3 Tips for Improving Your In-transition Brand

3 Tips for Improving Your In-transition Brand

Everybody has a brand. Is yours a good one?

More than ever, when you are in transition you should have a brand. Why? you ask. Because that is how you differentiate yourself and stand out from the proverbial crowd.

Branding is not about what you like but about what employers like. Your branding statement—whether in writing, on the Internet, or spoken via your elevator pitch should have the triple purposes of gaining credibility, arousing curiosity, and increasing your likability factor. And your work toward those goals will not be in vain, because 90 + percent of employers check out candidates prior to making initial searches via, say, LinkedIn, Spokeo, or ZoomInfo.

Nowadays, employers use Google when searching for prospects. Research shows that 29% of people use two words when searching, 28% use three words, 17% use four words, and only 11% use one word. This means that your résumé or any other information about you should be rich with nouns and phrases. This advice is different from what we were told in the past: that résumés should have lots of action verbs. In fact, a combination of both is best. Yes, certainly computers are looking for keywords, but when people actually read about you, they want to see both action and accomplishments.

A recent study found that 90% of people search on the first three pages of search engine results and that 62% search only on the first page. Good branding work rewards candidates by resulting in a high ranking on Google and LinkedIn searches. To find out what’s out there in cyberspace, here are the most common social media search engines:

Setting it up is a bit time-consuming, but you might be surprised at the information available about you and that you didn’t have a clue about. One of the best ways to find out what people are saying about you is to monitor your reputation via www.google.com/alerts.

It’s very important to communicate properly, for this is how people judge you. And there are certain words and phrases you should avoid because they’re overused and most often meaningless. Here are a few examples:

  • Extensive experience
  • Motivated
  • Dynamic
  • Team player
  • Problem solver
  • Innovative
  • Results oriented
  • Proven track record
  • Fast paced
  • Entrepreneurial

These days 90%+ of recruiters check LinkedIn. Therefore it makes good sense for you to improve as best as possible the information on your LinkedIn page. Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Increase the number of recommendations.
  • Ask questions and provide answers.
  • Update your status periodically.
  • Inform your connections about projects you’re working on.
  • Connect with your Twitter account.
  • Share links to articles of interest.
  • Import e-mail addresses from Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, and Outlook.
  • Connect with ex-colleagues: people on LinkedIn from companies you worked with before.
  • Connect with people you met in person via networking events and whose business cards you collected.

As you can see, branding yourself is of utmost importance. Otherwise, you stay hidden from those you really want to see you.

How to Create Your Best Personal Image

How to Create Your Best Personal Image

Personal image is the dearest thing you own

When you feel disappointed, you feel let down because your expectations failed to be met. Little children at times express their reactions to disappointment by crying; adults deal with disappointment more maturely—through logic. Regardless of your age, though, disappointment evokes strong emotions.

Those in job transition have a heightened sense of awareness of such emotional response and make every effort to protect themselves from disappointment, yet at times they’re the ones causing disappointment to others and themselves—often unknowingly. Job seekers certainly do not do that by design, but awareness of the possibility of being the cause provides an opportunity to avoid or correct a potentially critically fatal situation. For example, as one who uses social media extensively, I have to admit that I’m attracted to people who have a really good picture on their profile—not necessarily because of their looks but because I can identify with those who I can see understand the value of projecting their best.

Next I poke around the Internet and sometimes find a video or other, more recent, pictures of the person. And that’s when the disappointment might come in: when it’s apparent that the picture on the profile is years old. That causes me to feel let down. Another instance that people in transition should consider is their submission of an archaic résumé to accompany a job application. This is the equivalent of being invited to an important event and showing up in soiled clothing in disrepair, which of course is simply unacceptable.

Recruiters tell me that occasionally, in contacting job seekers by phone, they get the impression that the person at the other end of the call is totally unprepared to discuss employment issues. The job seeker wants and needs a job but has failed to prepare for such a phone call. The result? The recruiter feels disappointed, and the job seeker has lost an opportunity. What a shame!

I remember a time I went to a job search networking event. Admittedly, it was a warm-weather day, but I’ll never forget the inappropriate apparel of several of those attendees who wanted to project themselves as high-level executives, high-powered lawyers, and the like. The shorts, worn-out T-shirts, and flip-flops (!) some of them were wearing were certainly incongruent with the image I would have expected from such people.

Building a personal image is difficult and takes time. Ruining it is easy and instant. How often do job candidates come out of an interview and blame themselves for not having answered the interviewer’s questions well? Both parties know it and feel equally disappointed. The candidate could have prepared better, but by then it’s too late. The irreversible damage has been done.

So, the next time, especially when you’re in transition, try to think with the other person’s mind, and ask yourself whether you’re making the right impression or the wrong one.

How do You Deal with the Black Hole

How do You Deal with the Black Hole

WHY don’t they answer me??

In this context, black hole is not a scientific term but, rather, the annoying situation when people apply for posted job openings and never hear back. It’s very frustrating because applying for jobs is a time-consuming effort—too often with no results. But why is that state of affairs so prevalent? The answer is simple: because 72% of job applications are never seen by the human eye. Applicants need to understand that unlike in the past, most companies today—except for smaller ones—are using a software application called applicant tracking system, or ATS. This software acts similarly to the spam filter on your e-mail whereby the majority of spams never reach your in-box, and therefore, you’re not even aware of them.

How does an ATS work?

The ATS scans résumés, culls relevant data, and plugs the data into predetermined columns by categories in its database. For example, the contact information at the top of the résumé gets plugged into the database so that the recruiter can sort it and search; the applicant’s education goes into a slot in the ATS assigned for education; and so forth. If such information does not get picked up properly from the résumé, the entire content might get omitted or placed in a different part of the ATS’s database.

Typically, résumés contain section headers or job titles different from those the ATS is expecting. Assume a section title on a résumé says, for instance, “Further Training and Skills.” The wording may confuse the ATS, and, again, result in omission of the entire section or attachment of the section to another area where it does not belong and where it makes no sense. The human brain can deal with such variations and exceptions, but the computer cannot. Another example might be the existence of periods in the separation of the elements of a 10-digit phone number instead of what the ATS is expecting, which could be that the area code is given in parentheses, after which a word space follows, and then separation of the next three digits from the last four by a hyphen. There are of course many other such examples whereby the ATS is unable to properly code the information.

How is the recruiter using the information the ATS presents?

The recruiter can sort the information provided by the ATS by status—for example, interviewed, hired, offered, in review or rating at his discretion; geographic location; or information for future sorting. The recruiter can group applicants by skills or status or other criteria established as relevant to the candidate search.


  • Use conventional terminology when choosing section header wording. Check other résumés to see what’s common. This is not an area to apply your creativity to.
  • Use synonyms—for example, HR or human resources—because you never know what query the recruiter is using.
  • Best if you apply for only one position at a company. If you apply for more than one position, the second application might get ignored unless the recruiter is manually indicating that this is the second position you’re applying for.
  • Use Jobscan or TagCrowd software, with which you can compare the words used in the job description to better match the words in your résumé.

A final word

The logic of a job seeker is to apply for as many positions online as applicable. And that makes sense. I am reminded of the famous bank robber Willie Sutton, who was asked why he robbed banks. His humorous—and logical—answer was, “Because that’s where the money is.” Indeed, recruiters have jobs to fill, but it is known too that the chance of a job seeker’s landing a position through a recruiter is around 5 percent. Most people—60 to 80%—get their jobs by networking. So, how will you spend your time in finding a job?