Foliotek Blog

Self-Reflection Tips

Whether it’s for a resume, an eportfolio, or a job interview, knowing how to present ourselves to an audience is hard. We’ve all stared at a blank computer screen for an extended period of time, not knowing where to start. How can we summarize our life story into one page? Where do you even start?

Self-Reflection Defined: “Self-Reflection is mediation and serious thoughts about one’s character, actions, or motives.”

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Before jumping to conclusions that Self-Reflection is just as hard as presenting to your audience, take a moment to consider these steps from Sandburg. It’s very similar to exercising. It sounds really hard at first, but once you get in the rhythm, it all starts making sense. You will be happy you got started!

“It is necessary … for man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” – Carl Sandburg

Step 1: Who am I?

From a career standpoint, an individual can be good at something and not enjoy it. Let’s be honest, lacking motivation and heart for your career will eventually give. So for this first step, focus on writing down the things you both enjoy and are good at. For example, maybe you are good at solving problems and you enjoy helping people. Make note of these areas and look for consistencies. Write down all the things that fire you up and that you are naturally motivated to do. Ultimately, these intrinsic motivators are what shape who you are.

Step 2: Where have I been?

This is where the reflection on past experiences will take place. Really look at what career decisions you have made and whether they turned out well or not. Learn from your mistakes, but also learn from the work environments you have enjoyed. If you haven’t had a lot of job experiences yet, write down what type of courses you really enjoyed and the learning environments where you work best. Perhaps you really liked round-table discussions or hands-on experiences. Again, apply the motivation aspect, but now specifically to your past career experiences. If you have some work experience, what positions did you like and how did you excel? Which ones were a challenge? By answering these questions now, you will be ready to really present your true passions and gifts.

Step 3: Where am I going?

After the first two steps, you should start noticing some consistencies in what career paths are a good fit for you. Consider what you can already offer to an employer with the education and the training that you’ve already received. It’s alright if you don’t have all the answers, but having a better understanding of where your strengths and passions are is a huge step in itself. Knowing the career paths you don’t want to take is also a huge victory.

These questions can help you reflect on who you are and where you want to be in life. Reflecting on this information can help you while preparing your resume, piecing together important artifacts for a portfolio, and speaking intelligently about your experiences in an interview. Even if you aren't preparing for any of the above, these tips will help you appreciate the work you've put in to get where you are today.

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What is Your Brand?
Tell Me About Yourself
Show Your Work


Back to School Technology Tips

The semester is under way and our little college town has filled up with the youth and energy that the students bring. I really enjoy this time of year as it reminds me of my younger days when it was I roaming the campus at the University of Missouri. When thinking about what to write about for my blog post this month, the thought of offering helpful technology tips to all of the students out there made me smile. So, here it goes; five terrific technical tips to make life a little easier.
alt First, I wish to offer a simple technological solution to keeping track of everything that needs to be done. There are many to-do list applications that can be easily learned and utilized on a smart phone. This keeps the lists off of paper which often times gets lost and doesn’t travel well. I personally really enjoy a tool called ToDoist. It is quite simple to use. Create a project for each course and a separate list of things to do for each one. Any time you have an assignment or a quiz/test to study for, put it on the list with a deadline.

Second, using the calendar on your smartphone to plot out your schedule is very helpful. Put recurring meetings for each course time, planned study sessions, and other responsibilities. Organizing time is a key to success for college students. We all have this tool in our pocket, but many don’t bother to use it. Having this on your phone will ensure you will always have it with you. Notifications will pop up on your screen which will remind you to be where you need to be when you need to be there.

Third, use the alarms on your phone to remind you to do the little things. Schedules get busy; sometimes students struggle for simple reasons like being dehydrated or under-nourished. A little alarm that reminds you to drink some water or have your afternoon snack can help a lot in this regard.

Taking the time to update your resume along with other aspects of your personal brand at the start of each semester is a great habit to get into.

Fourth, take the start of each semester as a reminder to work on your personal brand. If you are going to college, chances are you are hoping to seek a professional position when you are done. Working on your Foliotek ID page, which includes an updated resume and links to your best artifact-filled projects, can help you build your identity incrementally. One big mistake young people make is putting this off until the end of college. This is not ideal as it is very easy to forget things like what the best projects were and what information is resume worthy. By taking the time to work on your professional identity each semester, you will have a lot to work with when it comes time to search for that first job.

Finally, I would like to suggest that you take the time to archive all of your work from each course into an online storage system. Again, Foliotek has a perfect tool for this. The files repository can be organized with a folder for each course. Simply upload every paper, PowerPoint, Excel file, video, or anything else you produce for each course. Uploading your work here will archive it safely. Hard drives crash, discs and thumbnail drives get lost, but your Foliotek account will still have your work in it even if your account expires. You can always come back to renew your account or click a button to download all of your files.

In summation, being a college student is a busy endeavor. It is easy to lose track of what must be done to maximize your opportunities. I am suggesting these five tips to help you be the best you can be: use a to do list application, use the calendar on your phone, use phone alarms to remember the little things, work on your professional identity every semester, and archive all of your work in a safe online repository. Taking these steps will help you keep organized and make the most out of your investment in a college education.

Related Posts:
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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.

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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.

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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.

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