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Donna Rachelson’s new book featured on Expresso

My interview with Expresso morning show aired this past Tuesday. I shared the inspiration behind my new book ‘Play to Win: what women can learn from men in business’ and got the opportunity to showcase my incredible team …

Watch: Donna Rachelson’s new book featured on Expresso:

Donna appeared on eNCA’s Moneyline

Relaunch your career

You’ve been out of the workplace for a while, you may feel a bit nervous about restarting your career.

Make sure you market your top skills and highlight the value you can add by brushing up your personal brand. Whether you’ve been on a sabbatical, taken time out to have children or been on a break while you’ve been travelling, getting back into the workplace can be challenging. Make sure you get your personal brand in top shape to attract the attention of recruiters. Here are a few pointers to help you get started:

Research where you want to be. Find out the requirements of the position and do whatever you need to do to make sure you fit the bill, then use your network and contacts to target the job you want.

Talk to an honest friend. You need honest feedback on your personal brand. Ask a straight-talking friend to talk you through how others perceive you, the areas where you’re doing well and the areas where you could use improvement.

Focus on key relationships. Keep in touch with people in your industry. Think about the top people you want to know about your skills, talents and passion, and find ways to market your personal brand to them. Identify the core aspects you want them to understand about you and make sure you communicate those in every interaction.

Make sure you look the part. The fact is that we are judged by the image we project. Statistics show that people who look good are seen as more professional than those who don’t make an effort. Before you get to the stage of doing job interviews, invest in looking your best, even if it means calling on a professional image consultant.

Package your strengths effectively. Even if you don’t have a huge amount of experience in the area in which you’re planning to work, you can be clever about showcasing the skills you do have that you will make use of in the new position.

Get up to date with your industry. Read up on the latest trends and developments and be ready to talk about them. This shows prospective employers that you’ve done your homework and understand the environment.

Focus on your best projects and strengths. Make sure you show the value you can add to an organisation by highlighting your previous projects and their tangible benefits. If you have taken on a big project during your break, talk about that too, even if it was outside of your field of work. For example, if you successfully set up the PTA at your child’s school from scratch, it demonstrates people skills, initiative and management ability.

Be honest about the gaps in your work history. Don’t ignore the break you’ve taken. Rather offer an explanation supporting the reason for the break, which will help employers to understand your background. Highlight anything positive that you have undertaken during the break period, such as completing a computer course or volunteering.
Use the power of recommendations. Rustle up your testimonials and letters of recommendation. If you don’t have any, ask previous colleagues to write up short testimonials. Let other people market you in their own words.

Does your personal brand resonate?

You’re working to develop your personal brand, but have you tested whether it really resonates with others?

As the year draws to an end and you reflect on everything that has happened during 2013, spend some time reviewing your personal brand and how effective it is.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did you get headhunted?
  2. Were you offered a promotion?
  3. Did you get selected for a high-profile assignment/project team?
  4. Were you recognised by your peers or superiors for your contribution in the organisation?
  5. Did you move forward in your career?

If you answered ‘no’ to all of these questions, your personal brand may not be resonating with other people.

What does it mean when your personal brand is resonating? Firstly, it means you are visible and that people are starting to notice you and your work. They start to notice the work you are doing in a particular area and see you as something of a specialist.

If your personal brand resonates, you also have credibility — a certain gravitas attached to your name, otherwise known as the ‘X-factor’.

If your personal brand resonates, there is an air of confidence about you and people want you on their team. They see you as adding unique value and having impact.

Personal brands that resonate also get talked about favourably. In essence, you start to build a sales force of people that are out there singing your praises.

How to build a personal brand that resonates

If you feel your personal brand is not resonating with your target market, or if you just want to do a better job at building a personal brand that attracts positive attention, start off by taking stock.

Get feedback on how you are perceived (relative to how you would like to be perceived). This could be as simple as having a few conversations with people whose opinions you value, asking them: “What do you think of me? And what could I be doing better?”

Once you understand how others see your personal brand and you have a clear picture of how you want it to be seen, take action where appropriate to ‘close’ the gap. Identify a few-high impact strategies and begin working on them so you can hit the ground running as you tackle the next year.

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