• Learn How to Build a Powerful Personal Brand That Will Differentiate You and Allow You To Compete in the Global Marketplace.
  • 14 Things Every Freelancer Should Know About Personal Branding

    What should freelancers know about establishing and building personal branding?

    These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

    1. Define Your Target Audience and Build Your Brand For Them

    When building a personal brand, you need to first determine who you’re building it for. Define your target audience so you can establish a personal brand that connects with them. Not everyone will be your ideal client, so don’t create a broad personal brand. Your personal brand needs to be specific and targeted so that it’s especially attractive to your ideal client. – Syed BalkhiWPBeginner

    2. Understand How You Want Your Clients to See You

    Freelancers should know that their personality is their brand. From early drafts to final sales, freelancers should let their personality and passion shine through. To polish your brand, write down three adjectives that describe you and how you want your clients to see you. Ask a friend to do the same, and compare to make sure how you’re seeing yourself is how others see you, too. – Shu SaitoGodai Soaps

    3. Set Up a Website or Business Page

    With the rising number of freelancers, it’s important to establish a unique and powerful reputation — one that speaks of your services and strong work ethics and separates you from your toughest competitors. Set up a business website or a Facebook page. Create content that will create an awareness of your niche. Don’t be afraid to infuse your personality into your brand. – Kyle GoguenPawstruck

    4. Showcase Your Solutions, Not Just Your Services

    You can build a strong personal brand by showcasing the solutions you offer. As a freelancer, you may offer a number of different services to clients, but what solutions do you offer? Freedom? Less stress? Build your brand based around the solutions you offer and your brand will stand out from the rest. – John TurnerSeedProd LLC

    5. Invest Your Energy Where You’re Seeing ROI

    As a freelancer, you create deliverables to make money, whether that’s code, content or designs. Every hour you spend building a brand on Instagram, Medium or Facebook is a lost billable hour. So be ruthless about where you invest your energy. If a personal branding strategy doesn’t bring in paying clients, don’t waste your time on it. If a platform doesn’t attract clients, focus elsewhere. – Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

    6. Find Your Voice and Apply It Across All Touchpoints

    As society continues to move towards the gig economy, freelancers have to find out ways that showcase how their brand is different from the rest of the crowd. Every touchpoint of your branding strategy, your website, and social media pages must be carefully curated to let your offerings shine in a manner that differentiates you from the competition. Find your unique voice and add value to customers. – Rahul VarshneyaBenchpoint

    7. Create Thought Leadership Content

    Part of building your personal brand is to be visible online and a great way you can do that is by publishing content that presents you as a thought leader in your industry. Create content that’s engaging and helpful, and that shows off your skills and expertise to potential clients. When they search online for your industry or niche, hopefully, you can dominate the search results with your quality content. – Chris ChristoffMonsterInsights

    8. Clean Up Your Social Media

    At the beginning of their business, freelancers have very little job security. For that reason, I recommend that any burgeoning freelancers go through their old and current social media accounts and remove any incriminating, questionable or offensive content. This will allow you to build a positive personal brand online without any baggage or fear of controversy. – Bryce WelkerCrush The CPA Exam

    9. Network As Much As You Can

    Relationships are key. You might have heard of it before, but you should network, network and then network some more. After that, offer something in return. Personal branding normally is based on the people you know, so expand that list as much as possible. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

    10. Be Prepared to Put in the Time and Effort

    When freelancing, it’s up to you to sell your personal brand and, thus, yourself and the services you provide. To get your name and thought leadership out into the world, you must be prepared to dedicate significant time to personal branding efforts — time that is not spent billing hours to your clients. Understand this in advance of dreaming what your freelancing compensation might be. – Keith ShieldsDesign

    11. Create Case Studies

    Case studies are a good way to show how you go above an beyond. For example, if you’re a writer, instead of simply showcasing your articles, push it the extra mile by having case studies that show how your articles helped a client increase SEO traffic by 20 percent. This is a much more powerful value proposition that will entice people to hire you. – Jared AtchisonWPForms

    12. Ask Clients to Leave Reviews

    Cultivating reviews from your clients is an amazing way to help build your personal brand. I find that reviews are the most persuasive form of social proof and close sales without the need for references. Ask current clients to leave reviews on your personal site, third-party sites like Yelp and Google Business, and any platform you use to find clients. – Brian GreenbergTrue Blue Life Insurance

    13. Analyze Your Search Results

    Almost all clients research prospective freelancers’ reputations and work on Google before working with them. Search your name to see what they see. If unflattering things show up, try to get them removed. If nothing shows up, make a website, social media profile and business page, so people can find out who you are and what you do. Having a strong, positive search presence will build your brand. – Shaun ConradMy Accounting Course

    14. Always Deliver Top-Notch Work 

    Freelancers interested in establishing and building their personal brands must not lose sight of the importance of the work they are hired to complete. In the world of freelancing, nothing is more helpful to your brand than doing great work and nothing is more than detrimental than poor performance. At the end of the day, your work product is as important as anything to your personal brand. – Adam MendlerThe Veloz Group

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    How to Write YouTube Headlines That Get Read For Your Personal Brand

    When building a personal brand video content is key to increased visibility online. To achieve this it’s not only important to create compelling media that attracts an audience, but to also tailor topics for your target market. More than ever your audience is using YouTube as a search engine to find what they are looking for.

    With the right headlines for your visual content a personal brand can tap into a much larger audience in their market. This will take just some minor adjustments to your copy with the use of catchy phrases that include the right keywords.

    How can you effectively build your brand on YouTube? One way is to conduct research on the right topics for your audience. But you do not have to spend a lot of your budget to do this. YouTube includes a powerful search function in addition to conducting research through Google’s keyword suggestion tool.

    Being aware of what your market is desiring and is attracted to will help your personal brand establish itself as an authority through video. Here’s how to craft the right headlines that attracts viewers who will want to stay and watch your videos to the very end.

    How to publish great headlines for YouTube

    Here are several ways you can start reaching a larger audience:

    • Optimize for search – Perform a search with a relevant word or phrase as it relates to your video. Google provides many different options to choose from and the level of competition for each word and phrase. You can also go to YouTube directly and enter your information there in your search bar, which also includes filters to narrow your results.
    • Keep it short – Avoid using too many words, and choose instead a clear, concise, and simple description that your audience will understand. Many of your viewers are using their mobile devices and you will want to keep this in mind. Catchy phrases are very effective in getting the viewer’s attention.
    • Get your audience engaged – People love to share their opinions, which is why polls are now so common — especially on social media. Ask your viewers’ opinion in order to engage them in the video and provide valuable insights you can use in your business.
    • Include a timely deadline – When people see a specific date they naturally want to find more. This can work for a historical reference as well as something coming in the future. By providing a deadline they will be more likely to read about why they should take action.

    As video continues to grow in popularity, it is more important than ever to tap into the power of visual content marketing, and to make your personal brand stand out. Headlines that are optimized well for smart phones and tablets will attract more leads, and double your subscriber list as well.

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    How to Create Eye-Catching Visual Content For Your Personal Brand

    Visual Content

    How your brand image is projected visually is important to your audience and visibility. A mix of appealing images and video will not only increase engagement in your marketing, but will also create a greater awareness.

    Visuals are entertaining and stimulating to the mind. Most of all, people like sharing content that is unique and offers a solution to their questions.

    You’ve probably heard and read about the need for a brand to present unique and valuable content for its readers. What ties directly into the scheme of things are eye-catching components such as videos, infographics, and images which project your message.

    What Makes Eye-Catching Visual Content

    Brands incorporate visual marketing into their content mix for a variety of reasons, including increasing leads and growing their social media network.

    In order to encourage viral sharing follow these tips to make sure your visual marketing strategy doesn’t disappoint:

    • Share what your audience wants – What’s on people’s minds, right at this moment? That’s the first question to ask yourself when sitting down to create your images and video.
    • Deliver on what you promise – Make your visuals highly relevant to your core brand community. Share information that your intended audience will always need, provides helpful information and solutions, and does not change over time.
    • Go beyond just images – Include interactive content such as Infographics or a short video that can be shared on places like Instagram and Facebook and ties directly back to your website and YouTube channel.
    • Give your content a fresh twist – Ensure your visual content is relevant to your target viewers that is unique to your brand. Topics that are on everyone’s mind are wonderful – just as long as you give them your own new “twist.”
    • Make it “shareable” – Share your posts and tweets specifically with influential people in your niche who are inside your network pointing out how this could be beneficial to their audience base as well. Make sure your website is responsive and includes all of the latest social sharing icons.

    It has been said that a picture is worth a thousands words. Since the human brain processes images faster than text, your brand’s message can be communicated in a much more immediate way.

    Start your visual marketing campaigns by creating and improving your graphics as you go along, and pay attention to which images or videos get the most response. Be sure to monitor user feedback and don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way in order to reach a targeted audience.

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    How to Create a Workplace Culture of Acceptance

    This week I would like to include David Mesa’s ideas and opinions about creating a workplace culture of acceptance in my article. David Mesa, Chief Development Officer of PJ’s Coffee, an experienced leader with over 25 years at the management level has created robust company culture through building trust, acceptance and understanding with his team members. His tips on how others can do the same below:

    1. Lead with Optimism– It is important to set the tone from the top. Ensure employee relations, whether it be a meeting or a one-off email, are done in a positive tone that shows you believe in the outputs and capabilities of your team members. This leads to employee empowerment and employee retention in the long term. One way to do so is to start each morning by sending your team members a positive and encouraging email, this will set them off on a high note for the rest of the day.
    2. Encourage Mistakes– While detrimental mistakes should be avoided, trying new things that don’t turn out can be a great opportunity for growth. Mesa, takes a very hands-off approach by delegating and then encouraging autonomy. When employees come with questions, he will encourage them to try to find their own answer first. He encourages other leaders to do the same. While mistakes often occur, the learning associated with them can spark innovation.
    3. Allow Dissenting Ideas– Mesa encourages his team members to buck tradition and take a leap of faith on new ideas knowing that stagnancy and resting on laurels is often what leads to an organization’s downfall. To make sure creativity is always top of mind, put together structured brainstorms these should be both planned and at the drop of a hat to keep employees fresh and enthralled.
    4. Make Collaboration an Everyday Experience– Collaboration allows team members to open up in a way that may not always be possible when honing in on projects. This helps to create natural trust. To help build this collaboration into everyday create small teams that work interdependently on projects.
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    Posted in Personal Branding, Podcast, Skill Development, Workplace Success

    How To Create A Business Game Plan For Your Personal Brand

    Your personal brand needs to have a plan in place for your projected growth, regardless of whether you’re new to Internet marketing and branding, or a seasoned participant. Ask yourself, where do you see your business going in the next few years?

    Having a passion for what you do is essential to success along with perseverance and a well planned business strategy. Here are several ways your brand can overcome obstacles and build a successful online business:

    • Keep brand development first place – Once you know how you want to be defined by your audience, work on identifying your key competitors. What are they better than you at? What do you do differently when it comes to marketing? Be on the lookout for cutting edge tactics that are sustainable for the long haul. You want to steer clear of flash in the pan strategies or fly by night trends. As small business entrepreneurs take their ideas online it’s vital that you are doing the same with motivation and enthusiasm to win over your target market in a way that is unique to you.
    • Change up your content marketing – Content is becoming more shareable than ever. Social media has the power to generate word of mouth through social signals. As you create your schedule you’ll need to think less about keywords and more about getting your readers engaged. This all begins with an understanding of your target audience. People are looking for a brand that actually understands the problem they’re going through and how to motivate and walk them through a viable solution.
    • Spread your message on multiple channels Your business should be developing a following in multiple channels in order to effectively reach your target market. As you grow your brand you should be building trust with a loyal audience that converts much higher than just a visitor landing on a website or visiting a social network.
    • Educate yourself and learn new skills – There are plenty of low cost or even free resources that will help build your knowledge in your industry. Take advantage of seminars, webinars and live streaming events, which is also a great way to network and attract more clients. Seek the advice of high influencer connections, and be open to adjust your strategy as trends change.

    Today’s online business is moving quickly as technology advances and people demand more transparency from brands before making a purchase. Create a game plan that best reaches your existing followers and then focus on what needs to change in order to attract more interested brand followers.

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    5 Steps to Outshine Your Competition In a Job Interview

    An interview is a business transaction wherein the objective of the hiring manager (the person who has the authority to hire) is to make a selection among job candidates called in for interviews. A candidate has two challenges: first, to convince the hiring manager that he is the ideal candidate for the position, and second, to outshine the others (i.e., the competition for the job). Following are several suggestions.

    First, prepare for the interview by working with a seasoned interview coach. An interview coach can practice with you certain mock-interviewing techniques, thereby helping you to not only answer difficult interview questions but also recognize traps and avoid saying the wrong things. As an interview coach, I need no less than five hours to get someone ready for the big test. If the result is to get the job, then the fee paid for such a service is merely a drop in the bucket.

    Second, prepare your SARBs: situation/action/result/benefit. These are short vignettes about your experience, describing for the interviewer how you solved problems on the job and the results and benefits to employers. They are the tools you bring with you to the interview. If presented well, the examples will convince the hiring manager you’re the right person for the job.

    Third, research the company. Spend some time in the public library investigating as much as you can about the company. You cannot overdo this aspect of the job search, and neither should you underestimate the importance of showing the interviewer you understand–on either a macro- or micro level–the issues the company faces.  Knowing details about the company improves the “cultural fit-factor”.

    Fourth, use your personal connections via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to discover as much information as you can about the people you’re going to interview with. While doing that, attempt to find something in common with them. This is very important, because people are known to hire candidates with whom they can build a relationship even during the interview process.

    And fifth and last but not less important, make sure the position you’re interviewing for aligns with your own needs and desires. Consider your skills and attributes and traits. Evaluate the organization’s work environment, the commute, the compensation, and the benefits. Pay attention to your gut feeling. If it feels good, make sure you clearly show your enthusiasm. This is what the hiring manager wants to “buy.”


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    How to use a logo to reinforce one’s personal branding

    I’ve always believed in the importance of a logo to reinforce my personal brand and that of my companies. If you go on my personal website, you’ll see my name as a logo, with distinct colors that match the rest of my website. That logo, the font and the colors are used on my website, in my marketing collateral and even on my invoices that I send to clients. By using the logo everywhere, even on some Instagram posts, and on my podcast, people get familiar with me and recognize my content quicker. In this way, I use a logo for identification purposes. When people see the brand, they know it’s me and they know the work is going to be quality – it’s a promise of quality to viewers, followers and consumers!

    Your personal brand logo should intrigue, remind and reinforce your style and value, not be necessarily used as a sales vehicle. A logo is the centerpiece of your brand identity because the colors, fonts and styles you use are captured in everything else you do moving forward until you make a logo change. Through the design features of a logo, people can build an affinity with you as a professional, entrepreneur or person. This understanding makes them more inclined to reach out to you. When you take yourself seriously, by creating a personal brand logo, other people take you just as seriously.

    The qualities of quality logo 

    • Simplicity: You want people to easily recognize your logo so if you make it too complex, with too many words and colors, it won’t be memorable. Think about Google or Apple’s logo, they are both simple and clean, which also makes it easier to apply them to anything you’re doing.
    • Relevancy: Don’t let your logo stay stagnant forever, try to reinvent yourself and your brand over time.
    • Memorability: The best logos are the ones that you can’t forget and the ones that appear everywhere. The more you see something, the more you recognize it and it gets implanted into your memory. You associate the logo with the personal behind it immediately.
    • Uniqueness: Of course other people may have the same name as you, especially if your name is Mike Smith (my friends name!). But, even if you use your common name as part of the logo, you can always make it distinct by the font, size, colors and design. Don’t let your common name prevent you from having a logo that can be uniquely your own.
    • Attractiveness: In today’s extremely crowded world, everyone has a personal brand and therefore we are all competing for attention like crazy. That’s why, you need a logo that grabs attention, while communicating your core values in an authentic way. With our short attention span, it forces us to make a big impact quickly. And yes, people judge a logo like they judge a book by its cover. There’s rarely a second chance to make a first impression.
    • Scalability: At some point in time, you may want to blow up the logo to make it large enough for print. Before you try to create a logo, or hire someone to do it for you, please keep this in mind. Make sure that the logo can be enlarged so you could use it for posters and banners. By having scalability in mind, you won’t have issues later when you decide to use the logo for other purposes you may not have thought of today.

    How to create a logo

    When I was first starting out building my personal brand, I created my own logo. I actually did it on a lunch break while working at a big company. At the time, I didn’t have a budget to hire someone and I had some creative energy that I wanted to use. The first thing I did when I wanted to create my logo was to get some inspiration from famous logos like Coca Cola and McDonalds. So I went on my friend’s websites and looked at the biggest brands in the corporate to see the choices they made and why they were so effective. Back then, there wasn’t an easy way to create a logo so I did it myself.

    While creating a logo on your own can be fun, if you aren’t a professional but want to be taken seriously, you might need to get help. Even if you don’t have any budget at all for the project, I have good news for you. You can now design your own logo with the Wix Logo Maker. By answering just a few questions about your business and personal style, it will create a logo design that makes sense for you. It allows you to customize the font, color, size and text to fit your brand and you get the rights to it, which is awesome. Once you’ve finished creating your new logo, you can download the files so they can be used for a number of different purposes, including social media, your website, business cards, flyers and much more.

    Have a logo is a central part of building a personal brand. It makes you appear more professional and you end up taking yourself more seriously just by having one. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive either. Get started today!

    Posted in Personal Branding

    Get More Followers for Your Personal Brand with Instagram Stories

    Today it’s all about great visual content and videos online, and publishing stories on Instagram is just one way an audience can better get to know a brand. In order to attract new followers for your business it is important to branch out and try new mediums.

    How can your personal brand create more visibility online? Through branded posts that will attract a new audience organically. There are a few ways you can present your stories in an entertaining and visually appealing way.

    Mobile marketing is all about making a connection with others, and presenting a message that is on their level. There are several ways to attract followers to your personal brand without directly selling to them.

    Steps to successfully posting stories on Instagram

    Your posts should encourage users to want to provide immediate feedback in the comments section. Here’s how to make this work for your brand:

    • Make an announcement for a product or service – One of the ways a brand can utilize stories is by creating a short photo or video showcasing your latest offering. These posts are great because most people are willing to watch a quick glimpse of your product or service. Just add some fun emojis, text and filters and you’re ready to go. Showcasing what your business has to offer is quick and simple with the opportunity for engagement in the comments section.
    • Take them behind the scenes – Use photos or videos at an important event to present a short behind-the-scenes look at your brand. For example, bring your audience into trade events, a day in the life of your office, how a product is put together, ect.. This is a great way to give consumers an inside exclusive look into what you do, which also humanizes your brand.
    • Promote an upcoming webinar or podcast – Are you having a live and exclusive event coming up? Invite people early with short videos, and include a strong call to action. There are various apps that can help you to create this, which can also be shared on places like Twitter and Facebook.

    Stories on Instagram for your personal brand is a great way to connect more with your audience and respond right away to feedback. Entice your followers with helpful information or bring them into an offline event that you are involved with. The more frequent you post these the more visibility your brand will generate.

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    13 Clear Signs You Have a Strong Brand

    What is the hallmark of a particularly strong brand, and what lessons can be learned from those traits?

    These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

    1. You’re Always Evolving

    Having consistency and clear message is great, but what makes it even better is a brand that continuously evolves. A comparison between Apple and Nokia are a great example of this. Apple never settled for just one current trend or product that does well. Nokia was the best phone around during its era. Unfortunately, they settled and never got the chance to evolve.  – Fritz ColcolABN Circle

    2. You’re Obsessed With Your Customers

    No matter what product or service you sell, it all comes down to serving people, because they are at the core of your business. They are the force that keeps you going. All your efforts should be directed at your customers. Whenever you decide to make a change or transform your brand in some way, you have to make sure that you’ll still be able to deliver the best customer or user experience. – Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

    3. You’re Authentic

    The hallmark of any strong brand is authenticity. A brand that is not genuine in the eyes of consumers will fail to resonate. Even extremely strong brands that have been cultivated by people who may seem inauthentic are, in fact, authentic in that they ultimately accurately reflect the curator of the brand. When building your brand, understand who and what you are, and embrace it. – Adam MendlerThe Veloz Group

    4. You Know How to Tell a Great Story

    Human beings are natural storytellers. The act of storytelling cements social bonds, instills values and acts as a powerful way to bring your brand to life. A strong brand will know who its audience is and create a story that they most identify with. An effective brand story will show what you do and how you do it, and will make the audience want to be a part of your story, too. – Shu SaitoGodai Soaps

    5. You Have a Consistent Presence

    The top traits of successful brands are that it’s competitive, distinct, involves passion and is consistent. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box. Make sure the brand is expressed across all marketing materials. Show some emotion and make sure that the brand continues to resonate with your loyal customers. – Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

    6. You Emotionally Connect With Your Customers

    Strong brands are designed around emotions. They capture our hearts and inspire our souls. The all-time greatest brands do this in a variety of ways, formats (visually, through storytelling, etc.) and spaces (online, in-person or somewhere in-between). People are moved by their emotions, and the brands that know how to connect with us personally are the ones we are the most loyal to. – Amber AndersonTote + Pears

    7. You’ve Embraced a Lifestyle

    A good brand extends beyond its product and incorporates an entire lifestyle. Red Bull is an excellent example of this philosophy in action: In a market stuffed with competitors, their energy drink brand defines itself by embracing extreme sports and an adrenaline-seeking lifestyle. Imagine a type of person or hobby that goes along with your company’s products or services and add it to your brand! – Bryce WelkerCrush The CPA Exam

    8. You Operate With Honesty and Integrity

    In the information age, customers are more attracted to brands that put people before profits. For instance, many well-admired businesses aim to facilitate more responsible consumer habits by producing higher-quality goods that are affordable and made to last, while others encourage toxic consumerism with products that are quickly disposable. – Firas KittanehAmerisleep

    9. You Give Back

    Strong brands have a philanthropic department dedicated to giving back to the community, country or world. Some of these brands will even tie their philanthropic efforts into their mission statement, helping create a bigger vision for their company. – Jared AtchisonWPForms

    10. You Offer Great Value and Great Service

    The hallmark of a particularly strong brand is always rooted in how it treats its customers and the value that the product itself offers. Any brand can come up with a catchy name, logo and other branding assets, but what separates the winners from the losers is the quality of the actual product/service they are selling, as well as how they treat and nurture their customers. – Jared WeitzUnited Capital Source Inc.

    11. You’re Constantly Innovating

    The brands that stay relevant through the years are those that keep changing. Software companies come out with upgrades and new features. Brick-and-mortar businesses update their ordering systems, product offerings and the ambiance of their establishment. While the foundation and unique benefit of the business stays constant, the experience continues to evolve. – Brian GreenbergTrue Blue Life Insurance

    12. You Live Out Your Core Values

    A strong brand is one that follows its core values and conveys them to both their employees and customers. Being consistent in this message and ensuring that employees exemplify it will create a brand that is strong. An example is American Express, which counts customer commitment, quality and integrity among its core qualities, and is known to have excellent customer support and service. – Vincenzo VillamenaOnline Taxman

    13. Your Brand Is Timeless

    A good brand is timeless. It can survive from generation to generation without having to change the core message too much. If you look at Coca Cola, one of the top brands in the world, their name, colors and taglines are as relevant today as they were in the early 1900s. A good brand can always stand the test of time. Avoid trendy words or phrases that are in today, but might be gone tomorrow. – Andy KaruzaFenSens

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    Are Reference Checks Scaring You?

    Reference checking is not standard. Smaller companies typically have neither the manpower nor the funds to do thorough reference checks, which could cost hundreds of dollars. Conversely, larger companies do reference checks but at varying levels of thoroughness. Different from the typical applicant’s concerns–which have to do with performance–companies typically do background checks for security and legal liability reasons.

    A comprehensive pre-employment check consists of an employer’s examination of court records, motor vehicle reports, credit reports, identity records, possible aliases, and several other kinds of checking. My informal research revealed that a significant number of applicants have motor vehicle violations, bad credit, and collection agency records. In addition, just shy of one-third of applicants have discrepancies in their résumés in terms of past employment; some have criminal records; some inaccurately report level of education; and some test positive for use of illegal drugs. All of those findings warrant companies’ doing such checking prior to employment.

    However, the applicant’s concern stems not so much from the logical or legal angle as much as it does from the emotional angle. The question that torments most people in transition is, What will my previous boss or my previous company’s human resources department reveal about me and my past performance? From a practical aspect, references are being performed via two methods. The formal one is done by the human resources department, and its value is limited because it is legally restricted to answering only basic questions related to title, dates or duration of employment, and perhaps whether the company would rehire or not. However, an informal reference check is done through personal contacts in the industry. This is the one that’s done on the Q.T. and cannot be controlled or restricted. Here one’s reputation in the industry is what is important. Building such a reputation is a slow, deliberate, and often challenging process. Ruining it can be fast–and difficult to recover. This is the one that comes with consequences and pain.

    Every job applicant should have a list of at least three references. Employers are looking for past supervisors, possibly at various employers. What’s most important is that you ask permission before putting a name on your reference list. Plus, as your job search progresses, keep your references abreast of developments. Many people fail to stay in communication with their references, with the result that when a contact is made, they may be caught surprised and unprepared.

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