Posts Tagged 'career branding'

Is your career more like LIFE or Candy Land?

The game of LIFE is billed as “see where your choices take you.” Your choices are time lined to retirement.  Retirement is the prize?

Along your journey, you make choices about college, jobs, marriage, financial planning and family. All milestones, but unlike LIFE, you will most likely have over 6 jobs in your career.

Candy Land on the other hand, is simply a race with really no meaningful choices.  That said, there are many career lessons buried in the Candy Land experience!








Have you recently paused to consider the direction of your career?

  • Where have you been, where you are now and where you are going?
  • How many jobs will you have in your career?  
  • Will you ever reach the position of your dreams?



Believe it or not, a game of Candy Land can be won in as few as 4 turns.  The odds of winning the game in 4 turns, is approximately 1 in 25,000.  It’s about the same odds of you landing a great career opportunity without a plan or by watching job boards.  A good Career Branding strategy must start with a goal in mind. It’s impossible to have a successful plan if you have not clearly defined success!

Success in Candy Land is pretty well defined.  However, as human beings we always complicate the simple.   Candy Land defines success as the first one to the Candy Kastle.  The rules are clear that you can advance past the end purple square to win.  Despite the clear instructions, many people, play that you must land exactly on the last purple square to win.  This change makes the game almost 40% longer and thus, more difficult to win.

  • Are you looking for a prolonged job search in a challenging economy?  Are you too laser focused on landing the perfect job?  Increase your odds by accepting victory for its merit and do not always look to land exactly on the purple square.


  • Shortcuts?  We all want to find them.  In Candy Land, there are short cuts; however, it is critical to acknowledge there are more ways to get stuck than short cuts in the game.  The same applies to your career choices.  How do you identify your Molasses Swamp, Lollipop Woods and Gooey Gumdrops?  Do you find yourself saying: “I can’t move now because…” Avoid constantly looking for the short cuts and seize the moment, when the moment is there. Constantly stuck in Gooey Gumdrops is no way to go through life.


  • Through social networking groups you have a unique chance to learn, teach and connect. Are you active in a single LinkedIn Group? The road signs on the Candy Land game board are Gingerbread Plum Trees, Peppermint Forest, Gumdrop Mountains, and Peanut Brittle House.   What are your road signs?


  • Keep networking at all times.  Do not limit your networking to your current industry or area of expertise. Build a broad network. The world changes fast and you never know where you will be 5, 10 or 15 years from now. Printed on the Candy Land board are Lord Licorice, Licorice Castle, Gloppy, the Ice Cream Sea, King Kandy, and Candy Castle.  None of these appear in the play of the game. They represent networking with people that you cannot fathom how they can help your career today.  Focused networking is important, but a truly myopic view to networking is not a prudent choice.


Career Brander sincerely hopes you all find your Candy Kastle in 2013.


Unemployment as discussed by Abbott & Costello


Not sure how to provide literary credit for this parody.  It arrived via email from Outplacement Tools Southern sales manager, with no author listed.  (A political statement weaved in at the end  has been removed.)

The message is real.  If you are unemployed or  looking to make a career change, competition is much greater than the national unemployment statistics suggest.  To win, individuals should map out a well constructed process to create their message, package it properly and deliver in a very targeted manner. Career Branding has never been more important.

Enjoy the 2008 recessions version of Who is on first? for the unemployed.

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good subject. Terrible times. It’s about 9%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: You just said 9%.

ABBOTT: 9% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 9% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 16%.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it’s 16% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that’s 9%…

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 9% or 16%?

ABBOTT: 9% are unemployed. 16% are out of work.

COSTELLO: If you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, you can’t count the “Out of Work” as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: But … they are out of work!

ABBOTT: No, you miss my point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn’t look for work, can’t be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn’t be fair.


ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work… Those who are out of work stopped looking. They gave up. And, if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you’re off the unemployment roles, that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don’t look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That’s how you get to 9%. Otherwise it would be 16%. You don’t want to read about 16% unemployment do ya?

COSTELLO: That would be frightening.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means they’re two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to just stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you’re thinking like an economist.

COSTELLO: I don’t even know what the hell I just said!


Personal Branding + Relationship Capital = Career Branding


What is career branding?

Personal Branding (PB) + Relationship Capital (RC) = Career Branding (CB)

PB + RC = CB

The best career planning and branding occurs well before you have a personal need.  The best personal branding strategies make no attempt to time results.  They really position for the “whenever”.   You position for the “whenever” by building your brand & relationship capital before you need it.

Over the last several years, the unemployed have been coached to change their LinkedIn profile headline to titles like:

  • Quality Guru
  • Sales Superstar
  • Digital Print Expert
  • Online Marketing Sherpa
  • Business Operations Professional

We definitely recommend and respect the attempt to clarify one’s specialty and create a personal brand.  However this is simply a beginning and the real work is getting the personal association of the title in the marketplace and then matching that to networks of connections.  The mistake people make is waiting until they are looking for a new job to address their personal brand and their relationship capital.

The sales analogy would be sales people cold calling prospects, saying we are the best at “X” and asking for orders. This is a failed strategy 999.9 out of 1000 times.   This is not how “buyers” are wired and is a fairly ridiculous approach.   The prospect has not been nurtured.  There is no reason to trust the caller and trust is implied in every purchase

The same applies to job search.

Successful salespeople (and companies) brand themselves by building relationships BEFORE they need them.  Career branding is no different.  Relationships are best built before one party in the relationship has an immediate pending need.  Trust is built by non-threatening exchanges that are not self centered.  The exchanges need to offer something to the other party such as: knowledge, connections or other learnings.

Trust is always key to buying and trust is always key to hiring.

Personal Brands and Relationship Capital are earned.  They take time and require re-enforcement. Time can build and strengthen them. They cannot be instantly achieved through LinkedIn profile headlines, cold calling or introductory emails.

If you look at your peers, those who cycle through successful career positions without extended job searches, have mastered the PB + RC = CB formula.

Let’s relook at the formula at this articles beginning.

Personal Branding (What you are known for.)


Relationship Capital (Your network and how committed are they to you based on historical actions and interactions.)


Career Branding  

Start now and invest time in your PB and RC every week.







Creating a Career Branding Strategy


Executing a Career Branding strategy requires a plan.  It does not matter if you are gainfully employed or currently in the midst of a job search. You need to define the where, what and how of your personal branding strategy.  If you embrace this methodology you will have a roadmap to follow.  If you do not you are driving you car in a rural area with no map, no GPS, no cell phone and you are simply hoping your gas will hold out until you find your destination.  Navigating by the sunset is simply not a precise enough plan.

The Where

“The where” is in strategic planning parlance, your Vision Statement.  That is, where would you like to see the self actualization of your career be in 5, 10 or 15 years.  Your where, should be forward looking, aspirational in context, yet achievable.

As you consider your where, it’s important to note, for the majority of people, it’s fairly safe to assume your current role will not exist a decade from now.  Technology is simply moving too fast and business cycles for companies are accelerating.  This means the days of working for a single company in a single role for your entire career is no longer likely. You need to plan for this!

The What

“The what” is effectively your strategy to make your vision (or where) happen.  Your what should not be singular in dimension.  To ensure success, companies almost always embark on a multiple strategies simultaneously.   This allows for multiple channels to achieve success.  Returning to the driving your car analogy, there are multiple ways to get to your destination.  By pursuing several strategies you have a higher likelihood of getting there.

For personal and career branding purposes simply answer:

What do you want people to immediately think of when they hear your name?

The How

The how is effectively the tactics you are going to choose to execute to make the what happen.   Career Branding strategic tactics include:

  • Network with people who could assist you in achieving your vision.
  • Be visible as an individual with advanced or specialized skills.
  • Establish forums demonstrating your thought leadership (you do not need to be THE thought leader, just be well versed in the strategies, approaches, and tactics being used today and considered for tomorrow.)
  • Promote and communicate your personal brand. Make your name synonymous with your what.

A career branding process consists of the following primary building blocks:


  1. You must begin with an honest assessment of your current position.
  2.  You must clearly identify your desired future state. (The Where)
  3. You should undertake, a cerebral evaluation of the gap between 1 & 2 and then assess the critical issues to be resolved in order to close the gap. (The What)
  4. Finally you create action steps to resolve the critical issues. (The How)
    • Remember…thoughtful planning can be as insightful as the actual final plan.

Job Search-Stories Matter



Individuals that are laid off clearly experience a seminal moment.  It will forever influence their approach to career branding and planning.   How one reacts to this moment will serve as a proxy for the next phase of their career.




1941 is best known as the year the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  December 7, 1941 will forever be a moment etched into everyone’s mind.  Everyone can conjure up a vision of the Kamikaze pilots either from actual film footage or Hollywood generated re-enactments.  The events of that day forever impacted the history of the world.

For sports fans, 1941 is also well known as the year Ted Williams had a .406 batting average playing Major League baseball for the Boston Red Sox.  This was the last time anyone playing in the Major’s accomplished this feat.  As impressive and amazing as that is, there are two lesser known subplots to William’s feat that offer job seekers a moment to ponder their own plight.

  • During 1941 spring training, Ted Williams broke a bone in his right ankle.    The injury was devastating to the young Williams. He was forced to think back on all the preparation he had put in for the season and the possibility the injury could ruin his season.  Instead he immediately started on rehabilitation and teaching himself a slightly modified swing that changed his weight shift.  For the first two weeks of the regular season he was forced to play only a part time role as a pinch hitter.   


Despite, setbacks how will you make adjustments and persevere in your job search?


  • On the final day of the 1941 season, Williams had a .39955 batting average.  Statistically his average would have been rounded up to an even .400 if he’d chosen to sit out the final days double header. However, Williams was never one to back down from any challenge.  He believed in himself and played the final day and had an astounding 6 hits in eight at bats to raise his average to .406.  It was the finishing touch on an astounding accomplishment. 

Are you ready to take a chance on re-engineering your career path? 


Interviewers look for resilient, confident people. If you do not believe in yourself, it will make it more difficult for others to believe in you.


Did you know, stories are remembered more often than facts? 


Think about this as you enter your next interview. Saying you increased productivity by x% is less memorable (and thus less effective) than telling the story of why, when and how you increased productivity. Prepare stories that capture who you are, and how you can make a difference for the hiring manager.

Necessary Job Search Traits



If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.  ~Author Unknown

Successful sales people generally possess several traits that make them unique.  These traits allow them to persuade others to see the conclusion the salesperson desires.

Four that stand out are:

  1. Communication Skills
  2. Ego Drive
  3. Resilience
  4. Empathy

If a job seeker can harness and embrace these traits, they will have a higher likelihood of achieving their personal career goals.

Communication Skills–In every position a job seeker is targeting they must use written, oral or visual presentation methodologies while being informative, persuasive and most importantly “connecting with the hiring manager”.  Too often job seekers simply provide a well structured resume and talk about their achievements.  Are you utilizing all presentation methodologies and concisely connecting and then ending with clear call to actions?

Ego Drive- Quite simply if has a job candidate, you lack a will to win, you will lose.  Quite simply, you must have a hunger to drive conversations to achieve your goals.

Resilience- It is ok to fail.  Youth sports coaches tell their trainees to “flush it” after a bad play. Salespeople and job seekers must be master flushers. Great salespeople learn from their losses and move on quickly.  There is no time for self pity in a job search or in sales. Activity matters and set backs will happen.  If individuals dwell on unsuccessful outcomes, they are setting themselves up for a lower likelihood of future success.

Empathy – The interview is not about you, but rather the hiring manager.  Too often job seekers fail to ask hiring managers what they are trying to achieve.  Instead they focus on their own personal situation. Great salespeople are masterful at understanding customers concerns. The same trait applies to job seekers.

In branding your career and positioning for job search success, some of these traits are more innate than others, but arguably all can be self driven and taught.

How can you self develop these traits and embed them in your personal  career plan?

Put a high value on yourself and raise your price.

Your Personal QR Code-Resume 3.0?


Why QR Codes May Be The New “It” Thing For Personal Branding

Your personal brand is something that constantly needs to be maintained and groomed in order to be seen as legitimate in your industry. However, what if things like QR (“quick response”) codes are the future of personal branding — and even candidate selection? Sounds really futuristic and perhaps years away, right? Maybe not.

QR codes are those small square barcodes that people can scan with their mobile phones and devices and in turn, receive the information that’s contained within. QR codes are increasing in popularity (they will be on every building permit in New York City by 2013), so it’s a natural progression that they will translate into personal and online branding. But how?

Promote yourself in one step. Say you are at a networking event and someone asks about your social media presence, portfolio, website, or maybe even a combination of the three. Instead of handing them a business card they may or may not look at later, why not have them scan your personal QR code? Vizibility, the first SearchMe Button for Google, recently announced personalized QR codes for all users. When scanned, the QR code displays a user’s top five verified Google search results. This saves all the extra steps the researcher has to go through in order to find out more information. Everything is displayed about you in one scan. You can also include your business card details and contact information, which the person can add right to their address book.

Avoid mistaken identity. A personalized QR code could do wonders for mistaken identity. Why? Well, while performing a normal Google search on someone, there are usually other people with the same name. Having a personalized QR code would set you apart from all the other John Smiths out there, bringing the searcher to the real you. Further, hiring managers are increasingly using search engines while researching candidates. A QR code would not only help them find you, but also it would show your advanced knowledge of technology and your interest in your personal brand.

Resumes are evolving. Let’s face it, paper resumes are likely to go the same direction as CDs and paperbacks, progressing into something more digital. According to Wendy Enelow, executive director of the Career Thought Leaders Consortium, “Resumes are constantly evolving to keep pace with the changing employment landscape. Adding a QR code that links to your specific Google search results is one of the latest and greatest ways to create a multi-dimensional, technologically savvy resume.” The addition of a QR code to your resume could help you stand out to a hiring manger who’s faced with piles of applicants, and in this economy, being memorable could be the extra push you need to get hired.

James Alexander is Vizibility’s founder and CEO. He’s the guy with two first names. If you ‘Googled’ his name in 2009, you would never have found him. Now he ranks within the first few results of a Google search. Find James in Google at


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