Archive for the ‘Self-Marketing’ Category

  • Don’t Be a Linkedin Neo-Luddite!


    First, let’s consider the word, Luddite. Today it is tossed about in the same way as one might refer to a cyber technology dolt, but it is based on a real, 19th-century social movement in England. From 1811-16, during the Industrial Revolution, a group of textile weavers in the English Midlands deliberately destroyed mechanized looms, which were depriving them of work. The name is reputed to have come from Ned Ludd, one of the first workers to smash a mechanized loom.

    Twenty-first century technology wizards have appropriated the term to classify anyone – not bent on destroying the technology but rather – purposefully refusing to adopt technology tools. Unfortunately, seniors often need extra encouragement to learn and trust today’s technology so they are pushed down the ladder of attractive job candidates.

    All of our skills have value and we need not fear having to throw our seasoned expertise aside for new tools. I think of it like this photograph I snapped in my garden yesterday. I was struck by the tenacity of last year’s blossom, now paper thin, still clinging to the red twig where new bright green leaves have just sprouted. The beauty lies in the fact that the narrow twig supports both the old and the new growth equally.

    Soooo, give the new technology a try. We know that 80% of job offers are derived from networking and, if a tool such as Linkedin can expedite that, I am all for it.

    Linkedin is a professional network – not a dating network, and it provides a way for you to “see” how people are connected to one another. It will help you find that valuable introduction to someone in the organization or field in which you would like to work. You will also learn a little about people’s professional history, so when you obtain that introduction you immediately have a relevant point or two to discuss.

    Linkedin also raises your professional visibility. It gives people an instant way to see who you are, what you have done and where you would like to go. Moreover, if you are 60+ and have a presence on Linkedin, it mitigates the stereotype that you haven’t a clue about how to use today’s technology tools.

    Creating a Linkedin Profile is not technically difficult because you are given templates for each component.  You do not have to know one stitch of computer programming. The challenge is to stay within the number of characters Linkedin allows for your general summary and each job description. But this is a good challenge; the exercise will keep you focused, force you to eliminate any fluff and keep your tone consistent – throughout Linkedin as well as any other media in which you promote your “brand.” As a sample, you can view my Linkedin Profile at:

    My Profile is a little robust because I cross reference this blog and my Twitter account on it to optimize my online presence. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of my Profile. This is not to toot my own horn but, rather, because you will see the big blue “Contacting You” box. This is extremely important because it allows you to control access to your information.

    Ready to give it a test run…  There’s a lot of support online and one resource I’d recommend is the blog by Jason Alba, author of the book, I’m On Linkedin – Now What???

  • Dancing to the Music of Leadership! No Fool’s Errand…


    Granted, this cinematographer is no Pedro Almodóvar, but this is the best 3-minute video on leadership that I’ve ever seen!

    In his inspired video, Derek Sivers deconstructs how a “movement” happens.

    1. He begins with a Dancing Fool  – someone with guts who is not afraid to set himself apart from the crowd, stand alone and even look ridiculous.  A natural born leader.

    2. The dancer’s moves are simple and easy-to-follow.

    3. The dancer wins his first follower. “We vastly underrate the critical role of the first follower,” says Derek. “It is the follower, after all, who transforms the Dancing Fool into a leader.”

    I won’t give the rest away. Watch the video to see what happens when the 2nd follower enters the picture…  when the crowd grows…  and what happens when it’s no longer cool to not be dancing with the Fool.

    It’s brilliantly simple. Kudos to Derek Sivers!

  • Diamond Dewdrops and Dragonflies: Would You Fare as Well under the Scrutiny of a Macro Lens?


    Copyright: Miroslaw Swietek

    Glistening in the early morning, dragonflies, flies and beetles take on an unearthly quality as the dew gathers on their sleeping bodies. Captured in extreme close-up, one moth appears to be totally encrusted in diamonds as it rests on a twig. These remarkable photographs, published in the UK’s Daily Mail online were taken by physiotherapist Miroslaw Swietek, an amateur photographer, at around 3am in the forest next to his home.

    Writers espouse that “God is in the details,” but the same is true for job seekers. Appearances do matter, and it’s not just the obvious details such the shine on your shoes, the length of your skirt or when your trousers last saw a decent crease. You must also consider the less obvious and what they reveal.

    If, for example, you are anxious about your age, did you ever think that the employer may be more worried about your obsessing over it: that, if you are overly concerned about what others think of your age, you could become distracted from the job at hand? This scenario (pointed out to me by “Ask the Hunter” guru, Nick Corcodilos) is a lot different than the employer’s seeing your age as a serious drawback. Yes, age bias does exist but you need to stop obsessing, take control and get ahead of the story.

    Try to reframe the years. Repurpose that chronological statistic in age-positive words such as experience and wisdom. Even more important don’t hide your passion. Show that you care, you have a tremendous amount of energy and you are highly motivated to lead a purposeful life.

    Provide specific examples of ways you have applied your experience to business or community challenges. Your research should have uncovered problems the future employer needs resolved. Build your insights into a mini solution-based plan.  Keep it mini; don’t try to blow their socks off with a full-fledged strategic plan. Remember you are trying to engage not overpower, and often the best solutions are organic and collaborative so leave plenty of room for teamwork. Enthusiasm is contagious. Before you know it, your age and experience will be perceived as assets – like the dewdrop diamonds on the wing of Swietek’s dragonfly.

  • Seniors Who Rest on Their Laurels Don’t Stand a Chance in Today’s Job Market


    Yes, 25 years of solid accomplishments add gravitas to your resume, but you could also sink like a stone under the weight of that gravitas if you do not convert past accomplishments into present-day assets.

    Maybe you were a brilliant analyst, but do you know that Google Analytics is not about the company’s earning ratio?

    Perhaps you were a direct marketing mogul. That’s wonderful but do you know how to optimize social media marketing today?

    If you are serious about working in your 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s, we know you’re interesting, courageous, eager to continue learning and contributing to the world around you. The good news is that there are lots of resources to help you bring your skills up-to-speed so you can find a good home for that passion.

    Check out adult education or community college programs.

    Here in Maine, the MCED (Maine Center for Enterprise Development) is an entrepreneur-centric resource for simplifying the process of launching a successful start-up. Other states have similar programs.

    The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are another great resource. Use this map to find an OLLI in your state.

    Your passion – your desire to find meaningful work – is only as good as your plan. And that plan requires a tremendous amount of due diligence.  That research begins long before the interview. It involves finding out as much as you can about the company where you think you’d like to work.

    What are their goals? Are they in line with yours? Check out their marketing materials. Then, find customer feedback.  Is the company accomplishing what it says it will do? Are its customers happy, apathetic, dissatisfied or extremely dissastisfied?

    What is the company culture and work environment? It’s easy for the company to project whatever image it wants in a marketing campaign; you need to find out what people are saying about the company, its management team and its employees. This is where your networking pays off. Talk to someone or someone who knows someone who can give you the inside scoop.

    Once you’re satisfied that this could be a good place to work, you need to learn who are the company’s biggest competitors? What challenges is the company facing in the next 6 months, next year and next two years. This information is key so you can tailor your working resume to meet those needs.

    First, make sure your resume prominently conveys that you have the skills (which you’ve so diligently brought up-to-speed) to do the job. You must write with the reader in mind. If the reader/hiring manager isn’t interested, your resume will hit the reject pile in seconds.

    Also – and this is critical – you must make a compelling case that your skills, background and experience make you the best candidate to do the job profitably for the company.  Provide meaningful data to document your assertions.

    All of this is necessary to actually get the interview. Once you are in the interview, you can make a much better case by asking the hiring manager what he or she sees as the biggest challenge facing the company. Then present a mini-plan (informed by your earlier research) describing how you would address the challenge if you were in the job.  This is where all your due diligence pays off. Your plan contains specifics garnered from your research which demonstrate your knowledge of the company and also your genuine interest in working there to help them solve the problems they face.  Your plan is not a generic blueprint that you could apply to any scenario.

    Yes, this is a lot of work and if you’re not prepared to do it perhaps you really do not want that job as much as you thought you did.

  • Job the Obscure: How to Find and Navigate the Underground Job Market


    Yes, I was and still am an unabashed English major. I love literature, language and words  – specifically finding a way to contextualize new concepts. And, if Thomas Hardy can help us peel back the layers of secrecy protecting the hidden job market, I am all for it. Remember Hardy’s themes in Jude the Obscure: class, scholarship, religion, marriage and the modernization of thought and society? Strikes me that many of those 19th-century themes still challenge us today.

    A huge advantage that we have and Hardy’s characters did not is our ability to cross – to a certain extent – over class, education and social barriers as we try to secure the job we want. Networking is key to negotiating these hurdles. First and foremost, conservative estimates are that 80% of jobs are never posted in classifieds or job boards. That “hidden” 80% is filled by referrals from one trusted individual to another through networks.

    Networking helps you successfully market your identity, skills and experience. Whether it is the traditional one-on-one meeting or virtual introductions via social media channels, networking also provides a way for people with whom you’d like to work to get to know you and for you to get to know the behind-the-scenes story of the organization where you’d like to work. It’s all about good fit, and that works both ways. It’s not just about you trying to fit the mold to secure the job.

    Your networking should be purposeful. It takes on-going commitment and nurturing. A few valuable beginning steps were posted by our Canadian blogging colleague, Stephanie Clark:

    Her first advice is “Get Started!

    • Ask for an informational meeting with someone who is doing the job you want. Use the meeting to ask questions about necessary credentials, industry trends and so on. Do not ask for a job; build a relationship.
    • Research companies to identify which ones you would love to work for. Contact your immediate network of friends, family, and neighbours, and ask who knows of someone employed by one of these companies. Ask them to ask their circle as well. Remember that we are all connected through a scant six degrees of separation.
    • Join professional organizations, alumni groups, social clubs, volunteer organizations, sports teams—whichever suits your style. Network within these.
    • Read with an eye for new business news, calendars of events, construction projects, interviews with local business leaders—and follow up on promising leads.
    • Go for it. If you see a job that you truly fit, approach the receptionist or call the supervisor. If you can’t speak with the right person, perhaps you can get your resume in front of the right person.
    • Create an online presence with profiles on LinkedIn, MySpace or Twitter. Write a blog, post articles on and create your free resume webpage on
    • Create a business card for networking purposes that contains not only your contact information, but also your Value Proposition. Carry it at all times and hand out a few daily.

    Hiring is a social act. Most hires are based not only on skill and past experience, but also on chemistry. If you don’t “fit” the company, you’re not offered the position. Networking allows you to establish a connection before the interview process. It also proves that you are a go-getter, and that you know how to communicate and develop relationships.

    As you go about meeting people make sure that you maintain an atmosphere of mutual exchange, not personal gain. Be present, not thinking of your next appointment; be selective, not trying to squish as many contacts as possible into every day; and make the effort to establish ongoing relationships when you feel a connection. Share ideas, information, and resources—helping with true value establishes your true value!”

  • Never Too Old to Tweet!


    Social media still have you flummoxed? Banish your bewilderment with this great array of free online tutorials and info-packed articles from the Case Foundation.

    While the foundation has geared these resources towards helping nonprofit organizations understand the best ways to leverage social media, every bit of advice is just as valid for individuals striving to master these key tools and optimize their own brands.

    I’d recommend skipping their somewhat gratuitous introductory video and diving directly into the introductory articles such as “Be A Beacon.”

    With these basics under your tool belt, drill down into the platform specific videos, such as Social Media in Plain English from Common Craft. They pack a lot of easy-to-understand information in two-minute segments.

    This is a great opportunity to learn at your own pace and test one platform – Blogs, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube – at a time. You may like one or you may like them all. If you use more than one, be sure to link them to one another (ie. connect your Blog to your Twitter account) to enhance your brand and maximize your visibility.

    Happy Tweets!

  • Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! – A Book on Bread and A Recipe for Life


    Judith Jones is one of the most “savvy” and indomitable 83 year-olds whom I know. Last night, I had an opportunity to meet Judith again when she shared some of her reminiscenses with an audience here in Maine at the Portland Museum of Art. The museum had invited Judith to speak in conjunction with their exhibit, “Objects of Wonder: Four Centuries of Still Life,” because so many of those still life paintings included food. All that sounds rather insightful but I dare say they had not figured that Judith Jones is anything but a “still life.”

    Judith is senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf publishers in New York. She joined Knopf in 1957 and her 53-year career is still going strong! Today, Judith is the most renown cookbook editor in the United States, if not the world. The list of authors she has edited reads like an international Who’s Who in the art of cooking: Julia Child, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Marcella Hazan, Ken Horn, Madhur Jaffrey, Irene Kuo, Edna Lewis, Joan Nathan, Claudia Roden, Nina Simonds, and Anna Thomas, among many others.

    Judith was born into a blueblood household in which the cooking was done by maids ensconced in kitchens tucked in far-off corners so the “smells” would not seep out and permeate the home. This was also a time when no upstanding person consumed French food, because Judith notes, “with all those sauces, it surely had something to hide.” Judith says that one of the most daunting confessions she ever had to make to her mother was, “I love garlic.” Her mother was appalled.

    Judith managed to escape this culinary wasteland by moving to Paris after graduating from college. She persuaded her parents to let her go for a three week visit. She fell in love with the city, the food and the Parisians’ passion for cooking and eating. At the end of her three weeks Judith “lost” her passport and had to postpone returning home. In the time it took to replace her passport, she cannily managed to secure a job reading manuscripts and subsequently extended her stay for three years.

    It was a heady time in Paris. World War II had recently ended and the people reveled in the freedom and access to goods and food lost during the war years. Judith recounts a joyous moment when she was standing in line in a bakery and the owner stood behind the counter holding a baguette of bread fresh from his oven. He lifted it over his head, broke it in half and proudly revealed its warm, aromatic and fluffy white interior to his patrons. Everyone cheered! Wartime shortages had precluded such luxuries as white flour. Judith was enamored of this new life where people took such joy in a simple loaf of bread.

    One of her most memorable “working” moments happened when she rescued Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl from a “reject pile.” Judith might have been new and inexperienced, but she was fearless about what she believed in – and she believed Anne’s story. She insisted the story be published in English in the US and it was.

    In 1957, Judith finally managed to tear herself  away from Paris. She returned to New York and accepted an editorial position at Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. In the beginning she worked primarily on translations of French writers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Over the years she has worked with many distinguished authors, including Elizabeth Bowen, John Updike, Peter Taylor, John Hersey, William Maxwell and Anne Tyler. But food was never far from her heart.

    When Houghton Mifflin turned down Julia Child’s manuscript, Alfred Knopf brought it to Judith’s desk, saying “I think you might understand this better than anyone else in the office.”

    Judith loved the massive tome by three unknown ladies – one American and two Frenchwomen, Louise Bertholle and Simone Becks. She wrote in her memoir, The Tenth Muse, “I was bouleversee, as the French say – knocked out. This was the book I’d been searching for.” She convinced Knopf to publish the manuscript, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the world of food has never been the same since.

    Judith has written many articles, essays and books of her own. She is the co-author with Evan Jones (her late husband) of: The Book of Bread, and Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! In 2007 Judith published her memoir, The Tenth Muse: My life in Food, and in 2009 she published another beautiful, groundbreaking book, The Pleasures of Cooking for One.

    When Judith is not at her desk or her stove in New York, she is at home in a rural corner of the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, where she and a cousin are raising Angus cattle, which she calls “the girls.” She is healthy, fit and downright spunky. She calls this time of life her “ripe old age,” as opposed to her “old old age.”

    Dare I say, we should all ripen as well…

    Judith has already received the “James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.” I think they may have jumped the gun for who knows what else this 83-year-old dynamo will achieve in her years to come!

    NB: In the interest of full disclosure, I was one of Judith’s editors. I asked her and her husband, Evan, to write a book on bread for children, and when they delivered the manuscript to me it was as much of a magnum opus as Julia’s for Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not easily daunted myself, I asked Judith if I could submit the tome to a colleague to be published for adults and if she and Evan would work with me to pare the manuscript down to a second book, appropriate for children. We did and the result was two award-winning books.

  • How to Capture and Hold Your Interviewer’s Attention in 20 Seconds!


    Mary Civiello’s tips on How To Capture a Crowd posted in a Fortune Magazine blog are a must read! They are just as applicable for a small audience: namely your interviewer or the interviewing committee.

    Her very first question is a stunner: 1. Can you give your presentation in 20 seconds even though you have 20 minutes to speak?

    Civiello says, “Start your preparation by asking: What is the one thing I want them to remember if they remember nothing else?”

    Read and memorize each of Civiello’s four tips and, while you’re paring your presentation down to 20 seconds, remember our SSW advice: You Are Your Brand: Be Authentic!

    Be honest about your skills and personal values.  Think about your interview as a blind date. Do not use your resume or social media marketing tools to create a false persona. Never advertise yourself as a young and sauve bon vivant when you’re really an older, highly experienced, albeit shy and introspective research analyst. Do not post a snap taken 20 years ago on your LinkedIn profile. The shock will knock your interviewer off his or her pins and they won’t believe a word you say.

    Stephanie Clark, a career consultant in Canada, recently addressed the importance of authenticity for long-term best results. Referring to how pressured job seekers feel about the interview, she said:

    Why not relax about it all, do something or behave in a way that is authentic to you and how you feel, and let the chips fall where they may? No use trying to manipulate a situation … by being anything other than you! If the person doesn’t respond favorably … perhaps it is best to move on.

    I would much rather work somewhere where my quirks, personality, and style were welcomed, appreciated, needed, than somewhere where they found my approach not aligned with theirs. Such a situation, aside from potentially being a confidence buster, isn’t likely to provide workplace successes. No success, no great content for the next resume, the need for which would likely come soon enough, given that the fit was all wrong!

    Stephanie has lots of great articles on her website:

  • Bare Words: Pare Your Writing Down to the Essentials


    Yes, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit I am a lover of words and writing. I try to be open-minded about the art, but this weekend I was struck by two less than artful abuses.

    The first was New York Governor, David A. Paterson’s ludicrous pronouncement, “I pledge I have not obfuscated.” Whatever happened to “lied”?

    The second occurred as my grandson and I drove to his 5th grade breakfast fundraiser.  As we were cruising along in the dawn’s early light, he proudly announced he was a PTP.  Science wizard that he is, I thought this must have something to do with the Periodic Table of the Elements. Not so, he smiled and said that’s “Pancake Transportation Personnel.” Are “waiters” no more?

    The late, E.B. White, master author and essayist, would have been horrified. White was adamant about clarity in writing.  One of his cardinal rules was:  “Avoid fancy words: Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able.”

    White and William Strunk, Jr., wrote The Elements of Style, a tiny but venerable guide which is just as valuable today as when it was when first published in 1919.  As we struggle with résumés, cover letters and all other communications related to capturing and positioning ourselves for our job searches, we need to keep this little gem of a book at out fingertips.

    The guide begins with sixty-three words that could change your world of writing: “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

    In this weekend’s NY Times excellent essay, Writing a Résumé That Shouts ‘Hire Me’, by Phyllis Korkki, the advice is “be concise, tight, lean and clean” – an echo of  the 1919 Elements of Style, credo: Make every word tell.

    Muriel Barbery in The Elegance of the Hedgehog has written a remarkable passage describing a Maori rugby player that is a perfect metaphor for telling words. He “was like a tree, a great indestructible oak with deep roots and a powerful radiance – everyone could feel it. And yet you also got the impression that the great oak could fly, that it would be a quick as the wind, despite, or perhaps because of its deep roots.”

    As you write, take care to choose words that are grounded, words that are clear and concise – telling words which ignite the imagination, radiate and resonate so everyone can hear you.

  • Social Media Works! The day I posted my profile on LinkedIn my Blog stats tripled and I received a job offer.


    Speaking as a former technology Luddite (I did not lose my Web virginity until my 50th birthday had sailed by), I am thrilled to see how well the latest Social Media tools can work. I posted my LinkedIn profile, emailed 30 colleagues to cue them I had joined their virtual network and within hours the number of unique visitors to my blog had tripled and one contact wrote back to offer me a job. All of this happened – not on a “busy” weekday – but on a late, sleepy Sunday afternoon. Clearly, these online networks operate 24/7 and folks are not just surfing; they are working!

    Lest you think my virtual network success was a bolt from the blue, it was not. I have been developing networks the old fashioned way (phone, letter, email, and shockingly even face-to-face) for eons. I have tippy-toed into the virtual world with extreme care and much due diligence. I studied all the do’s and don’ts and scoured zillions of online tutorials before I so much as typed the big “T” for  Twitter!

    Five steps I learned the hard way which could be key to your success:

    1. Identify your audience. Is this about family and friends or professional colleagues and securing a job?

    2. Know what you want to say and, of course, have something to say that will be of interest or value to your audience. Nobody really cares if you’re having bananas or blueberries on your cereal each morning. But, if you had a flash of genius about how to secure the job of your dreams whilst munching, it might be okay to mention the fruit – just don’t overdo it. Your audience is interested in your epiphany not your edibles.

    3. Determine how you want to convey your message (humor, info, facts, data, personal experience, aggregated wisdom) and then assess which platform (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook etc) will work most effectively for you. Don’t jump in with both feet. Dip a toe in to test the water and make sure you can wriggle all ten comfortably before you dive in to another platform.

    4. Always remember that, like a traditional on-the-ground network, your virtual network needs nurturing and on-going maintenance. Keep it fresh and up-to-date. If you limit your postings to once a year or even once a month, it connotes a certain lack of interest and commitment or, even worse, that you really don’t know what you are doing!

    5. Be prepared to let go. Once you post what you consider a wise or erudite tidbit, be open to feedback – both positive and negative. That interchange or exchange of information and insights is the real value added – the way we learn.

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