Everything communicates. These days everything communicates 24/7 forever. Once it’s online, it’s there for good. Or for bad. Either way, it’s not going away. This is why it’s so important to manage all aspects of communication and your personal brand – particularly when you are interviewing for, or going into, a new job, whether you’re interviewing for a first-line supervisor position or to be President of the United States.
Jane Howze has been doing executive search 24/7 forever. She left Korn/Ferry and founded her own search firm, The Alexander Group, in 1983. She’s seen people communicate well, and less well. She shared her thoughts about how to brand yourself to people you have never met. Some do’s and dont’s that came out of that conversation:
Don’t assume everything is fine. Do due diligence on yourself.
Recruiters and potential employers are going to find out about you anyway. So you might as well know what they are going to find. Howze points out that you should know what your online persona says about you, because it is often the first impression you make. Google yourself (for more, see the article “Have You Googled Yourself Lately?” on the Alexander Group blog). But don’t stop there:
- Listen again to your own voice mail messages. Howze told me about one executive whose voice mail message was very hard to understand – because it had been recorded by her 18 month-old daughter. Cute. But not professional.
- Take a hard look at your online pictures. Howze explained how a man who was a candidate for CEO of a relatively stuffy company – until the company looked at his LinkedIn picture taken with him in sunglasses, a tee-shirt and a bathing suit.
Don’t try to hide unpleasant truths. Do explain things that need explaining before you’re asked.
Howze relayed a story about one candidate who asked her to Google him and his involvement with Enron before pushing forward with a particular search. Yes, his involvement in particular financial transactions ruled him out for that particular job, but his candor garnered him the firm’s respect and paved the way for future opportunities.
Don’t mislead. Do manage what they will find out about you.
If you’re applying for a position in the performing arts industry and all your salaried work experience is in the auto industry, but you’ve volunteered for the local theater company as a set designer, actor, director, producer, fund raiser, CFO and board member, consider adding some of that to your LinkedIn profile if it’s not there already.
Don’t tell them about yourself. Do enable them to find out about you.
Instead of telling people about yourself, including your background, family, hobbies, vision, values and your preferred way of working, new leaders can leave breadcrumbs so people can find out about them. Relevant forums include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other sites. People want to know these things. They just don’t want them shoved down their throats.
Communication is about connecting. Let people see you. But help them to see the best in you as you look to connect with the best in them.
This is a good example of step 5 of The New Leader’s Playbook: Drive Action by Activating and Directing an Ongoing Communication Network (Including Social Media)
Everything communicates. You can either make choices in advance about what and how you’re going to communicate or react to what others do. It is important to discover your own message and be clear on your platform for change, vision, and call to action before you start trying to inspire others. It will evolve as you learn, but you can’t lead unless you have a starting point to help focus those learning plans. Identify your target audiences. Craft and leverage your core message and master narrative. Monitor and adjust as appropriate on an ongoing basis.