10 important skills in times of Personal Branding and Self Curation

Some personal thoughts and tips based on my experience when hiring talent in a world when personal branding and marketing are showing talents like Rock Stars.

As per Wikipedia personal branding is the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.

The process of personal branding involves finding peoples uniqueness, building a reputation on the things they want to be known for, and then allowing them to be known for them. Ultimately, the goal is to create something that conveys a message and that can be monetized for personal gain. Now there are even next generation tools like www.paper.li who take personal curation to a new level; basically being a personal newspaper publisher for a few Euros to augment candidates personal branding and curation. In addition we are in a pandemic where you are often not able to meet talents F2F but in a virtual fashion which makes it even harder to detect the true DNA of a candidate.

So what does it mean when your validating candidates to secure the best talent for your company while not being confused by ‘over the top personal curation’. So here are my thoughts on this.

I always look for people who have big dreams and have big ideas. During an interview I am not only interested in their “hard skills” but even more in their “soft skills”. I ask them about their opinion of new business models, the daily news, I watch how they treat others in the office or virtually and how they think about trends and very often I learn something new myself.

  1. First I want to know what they read and why they read certain books or articles. That gives me an idea of who they are. If one only reads business     literature he or she probably is not very well rounded and might not be balanced enough for the unexpected. I really want to see if they are curious to explore new topics and are “hungry” to learn more what is not necessarily in the center of their interest now.
  2. Work life balance – In my opinion being balanced is a key element to be successful so I will ask a candidate about what he or she does, activities, hobbies, points of interest, art and culture, etc. If they have nothing to say and just talk about work I am not interested in them.
  3. Knowledge and understanding about our company and culture are fundamental. I want to know if they are well prepared and did their homework. I want to know what they admire most in our company and where they see room for improvement. This question also shows me that they are really interested in our company. The candidates might also tell me the truth why they left their current, want a change or got fired at their current company. I don’t judge them based on their ideas of improving our company.
  4. Success and Failures. I am particularly interested to learn about projects that did not work out and why. I can see if they are humble, team workers or just blame anybody or anything else.
  5. I want to see that people are driven by something and have some entrepreneurial DNA. To find this out I will ask the candidates to tell me one or two ideas of a startup they could envision. Anything not even related to our business. The answer gives me a feeling if they are creative and communicate an idea or thought well. I also want to know how they cope with the current Pandemic and what ideas they have to generate business or implement sustainable actions to keep the business running.
  6. Financial Thinking is not just for the CFO. I want to know if they get the basics and are responsible with company assets so I will ask the following question: If you get 1 Million how would you invest/utilize that amount of money so it will generate a sustainable income and multiply over times.
  7. I will ask a candidate if he or she does have any questions. I expect tons of question related to the challenges (not to the salary/compensation initially). If a candidate does not bombard me with questions I am getting worried and shows me that a salary is more important than the challenge.
  8. I want to know how they keep and expand existing knowledge so I ask “How do you learn/keep yourself up to date?” This is key to see if a person does not only leverage experience from the past also stays informed and current about the business and technology trends.
  9. Personal Behavior. I will check with the receptionist, the assistant who sets up a virtual meeting basically anybody in our organization how they were treated by the candidate. I want nice and humble people working for us.
  10. Technical Skills and Knowledge. Throughout the interview I will ask questions about Finance, Marketing, Production, Engineering depending the job. They must be fit in their area of expertise but that is only 10% of the interview time. I can find this out by reading their LinkedIn Profile, their published articles about certain topics and former positions they held.