Foliotek Blog

What is Your Brand?

Whether we like it or not, every decision we make affects our brand. From the words we use, or the clothes we wear, to the content we publish in social media, all of it speaks to your personal identity. Your Brand.

So what is your brand? You can find out by asking this question:

"What is the word or phrase people think of when they think of you?"

That can be a pretty scary question to answer. But that, in essence, is your brand. Let’s look at a more comprehensive definition from Tim O’Brien.

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BREAKING IT DOWN

PART 01 -

“Stimulates a meaningful emotional response in your target audience.”

This means that your actions, on and off the web, are going to affect other people. In many cases, people will decide what your brand is within 15 seconds of meeting you. Obviously 15 seconds is not enough time for them to draw a logical conclusion about what makes you tick without having any tangible evidence, but sadly, this is the case. People are going to have an emotional response to … "You." This meaningful, emotional response could be positive or negative; regardless, it will mean something to them and in turn have an effect on you.

The second part of this statement, "Target Audience," adds a layer of intentionality. Who is your target audience? Interestingly, your brand is going to impact both your "target audience" and your non-target audience. The difference is that your brand cares about, or is more focused on, a defined group of people. While everyone is going to make their own decision about what your brand is, your focus should be on the group of people whose opinions you care most about. How do you want to be perceived?

For example, if I wear a suit every day (HA), no matter the temperature, and you always see me in my suit, it conveys a certain message. That would be a part of my brand. Some might see me and think, "That's guys got swag" others might see me and think, "what a pompous jerk." My attire is a part of my brand, and it can conveys both a positive and negative message. You just need to be certain the message you are conveying is the right message for the right audience.

PART 02 -

“About the values and qualities for which you stand”

Clearly your brand is focused on soliciting an emotional response from a group of people. Now you need to decide what values and qualities you want your brand to state. My colleague has a post about How to Create a Personal Brand. It's a great post. If you have a few minutes, give it a read. However, whether you read it or not, remember this:

You have already built your brand.

CONCLUSION

That bit of truth is about as scary as answering the question that defines your brand. But there is good news, you can still shape your brand and refine it to be more intentional and focused on the values and qualities for which you stand. Just because you may have a brand that means “x” today doesn’t mean you can’t begin the process of refining that brand to be more intentional tomorrow.

So start to work out your plan and make the necessary changes for “stimulating the meaningful emotional responses” you have purposefully defined.

If you have some time, check out this Personal Brand video by Tim O'Brien. It will make you think more carefully about the emotional impact of your brand.

Related Posts:
How to Create a Personal Brand
Your Virtual Handshake
First Impressions


How to Format a Resume

altPreviously, we discussed what to include in your resume. Now that we know the content that belongs in a resume, how do we put it all together? That depends on what type of job you are applying for and how you want to come across to that employer. While design-oriented and infographic resumes are really creative and have eye-catching layouts, we are going to focus on the original, clean resume today. This is the route most people take as the Applicant Tracking System industry is growing. By keeping things simple, the system has a better chance of scanning your resume and passing it on to those responsible for hiring.

You already know what you're including on your resume, and you've decided on keeping it clean and simple. So what's next? Let's take a look at the biggest factors in the layout:

  • One Page Maximum
  • Professional Font
  • Clean Layout

One page is plenty of room to give potential employers a snapshot of who you are and why you’re the best candidate. Type up all of your information on one page and see how much space it takes up. If you’re overflowing onto page two without even formatting any of the text, go through and cut out extra verbiage. Overly-talkative babies are cute, but a rambling resume is not.

Next, choose a professional font. If you use a font that has ‘added embellishments’ to its letters, you run the risk of looking unprofessional or childish. Not only that, but the Applicant Tracking Systems that bigger companies use to scan thousands of resumes could cause your resume to be looked over due to an unfamiliar font. Stick with Calibri, Times New Roman, Arial, or any of the other seven fonts on Monster.com’s top ten resume-friendly fonts list. The number one font to stay away from? Comic Sans. If you don't know why, check out this article by Comicsanscriminal.com.

Finally, keep a clean layout. This means that everything should be organized cohesively and not spaced out randomly throughout the page. Stick with one alignment. So if you align the first bit of information on the left, continue this alignment with the rest of your information. Use headers to differentiate the types of information that you’re including (Work Experience, School History, etc.) so that it’s easier for the employer to quickly find what they’re looking for on the page. Hungry for more? Check out Jeff & Mike: The Interview Guys' Resume Format Guide for 2016.

Related Posts
How to Write a Resume
Tell Me About a Time When
Tell Me About Yourself


How to Create a Personal Brand

alt If Michael Jordan pops up on the screen your mind does not think of Apple Inc., Google, or anything tech related for that matter. Because of successful branding, you will most likely visualize NIKE, Air Jordan, basketball dunk, and think of the Chicago Bulls. If you are a Michael Jordan fan, your mind will immediately dig up emotions tied to some of his heroic last-second championship wins, and you will see Jordan as a leader with courage, discipline, determination, and talent. How does Branding encompass all of this? Let’s first define it.

PERSONAL BRAND IS WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE THE ROOM - Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon.com

BRANDING: DEFINED

The definition of Personal Branding is "the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands." To put it simply, “Personal Branding is the means by which people remember you” The term branding does encompass a logo, identity, and all the visual components you can think of when you try to visualize a company with successful marketing strategies (i.e. Nike swoosh, JUST DO IT). But branding also includes other areas that are not just strictly design and marketing. These areas can include emotions and any other perceptions that come to mind when a customer thinks about a company or potential employee. Today, let’s focus on these other areas like values, character traits, and leadership roles.

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BRANDING: DEVELOPED

The first step to building a personal brand that is complete with your character traits is to consider what you want your audience, or potential employers, to think of when they come across your online identity. Here are three questions you must ask yourself as you develop your personal brand:

What type of skills, character traits, values, and leadership roles do you want to have associated with you?
For this first question, go ahead and dream big! It’s ok to desire traits that you haven’t yet developed because it will help you get direction on where you want to go. See where your heart is and then work towards it. Perhaps you really want to be known as someone who is very hard working and humble. Or maybe it’s more important in your field to be efficient and artistic. Whatever the case is, write it all down.

Are these traits true to yourself and something you can deliver?
Ok, now that you’ve dreamed big, let’s get back to reality. Now you have to look at these ideal skills, values, character traits, and leadership roles and truly ask yourself whether you can provide these to your fan base or a potential employer. It’s really important to be able to deliver on the promises you make, otherwise your entire personal brand will become nonexistent. Steve Jobs wouldn’t have been able to pull off the ‘Air Jordan’ marketing strategy, but he had something just as powerful and intriguing. He was an innovator, always pursuing excellence and diversity in his work.

Is there consistency across traits that pertain to one market area?
One of the biggest mistakes people make when building a personal brand is trying to cover different market areas. The problem is that without a specific market audience, your personal brand can’t exist. Jayson DeMers from Forbes.com explains that “The best brands have a thorough understanding of the demographics of their target market, what their interests are, and how they communicate.” As you look at what skills, values, character traits, and leadership roles you can provide, funnel them down to a specific market area. If you are already in a career and plan to stick with it, then this step should be pretty easy.

Make Your Online Identity Stand Out
Want a Job? Use Your Experiences
First Impressions


Tell Me About a Time When ...

You follow the receptionist down a dark and narrow hallway to the scariest room in the building: the conference room. This is where your fate will be decided. Will you land your dream job and start a promising career or will you be stuck living in your parents' basement forever? You choose your seat wisely, hoping that your choice doesn't have some strange, hidden meaning that says you're completely wrong for the job. After the polite introductions, the dreaded interview questions begin. First, "Tell me about yourself." Then, at some point during the grueling process, you'll hear "Tell me about a time when … "
alt Ok, maybe it won't be quite that dramatic. However, if you want your interview to go well, you should be prepared to answer this commonly asked question. When you're asked "Tell me about a time when," your interviewer is asking you to tell a story. Maybe it's a story of overcoming a challenge, solving a complex problem, or dealing with a difficult customer. The best way to prepare for this question is to have a few stories up your sleeve.

Know the job requirements

Refer to the job description and determine the requirements of the position. The goal of your story is to communicate that you have the skills required. Look through some common 'Tell me about a time when,' questions and try to anticipate what questions you might be asked.

Think about your experiences

Reflect on your past experiences, both personal and professional. Think about your accomplishments, personal growth, failures, and proud moments. How do these experiences relate to the requirements of the job? If one of the job requirements is teamwork, think of a time you had to work with others. What was your role on the team? How did you help the team accomplish your goals? Developing this story will help you communicate to your interviewer what they can expect from you in a team setting.

Write a story and practice

In order to turn your experiences into meaningful stories, you need to know how to tell them. Like all good stories, they should have a beginning, middle, and end. Building your stories around the STAR technique can be helpful when it comes to interview questions. The beginning of your story should describe the Situation and Task of your experience. The middle will be the Activity or Action you took. The end is the Result of your action. Once you have your story, practice telling it out loud so you appear polished and professional....like this:

Share your stories

You don't have to wait until an interview to share your stories. Use Foliotek Projects to showcase your experiences to potential employers. Including stories (projects) on your ID page or ePortfolio will give employers a better idea of your skillset before you even meet.

The last thing you want to do in an interview is stumble around trying to think of a decent story to tell. Take the time to write, practice, and share your stories, and that long walk to the conference room won't be scary at all.


Make Your Online Identity Stand Out

alt How should one get started in creating an online professional identity? Many people default to LinkedIn which is certainly an important entity in this realm. However, a LinkedIn Profile falls a bit short of a complete online professional identity in this writer’s opinion. I assert that having a LinkedIn profile is an important part of a larger undertaking. Creating a portal which links to all of one’s online presence would be a more thorough approach.

Build Your Brand

An Identity Page on Foliotek is a great place to start. Users may include an Introduction statement, a professional photo, work history, education, and links to any website relevant to their identity. A Foliotek Identity Page also includes features for an embedded resume, a ‘contact me’ button, and icon links to other social networking tools (like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and YouTube). Having all of this together on a nice looking webpage is actually quite simple to construct. The system offers several great looking templates and background photos to choose from. Users may also choose to use their own background picture if they wish to give it a more personal touch. An Identity Page on Foliotek is a great way to take advantage of several social media outlets while creating a polished professional identity.

Showcase Artifacts

The ability to include projects is another handy feature on the Foliotek Identity Page. Foliotek includes a streamlined approach to present authentic work samples within a project. Unlike linking to a file on a LinkedIn Profile, a Foliotek Project can include several documents that are themed within a project. Pages in a project can also showcase videos or any other type of file that you can store on a computer. The idea is to tell a story in a way which highlights one’s accomplishments and values. Building a nice looking project is easy to do; Choose a cover image from the multitude of provided images or upload your own, then fill in the pages of your project with your authentic work. Finally, link your projects to your Identity Page and showcase them to potential employers.
alt Foliotek also offers a robust ePortfolio tool should a user wish to create a paginated website without needing to have technical coding skills. Many Foliotek users choose to link to both projects and an ePortfolio when creating their online brand with a Foliotek Identity Page.

Creating a polished professional online identity will give potential employers valuable information about you as a person and as a professional. It very well may be just the advantage that helps land the right job for you.

Land Your Dream Job
Show Your Work!
Want a Job? Use Your Experiences