What’s Your Brand?

A brand is how a person feels about a person, product or oganization.

A brand is how a person feels about a person, product or oganization.

I am not an avid Coke drinker by any means but during the holidays I cannot resist purchasing a six pack of those little glass bottles of dark, sweet, caffeinated liquid! And even though we become inundated with the holiday polar bear commercials, this is not what provokes me into making the purchase, either.

What is it then, you might ask? Well, it’s the way that those little glass bottles make me feel. That’s right, drinking soda from glass bottles elicits a feeling of sheer, unadulterated happiness that reminds me of my childhood.

Coca Cola wasn’t even my drink of choice as a kid; it was Cream Soda by The PopShop, for crying out loud! But, soda in any kind of glass bottle brings me immediately back to the carefree days of my youth when during ‘special occasions’, we popped the cap of any icy cold bottle of pop and drank in its syrupy goodness! So, kudos to Coca Cola and their brilliant job at branding!

Branding is not a product, a logo or a mission statement. A brand is how a person feels about a product, service or organization. Strong brands like Apple, Google and Coca Cola are all highly credible, high quality brands that promote a general feeling of trust and security amongst consumers.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you yourself could convey that kind of feeling to an employer?!? Well…you CAN! It’s called Personal Branding. Start by developing a brief statement that communicates who you are, what you are looking for and how you can benefit an employer.

Often referred to as “the 30 second elevator speech”, this pitch is like a mini commercial about yourself! Practice this statement often so that it comes across naturally when you are networking or introducing yourself to prospective employers.

Continue to build your brand through a professional resume, a portfolio, and don’t forget your online image! Be consistent and work to maintain your brand. A strong, clear brand can help you become known for what you are good at and hopefully set you apart from everyone else!

Karen Cake is a student from the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, ON. For more information about the Career Consultant Certificate Program, or how MCACES helps students with Employment Advisement, please contact Lidia Siino, Professional Development & Communications Specialist at lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

What’s Your Story?

 

With the start of the New Year it’s always important to look back but sometimes it’s just as important to look forward. How will you create your own success story for 2014? The first step of course is to have a plan or goal, but it all sounds rather dry doesn’t it? Let’s mix things up like a bottle of champagne and get your creative juices flowing by looking at the process a bit differently shall we? Instead, let’s pretend you’re writing your own autobiography…

 For instance, what would you call it?Image

 “I did it my way” (thanks Frank Sinatra!)

“The greatest story never told”

“Move over… movers and shakers”

 “All in a life’s work”

“The best is yet to come…”

 

These are just a few ideas I came up with. What did you think of? Is it inspiring? Does it represent what you want for the year ahead?

 

What’s the theme?

 

It’s important not to think about what others want for you or what didn’t work in the past, instead focus on how you’ll be the hero or heroine of your own story. Is your goal to conquer an adversary or challenge? Improve your skills? Become better at your job? Start your own job finding group? Find a mentor? or make a difference in the life of another? Have some fun with it!

 

What’s the plot?

 

In other words how do you want the narrative to unfold? List all the tasks or deeds (you’re the hero after all!) that you’ll need to do to accomplish your goals. Give yourself a realistic timeframe and allow for the unplanned. All good stories have a few twists and turns…think about it, if a novel read like a grocery list would you be interested in the outcome?

 

Do you want to be in charge of your own destiny or wait for others to make decisions you wish you’d made but felt you never could? Now’s your chance to write your life story and have it read the way you envision it!

Elaine Logie is a writer for MCACESBlogs and student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program. Like what you read? Be sure to follow our blog, aimed at helping job seekers and peers navigate the world of work! Happy new year, happy blogging! 

 

Get an education *Find a job in your field of study * Live happily ever after.

If you are reading this blog, you might have just accomplished your educational goals and must now plunge into the job of career planning.  I don’t mean the “decide what you want to do for the rest of your life, educate yourself and get a job in your field of study” type of career planning because if it was that simple everyone would have a job in their field of study.  I mean the career planning that takes into account all the options, being open to taking risks and trying new and related careers.

Many students just finishing school have a lot of pressure put on them.  Perhaps it is pressure from parents/spouses wanting them to get a job now and move on with their lives, or pressure from the burden of student loans waiting to be paid off, or even self-imposed pressure from the number of options out there and not knowing which road to take.  At this point you may be feeling a lot of career uncertainty.

Career planning is a funny term because if you ask anyone out there how they ended up  at their job you would find an endless number of people giving you a career path far from the “get an education, find a job in your field of study, live happily ever after”.  So what to do…….

It takes a lot of soul searching to decide what to do next.

Taking into account such things as your values, skills, education, you could pursue many different careers.  There are many theories as to which is the best approach to take.  Some say take off for a few months, travel and explore.  You need to clear your mind before jumping into a new career.  Others say study the job market, network and don’t be afraid to try new things outside of your comfort zone.  Whichever route you take, be open to opportunities as they present themselves or you might not recognize them as opportunities and you will miss a potential career path that you did not even consider in the beginning.

As I mentioned before, ask around and see what others have done.  Jason started out working at a kid’s camp after completing a degree in kinesiology. This led to an opportunity to work with young offenders which led to managing a treatment program for young offenders and eventually morphed into a career as a probation officer. Jason originally wanted to go into the medical field but things did not go as planned.  He was open to other opportunities resulting in his career taking a completely different direction.  He found he liked working with kids and when he was not accepted into med school he stayed on with his “help pay the bills” job, proved himself with management and other opportunities opened up for him.

One motto which you should always follow is “whatever you do, be the best you can be”.  If you are a sales associate be the best sales associate ever, if you are an IT technician be the best technician out there and if you are a Walmart greeter be the best Walmart greeter they have ever seen.  You will likely not stay in the job you started out with but you will have explored many different career options, had many ups and downs despite always given it your best.  The one you end up with will be the one that is the best fit for you.

Dawn Walker is a recent graduate of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts related to job search and career development tips from Career Practitioner students and grads for the job seeking community. Like what you read? Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs today and share our posts to your network. Happy reading!Image

Get a Job Search Wingman

Don’t you wish you knew someone who could get you out of awkward networking situations? Like when you forgot an important contact’s name or when you tried to speak to a manager with a mouth full of cocktail shrimp?

How about for all those lonely hours spent in a darkened room on the computer staring at job sites until your eyes go bloodshot, or for when your family and friends try to delicately change the subject every time you start on one of your rants about the lack of jobs in your industry…well here’s the answer, find yourself a job search wingman or wingwoman!

Just to be clear, your “wingman” doesn’t have to be looking for the same position, however, being in a similar industry would definitely help since they’d have a good idea what you’re looking for and could vouch for your skills. Now bringing them to interviews or cold-calling visits is still a BIG no-no, but your “wingman” can still offer other kinds of support:

  1. They can share tips on job search sites and openings. It’s like you have an extra pair of eyes looking on your behalf.
  2. Together you’ll feel more confident going to networking events, plus two working a room gathering tips and information is better then one. Just don’t remain joined at the hip!
  3. Prepare for interviews together. Watch each other’s body language, rambling answers and relevancy to your industry.
  4. They can help edit your resume or cover letter when the words start to blur together in a frustrating jumble.

    Getting a Job Search Wingman can take your job search to new heights!

    Getting a Job Search Wingman can take your job search to new heights!

  5. Celebrate your successes and let out your frustrations. Another job-seeker is going to have more sympathy and understanding than family/friends who may mean well but sometimes just don’t get it!

Now don’t you wish you could have a “wingman” for all things in life!

Elaine Logie is a student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. Like what you read? Be sure to check out MCACESBlogs often for tips, tools and techniques for the work of find work! Happy reading!

HELP! I don’t know what to do with my life!!!

Career choices. There are hundreds of different career choices out there with hundreds still to come into existence over the next five to ten years. My sons, who are 3, 6 and 7 respectively, will have career choices presented to them that I can’t even imagine. With so many options out there many people get stuck in their career decision making out of fear of making the wrong choice. We are in an economy that does not offer the greatest stability and as a result many people have lost jobs and entire labour market sectors have been decimated- think manufacturing.  Who wants to spend thousands of dollars and devote all that time and energy to train for a career only to find out at the end that they chose a career that is not in demand? How do you know what career has the legs to stand on over the next twenty years? How do you pick?

You can look at it in a couple of ways. I have had clients study those jobs that always seem to be in demand even in a poor economy; recession proof if you will. Well, as about ‘recession proof’ as a job can get because no job is truly recession proof. Some just have more padding against economic downturns and they usually involve meeting people’s needs on things we can’t do without. People require medical care, housing, people need to be taught, to have their hair cut and to bury their loved ones.  I’m thinking about jobs in medicine, carpentry or construction, mechanics, teaching, computers, hair stylists or funeral directors. Many people seek out these jobs and hope the skills required to perform those jobs are a match against their own interests, skills and abilities.

Other people look within themselves for the answer. It can be difficult to write down your own strengths and weaknesses, which is completing some career assessments can help sort out the facts. Employment Counsellors can administer assessments that measure your interests, abilities and values.  Assessments can also shed some light on your personality and can help explain why you do those things you do; why you thrive in some environments but not others. All of this is fantastic information to take into consideration as you decide what career to follow.  First you find what environments match up best with your interests, vales and abilities and then you begin to look at career options.

In my opinion, the best approach is an educated approach. Take a good hard look at yourself and determine where you are at your best. Talk to Employment Counsellors and complete some assessments. Then look at the labour market to see what’s in demand. Take a look at what you need in a career and what you are willing to do in order to pursue it, for example, how many years of post-secondary school can you afford, do you want to stay locally or are you willing to commute, what kind of salary do you realistically want to earn.

Don’t rush the decision. Do the leg work, talk to over with someone and you will find the perfect career for you.

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