Don’t Rubbish Personal Branding Yet ( Part 1)

If you consider the state of Kerala as a sample , the number of engineering colleges have gone up from 15 in the year 2000 to more than 155 in 2017. The number of educated youth are at an all time high. With competition being so high, are the young professionals doing all that they can to stand out in the crowd? [ Day 19 of “One Day, One Blog”]

I am not a luxury soap or an automobile. You don’t need to brand me. Or advise me to do so,” said the immensely talented young man.

When I broach this subject, both with college students and young professionals, I get a look of complete disdain.

Once, Fourth Ambit was applying for a startup pitch. One of the requirements was that we share the LinkedIN profiles of our small team. The 4 co-founders, of course, had our profiles updated on LinkedIN. But for this pitch, I also needed to submit the profiles of of Key employees.

Now, I am incredibly proud of our team. I never miss an opportunity to sing praises of their dedication and loyalty. I definitely don’t miss a chance to showcase them wherever appropriate. I have had other founders wondering if that is a smart move. You know, the risk of head hunting and all that. I truly believe our guys stick with us because they believe in what we do. And that faith has stood the test of time. But I digress.

I log into linkedin and type in the name of our Tech Lead. No luck. Ok, it may be because that I am not a second degree connection to him, I tell myself.

I walk up to him and ask for his LinkedIN id. He gives me a blank look. Rough Translation of that look — “huh”

Of course, our hero knows of Linkedin but never bothered to create a profile!

This is not a stand alone incident. The young guys and gals can do SO much in today’s internet driven universe but I see them doing almost nothing towards personal branding. A resume is drawn up when they need a job or a job change

From the HR Manager’s point of view

Consider two young men applying for a job with an IT major (or a soap manufacturer — the fundamental principle holds)

Both have same marks in their graduation and both work in the same Startup for 1 year.

They have both just completed what could be called the final round of interview with the company.

The HR and functional rounds has resulted in the same score for both candidates. The onus is now on the HR manager to select the one best suited for the company and make an offer.

The HR manager in question has applications which run into 100s and after multiple rounds of elimination has now zeroed in on these two candidates.

While hoping to get an insight as to who would be a better hire, our HR goes into LinkedIN. The 1st candidate does not have a LinkedIN profile. The second candidate has one. Not only a linked profile, but project details with recommendations from peers and customers built carefully over time.

The HR manager also notices, contributions by the second candidate on slide share and Quora clearly indicating his expertise in areas of his interest.

Now a mind boggling question for you — which candidate do you think gets the offer?

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The topic of personal branding has been written about for so often, that I shied away multiple times from having a go at it. But what I have come to realize is that while I may be bored of this topic, this is one topic that still needs to be drilled down.

While these examples are more relevant for freshers and people who are in the junior levels of the company, I find that the principles and call to actions are equally applicable across generations, across the globe.

The Hygiene Factors

(A) Keep your resume updated.

I start with something as basic as updating your resume here because of the sheer absurdity of the samples that land on my table.

For the college student

  • While the campus recruitment personnel are mentally prepared to look through thousands of resume that have very little differentiation, don’t make them want to kill themselves by adding ridiculous “Objectives” and “Executive Summary”
  • Plan ahead with internships and part time work experience so that at the end of 3rd year, you are not blindly copying your friend’s resume
  • When you email the resume, please don’t name the file as “resume”. Preferably name the file with your name, degree and/or job applying for.
  • The subject of your email application should not be “Hi”
  • If the resume is being shared by email, please don’t leave the body of the mail blank. Write a short note there. That is minimum courtesy and common sense required from your side

For the young professional

  • If you are a young working professional, chances are that you will not even look at that resume till you are desperate for a job Change. And then you will not remember many of the key things you have accomplished in your project. ( This is true of middle level and senior managers, too)
  • Cultivate that discipline to keep adding to your resume. The easier option is to use LinkedIN for the same

(B) Update your LinkedIN Profile

While LinkedIN has become the part and parcel of every professional’s life globally, I am often shocked to find how many of the students and young professionals in India have not even created a profile on LinkedIN.

When you need to “check out” someone in a professional capacity — be it for hiring needs to any type of referrals — LinkedIN is the 1st place people turn to. You may be part of middle management, a teacher, a student or an entrepreneur — I don’t see any reason why you should not be on this platform, and that too with an updated profile.

People assume that, “If I update my profile on LinkedIN, my HR will know that I am looking out”. Well, of course , they will — if the only time you login is to look for a job.

  • Make it a habit to review your profile every month or at least once every quarter. Update it with details of accomplishments.
  • Update with details of a certification you have completed.
  • Request recommendations from a team lead or boss or customer ( if it is not against company policy) AS SOON AS you have done a good work. Chances of the said people reverting are higher if you request a recommendation when the good work is fresh in their memory.
  • Add details of volunteer work that you do ( but please don’t lie about it)
  • Publish on this platform so that you establish credibility in your focus area

After I scribbled down all that I would like to share on the topic, I realized the enormity of this task. Hence, I will publish the rest as a second part tomorrow.

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Friends, this is the Day 19 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog

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