Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
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New year, new goals, new you

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, for many of us, the start of a new year is the time to take on resolutions to change ourselves for the better.

At the start of a new year, I like to reflect on my goals and check-in on where I’m at with them. A rule of thumb for me is:

“Write down two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years. Do this four times a year. Goal setting triggers your subconscious computer.” – Lululemon mantra

This mantra works well for me because it reiterates the importance of having different goals across the different facets of life, and over different time ranges. Writing your goals down is also very effective at helping you stick to them. Even billionaire Richard Branson agrees. I also love that it acknowledges that goals can change based on the different circumstances that you face when you check-in on them, even if you haven’t achieved them yet – and that’s okay.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Although it’s January 3 and I should probably have fleshed out more of my 2018 resolutions, I’ve so far only focused on setting professional goals for the year. To keep me accountable, I’ll share them (in writing!) here. This year, I’m going to step outside of my comfort zone as a communications professional and expand my skill set in other related areas that aren’t categorically “PR”. I’ll be honing my graphic design skills and further advancing my project management knowledge.

What are your 2018 goals? Do you jot your goals down and check on them often to keep yourself on track? Share in the comments.

Image credits: Pixabay.com, Laine Jaremey.

 

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
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Can a strong personal brand help you land a job?

I’ve recently posted about the importance of cultivating your personal brand. ICYMI, your personal brand is the image or impression that you can establish about yourself in the minds of others so that they can easily identify what makes you unique, and what you’re considered the go-to expert or resource on. This group includes colleagues, contacts in your network, your employer or potential employers.

Brand 4 JPEGWhile I know that personal brands are important, I’m always on the lookout for new research and information. I recently came across a CBC Radio Spark episode that revealed that personal brands aren’t the ultimate predictor of career success.

The episode featured an interview with anthropologist Ilana Gershon of the University of Chicago. Gershon wrote a new book called Down and Out in the New Economy. In the interview, she explained that a shift in the relationship between employer and employee has resulted in the way that we present ourselves as “businesses” in the job search.

“We are imagining ourselves as a bundle of skills, of assets… that we’re constantly having to manage, and we’re also supposed to be continually enhancing them.”

Ilana Gershon

Gershon studied how people find work in today’s job market. I was surprised to hear that although job searchers are routinely told to work on their personal brands, Gershon found no evidence this was effective with hiring managers.

What made a difference? Sixty-one per cent of people got jobs through workplace ties and references.

Note that this study was conducted across many different industries. In certain industries (for example, PR and communications), personal brands may hold more clout and be a worthwhile investment of your time. Further, your personal brand may make an impact with others in an organization, beyond only the hiring manager.

What can we take away from this finding? Your personal brand is important. But it’s not necessarily going to be the deciding factor that gets you hired.

This confirms that there are other items to consider. For example, your connections, years of experience, skillset, understanding of the industry, education and designations play a role. Your portfolio, resume, references and interview skills are critical as well.

So, it’s beneficial to be well-balanced. Spend time thinking about and cultivating your personal brand in a way that works for you. But, also invest in the other elements of your professional and job search skills.

How do you stand out in the crowd of job seekers?

Image credits: Pixabay.com; cbc.ca (Ilana Gershon).

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Interview: PR pro Alanna Fallis shares career transition advice 

AF

I recently sat down with Alanna Fallis (Twitter: @lanifallis), a communications professional who has just recently made a move in her career. Alanna shared how taking on new challenges and building her network has allowed her to grow in her career, and gave advice for others who are considering a transition into a new role. Read a summary of our conversation below.

Pencil Skirts & Punctuation (PS&P): Tell me a bit about your education and career path so far.

AF: I completed my undergraduate degree in Communications Studies at York University in 2011. I loved the smaller fourth year tutorial courses there, and the program increased my interest in communication theory. Thus, I felt encouraged to continue learning and exploring, and applied to graduate school programs in Ontario.

Between the third and fourth years of my undergraduate degree, I did a summer placement at GCI Group, a mid-size public relations (PR) agency in Toronto, where I was introduced to the PR industry. I didn’t know quite what I was getting myself into, but enjoyed every minute of it. At first, when I overheard PR jargon in the office I had to Google it at my desk later so that I could keep up with the team! Over time, I thrived in the role, and loved participating in new business brainstorms and learning how to use the databases for tracking media coverage.

Before attending Ryerson University for post-graduate studies in 2011, I completed another summer internship with GCI Group. The work was tougher and projects were bigger, which was great, as it meant my team trusted me more! I gained confidence during the placement that turned into a steady growth period personally and professionally. I made media calls, wrote pitches and sent clients media monitoring reports. My career path became clear to me, and I decided to work in an agency after graduating from Ryerson. I truly felt that the PR agency setting was a place that I could constantly learn and grow.

I then completed Ryerson’s Professional Communication Master’s degree program in 2012. This was a fantastic experience full of combined professional and theoretical learning.

After graduating, I returned to GCI Group as a full-time Account Coordinator. Daily interactions with bloggers and writing pitches became second nature. I took advantage of every opportunity to do new tasks, even if they were above my level and beyond my job description. I tried to prescribe my role based on the work being done above me, dismissing the limitations of the tasks typically done at my job level, and working at the level of the role that I wanted to move into. This proved to be beneficial for my growth, as I soon received a promotion to the Consultant role. Several peers of mine were instrumental in my growth, allowing me to face challenges head-on and learn new skill sets.

Because of this fantastic experience, I was able to explore a new opportunity at Ryerson University in a communications and event management role, where I would be directly involved in the branding and strategic communication planning in the Dean’s office in the Faculty of Arts. The new adventure started in July 2014 and I anticipate it will be full of continuous learning experiences and professional growth opportunities.

PS&P: Transitioning from one job to another can be nerve-wracking for some people. What tips would you give to make the move easier?

AF: Never stop learning, exploring or experimenting. Be willing to share your knowledge from your previous role with the team at the new organization. I also think that an open-mind and the eagerness to try new things can help to smooth the transition.

PS&P: Would you say relationships are important in helping to shape your career path?

AF: Totally. Networks are a key element of shaping one’s career. Some relationships can veer your career towards a path they may not have considered otherwise. Relationships are a key resource in the “career toolkit.”

PS&P: What advice would you give for expanding your network and professional relationships?

AF: Be yourself and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. For example, reconnect with former colleagues, or cold-email people you’ve never worked with before. In my experience, more times than not, there is someone willing to help at the other end of the email you’re sending, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

Also, leverage your strong relationships and introduce people in your network to each other. For example, if Bob at Bell wants to know Roberta at Rogers, offer an introduction and help them build their professional relationships. Chances are, it will likely help you expand your network too!

 

 

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“Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.”

What is the ‘confidence gap’ and how can it impact my career?

the current

Yesterday I heard an interesting interview on CBC Radio’s The Current with journalists/authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, whose new book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know, discusses why the glass ceiling still exists.

They report the reason is the “confidence gap.” This concept was identified by Kay and Shipman during research and interviews, which are described in the book. They report that a lack of confidence and a high level of insecurity limits women’s progression in their careers, particularly as compared to those of men.

A part of the interview that stuck with me was when Kay and Shipman reflected on the perceptions of self-confidence held by female senior executives and seasoned politicians. For example, when Hilary Clinton was thinking of running for Senate the first time, the main barrier she faced was a lack of confidence. She realized she was being held back by a fear of getting in the race because she might not win.

Then, a high school basketball coach in New Jersey said to her, Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton. These simple words encouraged Clinton to launch her political career. She realized that the worst that could have happened would be to lose.

After the interview, I reflected on Clinton’s experience and wondered if a man have had this same fear holding him back in the same scenario.

Also, does this type of thinking play a role in the lives of working women everywhere? Could it result in women not taking a leap toward a dream job or career change?

Check out the full interview online. Then, you can take a quiz created by Kay and Shipman that will help to reveal the factors that determine confidence, as well as the links between self-esteem and confidence.

Do you think the “confidence gap” exists? Share in the comments.

Image credit: cbc.ca.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
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“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

– Canadian author Kurt Vonnegut when describing his take on illusionist and master manipulator Harry Houdini, who plays a role in the book, The Confabulist, via the Calgary Herald.

How much can I embellish my experience on my resume?

Moving forward in your career is important. Whether it’s moving up to a manager role, a new job, or changing industries, you may be faced with a lot of competition and may be pressured to put your best foot forward. But, what if you’re tempted to exaggerate your management experience, technical skills, on-the-job results or education just to get your foot in the door?

Here are three things to think about before embellishing your experience on your resume:

  • Your references – Whether your reference is a former employer, a past manager on your team, or supervisor from a volunteer position, this person must truthfully speak to your skills, abilities and other merits if approached by a potential employer. If, for example, you mention on your resume you’ve managed a team of five direct reports but actually haven’t, the truth may come out in a conversation with your reference, raising a red flag for a future boss.
  • The pre-employment screening process – Large or small, many companies conduct sophisticated and thorough screening activities before making a hire. This goes beyond just checking references. The pre-employment screening process often involves criminal record checks and verifying the education and other credentials you’ve listed on your resume. So, if you think you can get away with adding a fluency certificate in Spanish from a college to your resume, but you’re actually only at a conversational Spanish level after a few trips to Mexico, think again.
  • Your actual performance – Let’s say you’re a long-lost relative of Harry Houdini, and although you have embellished your education, training or management experience on your resume and during interviews, you’re a master of illusion and therefore are hired. Now comes the challenge of proving your worth in your new role. Without the actual experience, skills or education, this may prove difficult. This can result in several negative scenarios, like the company re-evaluating you as a new hire or a demotion in your role.

What’s important to remember is that embellishing your experience on a resume can result in a loss of trust from a potential employer, or at least, someone new in your network.

Can you think of any other reasons to stick with the truth on a resume? Share in the comments.

Image credit: Pixabay.com.