Archives for branding

Facing Age Discrimination? You Might Not Like This Advice

Old-0141 by Ronny Olsson on Flickr

If you’re finding it harder to land a job as you age, you may be wondering if age discrimination is rampant. You may worry about how are you ever going to compete with younger professionals.

The usual advice is to try to disguise your age by cutting off previous experience past X years and omitting graduation dates.

I disagree.

I personally think it’s a futile effort and one that won’t get you much further than you are.

I may advise you to cut off experience past X years for other reasons, like irrelevance or space considerations, but not out of fear your age will be discovered.

Here’s why –

#1 – Hiding your age actually draws attention to your age. With LinkedIn now being a primary platform for recruiting and job searching, it becomes harder to disguise your age. When a graduation date is missing or your summary touts 20+ years of experience that’s not on the résumé, that’s the moment I start wondering. But I’m not wondering if you’re old – I’m assuming you are. I’m wondering how sensitive YOU are about your age. What if you’re not the right fit? Will you think I’m discriminating against you? Sounds like a hassle. NEXT!

#2 – Let’s say hiring manager Jane (don’t blame the recruiters – they deliver what the hiring manager asks for) is convinced that age will become a performance issue and she’d rather not interview experienced candidates. This is why in the job description she asked for 8 years of experience vs. 15. Let’s say also she didn’t get a clue of your age from your résumé or social media so as to avoid wasting her time. She is unlikely to change her mind. In fact, she may even feel a bit like you were trying to swindle her. You are already off on the wrong foot. Maybe you like that challenge – we’ll address that in a bit.

#3 – Your age is an advantage. That is why the majority of leadership roles require more years of experience. The more you experience, the more you learn, the less trial and error you will use, AND the more time and money you will save. To put it simply, as long as you are still sharp, you will avoid making mistakes. This is valuable to any company, and if you’re trying to minimize your age, you’ll inhibit your ability to promote this tremendous value.

#4 – It’s in your best interest to avoid the employers whose culture allows age bias. An allowance such as this is most likely indicative of many other systemic issues. If you solve these problems, then the interview will look a lot more like you consulting to them, but you would have to be an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) master to have built the kind of rapport necessary in the interview process to show them the error of their ways and gain their buy-in to change it. If you don’t solve these problems, don’t you think it’s best to just avoid them?

Some people feel very confident that if they could get past the first screen, which would otherwise exclude them because of their age, they could convince the interviewer to give them the offer. You do you, I say. If you’re really that awesome and convincing, go for it. And, if you find over time it’s not working, try it the other way – being transparent from the get-go.

If you don’t feel as confident, decide now if you want to spend your time trying to change people’s mind about age or if you want to target companies that already value what age brings the table. Pending you have a strong brand and campaign, you will land faster and experience less frustration if you are outright about your age because you will only be spending time with employers who don’t care about age.

However, if you feel it’s important to shift the paradigm, expect that it will take extra time to educate people and be prepared for frustration when some minds don’t change. Because you will be facing a less receptive, perhaps even hostile audience, you also need to put in 4x as much effort and time to generate double the interview activity, as your “closing rate” goes down.

I don’t have any actual numbers, because people don’t openly admit to discriminating based on age, but from my experience as a recruiter, hiring managers choose one candidate over another based on a myriad of other reasons. Rarely would I suspect that there was age discrimination. Sometimes I was given feedback that I was prohibited to relay to the candidate, and just had to tell them that the client chose someone else. Often the reasons were a mystery. I recall many times a candidate was chosen because of an internal relationship, or a common interest, or just really hit it off with someone. Age discrimination and bias happen, but not as frequently as you would think.

You are most likely finding it harder to leave a job because the more experienced you get, there are statistically fewer positions toward the top. Also, if you were using a way to look for a job that worked many years ago and wondering why it’s not working now, it’s not your age. What used to work years ago doesn’t work as well now and as you gain more experience, certain activities are just less effective. You have to be more strategic and less tactical.

And, even though if you look at an organization chart as a triangle, you can see that there are fewer positions at the top. That doesn’t mean you have fewer chances to land that job. Your chances of landing a job actually have little to do with the amount of opportunity available and much more to do with your ability to be competitive for those roles.

Brand yourself as someone wise but in touch, someone who can elevate standards of the workforce around them, and someone who will set the company up for success by helping them avoid costly mistakes.

Some companies have learned the hard way that hiring less expensive talent can lead to MASSIVE costs downstream. If they have learned, they are now seeking and willing to pay for experienced talent. If they haven’t learned, they’re dying, and you don’t want to go down with them.

With technology evolving at breakneck speed, you’ll have to demonstrate that you can keep up, that you are agile enough to pivot on a dime, literally, but also maybe physically.

This actually touches on a different kind of illegal discrimination – health. Sick workers cost companies money. Recruiters and hiring managers are not really supposed to be privy to any medical information throughout the interview process. However, if you show signs of illness or, let’s just say not wellness, then there could be bias against you.

As wrong as that is, fighting against this bias can become a full-time job, and one that has no guarantee of income. It can be a futile waste of energy that is probably better spent on your well-being and peace of mind.

By keeping yourself in as good a shape as possible, you’re not only projecting health, but you project that you value yourself. Why would anybody else value you, if you don’t?

There are some things that we are genetically predisposed to have and accidents happen that can leave us disabled, but there are things within our control that we can do.

We can get enough sleep. We can quit bad habits like smoking or eating junk food, and we can eat more vegetables and exercise regularly. (Hypnosis is highly effective for this! Book here!)

Now we also know that our brain has plasticity, meaning it can still develop and re-develop, so we can also keep our brains sharp with the right nutrients and activities. Dr. Daniel Amen has some great education on this. You may have also heard of the mobile game Lumosity, which is designed to help keep cognitively fit. Even just playing chess, dancing, and doing crosswords have been proven to do this.

Sensitivity to and anticipation of age discrimination is often a greater detriment than age itself. It keeps you in a victim mode versus an empowered mode. You will project less confidence in your interviews. You may even be a bit more defensive or over-compensate by being overly energized.

Yes, age discrimination does happen, but it’s most likely not the reason you are finding it more difficult to land AND you can overcome it in less time (weekly and overall) with effective branding and campaigning. There are 3 spots left in April if you want one-on-one help in this area. You can book a free consultation here. If you prefer the support of a group setting or you have a small budget for this type of assistance, a live 6-week group coaching session will start in late April. The first module is FREE and you can watch it here.

 

Don’t let anyone keep you from contributing to your brilliance. I will help you take control, shine your brightest, and continue realizing your potential.

Fleetwood Mac – Landslide

i do not own this song, no copyright infringement intended Lyrics: I took my love, I took it down Climbed a mountain and I turned around And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills ‘Til the landslide brought it down Oh, mirror in the sky What is love?

Refuse the Box: The Perils of Vanilla Branding

Checked Tick by Oliver Tacke of Flickr

 

Are you dynamic? What does that even mean?

Very few people who have had that word in their resume have been able to tell me what it really means. Most of them just thought it sounded good.

It is true for most people, however. I could definitely say it has been true of all my clients. To me dynamic means multi-dimensional, having a diverse set of interests and skills, and having a certain intrigue.

While some companies are investing millions of dollars and allocating work hours into creativity boosting exercises, other companies seem to stifle individuality and expression.

It certainly does take all kinds of people to make the world go around, and so you could conclude that the same could be true about businesses.

My friend who works at a very conservative financial services company shared a story that in a conference a report was distributed that misspelled “assess” very prominently and in several places. She would not dare laugh. I know she loves her job and her company, but I could not personally work somewhere where we all couldn’t get a good laugh out of that mistake.

Most of my clients agree with me. For my clients’ sake, I am willing to take a risk early on in the writing process. We have an initial 90-minute branding consultation in which I use my intuition and investigative skills to uncover what makes my clients so special, and by that I mean really unique. I craft four-to-six branding points and then provide them with a request letter that they sent to their trusted inner circle for feedback. This is risky for me because often these branding points represent the softer, qualitative aspects of my clients and I have found many people consider these to be “nice and true, but not necessarily relevant.”

I beg to differ.

The other risk is that these branding points tend to be quite wordy, and not really representative of the kind of concise, quantitative content that I would write for a résumé. Often these branding points portray multiple aspects. It is challenging and excessive to explain how these branding points are used for my internal writing process. Basically, they help me make sure that all of the content has a “so what” feel and that every piece of content I write for my clients presents a clear and consistent brand.

The feedback that my client receives from his or her inner circle usually has a fair amount of commentary on the complexity of the bullet points and skepticism on the relevance. The feedback that I dislike the most, however, is when someone takes a strength, like forthrightness, and advises that we either hide this strength because it is not appreciated by some companies. Or they advise we make it sound more vanilla, aka generic, such as to say “effective communicator.”

The intention is good – they want my client to be marketable and attractive to as many companies as possible, thinking that is the best way to succeed. However, then this forthright client finds himself in a company that values passive-aggressive communication, bureaucracy, and pardon my language, ass-kissing. Not only is he miserable, but he sees how the company’s culture is strangling its own progress and he can’t be as successful as he could be were his honest input valued.

I do not mind sorting through the feedback, good or bad, because I get to reinforce for my clients that they do not need to fit someone else’s idea of who they should be.

You do not need to check all the boxes, or fit inside a box in order to be successful.

Certainly we do not step into a job interview spilling our guts about our failures and weaknesses, but no one would believe us if we were perfect anyway. There is quite a sense of freedom in believing that you can be authentic and be valued.

At this point in the process, they have to take a leap of faith that they actually can be accepted and successful, that the job exists, and the offer will come.

This process also uncovers pure gold. The aspects of my clients that I may have missed, the things about them only someone who worked side-by-side with them would be able to notice, or even what their spouses admire about them.

With a renewed appreciation of who they are, a résumé that substantiates their skills and validates their value, and a new hope that they will be compelling and attractive to the right company and the right boss, they actually become excited to be in action. They feel ready to take on whatever challenges present themselves in the transition process. And of course, I will be there to make sure they know exactly what to do when challenges arise.

If the thought of having to check boxes or fit your dynamic self into a box saps any energy you could possibly muster up to conduct a job search, please know that there is another way and we would love to help you discover and execute it. Our six-week Epic Careering Fast Track Program is starting soon!

The more people we help realize a new idea of authentic careering, more people believe it is possible, and the more companies may realize that a “dynamic” culture is in demand.

 

Stop Treating LinkedIn Like An Online Résumé

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Photo courtesy of www.flazingo.com/creativecommons.

Are you using your LinkedIn profile as an online résumé?  In other words, does your profile reflect a personal brand you’ve carefully crafted, or does it just mirror your résumé? You know as a professional you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. You created an account, made a few connections, and copied a few items from your résumé to create your profile. In fact, you used so much material from your résumé that it is impossible to distinguish it from your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile deserves to be so much more. A résumé is a document that reflects your past experiences and is meant to be seen by future employers. In contrast, a LinkedIn profile is a vital part of your online presence and is meant to be seen by a much wider audience. It should compliment your résumé in an exciting and engaging way.

Your LinkedIn profile is different from your résumé

Let’s imagine a scenario for just a moment. You have been using your LinkedIn profile as little more than an online résumé tool, and a hiring manager comes across your profile. You have already sent them your résumé as part of a job application, and they decided to Google you. Imagine their disappointment as your LinkedIn profile is exactly the same as your résumé. Or, on the flipside, they’ve seen your LinkedIn profile and ask for your résumé. Again, both your résumé and your profile are indistinguishable. This redundancy isn’t helpful because that potential employer won’t learn anything new about you, and you’ve done very little to set yourself apart from other job candidates. A redundant LinkedIn profile is also a major missed opportunity to show employers, connections, and others members of your online audience how unique and interesting you are as a professional. It’s a chance to allow people into the back story of who you are. Help them visualize what it’s like to speak and work with you.

Your résumé is concise, is customized for your potential employer, and is designed to show an employer how you are uniquely qualified for their opportunity. You can’t include all of your past work experiences, recommendations from others, or general interests. In short, your résumé needs to be laser-focused on a specific role, and on a specific employer. However, your LinkedIn profile can include all of your work experience, recommendations and interests. A good profile allows you to weave an engaging professional narrative that showcases your personal brand far beyond your résumé.

Use your LinkedIn Profile to dazzle your audience

LinkedIn should compliment your résumé by being a creative vehicle that illustrates your professional life. Every aspect of your profile should enhance your personal brand. If you’re using the default headline, ditch it. I previously wrote about the importance of strong headlines in my article titled “Increase views: Ditch the default LinkedIn headline.” The experiences section is an opportunity to list vital keywords that will attract the attention of job recruiters. I covered the importance of carefully using keywords in another article, “Use Keywords With Care or Beware.” The summary is where you can exercise the most creative freedom. In contrast to your résumé, you are allowed to talk about yourself in the first-person. Use this section of your LinkedIn profile to breathe life into your experiences, skills and professional achievements.

You don’t want your profile summary to come off as trite and uninteresting. These types of summaries are often subjective and vague. Just think of a profile summary filled with boring buzzwords shaken up in a bag, poured out into a pile, and arranged in the semblance of a paragraph. Here’s an example of a profile summary filed with cliché words pulled right out of a résumé:

“A dynamic individual with great leadership skills who is highly organized. A proven track record of accomplishments and great teamwork. An effective communicator with a strong business sense and a can-do attitude…”

Most career consultants and recruiters viewing this LinkedIn profile would be tempted to close the page quickly as they stifled a yawn. I believe a person with such a profile is capable of so much more than a lifeless summary. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a boring paragraph of buzzwords. Tell your audience a captivating story. Here’s an example of a more engaging profile summary:

“From a young age the phrase, ‘Shoot for the stars,’ has always caught my attention. It spoke to the core belief that I should never do anything half-heartedly. If I’m going to do something, whether it is professionally or personally, I’m going to go above and beyond anyone else.

‘I have over a decade of experience managing large IT projects, and leading large teams to success. Under my leadership, members of my team knew exactly what was expected of them. The results of our projects were some of the best in the industry…”

This type of profile summary captures a reader’s attention and gently invites them to learn more about you. In short, it compliments your actual résumé and adds a new level of distinction to your online presence. Earlier, I mentioned a hiring manager coming across your LinkedIn profile. Now imagine their delight as they read a captivating profile that brings a new dimension to your résumé.

The point is to captivate your audience and polish your personal brand to until it shines. Again, your résumé is a brief account of your job qualifications, while your LinkedIn profile is a living part of your online presence. It is a compliment to an already great résumé. Your audience should be entranced by your profile, and should want to connect with you. A redundant LinkedIn profile that mirrors your résumé is a wasted opportunity. Unveil your brilliance by showing your online audience just how creative and interesting your professional life is!

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Missed Opportunity

1988 Music Video for Missed Opportunity

Why some people never get ahead

Businessman crossing the finish line by Meridican of Flickr

Businessman crossing the finish line by Meridican of Flickr

I found an excerpt this week that I wanted to share because I so often run into hesitancy among job seekers to portray their value at the level that is necessary to inspire their network to make powerful introductions and entice employers to make optimal job offers.

While I certainly relate to the inclination to be meek and humble (a Catholic school lesson I took way too literally when I was bullied and teased), the cost is often too high. Not only does the job seeker suffer, but so do employers who really need what they have to offer. People who offer tremendous value deserve really great jobs. The whole economy suffers when people who perform their job well fail to connect with companies, and when companies are challenged in identifying great talent mostly because they only see who is in their direct line of vision.

The book is called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker. I have posted before about his Millionaire Mindset Intensive, which I recommend (go to www.MMIgift.com and enter the Ambassador 2.0 code MMI39526 to get a FREE ticket!). Most people there had already read this book, but I am doing so now. What T. Harv Eker aims to do with his book and the MMI is to help you diagnose the thinking patterns that keep you from realizing your financial potential and direct you in rewriting your patterns to support your success, thereby resetting your financial “thermostat.”

The excerpt below may help those job seekers and careerists who experience discomfort around self-promotion understand the source, which may consequently unlock them from the limits that these emotions put on their career growth and salaries.

“Resenting promotion is one of the greatest obstacles to success. People who have issues with selling and promotion are usually broke.

‘It’s obvious. How can you create a large income in your own business or as a representative of one if you aren’t willing to let people know that you, your product or your service exists? Even as an employee, if you aren’t willing to promote your virtues, someone who is will quickly bypass you on the corporate ladder.

‘People have a problem with promotion or sales for several reasons. Chances are you might recognize one or more of the following.

‘First, you may have had a bad experience in the past with people promoting to you inappropriately. Maybe you perceived they were doing the ‘hard’ sell on you. Maybe they were bothering you at an inopportune time. Maybe they wouldn’t take no for an answer. In any case, it’s important to recognize that this experience is in the past and that holding on to it may not be serving you today.

‘Second, you may have had a disempowering experience when you tried to sell something to someone and that person totally rejected you. In this instance, your distaste for promotion is merely a projection of your own fear of failure and rejection. Again, realize the past does not necessarily equal the future.

‘Third, your issue might come from past parental programming. Many of us were told that it’s impolite to ‘toot your own horn.’ Well, that’s great if you make a living a Miss Manners. But in the real world, when it comes to business and money, if you don’t toot your horn, I guarantee nobody will.  Rich people are willing to extol their virtues and value to anyone who will listen and hopefully do business with them as well.

‘Finally, some people feel that promotion is beneath them. I call this the high-and-mighty syndrome, otherwise knows as the ‘Aren’t I so special?’ attitude. The feeling in this case is that if people want what you have, they should somehow find and come to you. People who have this belief are either broke or soon will be, that’s for sure. They can hope that everyone’s going to scour the land searching for them, but the truth is that the marketplace is crowded with products and services, and even though theirs may be the best, no one will ever know that because they’re too snooty to tell anyone.

‘You’re probably familiar with the saying “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Well, that’s only true if you add five words: ‘if they know about it.’

‘Rich people are almost always excellent promoters. They can and are willing to promote their products, their services, and their ideas with passion and enthusiasm. What’s more, they’re skilled at packaging their value in a way that’s extremely attractive. If you think there’s something wrong with that, then let’s ban makeup for women, and while we’re at it, we might as well get rid of suits for men. All that is nothing more than ‘packaging.’

‘Rich people are usually leaders, and all great leaders are great promoters. To be a leader, you must inherently have followers and supporters, which means that you have to be adept at selling, inspiring and motivating people to buy into your vision.”