Don’t Rubbish Personal Branding Yet ( Part 2)
Though an often spoken about topic, I felt the need to share my thoughts on this as I still see people losing out on opportunities due to a complete lack of interest (or perhaps, a lack of knowledge) on this topic. You can read the Part 1 here. [ Day 20 of “One Day, One Blog”]
In part 1 of “Personal Branding” we spoke about the important of getting the basics right by means of your resume and LinkedIn profile.
We now proceed to look at some of the other factors in building your Personal Brand.
(A) Communication Skills
There is a prevalent myth — “I am a techie. It’s OK if I cant speak well. My tech skills are sufficient for me to survive.” This myth is carried forward by other professionals too — Doctors, Scientists, Accountants,etc. In short, the general perception is that only MBA professionals are required to communicate well.
Let me explain this from the other side of the recruitment table. If I am in your college for a campus placement drive, I will definitely not mind that you cannot communicate well in English. If I am impressed with your analytical mind, I will ensure that our Tech lead or CTO meets you for the next round.
But this is what I am not telling you — if I were recruiting you with a possibility that you may need to lead a team in the immediate future OR interact with clients ( internal or external), then I will NOT hire you. Because both these roles need you to communicate effectively to others.
If you have a brilliant idea and you need to convince others in the team to try things your way, how will you do this without being an effective communicator?
Even after you land a good job, if you do not make a conscious effort to improve your communication skills, you will lose out on opportunities
Let’s face it — the big bulk of our engineering and science graduates neither want to do engineering jobs nor do they have the aptitude for it. But these people are ideal for jobs which requires people skills and a basic understanding of technology. I have personally hired for such positions within our firm.
But it pains me when I have had to reject people because they cannot communicate to save their lives.
I was recently talking to elderly gentleman who is one of the founding directors of an engineering college in Kerala. Being a relatively new college, he is keeping a close watch on placements and how to improve the same. Since another placement season had just got over, he shared with be a feedback he received repeatedly. He said, “Ruby, my biggest challenge is to get my students to speak in English. Even the ones who have above average technical aptitude does not make the cut because they cannot communicate. “
A recruitment professional from one of top IT firms told me her views. We give a wide berth to students who are fresh off campus when it comes to communication skills when we recruiting for core tech jobs. And a good majority picks up the necessary skills down the line. But yes, I do agree that if the ones we are rejecting had better communication skills, it would be so much easier for them to find jobs in related fields. And also, since the pool of resources is widening on a daily basis, the colleges are right to be worried”.
Some suggestions to improve your skills
- Join the Toastmasters
I am actually planning to check out the local Toastmasters to join them. My husband and some of my close friends — they have a flair for language. I don’t. If I am recognized as a fairly efficient speaker, it is because I have practiced a LOT right from my college days.
Even now, when I don’t have to speak continuously in English ( or Malayalam — those are the only languages I am fluent in) for an extended period of time, I see that I am losing the fluency. So I have to make a conscious effort to stay at the top of my game.
Given that this is a skill anyone can master, I fail to understand why we don’t make more of an effort.
- Don’t pass up the opportunity to make a presentation
When I get invited to address a crowd, one of the key reasons I accept the invite is that I see each of them as an opportunity to improve this skill. In my current avatar, I am a marketer. I need to be able to communicate well. Tomorrow, I may choose a “road less traveled” to explore. Whatever that may be, I know that this is one skill I will continue to need .
- Read and write more
Most of us are scared of speaking in a new language because we fear that we don’t know enough fancy words. One way to improve that is to read more. And read out loud whenever possible. You should get over the embarrassment of hearing yourself speak. People who are native English speakers may not understand how incredibly painful it is for us who have learned English only in school or college. We really do cringe when we hear ourselves speak.
(B) Social Media Presence
Yes, we have all been cautioned multiple times about being careful of what you share on FB as the HR is a fly on the wall looking at what you do. Perhaps that is the reasons there is an exodus of younger people from FB? Oh, Zuckerberg must hate you HR folks ;P
I confess. I do a social media check before I hire a resource. Sometimes it is to get an understanding of their social media usage ( Fourth Ambit being a social platform, I am sure you can understand the need for this particular check).
I try and not to judge people based on the ravings and rantings one may have done in the FB space. I might form an opinion if I find something outrageously malicious, but not much else.
Let’s not limit “Social Media” to Facebook or LinkedIN. These are the others that you should not be ignoring:
- Medium — if you have the slightest interest in being considered a thought leader, you should not ignore this platform
- Slide Share — This is a great platform to share your knowledge. Use the omnipresent power point skills to teach others what you know.
- Quora — Select the areas you have an opinion on and express them ( this will also greatly help you to increase your writing skills)
- GitHUB — if you are a technical developer, you need to make your presence felt here. ( If you are interested to know more, read here https://www.quora.com/What-is-GitHub-for-a-beginner-and-how-to-get-started-with-it )
As I sign off, let me leave you with the words of a Sr HR Manager. “My team and I have very little time to make hiring decisions. And we make those decisions based on what is showcased before us. Hence, all other parameters staying the same, the candidate with a great online reputation ( even a decent showcase of online branding) will surely have an edge over his/her peers. Simply put it increases the recall value.”
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Friends, this is the Day 20 of my odyssey to write one blog EVERY DAY for the month of May 2017. “One Day, One Blog”
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