Category Archives: Personal Branding & Social Media


How To Define & Live Your Values

“There is no passion to be found in playing small—in settling for a life that is less than you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela –

values words

Our values make us who we are.  They are developed over time in the interactions we experience.  It is important for you to understand your values as they act as internal guides to the things you do and say.

The majority of people have never sat down and thought about or documented what their values are. If you are unsure about your key values, I encourage you to review the extensive list of values below to assist in determining what they truly are. If there are values missing from this list, add these to the bottom blank section and treat them as a part of the two exercises below.

It is important to be aware of the values that are meaningful to us.  If we know what we value, we are better positioned to think about what industries, types of jobs and companies we may be most suited to. Or whether or not we want to work for ourselves.  It will also help to identify those values that we want to avoid in our career and life.

Are You Living Your Values?


Russ Harris, Author of The Happiness Trap also has some great free short values exercises and other worksheets on his website that I would encourage you to visit.

5 Ways to Communicate More Effectively When Job Searching & Networking

02A16Y0YWhile technology is great and facilitates many amazing discussions, connections and content sharing, it also leaves many people lost when it comes to the basics of general communication. Perhaps it is because we live in an age where everything is so rapid and where we can communicate anonymously should we wish.  However, if you want to build and maintain a positive personal brand, be sure to stick to the basics – a polite introduction of your name and purpose of the communication when reaching out to others is imperative.

I cannot tell you how many people when applying for jobs leave a message on the voicemail without leaving a contact number, full name and putting some context around the call. This does not leave a professional impression and would not result in the application progressing to the next stage. The same applies if it was a networking reach out – it would not led to a meeting.

If you are preparing for a job search related ‘meeting’ of any description (be it face to face, email or over the phone) go through the following checklist before reaching out;

  1. Clarity around the purpose of the communication (your objectives & potentially theirs). Keep it concise. What are you looking to achieve from the meeting or reach out? Is it to speak with them to then potentially gain a meeting? Is it to gather specific information?
  2. Understand who the audience is and the best way to communicate with them (phone, email, twitter, face to face, text etc.)
  3. A clear timeframe for yourself and for the audience. if you want to meet, ideally looking to arrange a coffee within the next two weeks etc.
  4. Being clear about the outcome you are working towards (they don’t necessarily need to know this however you do – tying back to the purpose). Why are you reaching out – to ultimately secure a job with company x, to learn specific information about why? Etc.
  5. Leave a ‘calling card’ that is aligned with your personal brand. This includes contact information in addition to the impression you leave behind from any form of contact you have with others. What do you want this to be?

Whenever you apply for a job or conduct networking activities, please be sure to revisit these five steps. Remember to introduce yourself and consider your audience rather than just launching into what you want or need. While it all sounds simple and logical, in the haste and potential pressure attached with job seeking, we can sometimes lose sight of the obvious.

As they say “You only get one chance to make a first impression”. What do you want that lasting impression to be?

Great Career & Lifestyle Books to Get You Inspired in 2016

booksI love reading, and in particular I enjoy reading books related to how we live and work.  This year I managed to get through a sizeable stack of books (I even managed to write my own, The Busy Women’s Guide to… Salary Negotiation). Below I have a brief overview of those that I found to be most relevant for people looking to make career and/or lifestyle changes. I find that the two generally coincide.



Enjoyable Books That Made an Impact in 2015  

Mean Girls by Meredith Fuller, is a great book that helps understand the dynamics of working with female colleagues – namely those who maybe causing you some grief. The good news is that you are not alone. At various stages in our careers we all encounter ‘mean girls’. It is nothing you are doing wrong – generally it is all about them!  This great book offers some good strategies to deal with the various types of ‘mean girls’ that inhabit our workplaces.

Sell Your Thoughts by Matt Church, is a book which title goes on to state ‘How to earn a million dollars a year as a Thought Leader’. The book is a part of a program that the author offers. Whether or not you are interested in doing the program and/or becoming a thought leader, what the book does is offer a great formula for guiding you through how to capture your personal brand. It offers the reader some thought provoking career related questions around who are, what you want to be known for, how you want to make your mark and so on. If you are considering self-employment or looking to remain an employee the book is a valuable resource.

Life in Half a Second by Matthew Michalewicz is an inspiring book, based on his life experiences. Matthew is a migrant who is a self-made successful business person and the book is his formula for experiencing success in your life be it business, career and/or personal.  The book is confronting in a great way, forcing the reader to reflect on how they want to live their lives. Given we all have only a finite time on this planet, what do we really want to be doing with this precious commodity called time!

How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krnaric is a book I picked up in December from The School of Life in Melbourne.  As a career strategist the title caught my eye!  The book is an easy read that is peppered with career related exercises which is where the fun and challenging part kicks in. To get the value from the book you have to do the homework! While I agree with most of what is written I feel that the author is too dismissive of any personality profiling – namely Myers Briggs (MBTI).  From his description I suspect his knowledge of how the tool is actually used is limited. Any profiling tool offers a different perspective on who we are. They are not there to typecast or pigeonhole us which the author seems to suggest. We are more than our MBTI type!  He also seems to have an outdated view of careers coaches which was disappointing. In reading his book, I would suggest that what he is proposing when it comes to finding fulfilling work is what most contemporary career coaches advocate. For those contemplating a career change, it is a nice little book to get you started.

What I Am Looking Forward to Reading in 2016

My brothers kindly gave me the following book selection below (at my request) for Christmas. So this wonderful pile of books are sitting patiently on my bedside table waiting to be read. Each book sounded intriguing based on the reviews by the various people who made the recommendations. These were people who were ‘Thought Leaders’ in everything from career coaching, through to leadership development and general business.

  • A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger
  • The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan & Barbara Pease
  • The Workplace Within by Larry Hirschhorn
  • Ego & Soul by John Carroll
  • To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink

If you have read any of the books from either list please feel free to share your thoughts. Also further book recommendations are always welcomed.

How to Adopt an Agile Approach to Your Career

career planning old new

The world of work is no longer predictable. We live in a time that has been termed VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity).  For a lot of professions, the way that we once managed our careers is no longer applicable. The traditional ‘ladder style’  career management model may work for some, such as those who join accounting or legal firms and look to follow the partnership path.  However, for a lot of us, we need to adopt a more agile approach to how we manage our careers if we want to experience a personally and financially fulfilling career.  Our professions may be in flux, evolving and new streams emerging, or we may look to adopt a portfolio or flexible approach to how we manage our careers – all of which require an agile approach.

Realistically we can expect to change jobs every 3-4 years, which may involve a job or career change through choice or redundancy.  I use the analogy of a game of snakes and ladders to represent the agile career management model.  It is certainly a positive model as it represents fun, opportunities and choices.  We may be climbing one ladder to find that we have reached the top and look to take on a new challenge in a different field. We may lose our job and slide down a snake, however there are lots of ladders (opportunities) around us that we can jump on board.  The key theme around an agile model is to ensure that your values are being met and that you are experiencing a sense of purpose in the work that you do.  It requires a letting go of the old ideas about how a career should look!  Your career should look just as you want it to. There are no right or wrong careers, there are only people who are engaged and satisfied in their work and those who are not!

Working in today’s market requires a degree of self-awareness, understanding where you can add value and having a more opportunistic and strategic approach to your career. The ability to re-invent ourselves as the need arises and ensuring that we have a positive and accurate personal brand in the marketplace. It is about working in your job and also making time each week to be working on your career.

What style of career management will work best for you?

Where does your Personal Brand begin and your Employer’s Brand end?

personal brand in wood type“Some traditionalist bosses see the Brand You notion as institutionalized disloyalty. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. Brand You is about people profoundly committed to personal growth — and it goes without saying [I think] that people committed to growth are by far the most engaged and valuable employees.”Tom Peters

Referencing Daniel Pink, we live in the information age and are moving into the conceptual age, where we transition in and out of new jobs and careers more readily than ever before. As technology continues to evolve, offering us new media and social networking sites to promote ourselves and our expertise, not everyone is embracing this at the executive and senior professional levels – yet!

What is Personal Branding?

Tom Peters is the founder of Personal Branding, which I believe should form a part of every working person’s career strategy, including executives and senior professionals. If you have not read Tom’s article Brand YouI highly recommend it – it is an old one but a good one!

Our personal brand is about how we are seen by those who know us and how we are remembered by those we meet. It is how we package ourselves up online and offline to be viewed and remembered by the world. We have the ability to control what and how our personal brand is remembered. Our alternative is to let others create it for us and/or to rely on our employer to define it.

Personal Branding Goes Beyond Networking

In the past we relied heavily on our personal networks and still do and will continue to. Our networks offline are limited and don’t reach globally. We are seeing more and more people embrace social networking sites and services such as Twitter, which have the capability to expose your personal brand globally. It is not enough that a few friends or colleagues know your specialization; you have to be out there sharing it with the world, writing about it on your blog, in relevant forums, publishing your works. It is about creating conversations about your expertise beyond your immediate sphere or reference. Are you comfortable doing this? Chances are, like most of us, you are not. Just as most of us avoid or require a lot of courage to network at an event, similarly you have to pluck up the courage and get over there and participate in the conversation and hope you have something worthwhile to say. Yes, online networking is pretty much similar to offline networking except you don’t need to leave the house or office; however, it brings its own challenges. You need to learn the rules, you need to participate and be prepared for others to disagree with what you have to say. Most of all, you need to make a commitment to managing your personal brand and ultimately your career.

Some of you may be thinking, well I have my old school networks and I am sorted. To a certain degree this will assist you, however not as it once did – it forms only a small part of the successful person’s branding strategy.

Separating Your Personal Brand from Where You Work

For many of us, we struggle to define our brand beyond the company we work for and the job titles we hold. What you do will no doubt form a part of your personal brand, but who you work for is not so relevant anymore. The danger people face is being comfortable in their job and with their employer and as a result failing to carve out any niche or reputation for themselves beyond their current employer. Being proud of where you work and what you do is great; however, what happens when the company no longer exists or needs to downsize? What happens when you go and look for a new job and the companies you are looking at don’t know or care about where you last worked? – they actually just want to know what is your unique selling proposition (USP) and how can this benefit them and their business.

Today the majority of recruiters and hiring professionals do a Google search on those they look to interview, with figures quoted between 50%-80%. Notice that they are searching on your name, not your employer’s name, which I think says it all.

In the past, having a few ‘perceived’ good employer names on your resume opened doors. Today the weight employer brand names hold is diminishing – your personal brand now supersedes all these things. As a 21st century worker in the information and conceptual age, personal brand management is integral to your career success. It opens doors and ensures that you are always employable and employed and that you are not reliant on the decisions of others for your financial and personal career satisfaction.

While I am not suggesting it is an easy thing to do initially it does eventually get easier and more enjoyable!.  For a lot of professionals and executives it is an important career management strategy.pb cover

Contact me today for your complimentary 22 page guide:

‘Your Personal Brand – Defining, Developing, Marketing and Managing Brand You!’

Trends in the Careers Landscape

yellow perilRecently I was invited to be a guest speaker on the topic of careers at a Polson & Co HR Discussion Group hosted by a wonderful HR Thought Leader Reg Polson.

The topic was on ‘Life Stages & Career Decisions’ which was terrific particularly given we had representatives from each of the life stages present to discuss the realities and challenges of working life in Australia.

Trends discussed include:

  • There is a lack of engagement and job satisfaction by Australian employees. Some research citing that 65% of employees are not satisfied in their jobs. This can be supported by the topics that Daniel Pinks book ‘drive’ details. While he states most people want autonomy, mastery and purpose in their work, many organisations are still working on ‘chain & command’ models from the industrial age.
  • Recent research shows that for an Australian professional to advance their career their best chance is to go to a new company. Unfortunately we are not a good country for promoting from within and developing our talent.
  • We hire people who have done the same job before with little room for growth and then wonder why with professionals you can expect a quarter to leave with the first 12 months. See Hiring Hell One in Four Quit Within a Year’This links with the lack of career support and not promoting talent from within.
  • An increase in people taking ‘career breaks’ which is expected to grow due to redundancy, caring for kids, elderly parents, burnout.
  • Growth in personal branding is expected to continue online and offline. This is based on the increasing number of career changes we can all expect to go through, combined with the increase in contracting and self employment and the need to re-invent and re-brand ourselves.
  • Careers are no longer linear. As Dr. Jim Bright explains in his ‘Chaos Theory of Careers’. Change is dynamic and continual. The theory is not saying we cannot control our careers and that everything is random. It more suggests adopting different strategies to managing our careers. The focus is around planning and looking for opportunities. Given things are forever changing and we now live in a world of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity), it is about identifying strategic opportunities. As such we need to be more nimble and opportunistic in how we manage our careers.
  • There is a growth in female professionals being desired by employers. There are still issues with female part time workers and the jobs available however for full time female working professionals – they are in demand. It is suggested women will continue to dominate in the workplace. See ‘It’s a Woman’s World’ article.
  • For younger people there is the growing opportunity to have a global career. Which brings with it a global mindset and being culturally aware. Added to this for younger workers, self awareness skills are becoming crucial for career success as is the ability to cope with ambiguity. For skills of the future visit the Future work skills report.

These are just a few of the trends we are seeing in the careers landscape. If you have any comments or any others to please share.

My Methodology & Approach to Career Coaching

Bonnie Kelly YTLast month I was asked to do a video interview with Bonnie Power, Owner & Founder of Melbourne Resumes  about my career services and approach to working with clients. We also discussed the topic of Personal Branding. To view this 15 minute interview visit YouTube

Note: In the video Bonnie mentions my complimentary Personal Branding e-workbook. For those interested in receiving a copy please send me your email address with the subject line ‘personal branding’


How is your Klout? What impact does it have on your job search?

Some of you may have stumbled upon a fairly new site called Klout

To some degree the concept has legs as many of us continue to grow our online personal brands.  In theory the site works as a personal branding barometer that measures your influence – hence the name. It aggregates all the content about you from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, your blog etc to give you a Klout rating.   It seems that the site is increasingly being used as a reference tool by recruiters.  Whether this is a valid thing to do in my view is questionable.

For instance, when it comes to work and job seeking, how much relevance does / should your Facebook content have?  Secondly, as I have discovered, not being on the computer these past few months (due to a new born) my Klout is rather pitiful. This is the case even though over the years I have created a lot of content via my site, blog, Twitter and LinkedIn. It seems your content has to be super current to ensure you have a decent Klout score.   I question then if Klout is more about quantity than quality!

There are certainly some positives about Klout and it is worth exploring.

How valid a screening tool is it for those recruiting – I am not sure. What are your views?

Tips to Write & Sell Work Achievements in Your CV

Achievementsare a critical part of your resume, perhaps more important than responsibilities, and therefore should be given prime resume real estate. Ensure that any achievements that are already listed on your resume are engaging to the reader and actually quantify or qualify what you have achieved. If they are fairly un-inspiring due to how you have presented them, either edit or remove them and update with more exciting and relevant examples. When describing your achievements, remember to think about how your reader is interpreting what you are saying. A couple of well written, relevant examples paint a more positive and engaging picture and far outshine a long list of basic and poorly written achievements.

Consider reading the following statements whilst reflecting on your more recent jobs. Take down notes of situations that come to mind.

Have you designed or introduced a new process that may have increased efficiency or sales?

  • Have you solved a difficult problem?
  • Have you received any awards?
  • What has been your experience with managing or training difficult people?
  • Have you mentored or coached colleagues or those external to your business?
  • Have you developed a new system, a product, etc?
  • Have you designed something?
  • Can you think of something you have done for the first time?
  • Have you prepared any reports, papers, articles etc that others could not?
  • Have you saved your company or department money?

It is worth compiling this information as it happens, get into the habit of documenting your achievements either as they occur or regularly with enough detail that you can recall what you did when it comes to updating your resume. With these examples at hand, it will help enhance your resume and create more compelling stories for the interview. When documenting your achievements, it is important that they are detailed, relevant and engaging to the reader. Below is a weak and strong example of the same achievement.

Weak Example: The introduction of new rebate initiatives, that was successful in saving the company a substantial amount of money.

Strong Example: I successfully negotiated revised annual trading terms by offering lower rebate terms to the company’s key accounts through incentive targets and the introduction of promotional rebates. This initiative generated a cost saving of $700,000 within six months of the change.

If you are unsure if your achievements are coming across strongly, ask a colleague or friend to review.

Book Review ‘How to master networking’ by Robyn Henderson

“Trust is built by repetition – the more they see you and get to know you better, the more trust is built.”

My husband attended a presentation by Robyn Henderson  via one of the events held by an industry association he is a part of.  He came back from the event with the book ‘How to master networking’ and speaking very positively about Robyn and her networking advice.

I could not help myself from reading the book as I had to find out what great information Robyn had to share on the topic that had got my husband so inspired.

Pleasantly I found that the book was short and easy to read with lots of easy activities to follow. The advice imparted is just as relevant for those who are self employed as for those who are job seeking or looking to progress their careers.

The book offers a lot of practical advice in addition to the support tools to assist you with implementation, management and measurement of your networking.  It covers everything from time management, to tips for shy or nervous networkers, conducting yourself at networking functions and generating referrals.  My only observation with the book is that includes very little about online networking. The books focus is very much about offline networking, which is equally as important as online.

While reading the book, it became clear that while I do some networking, I certainly don’t do enough of it, nor am I am member of enough groups or associations.  Robyn states that we need to make networking the #1 priority every day. Something I will certainly be working on for 2012 with the advice from her book.

If you feel that your networking skills need to be improved, I would recommend this book.

If you have read the book, I would welcome your comments or if you have any great networking tips for us all.