Tag Archives: personal branding

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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Brand Caution – Navigating a World of Instant Visibility

In the new world of work, instant visibility is both a blessing and a curse.  Everyday we are faced with endless opportunities to grow or damage our brand.

Blogs, tweets, social media interactions and other online vehicles all bring new and rapidly unfolding ways to leave our mark, share our expertise and bare our thoughts.

However just as many are finding the confidence to dip their toe into the online ocean, others are finding ways to use or exploit it. Predators in identity fraud are sifting through our personal information looking for weak spots, new intelligence businesses are trawling social networks for commercially sensitive information to sell to rival companies, and recruiters and employers are checking our digital dirt looking for past indiscretions.  So how do you manage the risks while taking the critical steps to building that all important visibility in today’s workplace?

1. Manage your privacy settings. Take the time to check and recheck your Privacy settings on any social media you are using. This way you can control who sees your personal information.

2. Never drink and tweet.  What you said last night after a few wines never looks as funny the next day.

3. Google yourself regularly to ensure no-one has published anything about you that is untrue or damaging to your brand.

4. Think before your press the post or submit button.  Recheck what you have written to make sure what you want to say is being conveyed correctly.

5. Avoid saying anything derogatory about others that may see you caught up in legal action.

6. Never reveal anything in your social media that will have you in breach of company policy.

Finally remember putting yourself out there in the cyber-world will enable you to build your brand but will also occasionally bring others who disagree with you and your opinions. Manage these people with grace and dignity and if all else fails – block them.

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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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The Redundant Brand and How to Avoid It!


It’s the toughest question of all. The white elephant lurking in the interview room. Your silent stalker.


“So why are you looking for a new position?”


It’s the question most people affected by redundancy fear in an interview and also the most common stumbling block. With a look of resignation most people answer –


“I was made redundant”.


Sure, it’s the truth isn’t it?


The answer is an absolute 100% resounding no! Why, because you weren’t made redundant – your position was. In today’s economy, retrenchments are generally caused by economic circumstance and business downsizing and not because of individual performance.


If it was a performance issue you would have been fired for cause. You weren’t, your position was made redundant, and yet almost universally people feel the need to step up and shoulder the blame for ‘losing’ their job. It’s healthy to self-examine, it’s not healthy to assume blame where there was no need to. At the moment redundancy has little to do with the individual and mostly to do with the bottom line, and this mindset of fault and blame will only hurt your chances when looking for your next position.


Personal Branding Strategist Gillian Kelly says “How you perceive and present yourself to your network, recruiters and potential employers is how they are going to see you and as soon as you start to wear the redundancy brand it will stick.”


Instead, focus on what you want you want to be known for – what you want your personal brand to be. When asked by employers, friends, family or others in your network why you left your last job, explain that the organisation was downsizing or undergoing change and that due to this certain positions in the company were no longer needed. Then refocus on the positive. Talk with confidence and enthusiasm about your enjoyment in your past role and your time with the company in general. Hone in on the contributions you offered.  Use this as an opportunity to bring to the attention of others the value you have offered in the past and potentially offer new employers in the future.  


In essence brand yourself for the future not by your past.  


Contact Gillian Kelly for more information on outplacement services or visit the personal branding section of Six Figures Resources section. 




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What does Your Personal Brand Wordle Look Like?

I just heard about this super cool application, Wordle, from an industry colleugue, and I immediately loved it. Basically it gives you a ‘visual wordmap’ or ‘word cloud’ of a document or text by analysing the most common words. Of course I immediately wanted to see what my personal brand would look like in this format, so I revisted my original personal branding profile complete with my goals, values, vision, passions and atrributes, along with my personal brand story. Click here to see the result Personal Branding by Gillian Kelly.

Try it for yourself.



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Personal Branding meets Resume Writing – The 6 Word Resume

What would you say to an employer if you only had six words. This is the question posed in G.L. Hoffman’s blog. As a resume expert and personal branding specialist I love this concept.

A few quick examples I came up with are –

* For the Project Manager – ‘Project Glue, binding teams, building unity.’
* My own as a Personal Branding Strategist – ‘Branding Specialist, Expert in Marketing You’
*For the Personal Shopper – ‘Fashionista: Reinventing tired fashions’
* For the Mum – ‘Household CEO, where slavery meets leadership’

My challenge to those reading this blog is to try this for yourself. What defines and distingusihes you? Try it today and let me know.

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Job Search in the New Millenium – What to Expect and How to Survive It


If, as a job seeker, you haven’t been truly active in the job search market for a few years, you probably scarcely recognise it! The speed of change in the job market is accelerating by the minute and job search today is completely different to ten years ago. Paper resumes are now only a small part of the job seekers toolset and both recruiters and applicants have a world of new opportunities to connect in the marketplace.




Job blogging, video resumes, social networking, resume optimisation, web portfolios and behavioural interviewing are just a few of the changes to job search practices that have been introduced over the past ten years and are all strong indicators of why it’s so important to remain abreast of changing job search technologies and employment trends.


Riding on the back of these trends has also been the swelling of awareness for candidates to have strong personal marketing and to be able to specify, quantify, document and articulate their employment value.


In today’s fast-moving employment market it is commonplace for employers to see hundreds if not thousands of resumes pass over their desks or email, and only those that truly showcase the applicant’s unique value and relevance to the employer will gain a second glance. Employers want evidence of success and quantifiable outcomes included in resumes to ensure they are making the right choice. This evidenced-based selection approach has also extended to the interviewing process with behavioural interviewing becoming one of the most common interview tools.





Technology has also brought new challenges in the presentation of resumes and other application materials. Resumes now need to be designed so that they are scanner-friendly and optimised so that they stand-out when reviewed by the database scanners used by many recruitment agencies and large employers in first round selections. Further issues such as spam filters, recruiters’ use of PDA’s to receive email and online applications have all seen resume formats adjusted to suit these domains. Given this complexity many job seekers are now accepting that investment in professional career marketing and advice is a must.


The most significant change to job search has definitely been the explosion of online networking. In the Career Directors International 2006-2007 Research Report “Career Industry Mega Trends” they stated that over 50% of recruiters surveyed said that they either currently use in some capacity or intended in the future to use Social Online Networking as a method of recruiting candidates. Forums like LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace have seen traditional networking move online and have dramatically increased opportunities for job seekers to contact and link with job search targets but also pose significant risk if used inappropriately.  According to recent research in the US up to 35 percent of hiring managers use Google to do online background checks on job candidates, and over 20 percent look people up on social networking sites. Job seekers, need to be aware that the transparency of information on the internet allows employers to view them from all angles, and should ensure that anything posted will not hurt future job search activities. Even if you have had limited involvement on the internet, this “self-googling” is also vital to ensure there isn’t anyone else with the same name as you on the internet that may pose a risk to your job search credibility. On the flipside of these negativities, smart jobseekers are now using the internet through job blogging to position themselves as an expert in their field, leading employers and recruiters to them, rather than the other way around.




With changing technology it’s hard to imagine exactly what the face of job-hunting will look like in ten years time. Many career coaches particularly in the United States are already embracing the advances of online communication such as video resumes and web portfolios to deliver more impact to application presentations.  Whilst in Australia uptake and acceptance of these newer methods of resume delivery is slow, as Australia commonly follows US trends, it would be wise for Jobseekers and employers alike to consider these forums as potential opportunities for recruitment.




Regardless of how the job search is conducted, one thing is for certain, social networking, technology and personal marketing will continue to remain the key axis of an effective job search strategy.  Regardless of the medium, the fundamentals of marketing yourself competitively remain paramount. Know the employer and understand what they want; identify, evidence and document your unique value in terms of these dimensions; and develop skills to articulate this in person both in social networking forums and formal interviews. Finally seek solid advice from career specialists to ensure you leverage the full advantages of latest job search technologies and also remain abreast of pitfalls of these new arenas.  Doing this will ensure you present well be it in an interview, video resume, or through social networking forums.


With the speed of change in the job market today it is also critical that candidates prepare themselves through a strategic approach to their job search activities. Invest in building effective marketing materials including a resume that is tailored to your job target and presented in a variety of contemporary file types (Word, ASCII, and PDF) so that you are ready for any application forum. Seek out advice and coaching in what form of resume should be used in each forum and familiarise yourself with the current styles of interviewing. In particular understand how to articulate your contributions made to past employers so you can evidence your skills and what you offer employers in the future. Finally make sure you continually stay abreast of, and are open to, newer styles of job search and networking. You will be better positioned for success if you look beyond traditional networking, and consider networking online, or social networking, as a part of your holistic job search campaign.”  


Today’s job market is an increasingly complex arena. Changing technology brings a world of new opportunities and risks to job seekers today.  Online technology allows greater opportunities for visibility by techno-savvy candidates wanting to get employers attention. On the other hand this visibility also means that it’s critical to ensure anything uploaded into this domain is well thought out and highly professional, otherwise your visibility may be your downfall.  However embrace technology, seek solid advice and ensure you are prepared and the world can be your oyster.


Good Luck


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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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Who Do You Choose To Be?

Who Do You Choose To Be?

I heard a wonderful quote recently from Sidney Poitier whilst being interviewed by Oprah. During his interview he shared that when he was young and new to America he faced his first real exposure to racial prejudice. During this time he was asked “Who are You?” and his response was

“I am who I choose to be!”

I loved this. Not only because of the strength and fortitude it takes to understand and articulate this at such a young age but because knowing who you choose to be and consistently living by this is the essence of personal branding. It’s about understanding yourself and your values and building a personal identity that aligns authentically with these.  

Ask yourself today – Who Do You Choose To Be?



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Dare to Be You!

Dare To Be You. It’s not only my business mantra and blog title but my challenge to others. All too often the talented quiet achiever is overlooked not because they lack the skills but because they lack the personal marketing tools to get noticed and rewarded.

Life is too short to live in the shadows.

Capitalise on your Talents. Realise Your Potential. Live your Dream.

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