The Job Search

Brand You: Take Time for a Personal Brand Audit

By Kristen Harris

Branding is important in helping a product stand out from the pack. Important enough that clients hire us creatives to help them create, grow, market, and sell brands all day long.

We believe that individual personal brands are just as important. For more on that see our article Brand You: Are You Carefully Crafting Your Personal Brand?

Personal brands are like company cultures–everyone has one, whether it’s something that was purposefully created or evolved when no one was looking. So, are you a brand that people know and trust? How do you appear to others? Do you even know?

When is the last time you took a look at your personal brand? We recommend a personal brand audit every so often, to be sure your brand is intentionally communicating what you want to share with the world.

When doing a personal brand audit, take a look at these four key areas:

What You Do. This isn’t just a list of software you know, years of experience, and tasks you can complete. What do you REALLY do? What problems can you solve? Just like a product, people need a reason to try something new, to try you. What do you provide that others don’t?

How You Do It. With creative work, everyone approaches it in a slightly different way. What’s different about how you do your work? What are your unique and special talents? How do you approach a problem? Is there a system or process you apply to your work that gets certain results? Can you share an interesting behind-the-scenes view of what you do and how you do it? Share your strengths and unique superpowers (not sure about your strengths? Check out Be Your Best: Using Strengths at Work.

Your Communication Style. This covers everything from the style of your work to how you interact with others; it shows up in how you present yourself in-person, online and on paper. Are you clear, direct and to the point? Do you share lots of details or provide solutions through storytelling? Are you relentlessly positive, or maybe you maintain a healthy level of cynicism that helps you spot problems before they pop up? How do you communicate who you are and what you care about in every situation?

Your Values and Beliefs. What do you care about? What are the values, principles, and beliefs that guide your work? What’s so important that you just can’t and won’t compromise, no matter what? Why does your work matter, what’s important about it? Tell us how you’re making an impact, solving a problem, or making the world a better place.

We live in a world of branding and online presence, it’s inescapable. So do a quick audit to make sure the personal brand you’re projecting is the one you want.

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Kristen Harris is the COO • Co-Creator of Portfolio Creative. A central Ohio firm solely focused on creative roles, Portfolio Creative has been connecting companies with the top creative talent for onsite staffing, full-time direct hire, and project needs since 2005.

#SheMeansBusiness Presents: Women at Work

Recently, Facebook stopped by our office to learn more about our Co-Creators, Kristen and Catherine, for their #shemeansbusiness series.

Watch the full video below!

Brand You: Are You Carefully Crafting Your Personal Brand?

By Kristen Harris

Our world is becoming more and more brand-centric and for good reason. Brands help set one product apart from another, stand out from the pack, and quickly communicate their promise to the customer.

We no longer just have vacuum cleaners, shoes, and sparkling water. We have a Dyson, wear Rothy’s, and drink LaCroix. We talk about brands as if they’re a part of our lives and share them online like they’re our friends.

In this creative space, many of us create, grow, market, and sell brands all day long. When people buy brands they know and trust, they’re buying what the brand stands for not just the product that’s being sold.

Are you crafting your personal brand as carefully as the brands you create for your clients? Do you have a personal brand that people know and trust?

Yes, we are people and not products, but everyone has a personal brand. If you only tell people about your functional skill set, the software you know and your years of experience, you’re promoting the product of you. When you share the unique combination of who you are, what you do, and how and why you do it, that’s the brand of you.

Your personal brand includes what you do, how you do it, your communication style, your values and beliefs, and everything else someone gets when working with you. It tells people who you are, not just what you do.

Personal branding tends to show up three key places: in-person, on paper, and online.

In-person, our individual brand comes across the minute anyone sees us. How we carry ourselves, our posture, confidence, speed, energy, volume, and wardrobe or personal grooming choices all add up to a physical projection of our brand. Whether it’s a choice we’ve made or something we’re born with, our physical presence is a part of our brand. Make sure the brand you’re projecting is the one you want. Some physical attributes can’t be changed but most of what people see and perceive about you can be adjusted to project the brand you want to communicate in-person.

On paper, our personal brand is clear on any physical materials like a resume or cover letter, marketing pieces, printed samples, or portfolio. It’s communicated through word choice, writing style, fonts, colors, graphics, and paper textures–and you get to make all those choices. Select options that project who you are and what you do; a good brand will attract the right people and repel the wrong ones.

Online, you get to create and curate your personal brand. Since you’re making all the choices, choose images and words that project the brand of you. Help people get to know what you’re all about, where your passions lie, and your unique skills or strengths. Caution: sometimes people curate their online presence and social feeds to the point of becoming inauthentic. Project the brand that you want to share but also keep it real–let people see a bit of the real-life messiness, behind-the-scenes steps, or special process of your work.

We live and work with other brands all day long; take a little time to consider your own personal brand and how you’re sharing it with the world.

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Kristen Harris is the COO • Co-Creator of Portfolio Creative. A central Ohio firm solely focused on creative roles, Portfolio Creative has been connecting companies with the top creative talent for onsite staffing, full-time direct hire, and project needs since 2005.

Our Favorite Places for Offsite Meetings

Our days are filled with meetings, but sometimes it's nice to get out of the office once in a while. Below are a few of our favorite places for offsite meetings. 

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Photo by Fox in the Snow 

Fox in the Snow

[German Village] + [Italian Village

Website

 

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Photo by La Chatelaine

 

La Chatelaine

[multiple locations

Website

 

 

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Photo by Pistacia Vera

Pistacia Vera 

[MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Website

 

 

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Photo by Jeni's 

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Photo by Mission Coffee

Mission Coffee

[MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Website

 

 

 

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Photo by Zen Cha Tea Salon 

 

Zen Cha Tea Salon 

[Short north

Website

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Photo by Winans

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Photo by Bros' Coffee 

 

Luck Bros' Coffee 

[Grandview

Website

Workplace Culture: It's a Reflection of Who You Are

By Kristen Harris 

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“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” (or lunch). 

This relatively common quote is often attributed to management guru, Peter Drucker, although it’s not really clear who actually said it. Really, it doesn’t matter who said it first, now people say it all the time. 

But what does it really mean?
What IS culture? 
And why is it so important?

While there are plenty, here is my definition of workplace culture: the set of norms your company and employees live by, otherwise known as “what happens when no one is looking”.

Culture is the standard of how things are done, how people treat customers and each other, the flow and pace of work. It’s all of the tiny (maybe seemingly insignificant) details that all add up to “this is how we do it here”. Culture is not what you do, it’s how you do it.

Every company and workplace has a culture, whether it’s been created intentionally or just happened over time. Cultures can be good, feel good, do good. Or they can be bad, feel bad, turn out bad. And, of course, there’s a lot of grey area in-between. 

In most cases, “good” or “bad” may be a judgment call of whether it feels right to you. If you like a laid-back vibe then a hard-charging, competitive culture won’t feel good. And, vice versa. Each culture may be right for that business, but rest assured that they are all different. Culture is a big part of what differentiates one business from another in the same industry.

Think about your favorite coffee shop. Is it a single location, down a side street, where only locals go? Or is it ultra-hip, in a trendy area, a place to network and be seen? Or is it a ubiquitous chain, found on every corner, consistent and easy to find? Each of these shops has its own culture–from the decor and how you’re greeted to what is offered, how it’s made and delivered to you. The way you feel receiving that coffee shop’s product and service is a reflection of their culture. And you probably feel more at home in one over the other. 

Culture reflects company values–what’s important to the people working there–and influences every part of your interaction. Which makes us feel more at home in one place over another.

At Portfolio Creative our culture has always been very important. Catherine and I set out to create the type of company where we’d want to work; we figured if it’s the kind of place we want to be, then our clients, talent and team members would too.

Here’s a taste of our culture:

  •  Fun – If we’re not having fun then we’re not doing it right! There’s a lot of laughter throughout the workday, even in meetings (yes, we’ve proven even meetings can be fun).
  • Friendly – We smile, say “Hi”, ask how you’re doing and actually listen to your answer. We act nice because we are nice.
  • Caring – We genuinely like each other, our clients, our talent, and all the other people we get to work with. When you really care, it shows.
  • Helpful – It’s our job to help people; we’re problem-solvers for our clients, talent and each other. If we can’t solve the problem, we try to share ideas or provide resources; no one walks away empty-handed. 

Culture isn’t about what you do–it’s how you do it and who you are. How everyone in the company behaves every day, even when no one’s looking. Especially when no one’s looking. 

Our Portfolio Creative culture reflects the values we live by every day. Want to see how it feels to work with people who are fun, friendly and caring? Reach out to let us know how we can help; you won’t leave empty-handed.

Sharpen Up Your Search

By Kristen Harris 

Shark Week has become such a big deal, it’s practically a national holiday! (Nice work, Discovery Channel.)

We’re always picking up new ideas about careers and job search. So, in the spirit of the almost-holiday, here are a few lessons learned from the sharks. Happy hunting!

  1. Never Stop Moving. Sharks have to keep swimming to avoid sinking to the bottom. They are basically always moving, even if it’s ever-so-slightly. Whether you’re building a career, starting a business, or searching for your next opportunity, never stop moving. Do something, even if it’s small, every day. Read an article, learn a skill, send out a resume, contact a potential client–small actions add up over time to keep you moving forward (and prevent sinking to the bottom).

  2. Adjust to the Situation. If there is no food, sharks move on to a location with more options. This is the same with searching for a job, new business, or career growth. If the opportunities aren’t available where you are, adjust and focus on where the opportunities are. This could mean changing tactics, finding new connections, redesigning your marketing pieces, changing your area of focus, or literally relocating.

  3. Choose Your Surroundings. As predators, the feeding behavior of sharks changes according to the presence of prey and competition. They (literally and figuratively) feed off of the energy of the group. Remember that the energy of the people you surround yourself with has a strong impact on your mood and motivation. Spend time in positive situations with people who are encouraging, helpful, and supportive.

  4. Remember and Learn From the Past. Sharks have very good memories. They migrate to follow food sources and remember the (often complex) migratory patterns of their prey. Reflect on where you were successful and not-so-successful in the past. How can you repeat some of the patterns that worked, perhaps in a new and updated way? And remember what didn’t work, avoid it, and try something new?

  5. Socialize with Your Kind. We think of sharks as solitary, but some species are very social, hanging out and hunting in “schools”. As fierce predators, they do not need special protection so this grouping is thought to be purely social. We gain a lot by spending time with others as well. Seek out individuals and groups related to your industry, interests, or a new topic you want to learn. The connections you build can extend way beyond the one meeting or event, leading to long-term relationships and valuable career connections.

The waters can be rough out there! If you have questions about your career or job search, we’re here to help. And we don’t bite, promise.

The Black Hole: You Aren't Alone

By Derik Abbott

One of the most common pain points we hear from candidates that come into our office is their inability to get responses to their resume submittals for openings online. While this might seem like something that is only affecting you, rest assured, it’s an epidemic that plagues all job searches out there. 

We, as recruiters, actually see this happen with a lot of hiring managers we work directly with (most we’ve met in person and have some level of relationship with). It’s something that everyone from job seekers to recruiters has been trying to solve for years now and with the current employment climate, it doesn’t see to be something that will quickly rectify its self. The good news is that there are some ways to try to get more visibility with clients. 

I am a firm believer that regardless of the outcome, people should remain steadfast in applying to roles that are in their area of expertise and interest. Once one or two interviews are requested it’s only a matter of momentum before something sticks. In order to try and help with that momentum, I think trying various tactics to get your name/face in front of people will really help make you stand out. 

Simple things like adding the Recruiter or HR Manager that is listed on the LinkedIn job postings is a good way to get your name in the back of their mind without causing too much interruption in their day. Sending them a note on LinkedIn often times could go 50/50 so I think going that far is something you have to individually weight your options on but adding someone is a pretty standard practice and could only increase your chances of at least getting them to think about you. 

Networking is also the number one way people still get jobs. Whether asking someone you know to pass along your resume to the right person within a company of interest or going to various local group’s networking events. There are a ton of people that you could get in front of or make contacts with that doesn’t require you to go out of your way. Remember, people, go to networking events for the Programming aspects but wouldn’t be there if they weren’t open to networking so it’s an open floor to get in front of people who may be able to introduce you to others. 

I think the best piece of advice we can give is to remain positive and diligent. Everyone else is having the same struggles as you, you aren’t alone. While searching and networking, it could be good practice to continue to work on at-home pieces for your portfolio or hone your skills because any extra things you can add to your resume/portfolio could be what helps tip the scales in your favor on that next submittal! 

Asking for a Raise? Four Steps to Getting What You Want

By Kristen Harris

In life, you often have to ask for what you want. You might not get everything you want but asking for it certainly helps. And asking for it in the right way really increases your odds.

Let’s say you’ve been working in a role for a while and things are going really well. You feel like you’re excelling at the job, taking on increased responsibilities, and creating value for your employer. So you’ve decided to ask for a raise.

You want the raise, and believe you deserve it but aren’t sure how to ask for it. How do you approach your employer? What should you ask for? What happens if they say no? Often, when people go into these conversations unprepared, they’re disappointed in the outcome.

You can greatly increase your odds of success by preparing for the conversation. Don’t just pop in your boss’ office and say “hey, I want to be paid more”. Since you’re the one asking for the raise and initiating the conversation, take all the time you need to get ready.

(By the way, if you’re freelancing or working independently, at some point you’ll want to increase your rates. These tips can also help you prepare for that conversation with clients.)

There are four key steps to preparing for a “raise” conversation:

  1. Do Your Research. Collect as much information as you can about your own role, your progression within the company, and similar roles at other companies. How long have you been in the role? Have you received raises in that time? If so, at what time points and how much?  Look at your job description–what additional responsibilities have you taken on? How does that compare with similar roles within your company and at other companies? Research the pay range for your role within your company and at similar companies. It’s kind of rude to ask your peers what they make, but there are plenty of online resources to find accurate salary information these days. How well is your company doing financially? If it’s seasonal, is this the “good” season or the “slow” time of year? Has your company recently gained (or lost) clients?

  2. Organize the Information. Organize your research, then identify the best 3-5 points to make your case for a raise. What you select is going to be unique to you and your position, but things like additional responsibilities, progressive growth, and comparable pay at other companies are good things to look at. Be sure to consider the overall health of the company and how your role fits into future success. Show that you’re thinking big picture about the company and its overall success, not just about yourself. Prepare your notes–actually write down your top 3-5 points–in preparation for your meeting.

  3. Make Your Case. Don’t just pop in one day on the fly, schedule a meeting with your boss or the decision-maker. Now you know that person has set aside time for you, and you’re more likely to have their undivided attention. Start the meeting by telling them you’d like to discuss a pay increase. Then share those top 3-5 points you’ve researched to help make the case for why you deserve it. Keep it factual, realistic and non-emotional. Then ask for their feedback and listen to what they have to say.

  4. Accept Feedback. Their feedback is valuable, regardless of the answer. If they say “yes” then congratulations–you’ve made a great case and got what you wanted! If they say “no” or “not right now”, ask questions and really try to understand their reasoning. Ask what you can do to earn the raise you want, and when an appropriate time would be to bring it up again. Talk about a plan or how you can take on more responsibilities that allow you to prove you’re worth more.

These pay conversations can be difficult because they often feel like conversations about our self-worth. They’re not. The only thing you’re talking about is what the company can afford to pay you for the work that you do, and how you might be able to earn more. If you can’t get a raise right now, you’ll get valuable information on how to get one in the future.

You can’t always get what you want (thanks, Rolling Stones) but preparing for the conversation can make it go more smoothly and increase your odds of success. Working with a professional can help things go more smoothly too. We’re always happy to help our placed talent navigate these tricky conversations–just ask.

The 5 Stages of Grief When Losing a Job

By Catherine Lang-Cline

At one time or another, everyone has the unfortunate opportunity of dealing with the 5 stages of grief. Typically this is connected to death, but it can really be applied to just about all kinds of loss. That includes the loss of a job. These are the 5 stages of grief applied to losing a job and how you can get past each one and get back on track with your career. I know all of these to be true because they have happened to me.

Denial - You have just left your boss’s office or the HR Director’s office and you absolutely cannot believe what just happened. You are stunned. You can’t comprehend that you are now standing at your desk and putting all of your office possessions in a box. You are asking yourself “why did I bring to much to work?” You are packing photos with the disbelief that you will have to tell these people you don’t have a job. “What just happened again? I didn’t just get asked to leave. This must be some mistake.” This is no mistake and you did just get fired. Regardless of how this has been decided, you are no longer employed here and you need to get out and get out fast. Your reputation is on the line and your dignity will quickly expire before you move on to...

Anger - Now you are in the parking lot. Denial may still be lingering but anger is quickly approaching because you gave 100% of yourself to this company! “I worked long hours! I gave up time with friends or family! How DARE THEY do this to me?!!” Thing is people get laid off all...of...the...time. It can be for just about any reason. It could be performance, trimming down of staff, resizing, and about 100 other reasons, but it happens. This time, it was your number that was drawn. Give yourself a moment or two to be angry but I will tell you that anger is not going to help you. Anger can turn into a prison. Don’t let this get to you because the longer you are angry they longer they have control of you. Don’t give them that! You stay in control by keeping cool. Still angry? Take a run, workout, go talk to someone that really cares about you to help sort out your thoughts. Want to bad-mouth your former employer? Trust me, you only look bad doing it. 

Bargaining - The last thing you want to do is call your former employer and try to strike up a bargain of some kind. “Hey, I am sure that was a mistake or if you bring me back I’ll do better. I’ll work for less!” Don’t be that person. If the situation has come to a point where HR has been called, paperwork has been filled out, and you have been asked to clean out your desk, chances are that this has been in the works for a while and there is no going back. Fun fact, keep moving forward and you won’t want to go back.

Depression - It is very normal to get a little depressed about this situation. For now, your identity seems to have been stripped, you have to file for unemployment, and let’s face it, that was a bit humiliating. Again remember that everyone has experienced this once in their lives. If this is your first time. Yeah, it hurts. If you have never been let go, you are either lucky or your turn is still coming. Give yourself the chance to feel a little depressed by this. Just a little. It is your right, but don’t let it consume you. If you find yourself binge-watching shows for more than 3 days in a row fine, but day 4 put on some real pants and get off the couch and get to….

Acceptance - This may take a day, a week, or a month. That time frame can probably be linked to how long that you have been at a company. Regardless of the time it takes, welcome to Acceptance, you made it. You can now plot your comeback! If you find that the road to get here was a challenge, let me clue you in on some shortcuts. 

  1. Really understand that people get fired every day.

  2. Understand that the company you left was probably not the best job for you and it was not the only job in the world.

  3. Take everything that you learned from that former company and update your resume, your LinkedIn and really plan your next role. Stay busy and get a plan together. At least for a while, your job is to get a job.

  4. When updating everything, really re-evaluate your skill set, your job title, everything based on everything you learned at your former employer. Where can you take those skills now? Who would pay you more for this? You might just be giving yourself a big promotion soon!

  5. Get out and get back with people in your industry. Connect with all of the people that understand your expertise. Connect with a recruiter. Ask everyone if they know who is hiring. Let them give you a little pep-talk as to how awesome you really are. People really do love to help. You don’t have to get into the circumstances just say, “Things changed at “X Company” and I am no longer there. I am seeing this as an opportunity to advance so if you hear of anything...”

Like I said, 3 days on the couch but then get back out there and get plugged back in. The most successful people have been fired or face-planted or failed at least once. Almost always when a person gets “kicked out of the nest” it was for their own good and it forced them to fly. Accept this “new and improved you” and soar.

Networking Ninja: How Introverts Can Get the Most Out of Any Event

By Kristen Harris

Some people love networking. They really like meeting new people, chatting in the grocery line, making friends on the airplane. When they walk into a room full of strangers they just see potential future friends. These people extroverts and they are not me.

I like people, I really do. But I want to have the chance to get to know them, to understand who they are, what they think and where they’re coming from. I’m an introvert but I’m not anti-social. I just need to apply a few tactics that make networking work for me.

These are my top tips for how introverts can get the most out of any event or networking opportunity.

  1. Just Go. To get something out of an event you have to attend. I know it seems obvious, but this is actually a challenge for me. Something sounds interesting, I sign up, I plan to go...then the day comes and the idea of attending sounds exhausting. To overcome this I simply make myself go, and I never regret it. Once I’m there I have a great time, it’s usually way more fun than I expected, and I’m so happy I attended. Don’t second-guess yourself, just go.

  2. Arrive Early. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s better to arrive early to an event. You may think it’s better to arrive later and quietly slip in, but it never works that way. When you arrive later people have broken into groups and are engaged in conversations. Now you have to try to join an ongoing conversation or feel like you’re interrupting. I hate that! When you arrive early it’s easy to start chatting with the few other people who are there and keep adding people to your group as they arrive. Plus you’ll get to meet the leaders of the event or organization which leads to…

  3. Get Involved. I get involved with organizations I like and events I want to attend. It’s much easier for me to meet people one-on-one or in small groups, and I like having something to do. When I have a responsibility or am volunteering on behalf of the organization, part of my job is to greet people and engage others in conversation. It’s also a great way to meet people who are well-connected...

  4. Meet the Influencers. There are influencers in any group or organization. Identify one or two people you’d like to know and make a point of meeting them. It’s much less stressful to focus on a few particular people rather than feeling as if I have to make friends with the whole room before I leave.

  5. Follow Up. If you truly enjoy getting to know people like I do, follow up after the event. Reach out to someone that you chatted with to continue the conversation. Send them an article or connect them with someone else they should know. Networking might happen at an event but real relationships are built over time.

For more tips on networking for introverts, check out our article Networking for Introverts: 10 Tips to Survive and Thrive at Events.