Tag Archives: careers

Business Lessons from The Avengers

Few companies would classify the blockbuster ‘The Avengers” as a business movie but as I sat in the cinema watching the Avengers I couldn’t help but smile as it brought to life a fundamental message that only a few maverick organisations have genuinely embraced and used to their advantage, and that is “the misfits together rule the world.”

Of course, Google knew it and became the epitome of the non-traditional workplace; the company everyone wanted to work for. Steve Jobs lived and breathed it and was famously quoted as having said “here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes.  His career resonated with the belief that uniformity was the enemy of innovation. As Jim Collins commented “good is the enemy of great”.

How cool is that! A movie that not only breaks box office records but embeds an intrinsically powerful organisational concept – how the strongest of organisations are not built on soldier armies trained to follow procedure at all costs, but instead on groups of passionate individuals each unique with their own strengths and flaws all working toward a common goal but with the freedom to contribute in their own way.  As I like to put it – a culture of superstars instead of a workplace of vanilla.

Every day I see smart companies committed to finding superstar employees able to deliver results that will enable them to out-perform their competitors.  They invest in employer branding campaigns and pay headhunters to trawl the market for talent.  They engage in bidding wars and poach competitor workforces in their search for the elusive advantage. The rationale is solid but the investment unfortunately often wasted. Why? Because so many workplaces are built around the tired doctrines of traditional performance management and organisational development – the graveyard for innovation.

Workplaces where individuals are encouraged each year to pinpoint their development needs and work on their weaknesses. Management structures where leadership are encouraged to manage succession planning through promoting up. Organisational development arenas where coaches are employed to assess against defined KPI’s.  The result – the culture of vanilla.  A workplace where everyone is geared to be perfectly competent.  Where superstars with hidden talents lay dormant and undeveloped. Where creativity and innovation is quashed as people work within the boundaries they have been given. Where companies miss incredible talent right under their own noses as people sit stagnantly wasting away in roles not aligned with their strengths

But what if instead of a culture of vanilla more businesses decided to follow the road less travelled and build a culture of superstars. Their own unique superhero alliance.  Imagine the possibility of performance acceleration if individuals were focused on honing their talents and strengths rather than countering their weaknesses.  Think of the change in workplace satisfaction that would be possible if employers and employees looked across all areas of the business to better match individual capability with business and market opportunity. What could happen if promotion was defined not as moving up but instead moving across to new areas of opportunity? What could be achieved if people were encouraged to take a risk and shoot for the stars?  To strive in an environment where failure was acceptable and ‘not trying’ was inconceivable.

Would the Avenger’s team have been as good if The Hulk hadn’t been able to use his strength? Who didn’t enjoy seeing The Hulk finally given the freedom to smash? Would the team have made it if the world had succeeded in taming Ironman Tony Stark from his maverick ways?   Of course not.  Greatness comes when unique strengths are unified with shared goals.

The challenge is not eliminating our differences but harnessing them appropriately. How many companies have a superhero workforce already right under their noses just waiting to be unleashed.  In the words of The Avengers movie

“ You put those people together, you can’t expect what’s going to happen…”

Viva la difference.

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Gillian Kelly Interviewed on Personal Branding with BNet

Looking for some more tips to build your personal brand. Don’t miss my podcast on Personal Branding for the CBS business site BNET.com. You can listen to it here.

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Personal Branding – Graduates Join the Brand-Wagon

Many graduates think that personal branding isn’t for them. They assume just because they don’t have much career experience they have little to sell and so it won’t be worth it. In fact the opposite is true. 


Never is it so competitive to get a job than as a graduate entering the workplace and competing against thousands of other graduates in the same field. This is the time to differentiate yourself! To stand up and showcase what you bring of value to future employers and why they should invest in you over others with the same qualification.


But how do you do this?  Building a personal brand shouldn’t be taken lightly. To do this properly demands that you dedicate time to building insight into your target market (particularly employers in your sector) and then analysing, extracting and honing your key brand attributes that will be relevant to them. Your brand needs to be authentic and based on your true strengths and passions. Faking a brand that isn’t you will never work.


For graduates serious about personal branding you can employ the services of a personal branding strategist or read books on the topic such as Career Distinction by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixon. This will enable you to build a brand that will enhance your competitiveness and set the foundation for your career in years to come.


Once you have your personal brand, its time to communicate this to the world at large. For graduates your resume is a prime place to do this. Build a branded resume. If you can afford it, employ a professional resume writer who can ensure your opening profile in your resume highlights your brand and that your resume then backs this up with evidenced achievements of your accomplishments to-date. Include extracurricular activities, industry experience, internships, anything that reinforces your brand and differentiates you from your peers.


When you have a killer resume re-assess your image and make sure it’s sending the right signals and then start building your network. Effective networking is always the best tool for career marketing.  


Finally remember personal branding doesn’t stop when you get a job. Continue to build your professional brand in the workplace through a consistent professional reputation based on the value you bring to your employers and industry through your unique strengths.


To all graduates out there making the jump to the workforce – good luck!!


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The Dangers of Lying on Your Resume

Almost everyone admits to it – adding that little white lie to your resume to make your case for that job just that little bit stronger. We tell ourselves it’s not lying – just embellishing. No-one will ever know. Think again!

In today’s market, technology affords employer’s greater access to your career information than ever before, and the threat and costs associated with bad hiring decisions are pushing employers to scrutinize candidates more closely than ever. In fact with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse claiming “approximately 30 percent to 40 percent of job applications and résumés include some false or inflated facts”, employers are now going to greater extremes than ever to catch candidates out. Career Directors International latest Career Sector Megatrends Report 2007 stated that employers are now using Google, FaceBook and other internet forums to dig up digital dirt on candidates. They also highlight credit checks, reference checks and even handwriting checks as common techniques to assess potential candidates. From this it’s clear that candidates today need to do more to ensure their career and online identity is squeaky clean. 

As a resume writer, I work to coach my clients that resume integrity is critical. Whilst a good resume will portray you in your best light, it’s never a good idea under any circumstances to lie. Not ever.A lie on a resume may get you to interview. But at what price? Today’s interviews are based on sophisticated behavioural interviewing techniques that demand a depth of detail not easily fudged. Nothing is more telling of a resume lie than a blank look as someone stumbles to put together feasible responses to what they wrote. Even if you manage to get through the interview – what then? Many employers now use professional pre-screening companies that are experts in hounding out resume lies and inaccuracies. As the internet has grown with sites offering access to a wealth of opportunities to buy mock degrees and fraudulent documentation, now we are seeing the backlash to this, as legal history is being made with individuals seeing the consequences both legally and financially for these actions.And of course, what if you do get the job? You’ve painted yourself as an expert in your field and now you are expected to deliver. Its highly likely that you’ll struggle to deliver performance at the levels they will expect and instead of having this great new job, you will have a failure leaving you rocked with poor morale and a terrible hole in your resume that you will now be again enticed to lie about to cover what happened. It’s a vicious circle and a place you don’t want to be.Instead consider the alternatives:

  •  Build yourself a resume that really sells you on your merits. A good resume writer will be able to structure your background to show achievements on any level.
  • Use your cover letter to address any gaps in experience you may have for the job through highlighting your transferable skills, and your capacity to adapt these skills to differing environments.
  •  Build passion into your resume for why you want the role, as employers will often be swayed by an individual’s energy and determination. More often than not, employers recognise that it is harder to find a person with the right qualities, than it is to teach job skills.

Finally build a career based on integrity. Let your achievements speak for themselves and have confidence in yourself. You’ll do brilliantly. I know it!

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