The Ever Changing Job Search – Should You Add a Headshot to Your Resume?

Back in the days when I was living in Spain and applying for an internship everyone found it odd that you had to attach a headshot with your resume.  We all searched for, or took, professional photos of ourselves, or as close to it as we could get and figured out a way to attach them to our resumes, or CV’s.  Still today, that would probably be taking it a step too far here in the U.S. even though we all know full well that the hiring managers or recruiters are probably looking on social media to find what we all look like and get a better sense for who we are as people.

One aspect of it is “privacy” which we all know we don’t have anyway.  The other aspect of it is resume readers that may be thrown off and not be able to read your resume for keywords because of the attached image.

So, what now? Any recruiters out there that could weigh in on this?

Most Unique Interview Questions

How many gum balls are in the US?

If I was given $1,000, what kind of career/educationally expanding course would I use it for?

I’ve been given a number of difficult or thought provoking questions, but these two have stuck with me.  In the first case, the interviewer wasn’t looking for a real answer. He was looking to see how I would react to such a question and then what my thought process would be to get to an answer.  The role needed someone who could make some quick assumptions, that could be fact checked later, but the thought process was the key.  How would you get to a hypothetical answer?

The second one I had to complement the recruiter on as I’ve never heard that one either.  I’m not sure what the goal of the answer was but my assumption would be that they are looking for someone who is always looking to know and learn more.  So if you don’t have any future goals then you may not be the right fit. What course have you been pining after?

Good luck!

Performing a Social Media Audit

The above sounds so easy, no?  Well, it can be but only if you do it all the time.  If the only thing you are doing while managing a, or several, social media account(s) for your business is posting or tweeting and failing to constantly be keeping an eye on metrics and the competition then you might be in for a rude awakening when your web traffic doesn’t grow, or you’re not getting as many conversions, or the conversation stops.

So what do you need to do?  I’m in the camp of constant monitoring of everything.  Ask anyone I have recently worked with and they’d say if someone mentioned metrics or being able to show an ROI for a marketing related activity then “I knew Linda would be happy.”  But it’s true!  It’s so difficult to prove the point of marketing.  It’s a lot of gobeldygook and “awareness” and “impressions.” But luckily, in this day and age you can even measure PR!

So what should you be doing?

Here are my 5 easy steps (also check out my Social Media sections, particularly the post titled The Statistics That Matter)

1. Create not only a monthly posting calendar but also a plan – what are you hoping to achieve this month? Set some goals and drive towards them.

2. What’s trending? What are people in your universe talking about? Make sure to weigh in on the topic, if applicable of course.

3. Measure, measure, measure.  Take the end of each week to assess progress and see what you’re doing well and what needs a bit of love.

4. Be flexible.  Don’t be so ridged in your planning that you don’t allow for spur of the moment changes.

5. Keep an eye on the competition.  What are they doing that could be interesting to look into?  What can you do better? How can you stand out?

Now, when looking at a full on audit, here is some expert advice that I’ll be sure to use:

10 Basic Steps to Perform a Social Media Audit
Performing a Social Media Audit
How to Perform a Social Media Audit
How to Perform a Social Media Audit Even if You Hate Audits

Performing a Brand Audit

I had a recent conversation with someone who said that when he started on as a marketing manager he took it upon himself to perform a full on brand audit and ended up learning more about the company and its brands than most people.  Now, I’ve been involved in re-branding exercises, and VOC’s but I haven’t really performed a brand audit in its true nature.  Knowing that this is something that could bring tremendous value to a brand I decided to explore what it means to perform a true multi-step brand audit.

In my search, I came across a few sources, which I’ll cite as I go but the one that came up first, due to its great SEO, was a post from Miles Design.  So get ready and get your pencils out! (P.S. Speaking of pencils, and you’ll understand why later, have you checked out my Hire Me! section of the blog?)

What is the purpose of a brand audit?

The purpose behind a brand audit is plain and simple: to gain a fundamental understanding of where your brand stands in its current state.

When and why should we audit our brand?

The majority of business go through the process of auditing their brand when they have a vested interest in making a change within their organization. Maybe they’re rebranding, or refreshing their current look. This would be a perfect time to take a look at your current brand and see where it has shifted since its inception. Perhaps an organization is unhappy with their internal communication and employee relations. A smart CEO or CMO might take that opportunity to judge what their brand stands for, who they are as a company and what they need to do from a communications stand point to fix the internal problems or issues.

Brand Audit Example

An extensive brand audit should look at the following categories:

Internal

  • Positioning
  • Brand Values
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP), brand promise, or brand essence
  • Voice
  • Culture
  • Product / Service positioning

 External

  • Corporate Identity – logos and other brand elements
  • Collateral-brochures, print materials, trade show displays, etc.
  • Advertising
  • Website
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorships/civic-involvement/memberships
  • News/PR
  • Content Marketing and other assets – blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, books, etc.
  • Testimonials
  • Videos

 Systems

  • Corporate identity/brand standards
  • HR policies/on-boarding process
  • Sales processes/touch points
  • Internal systems
  • Customer service systems

 Do the math.

How many new clients/projects would you have to win to justify the costs of a rebrand?

For most professional service firms, one or two clients would be more than enough to justify the investment.

Below are some additional resources:
Conducting an Effective Brand Audit – Ignition Consulting Group
Critical Steps When Conducting a Brand Audit – 8 Ways Media

P.S. The next blog post will be about conducting a social media audit so come on back!

Thinking Outside the Application Box

Everyone is fully capable of sending their resumes into the black hole. But are there things you can do to try and stand out? I mean really?  What’s the worst that can happen?  Maybe you won’t get a call back? You were potentially on that path anyway so be spontaneous and think outside the box.

After all, and I digress slightly, if you are on unemployment then you are potentially on or will be on the REA program which requires you to conduct your search on three different days in three different ways.  I’ll go into all of that another day but none the less.

So what can you do?  I’m going to suggest you try that free premium job seeker plan on LinkedIn.  Try it out for free for the first 30 days and see what happens.  The first time I tried it, I was able to send an inmail to a director of HR at a company I was interested in.  I never ever expected that he would get back to me and I certainly didn’t think that he might have a lead on a job for me.  Long story short I got pretty far in the process but unfortunately not all of the stars aligned.  But guess what, I just bucked up and paid for another 30 days through LinkedIn because I think it’s worth a shot in the dark.

How about dropping by?  Perhaps you’ve already applied somewhere you’d love to work but haven’t heard back yet, or had a conversation with a recruiter but things seem to have fizzled out.  Why not take an extra step and gather up all of your portfolio items and drop them off with the receptionist.  Now this can go two different ways, right?  A) someone might think you’re a bit nutty for dropping by B) someone might think that you’re really serious and a go getter.  Either way, the only bad thing that might happen is that you may not hear from those folks again, but by the sounds of it, perhaps things were heading that way anyway.  So take a risk!

Also, don’t forget about networking like crazy, or start being an influencer on LinkedIn and blogging to get your name out there, go to networking events, volunteer, follow influencers on twitter and start a conversation with them.  All of these things will pay off in the end.

Go get em tiger! :)

Must Have: Sense of Humor

I’ve been seeing this “requirement” on a few job descriptions and find it kind of funny.  Is anyone going to tell you that they are boring?  It’s kind of like asking for references, in my opinion.  No one is going to give you a list of references who they don’t know or know that they’ll speak highly of them.  At least I hope not…

It certainly is encouraging that hiring managers are looking for someone with this “skill” but how do you convey it to them without looking foolish? Perhaps you can use the cover letter to open with something funny?

How about: “A horse walks into a bar…I’m kidding. I understand that one of the ideal qualities of your new digital marketing manager is humor. I know there are other ways I can show you my funny side but I couldn’t pass up opening with something catchy.”

Perhaps you simply try to throw in a funny saying in your interview?  Or just try to be loose and easy going?  How are you responding to this in your search?

Q3 – Marketing Roadmap Update

The above might not make business sense to your business but the point is, this is Q3, or 2H (second half) of the year.  What have you learned from the first half?  Let’s assume a few things and then work through those assumptions.

Assumptions…You were tasked with…
1. Creating a brand new 2015 marketing strategy at the end of last year.
2. Increasing brand awareness for your brand while also supporting some sales goals, such as improving web sales.
3. Increasing web traffic.
4. Improving the SEO & PPC outcomes.
5. Helping launch new products.

How will you track success on the above?
1. Creating a strategy is one thing, having that strategy work out is quite another. As a leader of a team, or department, you need to be monitoring the outcomes of all of your activities.

Can you track how many leads were collected at a tradeshow? Is this more or less than last year? And did more of them open a post tradeshow email you sent?

What about costs for all of your activities?  Is the effort worth the investment?

I was once told that as a manager I was spending too much time on planning and research. I would have agreed with that statement if my team wasn’t proving that what we were doing was actually working.  And if no one spent any time thinking about what the next practical thing to do would be we’d be in the same situation we were in before.  No plan and a lot of time and money wasted.

2. Brand awareness is a tricky thing.  Wouldn’t it be nice to tie a pretty bow around every “like” you get and tie it to a sale?  That would be the best success story ever and I would take that job in a heart beat.  But, reality is that brand awareness is hard to track. Your best bet is to be present in the places where your customers talk.  Find the right forums, social platforms, news outlets, sites, blogs, magazines, whatever and be present.  Answer people’s questions and be there when they need you.  It’s a huge effort, but somebody has to do it in order to get your brand out there in the right way…and the right way isn’t beating your customers over the head over your most awesome widget and its 13 different features. BORING!

Now web sales fall into that “yay factor” where you can easily track things back to your marketing efforts, most of the time.  If you have the right tracking tools in place you’ll be able to easily see that a sale came from an email you sent, or that they clicked through a digital ad in a pub, or better yet thought your Facebook posting was SO compelling that they simply had to have your latest whos-it. Congrats! You’re on easy street now.  But, if your efforts are not driving sales then you need to re-evaluate what you are doing.  Perhaps you’re in the wrong place, or perhaps you’re simply there at the wrong time…or, you’re not using the right lingo to attract your perfect customer.  Evaluate, measure, repeat!

3. I love to help increase web traffic.  In my last role, my team was able to increase web traffic by over 100% as compared to the previous year.  Now, the fact that we had an online store at that time certainly helped, but the planning that went into all other marketing activities also didn’t hurt.  We were able to roll out a new PR plan and got a ton of new eyes on our site.  We also improved the look of our emails and our paid ads.  Just those three things alone will help you bring in some changes.

4. Improving SEO & PPC outcomes is a monumental task.  Let’s break these two into two topics.

SEO – this is an effort that a lot of people need to be involved in.  Marketing needs to hold the reigns on this one as all marketing activities must tie into the same SEO plan.  You can’t have three different departments on three different pages and marketing trying to keep up with everything, that’s how you end up below the fold or worse yet on page 2 of a google search. You need to sit down with whoever the other stake holders might be…perhaps it’s your technical writers, or product folks, or applications team, and don’t forget your sales team.  You need to make sure that you set some very specific goals as to what you need to be focusing on and what specific terms you will be using to convey your story.  To be honest, this should have been done at the beginning of the year, but let’s not get the perfect get in the way of the good.

Once you have your strategy in place, make sure that those terms are the ones you are using everywhere.

Title tags, alt tags, meta descriptions, video descriptions, product descriptions, social media postings, PR, ads, the list goes on and on but at a minimum you need to have these areas covered.

PPC – this can be a tricky one.  The easy part is that once you have your SEO strategy and keyword list you should use the same keywords for your PPC efforts.  The fun part is, that you can really play with your PPC money. If you’re looking for brand awareness, then do some display ads.  Google will even help you with this.  Pick the keywords you want to focus on and they will supply you with a list of sites that talk about those related topics.  Pick where you want your ads to appear and once again Google will step in and create the ad for you.  You might not get a lot of sales out of it, but you can be optimistic, but you will sure as hell get a lot of  eyes on your ads…i.e. impressions, and that’s a good thing.

But, be careful with your budget as it can dwindle very quickly.  In one of my last roles we had to really reel in the spend and instead of trying to be all things to all people we chose to focus on branding and getting our name out there, and guess what, we finally got some conversions!

5. Ahhh, product launches.  Another place where there can be too many cooks in the kitchen.  But, this can be easily mitigated if you have a plan!  Have I said that word a few times already?  I love to plan, and I love numbers…but I digress.

In a previous role we had just gotten into phase gating. Phase gating allows for proper planning for a product launch.  There can be times when a product needs to be launched yesterday but if that’s the case then often times…someone dropped the ball, especially if no one knows about this new hullabaloo product.

In order to have a successfully marketed new product you need to get a few ducks in a row.  Get everyone aware of the product and its features, but more importantly, why its even needed in the market.  Get the appropriate content written about this new product and get some collateral pulled together.  Collateral that has been planned ahead for will not only look better but will also last you more than a month…I say this because if everything is a rush, then chances are some things haven’t been thought through and you’ll need to update your new lit the minute it comes in house, and that would be a shame.

Make sure that you have your team trained, your ads lined up, your press releases written, samples ready to show off at the next tradeshow, and your team ready to blast the hell out of this new thing.

Here is a word of caution, just because you’re the first on the market doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.  There is a time and a place and a right way to do things.

So with that, I leave you with a few thoughts.

1. Have you looked at the metrics from the first two quarters? What are they telling you?

2. Have you thought of a way to improve a current process or two that will allow you to have even more success in something?

3. Have you considered not doing something?  It’s ok to say that this thing you suggested just didn’t work.  It’s better to admit that now, rather than at the end of the year when you’ve spent twice as much on it.

Good luck, and knock Q3 out of the ball park!!!