When starting out in your portfolio career, it’s tempting to take every opportunity that comes your way, just to ensure a steady income stream.
But is that really the best use of your time and efforts? Chances are, if you take on every project that comes your way, you’ll inevitably end up taking on projects that don’t make the most of your skills and interests. Given that your most recent projects are what is most likely to lead to your next opportunity, it’s important to ensure you keep focused on work that makes the most of your key competencies.
By defining your core competencies and actively going after projects and roles that make the most of them, you will:
- develop expertise in the areas that matter the most to your customers.
- have a path for developing your skills in support of reaching your business goals
Identifying your core competencies
What are core competencies?
Let’s start by defining what a core competency is in a business setting. A core competency is a specific factor that is central to the way a company and its employees work. It must fulfill three key criteria:
- It is difficult for competitors to imitate.
- It can be applied widely across many products and markets.
- It contributes to the end consumer’s experienced benefits.
Taking this into a real-life example, if you are a social media consultant, your core competencies might look like the above illustration. You’ll note that these competencies fall into three buckets: functional (which includes unique technical expertise), personal (the areas in which you excel), and leadership (how your competencies interact with managing others.)
Continue reading “How to Identify and Assess Your Core Competencies”
One of the small complications of being a portfolio careerist is figuring out how to present your overlapping permanent positions and short-term projects on your resume, and then talking them through in an interview situation.
Chances are if you are applying for a position at an established, large organization, your recruiter is likely to start asking questions to the effect of “Are you going to use your time on the clock for us and our resources to pursue outside unrelated projects?” Which is why you need to head off that line of questioning at the pass by incorporating your portfolio career as part of the pitch for why you’re the right hire for the position.
Having been through this conversation a number of times over the course of my career, I’ve found the key factors for navigating this topic successfully are:
- being transparent about your overlapping projects
- reinforcing what you learned from the projects
- clarifying what overlapping projects, if any, you have at the moment
- ensuring you gain understanding from the recruiter and the hiring manager on the organization’s policies about concurrent projects
Continue reading “How to Use a Portfolio Career as an Asset When Applying for Jobs”
Are you still using a curriculum vitae (CV) to apply for corporate positions in the U.S.? If so, you may be selling yourself short.
Although the factual, comprehensive CV is still alive and well in academia and in other parts of the world, it typically doesn’t do a good enough job of selling an employer in the U.S. on why you—and not the hundred other applicants for the position—should be called up for an interview. But the good news is, your CV provides a great base from which to construct a results-oriented resume.
Overcoming the hurdles
That said, I’ve seen two recurring hurdles when working with professionals in transitioning from a CV to a results-oriented resume: 1) getting over feeling uncomfortable about self-promotion and 2) finding the right results and accomplishments to focus on. So let’s start by focusing on overcoming those hurdles.
Continue reading “Evolve Your CV Into a Results-Oriented Resume”
Updated October 2017 to include the latest visualization of the many social media conversation channels by Brian Solis and Jess3 via http://www.theconversationprism.com/.
Take a few minutes to look at the above visualization of the many social media channels in the Conversation Prism above, grouped by type. If you’re active on social, you probably see a few missing, which makes sense, as the illustration is over a year old. Now, take a moment to think about the social networks you use the most. For me, that would be LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Sure there are others I have logins for, but they’re not places I visit daily as part of my personal and professional social media use.
You could spend all of your spare time trying to keep up on reading and interacting with all the social networks relevant to your personal and career interests. Which is why you need to budget your time and set up a plan for making the most of your time. But before you dive into that part, first you need to define your objectives and identify the best channels to reach your audience.
Step 1: Identify your social media goals and objectives
Are you using social media to build your personal brand in your career field? Or are you more directly using it to market your professional services or small business? If you are trying to chase after more than one goal in any one social media channel, chances are you’re not going to be able to use it effectively— and you may burn yourself out in the process.
One of the more difficult tasks as a solopreneur—or anyone who works in a corporate setting for that matter—is identifying the appropriate “voice” for your written communications and online interactions.
You may be tempted to try to keep your work life and private life separate when it comes to voice, but inevitably, especially thanks to social media’s proliferation, those outside of work comments and photos and activities become part of your professional brand—whether you like it or not.
On the one hand, you don’t want to try to maintain an artificially inflated version of yourself that won’t hold up under pressure but you also want to craft a polished, professional public persona that will help you meet your career goals.
So how do you balance it out?
I’ve definitely struggled with this balancing act throughout my portfolio career. The answer for me was to be transparent and consistent across my disparate activities.
For example, I was a regular arts and entertainment writer, covering all sorts of special events and concerts for a fairly hip and irreverent online publication, while working in communications for a large publicly traded corporation.
Rather than keeping my dual life a secret, I made sure to incorporate the cultural events journalist into my corporate persona. And I was always aware that anything I wrote in my off work time could possibly be read by my colleagues or even my boss. So I made sure not to step over any cultural lines, or make any comments that could be construed as not being supportive of my workplace.
How did that play out in real life? It meant I didn’t write copy that slammed big business, or that made fun of my industry, or that would be offensive to my company’s clients. That didn’t mean selling out or writing blandly either. It just meant keeping my copy positive and resisting the urge to snark. Which at the end of the day probably improved my writing—and my personal brand.