Don’t get me wrong – this is insightful information. But it’s holding you back at worst, and not disqualifying you from consideration at best. Hiring managers ARE interested in creating a win-win situation where it’s a good fit for all parties involved, but they’re more interested in receiving return on their investment in hiring you. So here’s what you want to keep in mind:
On Your Resume
You are selling yourself to a prospective employer, and not vice versa. So ditch the “Seeking a position in…” Objective Statement and go with a Summary Statement instead that gives a brief snapshot of your skills, strengths, and experience that you bring to the table, and any other unique aspects that would add value to an organization.
In Your Cover Letter
Many people feel the need to address personal aspects in detail, such as why they’ve been unemployed for 11 months, or took a sabbatical, or decided to change careers. It is important to address any employment gaps, shifts, or transitions, but do so in a way to highlights your unique value, instead of defends it. Did you take a year off to travel abroad? Don’t talk about how you needed to take time off to figure out what you wanted to do next. DO position it as an excellent opportunity that allowed you to gain valuable global experience and interface with a lot of different personality types.
On Social Media
Avoid seeming like you’re begging for attention “Available Account Manager right here – email me for my resume…”, and instead create it for yourself by positioning yourself as a subject matter authority. Post relevant articles, share interesting content, and create/participate in industry conversations with other thought leaders to give your visibility a boost. Be consistent about the topics and interests you speak to, and eventually you’ll begin to organically build a reputation around those areas. Bonus: you’ll make some solid connection in the process, relationships you might be able to leverage.
So many people misuse LinkedIn by approaching it as a numbers game, searching for key contacts at the right companies, and then trying to slip a connection request in so they can cut the line and pass their resume along to the decision maker. Connections are based on rapport, and this is the core of LinkedIn’s platform. Instead of reaching out to random contacts you know asking for favors they’re likely not to grant, approach people with a genuine interest in them. Connect on the basis of wanting to learn more about the industry, and how they got to where they are, and perhaps what advice they might offer to someone with similar aspirations.
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