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Jobseekers: Live and Breathe Your Brand to Land Your Next Job

Your professional brand should reflect who you are, such as what drives you, your unique approach to problem-solving, and what you’re most passionate about. The better you become at understanding and honing in on your individuality and strengths, the better positioned you’ll be to land your dream job. Landing your dream job requires a consistent brand message, not just on your resume, but throughout the interview process.

It helps to visualize the interview process as a funnel. In the beginning, recruiters are looking through applications simply to weed out people who aren’t qualified to do the job. Once they have a short list of people who have the basic skills and experiences necessary to do the job, the process becomes much more personalized as recruiters and hiring managers start to hone in on the individual who will not only get the job done, but also fit with the company culture. In my 20 years of experience designing recruiting processes for companies, I’ve seen how great of an impact jobseekers’ professional brands can have on their chances of receiving a job offer. Toward the end of the interview process, when everyone is qualified enough to get an offer and qualifications are neutralized, it all boils down to one question: who is best fit to be a trusted member of our team?

As ironic as it sounds, thinking beyond actually landing a job might just be the key to actually landing one. When you consider your potential for sustainable growth at the prospective company, and what opportunities you might have to move your career and company forward, it’s easier to be authentic and stay true to yourself throughout the process. The company’s values and mission statement might indicate and communicate expectations and work environment. If you’re well-informed about the company and authentically living and breathing your professional brand throughout the interview process, you’re one step closer to landing your dream job.

The interview process is a two-way street. Not only is the company interviewing you, but you should also be interviewing the company. Here are some tips to finding the job of your dreams:

Know your professional brand

Your brand isn’t marketing speak. It’s who you are, what you believe, and what you stand for. These qualities are interconnected. In other words, what is your default setting?

By becoming acutely aware of your authentic self, you’ll begin to see what drives you and what’s most important. By living your brand, you can begin to apply your beliefs and passions to your work. Once you do, you’ll produce better results than somebody who is simply stating their values without putting them into practice. Once you identify your brand, message it. Don’t tell the interviewer what they want to hear– embrace your brand and ensure they get to know the authentic you, during a job interview and beyond.

Interview the company

Ask interview questions along the way to ensure you’re getting a 360-degree perspective of how the company works. Be sure you craft your questions for the company carefully. Just as you’ll be asked to tell about a time when something went right or something went wrong in your last job, so should you ask behavioral questions that uncover specific situations and past scenarios to get a real sense of how the company operates.

An interview question such as “are you a cooperator” is flawed because no job candidate would be naïve enough to say that they can’t work as a member of the team. Similarly, company representatives are not going to overtly reveal that the people at the company are constantly at loggerheads. On the other hand, if you’re looking for insights into how the organization operates and if there is a culture of cooperation among the executive staff, you could ask them to tell you about the last time the leadership team disagreed and what happened in that situation. Listen carefully to the answer. The truth may be revealed in what isn’t said as much as the answer given. Watch for obvious or subtle clues buried in the anecdotes and answers they give. In short, become a competent interviewer as much as a prepared interviewee to discover a job that will be a benefit to you as much as you are an asset to the company.

Thrive in awareness

Whether you are currently working in the perfect job, or not, thrive in your professional brand by doing what you’re good at with a greater level of awareness. Once you’ve determined who you are, what you believe, and what you stand for, it becomes easier to notice when work doesn’t fit in with your goals and priorities. Become the CEO of your own life and seek out organizations with like-minded people who will allow you to become your best self and where you can experience sustainable growth through living your brand.

When you’ve “hired” the right company– or accepted an offer from the right company– you’re one step closer to thriving in an environment that will support and embrace you for you. It’s time to take your brand message and live it with a greater level of awareness. Now you can strategically build your reputation by design, instead of by default.

Build a reputation

It’s time to grow, feel alive, and be infectious with your professional brand. Now that you’re in the right place, begin to be more deliberate about the conversations you set up and proactive about the relationships you build.

Let’s say one pillar of your personal brand is cooperation; you find joy in helping others achieve. You’re not afraid to deliver feedback because you believe it really makes people better. If this has been a component of your professional brand message all along, you can shift away from “marketing” it, and move toward inserting it in your workflow. Perhaps you can begin sharing or explaining various actions you take in the context of cooperation. Because you were hired for this attribute, company stakeholders and managers should embrace it. By living and breathing your professional brand, you’ll slowly, but surely, cement your reputation.

This is not about creating a cookie cutter playbook. This methodology is designed to help professionals and executives decipher what they want long-term. Career advice to date has been designed to provide exactly what recruiters and interviewers want to hear, which actually undermines thriving. It leads to a ‘mismatch’ which can prevent you from reaching your full potential.  Could you be successful in a company with people who are not like-minded?  Sure.  But you can’t reach your full potential.  So much time is spent trying to ‘convince’ people, justifying actions, defending yourself and your methodology in a mismatch situation… just think about what you could accomplish if that time were allocated to executing, envisioning, forging solutions because you’re working with people who ‘already get it’. 

When you turn the table and seek out career opportunities that are cohesive to your own career objectives and professional brand, you will begin to highlight your own strengths and values. Then, when you land a job, it’s feasible to put those strengths into play right away. Authenticity is a win-win for the jobseeker and the employer. You are really asking each other: “how can we do this together?”

Lisa Riley is a RiseSmart Certified Career Coach. She believes that the secret to thriving personally and building a thriving company are one in the same: Knowing your brand (what you believe in, what you stand for, what your strengths are) and living it, which helps you unlock your full potential, create durable, effective relationships and delivers sustainable growth.

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About Mildred Blankson

I am a Human Resource Professional with a Masters Degree in Human Resource Management. I have several years of experience in Human Resources and i hope this blog will be a great resource in helping you find the perfect job or candidate that you seek.

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How to Leverage Company Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

One-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in 2016, according to a research report compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). As recruiting and retaining top talent continue to become increasingly difficult for employers, robust benefit packages play a key role. When salaries and perks (think: free lunch) are nearly equal from company to company, employees are likely to opt for the company that offers the best benefits and greatest opportunities.

Medical and financial benefits aside, employees are looking for lifestyle and career benefits. SHRM reported that the top reason employers increased benefits in 2016 was to remain competitive in the marketplace—and the three biggest focus areas for change were in the health (22%), wellness (24%), and professional and career development (16%) categories. Robust benefit packages that include career development, health and wellness, and flexible working options provide a platform for employers to stand out. Nearly one-third of employees look for external positions because they desire “overall better benefits,” second only to higher compensation.

The type of benefits you offer speaks volumes on how you treat and support employees, which always manifests by way of your external employer brand. It’s not enough to say “we have great benefits,” because “great benefits” are now table stakes. Companies have mastered the art of talking about perks, from catered lunches to team building activities. Failure to talk about the real support and development opportunities you offer to employees might translate to missed opportunities. So how can hiring managers and recruiters promote employee benefits to help with recruiting and retention?

#1: Kick “industry standard” out of your vocabulary

When recruiters and hiring managers list their company’s benefits and summarize with the catch-all phrase, we offer “industry standard” benefits, it’s not enough. When all else—compensation, vacation days, and perks—are even, offering a standard benefits package won’t help your company standout enough to secure commitment from a top employee. Even though it might be tempting to default to a quick response, it pays to provide more detail about the benefits your company offers, in length, during the interview process.

And even more importantly than providing a laundry list of benefits (but kudos to you for that list!), explain how these benefits fit in with core company values. For example, if you offer flexible work arrangements and flexible hours, explain that these arrangements support your company’s value of work-life balance. If you provide a gym membership or showers at work, talk about how it enhances company culture or creates opportunities for employees to get the exercise they desire in a convenient way.. When recruits begin to see how your benefits support their shared values and interests, they’ll see the benefits you offer are much greater than “industry standard.”

Employers hoping to keep a competitive edge are offering more than the “industry standard” at every stage of the employee journey, including at severance – according to a recent study by RiseSmart. If you’re on the cutting edge of severance offerings, use those benefits to differentiate your company form the competition.

#2: Talk about goals in the recruiting and interview process

Before an employee is even hired, find out what they’re looking for in their employer and what their short and long term goals are. Ask questions like, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” and “How are you hoping your employer will support you along your career journey?” Employees, many of whom are seeking opportunities for career development and continuing education, need to know you plan to invest in their individual career goals.

A Career Builder survey found that 45% of employees, regardless of generation, plan to stay with their employer for less than two years. During their tenure, they expect to benefit and grow with each new role and and at each new company. It’s important to convey to prospective employees that you invest in each individual employee, regardless for how long they plan to stay in the role for which they are being hired.

#3: Amplify the employee voice

Remind employees early on that they have a voice to share about company culture and employee benefits. Glassdoor, for example, recommends employers invite new hires to reflect on their first few months at the company. Whether this leads to internal feedback or a public review, it can assist efforts aimed at creating a positive employer brand.

L’Oréal recently launched a #LifeatLoreal hashtag to encourage employees to share photos of their experiences at work. The campaign all stemmed from the idea that people would trust their peers on social media when it came to L'Oréal being a great place to work. Employees posted a wide variety of pictures, including snapshots of various benefits and perks in action—such as flex days and catered lunches. Encourage employees to share the experiences they enjoy the most on the social channel of their choice.

#4: Keep employees engaged with benefits

On average, salary is only about 70% of an employee’s total compensation. When employees don’t take advantage of the benefits offered by the company, it’s equivalent to leaving 30% of the total compensation package on the table. Employers who keep employees engaged with benefits are more likely to see benefits manifest as part of the employer brand. An employee is highly unlikely to leave a Glassdoor review that mentions a positive benefit if she has never actually utilized the benefit.

Try hosting monthly or quarterly Q&A sessions to discuss available benefits. When you roll out a particularly hefty benefit, such as a new 401K offering, or an update to parental leave policy, give employees ample opportunity to ask questions. You could also share success stories from employees who have taken advantage of a particularly niche benefit, such as an hour of free lawyer services, to showcase how the benefit is used and encourage other employees to check it out.

#5: Benefits are the forgotten negotiation tool

If you are a hiring manager or recruiter engaging with a candidate, think beyond salary, or equity. Everything is negotiable, from vacation days to health insurance choices. Savvy employees, especially as the war for talent continues to heat up, will use benefits as negotiation tools—but don’t shy away from doing the same thing on the employer side. It’s often easier to offer more benefits than to secure additional salary for an employee.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your full complement of benefits, including your severance benefits. Prospective employees may feel more comfortable about joining a company that will take care of them, in the event of a downsizing or restructuring event. You may want to consider offering perks like outplacement and career transition services to employees who leave voluntarily as well as those who are involuntary subjects of a layoff. Knowing that you are invested in their career, even after they leave, will help you create a workforce of dedicated, engaged, and satisfied employees.

The world is small and everyone is connected. When you invest in employees, it leads to a positive employer brand. In the new Employee Relationship Economy, former employees will someday become vendors, customers, brand evangelists, recruiting references, or even boomerang employees. In a world where the employee/employer relationship is no longer finite, it’s important to convey your full support for employees’ career endeavors at every stage of their career journeys -- beginning early in the recruiting and interview process.

In every recruiting conversation, highlight your dedication to each employee’s career. When you frame up your organization’s benefits in context of how they fit in with the employee’s journey, it’s easy for the candidate to see how your company would support his journey. Communication about employee benefits can go a long way in the recruiting process—and will have a direct impact on your employer brand. If you offer much more than “industry standard,” you should be screaming it from the rooftops. Your current and prospective employees deserve to understand just how committed you are to their personal and professional journey.

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