Monday, November 3, 2008

Coaching in tough times

I've always been willing to share my time with people as they navigate their careers, but never more so than times like now which are so tough. I stepped out for a quick coffee today to meet with someone I did not know, but whom a friend asked me to help. Her story is not unusual: engineer by training, 25 years of sales, business development and marketing experience, large companies and small (including 7 years in sales at HP), left a failing startup a year ago to take some time off to travel and settle an aging parent, and came back to into the storm at the worst possible time to look for a job.

Obviously I gave the usual service over coffee - brainstorming ideas on sectors that are doing better and people I know who may be able to help - but I also took a less traditional track today, inspired by the increasing readership of my blog.

I advised Ms RK to plug into the new media way of building her brand. Not just the usual Linked In, but to try writing a blog. Here's my thesis:
- Ms RK likes to write - she wrote terrific emails to her friends from her recent trip to Africa
- her journey over the next three months will be ordinary, and yet every human journey is extraordinary and interesting if you look closely, and many people will be going through the same experiences
- by blogging on her job search journey she can capture her past as well as her present, writing up snippets from her past experience as they come to mind
- by sharing her reactions to the people she meets and the opportunities she sees she'll build an online brand of who she really is, beyond her resume, and what makes her talent different
- and if nothing else, she can share what she learns with all her peers who find themselves in a similar situation.

It occurs to me that the panel of tools you can use now to build your personal brand (my set in decreasing order of richness in the blog, twitter, linked in and facebook) provides a much deeper experience of who you are than a resume ever can. The resume is the dry, static view of your past; your online presence is the living current view of who you are. Of course it comes with risk. Not everyone is comfortable living out loud, and I definitely have to censor my opinions at times, but overall I think the investment will pay off for any one with a sense of humor looking for a job in these times.

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