“Tell me about yourself”

Tell me about yourself
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As I’m about to start interviews for a Digital Marketing Coordinator to join my team, I thought it would be a good time to share a blog post I wrote a while back in a previous role at Potentia.

The “Tell me about yourself” interview question can be one of the most dreaded questions poised to you in an interview. There is no real right or wrong answer, yet how you answer it will set the tone for the rest of the interview. As it’s such an open question it often throws people, unsurprisingly most people do not prepare for it. So when poised with the question one will think – what exactly do they want me to say here? What do they want to know? And then the panic sets in; some of you will freeze not being able to respond, start reciting every detail in your CV or worse turn into a rambling Michael Scott!

Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way…” – Michael Scott (from the Office).

Whatever you do, don’t be a Michael Scott. So you ask, “what should I share when asked the ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question?”

Why are they asking you the question?

Before we get into how to answer the question, let’s think about why your potential new employer has asked you this question? They could be:

  • testing you to see how you will answer without direction;
  • trying to see how you articulate information about yourself in a few sentences;
  • trying to gain an insight into your personality and how you compare to the other candidates;
    trying to see if you will fit in with their company culture; or
  • ultimately wanting a high level overview of your achievements, knowledge, skills, abilities and personality.

It’s important to think about what they may be looking for so you can put an emphasis on things that you know are paramount in the person they’re looking for.

It’s your time to shine!

Now it’s time to work on how you will answer the ‘tell me about yourself question’, as this is your 5 minutes of glory and a prime opportunity to really position yourself as the right person for the role.

What you need to do in roughly 5 minutes is to explain in a structured approach who you are, what you do and why you’re the perfect candidate – essentially a slightly longer version of an elevator pitch. If you’ve never prepared an elevator pitch consider using the present, past, future formula to structure your response:

  • Start with who you are and where you are now in your career.
  • A little bit about your experiences, successes (relevant to the role) and skills you have gained.
  • Finish with the future – where you are looking to go, achieve and how this fits in line with the job you’re interviewing for.

Do:

  • Focus on skills and experience that are relevant to the role.
  • Relax and show your personality.
  • Be concise and enthusiastic.
  • Be prepared to be self-deprecating and/or use humility!
  • Summarise your background, achievements and objectives.
  • Talk about your career goals that are relevant to the interview.
  • Give them your “Unique Selling Proposition” – your biggest strength and benefit a company will get from you.
  • Including a quick mention of volunteer work, interests or hobbies that are relevant to the role or will show a bit of your personality.

Don’t:

  • Share your life story filled with personal information – they aren’t looking to find out if you’re married or what you hate about the city.
  • Badmouth past employers.
  • Talk about what you don’t want in a role i.e. working late.
  • Tell them that your dream or passion is something completely different to the role you’re interviewing for (you’re not exactly going to stick around then are you).
  • Avoid politics and controversial topics.
  • Dive into a long recital of your resume.

Finally, it’s a good idea to make sure what you are going to say is reflected on your professional profiles such as your LinkedIn profile and successes are mentioned in your CV. Employers will check out your social presence just as you will (or should) have checked out theirs! Now go prepare your brilliant answer and practice it with a friend, family member or a recruitment consultant before you head into your interview.

The original version of this post was on the Potentia blog.

Personal Branding On Social Media – The Challenge Of Positioning Yourself

Personal brand and network
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It wasn’t that long ago you could say ‘social media isn’t my thing’ and get away with not having a professional profile online. However, in these contemporary times, (and certainly more so for certain professions) it is expected that you have an engaging professional presence online as an individual.

Recently I happened to be dining with friends, several of whom are passively job hunting. The topic of your professional brand came up; each one of them agreed that it’s relatively easy to find help and advice on setting up and optimising your social profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter and other industry related communities. However, the consensus was that they found themselves at a standstill when it came to working out how to pitch themselves without sounding generic, using clichés or sounding like a sales pitch for where they work.

For those of you who have always been active on your professional social media networks this of course isn’t a problem or hard to do, but for most people and particularly those who are not millennials, it can be quite daunting. Most of us struggle with this because there really isn’t one clear approach for developing and curating your personal brand online.

Essentially, you need to find an approach that resonates with you. So as a starting point consider these three areas to focus on when building your personal brand online: positioning, authenticity and engagement.

Positioning

It’s important to think about where and how you are going to position yourself. When you put all your ducks in a row, how do you want to be viewed? What kind of personality do you want to project? If you’re still not sure, think about how your values relate to the professional you. How can you position yourself with those values in mind

Why authenticity?

In my view, authenticity is critical when building your personal brand strategy as authenticity goes hand in hand with trust. If you can build trust with your peers, colleagues and community, you will have a much stronger brand than those who haven’t.

  • Be 100% genuine and truthful about everything that you say, the detail in your profile to the interactions you have with people. If you tweak the truth or aren’t your true self-online, your network and community will soon find out.
  • Be real – you don’t want to come across as a robot by simply posting and never interacting or commenting. Find your own style and tone of voice that is similar to how you would normally speak and hold a conversation. Put yourself out there and show some emotion and opinion in your writing.
  • If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face then don’t post it. No one likes people who hide behind their online profile, so be true to yourself.
  • Once you’re comfortable with writing and posting online, consider sharing some of your personal experiences, even those slip-ups or mistakes as these can be very powerful showing how you’ve dealt with situations, how others can learn from your experiences and how resilient you can be.

Engage with others

This may be an obvious one but in addition to starting discussions, you need to proactively engage with your networks content, posts, and shares. It may take a bit of time and you may need to schedule time into your calendar to do this but it is necessary as simply put, no one likes a one-sided relationship. Seek out those in your professional networks who you resonate with and share their content, give your two cents and praise where deserved. Also remember to have fun – not everything has to be serious, everyone loves a bit of good-natured humour.

You want to make sure people see you as a real person, that the image you put across focuses on what makes you unique and represents your worth, passion and ambitions. By being authentic, engaging with your community and by having the right positioning, your personal online brand will flourish. You will start increasing your networks, receiving recognition for your contributions, expand your knowledge in more areas and be able to showcase your skills to those who matter.

Finally, however you decide to look at it, the digital world and social media is here to stay. So it’s worth putting some time and thought into how you would like to represent yourself in the social sphere. Go on… give it a go!


 

This blog post was originally posted on the Potentia blog.

My advice for Kiwi and expat marketers wanting to work in London

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I was recently contacted by a marketing graduate in New Zealand about coming to London, United Kingdom to work in Marketing, so I thought I might as well share my experience to other Kiwi/Expat marketers considering moving to London and seeking work.

To start off, if you want to do well in London, I would recommend getting experience before moving to the UK. It is not an easy job market for most and it is an even harder environment for a graduate. While I was in London I met several European graduates whose parents paid for them to go to London to do 6 to 8 month unpaid internships. So as you can imagine it’s not the easiest for a graduate without well off parents to support them while they do an unpaid internship!

Up skill and do your research before heading to the UK

It is good to know what part of marketing you prefer and research what recruiters are looking for in candidates in those types of roles. I worked in all rounded marketing roles before moving to the UK, however in all my roles I made an extra effort on focusing on improving the CRM and digital aspects of the businesses i.e. email marketing, social media, web/SEO and customer journeys. I learnt basic html coding skills at university and then self-taught email specific coding and best practices – this is what helped me stand out to recruiters and secure roles.

Before moving to the UK I went to a Global Career Link seminar where they told me all about the job market, life in the UK and what to expect. Following the seminar I was put in touch with one of their staff members who helped me tailor my CV to the UK job market. They also set realistic expectations on what type of role I could potentially get and what type of pay I would be looking at. Depending on what experience you have they can also set up interviews with recruiters for you when you arrive.

Will finding a job be easy?

Many people think getting a job in London will be easy. Unless you get lucky most people will need to put in a bit of work especially to secure their first job.

First, I would recommend building strong relationships with recruiters as most roles are recruited through agencies rather than direct (especially if you are after contract work).

Next network as much as you can and keep on top of the latest jobs as if you wait for the closing date your CV probably won’t get looked at.

A few good digital resources

If you enjoy digital marketing I would learn a bit of html and sign up to email newsletters that will help teach you the latest research and findings in the marketplace A few of my favourites are Jericho Smartmail (NZ email provider) have great newsletters , econsultancy, Sticky Content (writing for digital) and Smartbrief (daily email on any topic – the social media and career ones are great) . I can recommend others if there are particular areas you want to keep up to speed with. In addition, Twitter and LinkedIn are great places to learn off others, ask questions and sometimes find jobs. Recruiters use LinkedIn quite a lot in the UK and I was approached about several jobs through LinkedIn based on recruiters seeing my profile and experience on LinkedIn.

Finally, I absolutely loved working in London and would highly recommend at least giving it a go. If you have any specific questions I am happy to help out if I can, otherwise check out the websites that I mentioned above and good luck!


“Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiselling and scraping and polishing.” BC Forbes

*Disclaimer: these are just my thoughts and opinions from my experiences so please don’t take everything as gospel!

 

The bigger picture

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Think about the bigger picture – especially when recruiting

Recently I was at a Social Media Club event and started talking to a woman about jobs. We both found it very frustrating and quite simply rude when you apply for a job, have several interviews and consequently never hear back, or if you do it is via a generic rejection letter.

Even though it takes time to personally contact applicants it is still  important that you do. For example, a few years back I applied for a job at an agency and had several long interviews with each of the directors. I knew I was up against some tough competition, and since they weren’t too sure whether to go for a senior marketer or someone with a bit less experience, the applicants they interviewed ranged hugely in experience.

The agency took a long time to say which applicant they were taking on and their form of rejection was a plain generic email. Now the generic email part was a bit of an insult. Fair enough if you hadn’t had an interview then the email was adequate, but as I had several interviews I expected at the least an email saying thank you for coming in for the interviews. Ideally, I believe you should ring everyone at this stage to let them know why. I do understand that they most likely did not have time to ring everyone and probably had a similar excuse for the poor email, but to me it’s an example of their poor communication skills.

Now you might be thinking what does it matter? Well to me it does as in all of my jobs from time to time I have had to find and use an agency. When choosing an agency for a project the one key thing I look for and expect is excellent communication skills. Consequently I wont use that agency and not because they didn’t employ me but for their poor communication skills.

The woman I spoke with at the Social Media Club had a similar experience to mine. She interviewed several times for a position and never heard back. Getting tired of chasing them up she eventually gave up. Her less than perfect impression of the business has now hindered her business from becoming involved with them and the business in question could have benefited from this.

It is more beneficial than you think, looking beyond what is right in front of you and thinking of the bigger picture. Sometimes people will simply hold a grudge no matter which way you let them down, however it’s better to know that you have communicated in the best way that you could. And in my experience, especially when recruiting marketers there is a great chance that they could end up becoming a client and/or a business partner, so always have the bigger picture in mind.