Posts Tagged 'personal 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.


That’s a know, know!


Tactics can win a battle, but strategy wins the war.  As you consider your career branding or job search efforts, it is important to separate the two.  Career Branding should be strategic while job search is often more tactical.

Too often people in business (and job search) get very anxious for results.  The reasoning is simple. There is always short term pressure for results.  So how do you avoid this pitfall and stay focused on a strategy?

Let’s look at two opposite perspectives.  Actions to lose, contrasted with actions to win.

1)     Some of the actions that will help you lose “the war” (and job search tactics to avoid):

  • Proceeding without a plan (rewriting your resume every day  or week should be avoided.)
  • Not having clear goals (Waiting to see what’s out there for you will lead to failure.)
  • Following the herd and easy path (Focus on job boards and waiting for the perfect job listing is a fools game.)
  • Submitting resumes online (Almost always required, it will almost never get you an interview or job.)
  • Positioning as a generalist (The workplace is looking for specialists, not generalists.)

2)      So conversely what actions help you win?

 Try a know, know strategy

Know what you want.   Know how you plan to go get it.

At what level you enter the paradigm is up to you.

If you are working on a high level personal branding goal, define your stated goal and work backward?

What do you want your brand to resonate:   world class expert, thought leader, a results oriented manager or a quality technology salesperson?

Once you’ve defined this, you can begin assessing and executing against your know-know strategy.

  •      Know your marketplace (industry)
  •       Know the positioning of others with in the marketplace (competing company strategies)
  •       Know the issues facing companies or hiring managers (pains, current and future)
  •       Know how you can bring insight and a better future state (your view, your value proposition and your differentiated state)
  •       Know how you can best articulate and reinforce your knowledge and points (your messaging)
  •       Know your daily, weekly and monthly plan to execute everything above.

In summary:

Know what you want.  Know how you plan to get it.

Or expect the undesired no-no.

 No personal brand and, potentially, no job.

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.







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


Does your personal brand convey a competitive advantage?



We are in an instant gratification, sound byte society.  Getting back to someone in the next few days is not good enough.  Texting, IM, Email, Twitter, and the devices that support them have changed our lives forever.  It feels as though the entire world has Attention Deficit Disorder. This has a profound impact on delivering your message. You have only a few seconds to grab someone’s attention.  You need to be memorable & unique, convey what makes you special and leave a clear impression as to your value.

So what is your personal competitive advantage?

Do you have a way to etch this into someone’s mind in 30 seconds?

I would suggest, that answering these two questions is; the essence of personal branding.

I recently had the good fortune of playing Brent Snow’s Interplay business simulation game. It’s an extremely well thought out board game that forces a group of individuals to determine strategic focus, leverage all of a company’s assets (people, money, process, customers etc..) and ultimately communicate the value of the company they are creating.  The game helps provide a broad perspective on the critical factors that influence business success.

It’s hard to get better without practice.  Brent’s Interplay game allows  business people to practice what they spend over 2000 hours a year doing. It’s a clear value proposition. Interplay provides a platform to “practice business”?

At the very start of the game, your team must choose a company name and tagline.  However, in order to do this you must first pick three competitive advantages that will represent your company’s brand.  He provides a list of 8 categories from which you can select, but you must pick three.

Interplay does a wonderful job breaking down these categories of competitive advantage as follows:

  1. Innovation: Uniqueness, an original design or process… (think Apple)
  2. Premium: Exclusivity, prestige… (think BMW)
  3. Synergy: Integration of products & services… (think Microsoft)
  4. Cost: Low price, low risk… (think Wal-Mart)
  5. Know How: Industry expertise, trusted partner… (think Mayo Clinic)
  6. Delivery: convenient access… (think
  7. Velocity: rapid deployment, fast gratification…. (think Fed X)
  8. Adaptability: customized , tailored solutions (think Starbucks)

Hmmm, sounds like a good place to start defining an individual’s personal brand.

What competitive advantage are you going to bring a hiring manager?

You may be good at a lot of things, but you must select just a few that are going to represent your personal brand.

Let’s re-read the list of example companies that represent each category: Apple, BMW, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Mayo Clinic, Amazon, Fed X and Starbucks.  If you mention any of these companies to someone, doesn’t just the name of the firm create an instant association of their “competitive advantage”?

Now think about some of these company’s tag lines:

  • The ultimate driving machine.
  • Think different!
  • When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
  • Always low prices.

You immediately know the company and what they are all about.

Does your personal brand do the same thing?

As stated in the first paragraph of this article:

1. You have only a few seconds to grab someone’s attention.

2. You need to be memorable & unique.

3. You should convey what makes you special and leave a clear impression as to your value.


Google me-managing your online identity


Exactly one year ago, Career Brander broke a story on an exciting new online identity service called Vizibility.  Vizibility has created the first ‘pre-search’ button for Google results.

In the past year, my personal Vizibility “Google me” button has been hit 1400 times. Many of these hits have been from search engines, but in the end, that is part of the plan when trying to take a pro-active approach to managing your online identity.

Earlier this month, Career Brander spoke with James Alexander, the founder of Vizibility to get an update on the business and the personal online identity marketplace.

James, it’s been about a year since we spoke and you released your first version of the Vizibility “search me” service.

How are things going?

Great, thank you for asking! Our user base has grown significantly since January 2010, and it’s growing the right way. Our strategy has always been to integrate Vizibility into profile-driven websites, and we’re seeing that strategy come to fruition. We spent the first half of the year learning about and working with new partners. By the end of the year, we had 12 integrated partners (including 6FigureJobs, BlueSteps, MyLegal, videoBIO, RealMatch and more), with several more in the queue.

The work is starting to pay off! In Q1 of 2010, 100% of our customers were direct customers. In Q2, we only saw 1% of our users coming from partners. By Q3 that moved to 13% from partners (87% direct), and by the end of the year, we had 30% coming from partners (70% direct). So far in early 2011, we’re seeing 54% coming from partners (46% direct). Not only are we seeing the partnerships drive most of our traffic now, but also we are seeing their conversion rates more than double our direct conversion rates, which is what we expected.

During our January 2010 interview, we discussed the impact your technology could have on personal branding as well as job transition, is that proving out?

Our PreSearch and GoogleMe button/link are an ideal way to create and maintain one’s personal brand and ensure the correct search results are seen. Today’s job seekers need to be hire-ready in-person and online. The majority of employers and recruiters are heading to search engines to check out a candidate before they even do a phone screen or extend an interview opportunity. Our GoogleMe link gives the candidate the ability to direct the hiring manager or recruiter to the most accurate results. It’s also ideal for individuals with common names, or those who are difficult to find with a simple search, which is one of the reasons I created Vizibility in the first place.

One of the most interesting benefits of Vizibility is the personal SEO effect. We introduced a new feature in late 2010 that allows users to choose and rank their Top 5 Favorite results. We then display these results immediately to someone who clicks the user’s SearchMe Button or Link (we call this page the user’s “billboard”) with an option to view all the results in Google. This billboard page becomes a very optimized page for our users, and it is now starting to show up on the first two pages of Google in just a matter of weeks. So by just creating a Vizibility account and choosing your Top 5 Favorites, your SearchMe link and favorite results page will soon appear in the top Google results whenever someone searches for just your name.

I know you were named by Red Herring a top 100 technology company to watch in 2010, so what can you tell us about your 2011 plans for Vizibility?

In 2011, we plan on launching several new products. The primary focus will be to introduce new features and tools for the partners who integrate Vizibility. Most notably, we’re providing an API for partners to fully integrate Vizibility into their services.

We are also moving full force into the mobile space. We will be introducing a mobile version of the “billboard” as well as generating QR codes for our customers to place on business cards and websites. Users who search for someone on a mobile device, or scan a QR code, will see the mobile-friendly version of their Top 5 Favorites. We’re hoping to share our solution with more individuals and partner sites as the year continues.

Now that you have been providing services to assist with “online identity” for a year, any lessons learned or tips you can share with our readership regarding their personal online brands?

It’s important for individuals to consistently manage their online brand. There are many people who only worry about their online brand when it comes time to search for a new job, but doing so could potentially damage the brand they’re hoping to convey online, and frankly, create a lot of work. By signing up for services such as Vizibility, individuals can control their results and be alerted when those results change, giving them the opportunity to address anything negative or positive that requires immediate attention.

Often folks between jobs think about starting their own business, any advice given you’ve been in “start up” mode for the past 18 months?

Often folks between jobs think about starting their own business, and why not? Almost everyone has had a great idea at least once, and the lure of working for yourself and making money doing it has a strong appeal, and can be very rewarding. This is my third start up, so I understand the power of this attraction well. When someone is between jobs in a tight job market, and the strings of employment are gone, the thought of starting a business can be all the more tempting.

If you find yourself contemplating this career option, I have three short pieces of hard, direct advice to offer.

First, know why you’re starting your business. Are you starting a business because you think you have a great idea for a product or service or because it’s the only option on the table at the moment? With four or five people chasing every open job, it’s taking longer to find employment. The psychological and financial pressure to find work can create a mirage of opportunity around self-employment. If you got an offer for the perfect job tomorrow, and you know you’d take it, then maybe you’re better off staying focused on your job search.

Second, ensure there is a market for your product or service. Successful companies solve problems for customers. Make sure you can answer a few basic questions including: Who is your perfect customer? How many of them are there? What is the problem you’re going to solve for them, and how critical is it? How do they solve this problem today? Why is your solution better, how much can you charge, and how much will it cost to reach your customers? The answers you discover to these questions will help you understand if your idea is worth pursuing.

Third, know the “end game” for your business. When we start college, we plan to graduate. When we buy a house, we know at some point we’ll sell it and buy a new one. When we lease a car, we know we have to give it back in a few years. We start most things in life knowing how they’ll end. Your business shouldn’t be any different. Before I started, Vizibility I knew that we would most likely be acquired when key milestones were achieved. Even if your plan is to create a business that you’ll hand down to your children, it’s a plan. The process of thinking through the entire life cycle of your business before you start it will help you understand what success needs to look like in order to achieve your personal and financial goals, which were the reasons for starting your business in the first place.

We are living in a very exciting and dynamic time where it is relatively inexpensive to start new ventures. If you have a passion for a business that solves real problems that people will pay you for, being out of work could be the best thing that ever happened to you.

James, thank you for sharing your thoughts with our readership.  We wish you a successful 2011.

Career Brander encourages all of our readers to take advantage of the Vizibility service. The base service is free, and can have an extremely positive impact on managing your online identity.

Job Search Data & Career Branding Tips


The data doesn’t lie; it is all how you interpret it.

The hiring malaise continues, but some signs of life have emerged. Below are some interesting data points I have seen in various career and human resource trade magazines, websites and blogs over the December holidays.

  • There will be over 15 million unemployed US works seeking jobs in January.  That is a staggering number.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported job postings are currently at about 4.7 million, which, if true, is just about the highest number in 3 years.
  • If you are seeking a position that pays over $200,000 or more, there is an 80% chance it will never reach a job board or company website.
  • Approximately 80% of all companies in the US utilize LinkedIn on some level when recruiting new personnel.  (This one came from a vendor selling social network recruiting software so be careful.)
  • LinkedIn is approaching 100 million users.
  • Over 80% of all firms with over 250 employees utilize applicant tracking software.  The trick is to get your resume read by a hiring manager.  If you are lucky enough to get it in their hands, 18% claim to only look at it for 30 seconds or less while 38 percent will look at it for up to one minute.
  • Healthcare and Medical positions represent over 30% of all job postings currently on  job boards.
  • AT&T, Sears and IBM  advertised the most open positions in 2010.
  • Thinking of warmer weather? New government statistics say Brazil has record employment levels — and even shortages of workers in some sectors.

Five Career Branding reminders for 2011:

  1. Stay positive and work hard at your personal brand. No one else is going to do it for you.
  2. A well written resume is very important in your job search, but very unlikely to be a top reason you get a particular job.
  3. Leverage technology in everything you do.
  4. Online identity matters.  Utilize the following to take control of your Internet Brand: a personal website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogs and Vizibility.
  5. Every successful company thinks through how their solution helps the purchaser.  Approach your job search with this same frame of mind.


%d bloggers like this: