Workforce Surveys
I was quoted recently in the Outlook Money story Market Yourself Right on Personal Branding by Anagh Pal:

Constantly evaluate yourself. “Prepare your personal balance sheet; find out what is working and what isn’t,” says Merchant. Figure out what areas of expertise you require to add to your portfolio. “The idea is to build T-shaped expertise, broad expertise of an area and deep expertise of one specific niche,” says Gautam Ghosh, who blogs on HR, social media and personal branding. But there’s no short cut.

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Invest time. Learn from every possible opportunity. Attend workshops, seminars and training programmes. There’s lots to learn out there.

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Learn from people. Have a wide range of people on your contact list—coaches, mentors, industry leaders, trendsetters and opinion makers. Ask them the right questions. Get their perspective. Follow up.

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Become Aware of Your Leadership Style

Posted on 27. July 2010 by Eva Rykr

Self-awareness is the first step to better leadership. If you don’t know what you don’t know, you cannot improve on your weaknesses. If you are unaware of your strengths, you won’t reach your potential. A lack of knowledge about who you are and how you operate can lead you to overemphasize your strengths, to the point where they become a weakness.

One problem is that as we get into positions of more responsibility or higher authority, we receive less and less feedback on our performance. We also become more comfortable—after all, we have been successful in the past. Compounding that, power has a strong effect on our behavior—making us more susceptible to being more self-centered, less empathetic, and more likely to not walk the talk.

So what can be done about this? First of all, don’t assume that you know yourself. We humans are dynamic, adapting to new situations, other people, and different environments quickly. Just because you were agreeable and timid twenty years ago, don’t assume that is the way people perceive you today.

Assess and re-assess often:

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How much people like you will have a direct impact on your career and almost everything you do, but being liked is a relative thing.

A 2006 study discovered that “a candidate’s skills mattered slightly less than likability.”

Easy job interview

True story

At a former company of mine, there was an engineer who was overwhelmed with work. We’ll call him Tom. This 8-year veteran of the IT department – his first job, still a young guy – clearly had too much on his plate and it resulted in delayed projects and even undelivered projects.

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The Toughest Interview Question…

Posted on 16. July 2010 by UpstartHR

Toughest Interview QuestionToday’s guest post comes from Benjamin McCall. He runs (subscribe to the RSS) and specializes in OD, T&D and business strategy. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenjaminMcCall. He’s a fantastic guy with a lot of great ideas. He also contributed a piece to the HR Ninja series a while back, and I’m glad he decided to let me share this post!

‘The’ toughest interview question… Is the one you have not prepared for or have never answered!

I could also say that the toughest interview question would be all of them.

You could argue that there is one or two that could specifically be mentioned a article such as this. If you want to break my arm I would say

  • Salary? Any salary question is difficult. Whether you are asked in the beginning of your interview process or at the end. Unless you are seasoned and comfortable, this question can be very hard to gauge. Past salary studies are not especially accurate in this market.

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G. L. Hoffman is Out in the Real World Where There Are Jobs

Posted on 15. July 2010 by Laurie Ruettimann
Today’s guest writer is G. L. Hoffman. He is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job-search engines. His blog can be found at


A couple of weeks back, Susan Joyce of mentioned a twitter fight she had with someone from Irving, CA.

She was frustrated because some guy argued, “There are no jobs in Irving. None!”

Nothing that Susan could say could convince him that yes, there are jobs in Irving.

Every day, HR people, career coaches, resume writers and even bloggers hear all sorts of hard luck stories from job seekers.  I asked Laurie if I could look at data from LinkUp and answer the question, “Are there jobs out there?”

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Candidate Response, Company Brand and Your ATS

Posted on 8. July 2010 by ReThink HR

Talk to the hand - Denied the jobWorking your way past the locked door, to the room of the interview

I am sure that many of us have had our share of interviews. Gone through the process of entering in data and resume information into a company applicant tracking system for a position. For those of us who may be a little more savvy, we may have built our relationships, made contact with our influential contacts, networked and sweet-talked our way into an interview.


Whichever way you chose to apply for a job, in the interview is where you feel you did your best. You were the perfect candidate for the position when you read the posting. It was love at first sight. You believed in your heart that you had a great rapport and even did the proper follow-up afterword. Warm and fuzzy feelings ensue – until….

You receive the letter, the email. The standard communication we all have seen when we didn’t get a role.

Dear Notgetin The Job,

Thank you for inquiring about the position of “INSERT TITLE” with the “INSERT COMPANY”, where every day we make a positive difference in the lives of our INSERT CLIENT OR GROUP HERE.

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Bad Habits At Work You Don’t Know You Have

Posted on 29. June 2010 by Melany Gallant
By Mary Montserrat-Howlett

A habit is something you can do without thinking – which is why most of us have so many of them. ~Frank Howard Clark

Who would we be without our habits? Without those little idiosyncrasies and automatic routines that distinguish one person from the next? Our habits, good and bad, play a paramount role in defining who we are, and subsequently, how others judge our character. In a work setting, our habits can have a significant impact on how we function, how productive we are and how our colleagues perceive us. So it’s no surprise that exercising good habits can influence the success of our careers.

Given that we’re all marked by our habits, this article will outline some of the major bad habits we may be exhibiting in the workplace that we may not be aware of, but that could be impeding our careers. Being aware of our behaviors in our work environment can help shift a bad habit cycle and transform it into a positive working routine.

Top 10 Bad Work Habits

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Money- Should You Ask For A Raise?

Posted on 22. June 2010 by Trish MacFarlane

Money, get away.
Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay.
Money, its a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think Ill buy me a football team.

‘Money’ by Pink Floyd- The Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Money is always on an employee’s mind.  And, I’ve been getting questions lately about raises.  They want to know:

  • When is it ok to ask for a raise?
  • Can you ask for a raise during a recession?
  • Do you have to wait for a performance review to ask for a raise?
  • How do you know how much to ask for?
  • If another company is trying to recruit me, should I ask for a raise in my current job?

While there are no right or wrong answers here, I’ll give my 2 cents.  I personally do not believe in asking the boss for a raise. I do advocate for making sure your boss knows what you’ve been doing, when you’re going the extra mile, when you’ve landed a big account, completed an exceptionally challenging project, etc.  In most organizations, if your boss understands that you’re doing great things, an increase will come naturally.

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Ten Tips for Mastering Your Interview with Human Resources

Posted on 15. June 2010 by Laurie Ruettimann
Most companies will expect you to meet with their Human Resources department very early in the interview process. As a former HR professional, here are some tips that may help you make it to the next round of interviews.
  1. Never badmouth anything or anyone. This applies to your former employer, coworkers, or Osama bin Laden. We’re trying to screen out whiners and troublemakers. I don’t care if your last supervisor was a tyrant. Be kind and magnanimous about everything and everyone.
  2. Make sure your appearance is in order. We’ve covered this. Fair or not, you are judged based you based on how you look. Check your fly and make sure your eyebrows are smooth.
  3. Don’t smoke on the day of the interview. We can smell it. We don’t like it. There is an unconscious bias against smokers, and let’s face it, you have a reputation for being lazy. Smokers are more expensive to insure, too. Why would we want you on the payroll? Help me help you. Don’t smoke.

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5 Good Personal Branding Habits For Bloggers

Posted on 31. May 2010 by JobMob

Blogging for job search? Here are 5 personal brand-building habits worth making part of your blogging routine.

A word of warning

By taking on new habits, you build expectations of what you can do.

Although you should try out all of these suggestions, once you understand the effort each habit involves, ask yourself if you’ll be able to sustain that effort.

If you can’t, just don’t make that suggestion a regular habit, instead keeping it in mind for exceptional occasions.

1) Watch trends

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Here are some ideas of quick personal brand-building tips you can start using right now.

Watch in meetingUse this as a checklist to challenge yourself daily for the next few weeks.

  1. Create a Yodio, recording yourself telling a story about an image. Put it on your blog, or better yet, propose it as guest content to a brand-related blogger.
  2. Take a quick survey of passers-by on the street, introducing yourself as you go. Ask a question that tugs at their emotions while relating to your niche.

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Music Branding 2.0 Event Recap

Posted on 12. April 2010 by Dan Schawbel

Recently, I hosted the first Music Branding 2.0 event to a sold out crowd, which included an expert panel and a live rock band. I wanted to try something different with this event and I drew a connection between music, branding, and the internet. The focus of the event was on how artists can brand themselves in the digital world to achieve success. The panel included experts from across the industry. Here is a video clip, where the panelists introduce themselves, and then  discuss how important social media is for artists. The video script is below as well.

Tim Hare (moderator): How has social networking changed the way that artists promote themselves in this day and age?

Paul Rapp (entertainment lawyer): For one thing, the day of the paper press kit is pretty much over. Now you have to go and get photos and glossies, get them blown up, copied, get the piles and send them out. And most people don’t want to clutter up their offices. Most labels and most journalists don’t want to clutter up their office with paper anymore. I mean, the electronic press kit has kind of taken over.

Amanda Caswell (band promotions): In my experience, I feel that the artists sort of break down the walls. You know, when they’re on Twitter or even Facebook. They become touchable and you know, everything from their van broke down or..they’re having trouble getting through customs. You know, you’re right there with the band and you can reply to them and say “Oh hey man, my van did the same thing” and they just become…you become more of a friend through all that networking.

Andrea Johnson (professor at Berklee College): I’ll follow up with that; I totally agree with Amanda that what we’re looking for is to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy. To build premium levels for those fans so that the 13-year old who doesn’t have a credit card can legally download from the band’s website their music and be able to connect with them in that way. And also the rabid fan who wants the premium package-double DVD with live streaming video of a concert they did in a tent. They can pay $300 for that package. We’ve seen Trent Reznor do that with Nine Inch Nails, offering different premium levels in order to connect with fans at different levels, and it’s working really well for him as a major artist and a lot of independent artists are starting to follow in that realm.

Matty Trump (hip hop producer): Yeah, I think it’s given a chance for artists to actually break through on their own now, and not need as much help from the major labels or even independent levels. And you know, just in the last year, you had Soulja Boy who did a YouTube video and became famous on his own, and a project I’m actually currently involved with now with Sam Adams, who did a video. He did this little video rap thing and a million people watched, and then his iTunes came out last month and sold 8,000 copies. It was beating out Lil’ Wayne and other major hip-hop artists on iTunes, and the major labels went crazy. They can’t believe anyone did this on their own and they’re not happy about it. And they did actually spread rumors that the albums were bought and all this stuff. It’s been a pretty crazy month but I think you know that’s what it is. It’s given artists the empowerment to be able to come out on their own, whereas before you had to get signed by a label and that was your only chance. Like now, artists can do it on their own with a lot of hard work and dedication.

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Personal Branding Interview: Elaine Meryl Brown

Posted on 12. April 2010 by Dan Schawbel

Today, I spoke to Elaine Meryl Brown, who is the coauthor of The Little Black Book of Success, and is the Vice President of Special Marketing in Creative Services at HBO. In this interview, Elaine talks about how to handle corporate politics, some successful networking strategies that she’s used to meet executives, how you can build confidence in yourself, how to avoid issues in the workplace, and more.

How do you navigate corporate politics?

The way I navigate corporate politics is by focusing on corporate objectives, providing direction to my creative team to help execute against these objectives, and building alliances with key people within the organization to help achieve these goals. In other words, the way I navigate politics is by understanding the corporate culture and being strategic.

What are some networking strategies you’ve used to meet executives and other successful people?

I’ve used a variety of networking strategies to meet executives and successful people. For example, I’ve written letters. On one such occasion, my first meeting at HBO was with an executive whose picture, name and short bio I saw in an industry event program and I decided to write. As I promised to follow-up with a phone call in a week or so to get on his calendar, his assistant was expecting my call and she scheduled the meeting. Other than that, at networking or professional events, I usually introduce myself to people, exchange cards and/or ask for a brief meeting if I have something specific to discuss. Also, doing research on a person beforehand is a great way to lay the groundwork for a short conversation. It lets people know you’ve taken the time and have done your homework. I usually weave the facts I’ve learned about the person into our chat in a way that is organic. Most people are flattered when you Google them. I also email to set up short meetings, offering to bring coffee or tea. I’ve even sent flowers to get a person’s attention with hopes of getting a few minutes of their time. However, meeting people is usually not the challenge.

The challenging part is establishing a connection and staying in touch with them for the long haul. In fact, we say in our book, The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women, that networking is a ‘contact sport’. You have to reach out and touch someone. I’ve sent newspaper/magazine articles to people who I think may be interested in the subject with a note that may say, ‘saw this and thought of you’. Or I’ll send a link to a trade piece that I think will be of value. I’ll invite people to events that I think may be of interest to them. Even if I think they may too busy to attend, that’s not the point. The point is that I reached out and touched someone. When you do this, people tend to remember you – even those who are successful executives.

How can someone build self-confidence in themself? What would you recommend?

The first chapter in our book is “ Always Consider Yourself a VIP”. The reason for this is because we live in a society where people of color and women are not always valued, and some of us consciously or subconsciously transfer the notion that we are not valuable to beliefs of inferiority or inadequacy about ourselves. That’s why it’s incumbent upon us not to buy-into the negativity and negative self-talk that may be associated with these kinds of distractions, and to remember and to remind ourselves that we are very important people too. Subsequently, we must stay positive and fill ourselves with positive thoughts and thinking. We must change our minds to do this. When we change our mind-set, we change our behavior. When we change our behavior, our life changes. Affirmations and my spirituality have always helped me through time of self-doubt. Ultimately your thoughts will shape how you feel about yourself and determine your leadership success, moving forward.

In the workplace, how do people cope with stereotypes, racism, and ageism?

I only know how I cope with these things and how we advise people to cope with these things in our book. Basically, we tell people to be strategic and focus on achieving their goals and objectives. Often times, things like racism are used to distract us and throw us off course and we should not take it personally because racism is the result of some combination of ignorance, insecurity and evil. The old adage, ‘don’t make other people’s problems, your problems, applies here. In fact, in our book, we say use racism as a motivator. Instead of letting it frustrate you, get you down and defeat you, use it to make you stronger, more focused and determined to be successful. Whenever, I have encountered racism in the workplace, I’ve ignored it. It’s negative, non-productive energy that I want to avoid and I try to rise above it. I take the high road. When you have goals and objectives, it’s easier to go around, over, or under racism to achieve them as opposed to colliding with racism head-on. With goals, you don’t focus on the short term, but rather on the long-term. Of course, if the racism is blatant or at the point where it feels life-threatening, there is always legal action as a recourse. The other thing is to remember that you always have choices and if the environment you’re in is toxic, it may be time to move on. As far as ageism is concerned, change is inevitable so be prepared. People change, jobs change, styles change and situations change, and all these changes can prevent you from being stuck in a rut, or get you thinking about your options. Being open to change may lead you to more, better, or different opportunities.

How have you built your personal brand? How would you describe it?

I’ve built my personal brand by walking the walk and talking the talk – by being reliable, smart, strategic and developing creative that supports marketing and corporate strategies. My personal brand is based on honesty, integrity and authenticity, on being a strong communicator, team-player, manager, visionary, and risk-taker who takes advantage of opportunities to learn as much as possible and share with others. . My brand also includes having good relationships with senior management and a reputation for doing great work. I always dress neatly, but never want to look too conservative and have adapted a kind of Sex and the City Hi-Lo style, or ‘funky conservative’ look always feeling more comfortable in True Religions than St. John, but the latter suits me too. That’s how I want to be perceived – professional, yet fun. – classy yet not too serious. My leadership style tends to be open and collaborative, always attempting to challenge, develop and inspire the best in my team, regardless of color, gender or age. In fact, one of my direct reports commented that my leadership style is demanding yet fair. I took that as a compliment.

Elaine Meryl Brown, is the coauthor of The Little Black Book of Success.  She is also the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Lemon City, is Vice President, Special Markets in Creative Services at HBO, where her many responsibilities include On-Air Promotion for HBO Family and HBO Latino, Off-Channel Subscriber Acquisitions Campaigns, Segment Marketing and Brand Promotion for Satellite Cable, and Content Creation for new media platforms. Prior to HBO, Elaine was a Creative Director in Creative Services at Showtime Networks. While at Showtime, Elaine also directed promotional campaigns with stars, including Sidney Poitier, Angelica Huston and Louis Gossett, Jr. She executive produced added value shows for Showtime Original Pictures as well. Elaine is a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management Executive Leadership Development Program. She has earned many awards in the broadcast industry, including an Emmy Award for writing the critically acclaimed ABC-TV network series FYI, hosted by Hal Linden. She has also earned several Promax, BDA, Mark, CTAM and New York Film and TV Awards. Elaine began her writing career at Essence magazine and has written for other national publications such as Woman’s World. She is a Board Member of New Professional Theatre in New York City, a member of the President’s Commission Committee of Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and is professionally affiliated with several organizations including the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, New York Women in Film & Television, PROMAX and CTAM. Elaine currently resides in New Jersey with her son, David. She encourages readers to visit her website at

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5 Must-Have iPad Apps for Your Personal Brand

Posted on 11. April 2010 by Dan Schawbel

On April 3, 2010, Apple finally released its long-awaited iPad. While I don’t plan to buy one myself (I used to be a Mac girl but switched to PCs when I went to college), I know there are plenty of you who can’t wait to get your hands on one. In that vein, which iPad apps do you need to grab today to aid in your personal branding?

1. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook

We all know how important social networking (and networking in general) is to your personal brand. So, it makes sense to have these applications on your new iPad.

2. Gist

I’ve become a huge fan of Gist and will probably do an entire post on it sometime, but definitely check out this app to help you better know the people in your network.

3. WordPress

I have to admit, it would be pretty cool to be writing this post from the iPad. Not convinced you need a blog to advance your personal brand? Read this.

4. Wall Street Journal and/or New York Times

People with strong personal brands are well read. Keep up with the news with these great apps.

5. Evernote

As the App Store states, Evernote turns your iPad “into an extension of your brain.” Who doesn’t need that? This will help you blog and update your social networks – bookmarking sites and stories to remember for later, among other things.

What iPad apps do you recommend?


Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, an exclusive online community connecting the best internship and entry-level job candidates with the best employers. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist for and blogs about career advice at

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A Lesson in Personal Branding From “The Fame Monster”

Posted on 10. April 2010 by Dan Schawbel

You’ve read about her in magazines. You’ve watched her music videos online. You’ve seen interviews on TV and listened to her songs on the radio. All of a sudden she’s everywhere and sometimes you aren’t quite sure how or why. If you haven’t guessed it, I’m talking about the music sensation who goes by the name of Lady Gaga. Why? Because she is a perfect example of incredible personal branding.

Lady Gaga exemplifies the attributes of someone who thoughtfully created their personal brand and lives it 24-7. She’s eccentric, eclectic, obnoxious, outrageous,  and over the top, but above all she is completely committed to living her personal brand.

Here are a few tips from her not so proverbial playbook:

Be authentic

As the saying goes, “Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.” Gaga may be over the top, but she’s real about it and brings an authenticity to her personal brand that makes it believable and admirable. Your personal brand should be true to yourself, so that your brand has an authentic value to it.

It’s okay to be different

I wouldn’t show up to your next job interview with a coat made of stuffed animals, but I would recommend bringing out the elements of your brand that make you different. That’s how you’re going to make yourself stand out. The days of cookie-cutter images are coming to an end, and employers are looking for more diversity in the workplace.

Evolution is key

I wrote last week about personal re-branding. It’s very important to evolve your brand as time goes by, but it’s also important to make sure you’re keeping some of the core elements of your personal brand in-tact. Doing a complete 180 can give the impression that your personal brand is not authentic. Gaga’s music style has already begun to evolve, but it still stays true to her image and sound.

It pays to extend your reach

Lady Gaga has her fair share of endorsements and product placements just like other artists. They allow her to extend her brand image across other platforms and, of course, to make more money. Think about how to get your name out there within your industry. Find some organizations that you are interested in and join them. It’s a great way to meet new people inside and outside of your industry. In this day and age sometimes it’s all about who you know – just make sure your associating your brand with the right types of people.

Be creative

Don’t just do the same old thing that everyone else is doing. Find ways to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. Try to find some unique ways to promote yourself that will make your brand be the one that gets noticed when you want it to be.


David Trahan is currently working at leading social marketing agency Mr Youth in New York, and previously held positions with the Ad Council, Goldman Sachs and others. He is a recent graduate of Pace University where he received many scholarships and awards and is now a mentor in their Alumni Mentor Program. David also serves as a member of the AD Club of New York Young Professionals Steering Committee. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on his website.

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