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Increasing Your Executive Presence

I recently had the honor of speaking on the topic of executive presence, not just once – but twice. I participated in panels where we discussed the importance of executive presence to your career and how to increase yours.

The first question that comes to mind is, “What is executive presence, anyway?” There are many ways to answer this question. Business Insider says that it’s made up of these seven traits: composure, connection, charisma, confidence, credibility, clarity, and conciseness.

As it’s clear, many of these qualities are superficial. It’s unfortunate, but it makes sense. First impressions are made in about seven seconds. And, a hiring manager makes their decision about four minutes into the job interview. That doesn’t leave much time to make a good first impression.

Executive presence is even more important when you’re new to a field, or when you’re different in some way. At my first job, I redesigned parts on cars for General Motors. I was nineteen and twenty years old. Soon after starting, the plant manager called my boss and said, “Who is this little girl, and what is she doing with MY cars?”

It quickly became clear to me that in order to get my job done, I needed to do my best to fit in. As time went on, I worked to refine my own executive presence. I dressed more formally. I worked to speak more loudly and confidently. I paid attention to my posture. I made a point to be on time, and to keep the commitments that I made.

My devotion to this idea helped. Despite being young, I was promoted to director at twenty-seven and vice president five years later.

Don’t get me wrong. The types of biases described are not necessarily fair. Many are not terribly related to our ability to do a job or our intelligence. But, they are real. Because of that, it’s important to be aware of them and of how they influence your career.

So what can you do if you want to increase your executive presence? One of the best things is to observe those around you. For example, what do your colleagues at work wear? How do they communicate during meetings? Then, consider the details, such as how you react under pressure and whether or not you follow through on your commitments.

Your colleagues will notice these things when they decide how they feel about you. Work to be genuine. Even if you’re professional, if your presence is off-putting, it won’t help you in the long run.

The feelings others have toward you will have a large impact on your career success. Often, our success in business isn’t just about how smart we are. It’s about how good we are with people. And, how well we work together with people is influenced by our own executive presence.

If you’re struggling to achieve career goals, this could be a moment to take a step back and look for opportunities to grow your executive presence.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Should I put my photo on my resume?

Recently, I started receiving a question I haven’t heard much before. The question is, “Should I put my photo on my resume?”

It’s a great question! If you’ve wondered the same thing, you’re not alone. Resume templates are beginning to pop up on the internet with photos embedded. In all honesty, these templates are often beautifully designed. They look like a work of art. At first glance, they’re very enticing – and they make you question what you thought were the rules of the road with resumes. It makes you wonder if things have changed since the last time you looked.

Despite this, I would not recommend putting a photo on your resume. There’s certain information that companies aren’t supposed to factor into hiring decisions such as age, race, and gender. Providing a photo up front gives the company the option to make judgements about you that are unrelated to your work experience. Remember, it takes years to build up that experience. Yet, it takes less than ten seconds to make a first impression – even on a resume. A hiring manager looks at your resume for just a few moments before deciding whether or not to read further. It’s best to use this precious time on information such as your college degree and work experience rather than your current hairstyle and outfit.

In addition to taking the hiring manager’s eyes off of your expertise, you also risk leaving a negative first impression. There are certain unspoken rules when it comes to business. For example, you should always wear closed-toed shoes with a suit, or you should always be on time to an interview. The hiring manager probably won’t bring up the picture in the top corner of your resume. But, they will think to themselves and wonder how up to date your business skills really are. They’ll wonder why you included a photo, when it’s something that’s not done.

The same rule applies to your business cards. One of the only fields where it’s completely normal to have a photo on your business card is realty. It makes sense. Realtors are sales people. And, buying a home is a very personal process. You want to feel like you know your sales person well. But, in any other industry, a photo on the business card typically looks amateurish. It can make your otherwise professional looking cards look homemade, or too salesy.

If you have a great photo you want to show off, the perfect place for it is LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn profile is incomplete if it doesn’t have a photo of you. Be sure the photo is just you. Wear business or business casual clothing. Take the photo of your face, with good light, and smile at the camera.

If standards for resumes change, we will revisit this topic again. But, for now, don’t be drawn into the pretty template with the bright photo. Using it will only make you look out of touch with hiring, and the unspoken rules of business.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

138 | Your Working Life – Caroline Dowd-Higgins, Bloomington, IN

Episode 138 is live! This week, we talk with Caroline Dowd-Higgins in Bloomington, IN.

Caroline is a speaker, executive coach, author, and media host. She hosts the Your Working Life podcast, and is author of the book This is Not The Career I Ordered.

On today’s episode, Caroline shares her own success story of career reinvention – transitioning from opera singer to executive coach. She also shares her tips on being resilient, being your own self-advocate, and embracing the concept of being good enough to go.

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on iTunes or Stitcher.

To learn more about Caroline, visit her website here: http://carolinedowdhiggins.com/. You can also find her on Twitter at @cdowdhiggins and on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/cdowdhiggins/.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on iTunes and leave me a review!

120 | Personal Brand Building – Jenny Hargrave, InterviewFit in Guildford, UK

Episode 120 is live! This week, we talk with Jenny Hargrave in Guildford, United Kingdom.

With over 15 years of experience, Jenny helps companies attract and retain sought-after talent in competitive sectors through her executive search firm. She also assists job seekers by helping them to develop a strong personal brand through their CV, professional profile, and face-to-fact interviews at her firm InterviewFit.

On today’s episode, Jenny shares her tips on how to build your personal brand, and how to prepare for a successful Skype interview. She also helps us to understand the concept of a ‘personal statement,’ and gives us tips for how to relocate from the U.S. to Europe for work.

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on iTunes or Stitcher.

To learn more about Jenny and her company InterviewFit, check out her website at http://www.interviewfit.co.uk/.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching. Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on iTunes and leave me a review!

 

The Importance of Honesty

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Recent events have brought this very basic idea back to the surface. Honesty should be a critical part of each of our professional and personal brands. Building and maintaining trusting relationships is such an important piece of a successful career.

News coverage from the Olympics was dominated by the actions of a few swimmers. And, those actions have nothing to do with the years they’ve each spent training in the swimming pool. Many of the news reports are conflicting. What really happened or how bad things were is unclear. But, what is clear is that the swimmers were not completely honest when they spoke to officials, their families, and the media. Regardless of how bad their actions were, their characters are now being scrutinized in detail. Their lives will be forever changed, both personally and financially, by something that may have seemed inconsequential in the moment.

In a similar regard, we can often be on autopilot at work. We’re trying to make it through the day. We have more on our plates than we can possibly manage and we’re working to check everything off the list. At times, honesty, ethics, and doing the right thing can take a back seat to getting things done quickly.

In fact, a 2002 University of Massachusetts study performed by Robert Feldman found that sixty percent of people lie at least once during a ten minute conversation. It said that “most people lie in everyday conversation when they are trying to appear likable and competent.”

Although the number seems high, this reasoning makes sense. Someone may initially tell a small lie to make themselves look better. But, if caught, a lie can truly impact how we see that person going forward. We may question everything that person has told us before, and whether or not they will tell the truth in the future.

In an interview, telling a lie can cost you the job. If there’s something inaccurate on your resume or in other information you’ve shared along the way and it’s discovered, you won’t receive a job offer. If you’re fortunate enough to make it through the hiring process and then the lie is discovered, it could be grounds for termination.

With this said, accidents do happen. There are times when we’re trying our best to be honest and something we’ve communicated is inaccurate. When this happens, the best answer is to be straightforward with the truth. Dancing around the issue only sets you up to look like you were being dishonest all along. Apologize to anyone who may have been hurt, take corrective steps, and try to move on quickly.

It’s better to build a reputation as someone who’s a little too honest than someone who isn’t quite honest enough. Honesty will allow you to grow professional relationships that will last for years to come.

Warren Buffet said it best. “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

Where does my religion fit into the interview?

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A reader contacted me today with an important question for consideration. She asked when it was appropriate to wear clothing, jewelry, or other items associated with her religion to an interview or to work. Her concern was about being judged in the office for her religious affiliation.

As you can imagine, this is a very tricky and personal question. I will share my thoughts with you, but at the end of the day, it’s a very individual choice.

I often think of a job interview much like a dinner party. At a dinner party, you meet many new people who may have different viewpoints than you. Conversations tend to be high level, centered on pleasant topics, such as the weather. Etiquette experts say that the potentially taboo topics to avoid include politics, religion, and money. These hold true in an interview as well.

Unfortunately, when it comes to getting hired, studies show that managers aren’t free of biases. Those biases can influence who’s landing the job offer. Details as minor as hair and makeup can influence the interviewer’s impression of a candidate. Even a candidate’s height can make a difference.

Religion however is more personal, and much more important, than hair, makeup, or height. It can be a large part of one’s identity. In today’s climate, sharing your religious viewpoints with others can cause them to judge you, either positively or negatively. When they judge you negatively, it can potentially hurt your chances of getting hired.

A great organization to share your religious views with is one whose perspective aligns well to yours. For example, some private universities, non-profits, and corporations have a foundation that is based on specific beliefs.

A vast majority of organizations however are not based upon these views. Their employees are made up of people from around the U.S. and the world, who have a host of different affiliations. When interviewing at an organization like this, it’s important to be aware of the choice you decide to make.

If you want to minimize the likelihood that someone may unfairly judge you, think of all of the places you may send out cues to others about your views. Check the volunteer opportunities on your resume. Look at the organizations you follow on LinkedIn. Check your Facebook privacy settings. And, consider the pieces of your interview outfit that may signal an interviewer.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the column, this is a personal choice. I’m not here to influence you in one direction or another, or to discourage you from holding true to your beliefs. But, it is wise to consider the positive and negative implications of your decision – and to make it consciously based upon what you feel most comfortable with.

After you’ve landed a job, you have a new choice to make – whether or not you want to share your views with your new coworkers. While it’s important to be yourself, remember that your story is one to be earned over time through trust.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.