Friday, January 30, 2015

"So what do you do?" is the new "How do you do?"

I love the inclusiveness of the question "what do you do?" It doesn't alienate students and at-home parents. You can answer with information about the hobby that eats your weekends. But ultimately, people want to know what you do for work.

I sometimes fall into the lazy habit of answering with "I'm a Marketing Consultant". I should know better. Most folks, if they give a rip, will ask me what that means and I explain "I help companies connect with people online.  I help them understand their brand and develop messaging strategies."

But even this answer feels a little boring to me. When I think about how much communication related to business happens online and the huge opportunity for companies to make the most of that dynamic, I get excited. When I think about the times I have conducted a brand study and explained to a company why their clients/customers or job candidates care about them, light bulbs go on. And I get excited.

So when people ask me what I do, I really want to be telling them about what gets me excited to work every day.

Here are some ideas on how to answer the "what do you do?" question. But I think my favorite resources is Simon Sinek. Have I not mentioned the big crush I have on his brain? Yeah, me and about 20 million other people.

His TED Talk is about leaders inspiring action, but I like his framework for explaining why anyone does what they do. You have to figure out your "WHY".

When people ask what you do, they want more than your title; they want to know why it matters. And what drives you to do what you do.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Because there aren't enough important things to be paranoid about, there's that keg stand you did that one time

I'm so thankful that social media and cell phones didn't exist when I was in college. I have no idea how much irreparable damage I could have done if I were born two decades later. Even nowadays, I enjoy myself in ways that I don't really want to advertise to potential employers. I mean, I think dancing with the dog is legit exercise, but other people might find that weird. I sing in the car; don't need that showing up on Vine. I might sip a glass of wine while I am getting a facial. Ain't nobody need to see that.

Stuff you might post online to share with a few hundred of your besties could be the exact stuff that keeps you from being pursued for a job. Back when I was recruiting, I refused to search my candidates online. I figured we all have lives outside of work and unless it interferes with someone's ability to get his/her job done (and as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else), I don't really care what you do with your free time. I think it's the reason most tech companies don't do drug testing.

But not all employers/recruiters feel that way. Because I guess some people are looking for reasons to say no? I'm not sure. But there are enough companies out there that care what you do on social media for you to at least be mindful. You might say "well, I wouldn't want to work for them anyway", but keep it mind it might be one recruiter at an otherwise awesome company.

Instead of doing a "clean-up" of your online exposure,  I recommend just approaching your use of social media as if anyone can see what you post, and then checking your privacy options regularly. This kind of thinking has helped me establish some guidelines for myself. For example, I don't talk about my clients online. I try to stay out of heated discussions of politics or religion; not always successful, but I err on the side of human rights which feels like a safe bet (in life, in general). I try not to complain about work (we all have bad days but your bad day diatribe can live on in infamy if you make it public. Besides, it's boring.). And I generally don't post any photos that I wouldn't want to show to my elder relatives...the ones I actually like.

"Others can see this" is always in the back of my mind.

Taking an evening to go on an ego-surfing expedition is a good activity to do from time-to-time as well. It will help you uncover anything connected to you that has been posted by others and will also help you see how public some of the things you posted are. What you shouldn't do is stick your head in the sand (in a literal sense, you definitely should not do this) and hope for the best. If there's stuff out there, at least know about it so you can craft your story. "Well, there's a funny story about that kegstand. I was doing it for charity."