Archives for careering

Having Trouble Promoting Yourself? Try an Alter-Ego to Land a Job

Photo courtesy of Gwenael Piaser from flickr open source (NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic: http://bit.ly/1AQcsqF).

Photo courtesy of Gwenael Piaser from flickr open source (NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic: http://bit.ly/1AQcsqF).

Chuck Lorre is a television producer who struck gold as the writer and creator of Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Despite his overwhelming career success, the 62-year-old producer suffers from “imposter syndrome,” a psychological phenomenon where people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. In a 2012 interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, Lorre admitted when he writes a script that “stinks” he feels like a fraud, and needs to go and hide. The phenomenon is prevalent among high achievers. Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg even discusses the problem with Oprah.

If we turn the imposter syndrome around for the purpose of job seeking, we have the idea of building up confidence. It is a way to mentally push past the hesitancy of many job seekers to fully promote themselves during the job search. When it comes to searching for a job, many candidates don’t promote themselves nearly enough. Many people balk at the idea self-promotion, and it is easier to talk about the value someone else brings to a future employer than it is to talk about oneself.

As a career coach, I see the connection between people who fail to portray their value as an employee and their lack of career advancements. I also saw as a recruiter that the job didn’t always go the highest qualified candidate. It went to the candidate who was able to build rapport and promote their value. These candidates often negotiated a salary higher than what we were told was “possible.” The prevalent tendency of job seekers is to shy away from self-promotion. It becomes much more difficult to advance your career, or make a job transition if recruiters don’t know about your skills or how you could bring value to their company. Learning to promote yourself means that employers will know the potential value you bring to their organization. Self-promoters understand being able to communicate their abilities, skills, and value as a worker are essential to taking their career to the next level. If you are feeling uncomfortable with the idea of self-promotion, perhaps just consider it a change in your promotional tactics. The trick: create an alter-ego that is your agent and will promote your value.

Consider this 2014 report on NPR: Emily Amanatullah, an assistant professor at the University of Texas, realized negotiation tactics were a difficult subject for women to master. She ran an experiment where she had both men and women negotiate starting salaries for themselves and on behalf of someone else. The results were telling. The women who negotiated salaries for themselves asked for an average of $7000 less than the men. However, the women often negotiated for better starting salaries if they did so on behalf of a friend. Creating an alter-ego to self-promote during a career transition could go a long way toward getting that advancement. If it is easier to advocate for a friend, then why not become that friend?

An alter-ego, or second self has been used by figures throughout history. Many people have used alter-egos to keep their true identities secret, or to compartmentalize difficult opinions or actions. One of the most famous alter-egos of today is Stephen Colbert. In the satirical The Colbert Report, he is an outspoken rightwing pundit. The real Stephen Colbert is very private, claims to be less political and his true personality isn’t very well known. For our purposes an alter-ego would be an idealized version of yourself who constantly promotes your skills and value during the job seeking process.

Self-Promotion Matters:

In my article, “Why some people never get ahead” I wrote about why the lack of self-promotion can cause people to stagnate in their careers. If you’re uncomfortable with letting others know about your tremendous value as an employee, your professional network won’t take notice. The way you portray yourself to your networks can inspire people to make introductions that may lead to enticing job offers. For employers, you could be the solution to their problems. If you’re not out there promoting yourself, not only do you miss an opportunity to advance, but the employer misses an opportunity to secure great talent.

Avoid the mindset that simply keeping your head down and working hard will bring you the advancements you seek. Michael Cruse’s article “The importance of self-promotion in your career,” points out that employees seeking a promotion must act on their own behalf. It is rare that someone in a position to promote you will act as a personal champion for you, especially if they don’t know you’re seeking a promotion. Millionaire author T. Harv Eker writes about the people who believe talent alone is enough to bring them success in his book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. Here is a very poignant excerpt: “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.’” Sheryl Sandberg has stated in her book, Lean In, that an internal sponsor is critical to success. It is great to have someone willing to vouch for you, but you also have to be your own sponsor.

In short, self-promotion is the life blood of career advancement.

Creating a self-promoting alter-ego:

How do you create an alter-ego that is your agent? Imagine that it’s not you you’re promoting, but the solution that you provide, on behalf of someone else. That “someone else” could be your child, spouse, other family member, or a friend. Think of your best qualities, skills and talents as theirs, and formulate a plan to promote them. For example, if you’re a project manager, imagine talking up those achievements to get your friend promoted. If the idea of being a family member or friend is too abstract, try simple role-playing. Create an idealized version of yourself, freed from the shackles of your own limitations. You want to come as close to perfection as possible, and you are brimming with endless possibilities. Nothing is beyond your reach. You want everyone to know great this person is, and how they are the solution to employer’s problem. Even the greatest performers have created alter-egos for themselves!

When it comes to the job transition you first have to become your own best advocate. Sometimes it is necessary to create an alter-ego in order to promote yourself. Friends, family and professionals in your network may recommend you, but those introductions will only go so far. And while they love you and want what’s best for you, they won’t even know what to say about you to help you in an optimal way until you can articulate even to them what value you present to your future employer. No one can demonstrate your value to employers, except for you. Self-promotion is the key to moving forward in your career and your finances. Imagine the ultimate version of YOU. The rock star you. The version of you interviewed by Katie Couric. The version of you who travels to exotic places and can make heads turn at a gala. You ARE the center of attention and everyone wants you as the solution to their problems.

Get into the groove of your alter-ego:

Here’s an exercise for you after you’ve created an alter-ego. Create a list of five people who fascinate you and embody the qualities that you most admire. Now, share some of the characteristics of your alter-ego. Does your alter-ego have high energy? Could he or she get a crowd to clap along with you? Is your alter-ego the cool and mysterious type? And most importantly, how do you get into your alter-ego state before show time?

Ziggy Stardust | David Bowie

Song: Ziggy Stardust / David Bowie Footage taken from BBC 4’s documentary, The Story of Ziggy Stardust

There’s GOLD in these pages

Pirate Treasure Map by Unskinny Boppy on Flickr

Pirate Treasure Map by Unskinny Boppy on Flickr

When wielded appropriately, the Philadelphia Business Journal can be your greatest competitive weapon an advantage.

 

There is intelligence to be mined in this weekly periodical. When you incorporate it into the best practices of careering, it will provide you with leads that directly correlate to your income potential.

I’ve seen many an article and even YouTube video dedicated to using the Philadelphia Business Journal  for increasing sales and growing businesses. Several years ago Bernie Dagenais, The former Chief Editor, helped me explain to my LinkedIn workshop attendees the power of the Philadelphia Business Journal for personal career growth. While I have shared this magical nugget of wisdom with many clients and audiences, I probably don’t emphasize it enough.

 

Let me put it this way – there’s gold in them there pages.

 

Does that excite you? The chance to find gold enticed people to subject themselves to pretty awful and degenerative conditions. They lived without laws, essentially, and risked their lives. You, however, have to assume no risk for such gold. Your chances of finding gold are certain, and this blog serves as a treasure map to the gold that resides abundantly within the pages of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

 

In fact, because of an offer that I’m going to be sharing with you, receiving the gold could be as easy as filling out a form. AND you get the additional benefit of a free résumé and campaign evaluation by Epic Careering. I’ll give you some details about that towards the end of this article.

 

TREASURE MAP:

Here are the features that you need to identify in order to find the gold that leads to epic career fulfillment:

 

The Book of Lists

While you can purchase this book separately, it is included in your annual subscription, which you’ll find through the other subscription-only features highlighted within is the greater value. While you can find the book of lists in the reference section at your local library, there is nothing like having at your fingertips when you want to find out who to contact at an organization you’ve identified as a great employer. If you’ve never executed a proactive career campaign, you may not know how to use the Book of Lists. A best practice of careering is to develop a list of criteria from which you will build a list of target companies. There are 89 lists in the Book of Lists and companies are sorted by industry, size, location, and growth. Each item on the list includes phone numbers, websites, number of employees, revenues when unavailable, the name of the local executive or CEO and human resources contact, as well as the year they were founded. While conducting research on target companies, your list of criteria acts as a logical guideline for whether you should be investing your time pursuing any of these companies. Use the book of lists to identify if the company meets your criteria or not. Best practices would dictate that you would want to spend your time and companies that meet at least 80% of your criteria, however you can use your gut or your your heart to decide to pursue a company that doesn’t meet that percentage if one or two of those particular criteria are more important than the rest.

 

People On The Move

This section is valuable for two reasons. Some people who find themselves in new positions have to build a brand-new team, either immediately or eventually. Congratulating somebody on the new position, just like congratulation somebody that won an award, is a very nice gesture and is usually appreciated and remembered. The other way this section can be utilized is that when somebody moves up into a position or over to a new position, they usually leave a vacancy in their old position. Sometimes companies don’t jump right on posting that position right away and you can have an extreme competitive advantage by being the first to contact the company. Before doing so, use the Philadelphia Business Journal, as well as other online and print resources, to do some research on how you might make yourself the most valuable to this organization in this vacant position. Why wait until the position is posted and compete with hundreds to thousands of other candidates for a job? Vacancies are costly to companies, so you’re already proving how valuable you can be by preventing them from ever needing to pay money to fill a position. You can view People On The Move through the online portal without a subscription, however, as a subscriber you are given access to a database with the contact information of almost 8,000 People On The Move submissions, personally reviewed by the Philadelphia business Journal editorial team.

 

Articles touting the growth of a local company

If you see that a company is growing, restrain your inclination to contact them immediately. Search the journal for other articles related to that company to get a sense of the bigger picture and mission of that organization. You will be able to make a more powerful impression to a contact there if you can articulate that you understand where the company has been AND where they are going. Some articles are only accessible to subscribers. In fact, while abstracts of articles are sometimes public, you would potentially miss out on quotes directly from the people who would hire you. Quoting someone is a powerful form of flattery that may distinguish you among other ambitious candidates.

 

New business announcements

Not all companies that register their new businesses are going to be hiring, however registering a business is often the first thing a business will do. If you have done the exercise of deciding what kind of start-up company you want to be a part of, you should be able to sort through these new business listings, which are exclusively for subscribers, and contact the owner before they go through the often painstaking process of deciding where and how to find talent. Hey, if building a talent base of a company is your thing, this is when you want to get in. Also, if you’re not really quite sure where you eventually want to be in your career and want the opportunity to try out different functions (and you’re willing to assume some risk,) this is the time to contact these companies. Disclaimer: As you get further into the qualification process with any of these companies, you should offer to sign a nondisclosure agreement and ask for the opportunity to personally see their business plans. Let them know that this is the best way to understand if you can be a contribution to their business at this time.

 

Commercial real estate transactions

This section is also secured for subscribers and would give you a clue as to when a company relocates into an area that is desirable for you, or even that a company is increasing their square footage in preparation for an impending growth spurt. That is a great time to pursue a company proactively.

 

Articles quoting executives who cite challenges of their company or industry

Essentially, an article of this nature means that there is a problem that needs solving. Enter you. Many of the executives who are quoted are also included in a contact database that you only gain access to as a subscriber.

 

The award announcements

The Philadelphia Business Journal recognizes local business leaders for various reasons. The people and companies that receive these awards, such as the 40 Under 40 (which I aspire to make and have a few years to do so) and the Healthiest Employer, know how to get things done. Ingratiating yourself with them is a good idea. Receiving an award is a validation that efforts have produced results that are recognized. It’s the fact that they were able to produce results that makes them a valuable person to get to know. Congratulating someone is a great way to introduce yourself. In the spirit of network nurturing, you will want to ask for some of their time to get better acquainted and to learn how you can be valuable to them. Being valuable to them is how you can inspire them to help you.  Disclaimer: not everybody who wins an award is a nice guy. Trust your instincts or use your research.

 

Liens and bankruptcies, court records, and legal judgments

This section is exclusively for subscribers, and this isn’t as much a resource for finding a target company as much as it is a resource for making sure that the company you are considering pursuing doesn’t have a black mark on it financial or legal records. Unless you solve these problems, you probably don’t want to turn down a great offer at an ethical company to accept an opportunity at a sinking ship. Sections like this avoid such fates.

 

Articles on layoffs

Here’s an unexpected tip – some of the same companies that you read about having mass layoffs are actually also hiring. A Wall Street Journal article from 2009 reflects how many larger corporations make business decisions to shrink one area business while they grow another. Also, employees get very scared by mass layoffs and start looking around for more “secure” opportunity, even though their talents and skills are very valuable to the employer. Don’t rule out companies having mass layoffs as potential employers. Though morale can take some time to restore, sometimes you get to be part of rebuilding something pretty special.

Jobs

Not to be obvious, there is also a jobs section of the journal.

I think I’ve given you enough reason to want to subscribe to Philadelphia Business Journal, or any local business journal. Now that you were enticed, let me give you a chance to win a one-year subscription, including the treasured Book of Lists.

 

If you’re a job seeker, go to this page: epiccareering.com/personal/ OR enter your information below:

This page will give you access to a one-page needs assessment form. Complete and send it to me at info@epiccareering.com along with your most recent resume. With these documents I will enable me to offer you a free résumé and campaign evaluation as well as a chance to win one-year’s worth of GOLD through a subscription to the Philadelphia business Journal, which you can purchase for $105 currently.

 

I will be accepting contestants until I reach 50, so do not delay in filling out this one page needs assessment form.

 

The winner will be announced March 8, 2014.