Spring cleaning your personal brand

3 personal branding lessons I learned with the New Pros

Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht

In 2018 I served as chair of the PRSA Charlotte New Professionals. Throughout the year, our committee organized a few programming events on personal branding, including a resume workshop and a panel on work wear that discussed what it means to dress for success in 2019. Here are some of the best personal branding lessons that I will be taking with me – even though I’m no longer a “new pro.” After all, what better time to revisit your LinkedIn profile or dust off your resume than during a bout of spring cleaning?

1. The purpose of your resume and cover letter is to get you an interview – not the job.

Your resume and cover letter should answer the question: “Why should I bring this candidate in for an interview?” I think often we’re so focused on getting the job, that we forget about the middle step – the interview. The recruiters at our resume workshop event said they typically don’t spend more than 10 seconds looking at a resume before making a decision on whether they should schedule an interview with a candidate. Tailor your resume and cover letter to the job posting to show how you check all of the boxes, and design it in a way that is quick to read. Then, you can expand on your skills and experiences in the interview.

2. Don’t include a headshot on your resume – but do include a skills section.

Speaking of an easily-scannable resume, the recruiters at our event said they love when candidates include a “skills” section. This allows them to quickly see the candidate’s areas of expertise without having to dig through all of their job descriptions. However, they said the best resumes then show specific examples of those skills in action in their job descriptions.

On the flip side, all three HR professionals on our panel said they do not like it when candidates include a headshot on their resume. Many new resume templates, like the ones found on Canva, include a designated spot for a headshot, but our panelists said they don’t want to judge candidates by what they look like – only by their work experience.

3. It’s still possible to ‘dress for the job you want’ – even in a casual office environment.

Startup culture has caused more offices to go from business casual to simply casual when it comes to dress codes. But if everyone in your office dresses in jeans and a t-shirt, it can be hard to comply with that old adage, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” Our panelists said you can stand out from the crowd by dressing in the best possible version of the company dress code.

For example, if everyone wears jeans to work, don’t wear your casual jeggings or distressed jeans, but opt for a tailored, dark-wash jean paired with a high-quality blouse or button-down and a smart blazer. Another pro tip? Create your own work uniform by buying your suit separates in the same color and mix and match with colorful tops or accessories.

What’s the best personal branding tip you’ve picked up over the years?

Read/Watch/Listen: March 2019

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

Read

I’ll admit it. My 2019 is off to a very slow start when it comes to reading. To be honest, I’ve been slow since last fall when I ramped up my work on the APR and started my second job as an adjunct lecturer. My weekends are now filled with grading and lesson planning and I have a whole new appreciation for teachers!

However, I did manage to read Fight or Flight by Samantha Young, which I received as a Christmas gift. Overall, I give this book 3/5 stars. It was light and entertaining and it held my attention, but I started to get sick of how self-absorbed the main character was. I also didn’t really find myself rooting for this couple to get together in the end. They’re both pretty insufferable. I think I may be a little old school when it comes to modern romance 🤷🏻‍♀️

Watch

I am more than fashionably late to the party, but Schitt’s Creek is the best Netflix discovery of ours in a long time. It stars Eugene Levy and his son and daughter in real life (as David and Twyla), but Catherine O’Hara makes the whole show. I crack up at her one-liners every single episode. This is a great show to throw on when you’re looking to unwind after work or if you need a laugh right before bed. 10/10 would recommend.

Listen

Call me an elder millennial, but I still prefer to buy physical CDs and keep the changer in my car stacked for my commute. However, I was starting to get into a new music slump after overplaying all of the great releases from this past summer. But THEN, “Peach Club” by Emarosa arrived and this 80s pop emo album has given me new life. These fantastic emo lyrics, ex. “I Want to Die With You” are set to 80s pop beats and melodies that will make you forget what sadness even feels like. Stream it now.

We have a few shows coming up in March so I’m hoping to pick up some more new music for my rotation! Any suggestions?

P.S. Buy the cute shirt above from my friends on Etsy.

The Best Things I Read/Watched/Listened to: March/April 2018

The Year of Less

Work took over my life these past two months. I missed a lot of lunch breaks, I had a lot of extracurriculars eating up my evenings, and we’ve had some pretty packed weekends. I also had a ‘vacation hangover’ that made it really hard to get back into our routine – I guess that’s what people mean when they say they need a vacation from their vacation. So I’m definitely behind on my reading. (And I had a bit of a backslide into my social media use.) But it’s a new month! And a fresh slate. So I’m getting back on track.

Here’s what I’ve been up to these past two months:

READ:

The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell

This was like a southern version of Girls in White Dresses. I had a tough time getting into this book at first because I couldn’t relate to any of the characters – they were all very young, and not at all motivated outside of their romantic relationships. But there was a ton of character development and by the end I was cheering them on. A great story about female friendship.

The Assistants by Camille Perri

This was a light, fun read! Who can’t relate to working in a male-dominated office and fantasizing about the day your student loans are paid off? Sure, a little unrealistic, but what fun is a book without a happy ending?

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

I can’t resist a minimalism story. In this memoir, personal finance blogger Cait Flanders details her year-long shopping ban. For one year, she did not allow herself to buy anything outside of groceries, toiletries, and other necessities. A huge takeaway for me was that she learned the most important question she needs to ask herself before making a purchase is: “Who are you buying this for: the person you are, or the person you want to be?”  I don’t know about you, but this is so much more effective than, “Does this spark joy?”

Here’s another good quote to ponder over a glass of wine tonight:

“I had always been stuck in the cycle of wanting more, buying more, and then needing more money. The ban uncovered the truth, which was that when you decide you want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less money.”

WATCH:

Alone Together on Freeform

This might be the most underrated show on television as I haven’t heard anything about it, but it’s HILARIOUS. It highlights all of the painful, cringe-worthy stereotypes of millennials and each episode had me cracking up, especially Esther.

 

LISTEN:

The new Slaves album, “Beautiful Death”

Jonny Craig is back! This was by far the best album I’ve heard from him, maybe since his solo record he released during my senior year of college.

The new State Champs single, “Dead and Gone”

I have a feeling their new album is going to be the soundtrack to my summer. I especially love the lines: “I need to get UPSTATE again, I need to get my head on straight again.”

SaveSave

The best things I read/watched/listened to: February 2018

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

I have a love/hate relationship with Goodreads. It helps me find and save books I want to read, but the reviews are always so negative! For example, Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close has terrible reviews, but I’m so glad that I went ahead and read it anyway, because it quickly became one of my favorites.

I don’t have any “friends” on Goodreads, I mostly just look up books and add them to my “to read” shelf, but if you have an account and want to sync up, here’s my profile!

February was a short month, but I managed to fit in a lot! Here are my recommendations from the past month.

Read:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

This is a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice – not just a Pride & Prejudice-esque storyline, but literally all of the same characters, but set in modern times. At first I thought that messing with Jane Austen was a little sacrilegious, but this book is so lovely. Apparently there’s a whole series called  The Austen Project, and Emma is next on my list.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

SWOON. Rom-coms are my favorite genre of everything, and this book did not disappoint. The main characters are journalists, of course, (why are leading ladies of rom-coms always working at newspapers or magazines?) and it’s set in 1999 when the newsroom first got email. However, the story follows the IT guy who reads all of their emails. It sounds a little creepy, but this was a quick read and delivered my happily ever after. I was thoroughly satisfied (and warm & fuzzy).

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I was really excited for this book because it’s a YA novel about teens in the 80s who make mix tapes for each other and fall in love on the bus. I mean, could a novel be more perfect? However, it didn’t have a satisfying enough ending for me. Maybe the author is setting it up for a sequel?

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

This book is the perfect depiction of modern girls in their 20s. It follows a group of college friends from graduation through their 30th birthdays, and maybe it’s because all of my friends and I are turning 30 this year, but this book really resonated with me. I saw so much of myself and my friends in all of these characters. (And it made me miss them dearly.)

Watch:

Ingrid Goes West

This movie gave me the heebie-jeebies. It’s like Single White Female for the Instagram era, where Aubrey Plaza plays a girl who becomes a little too obsessed with an influencer. After watching this movie, I immediately made my Instagram account private and deleted all of my followers who I didn’t know in real life. Not that I’m an influencer in ANY sense of the word, but it makes you think twice about what you post online. It’s available on Hulu and is a great satire of the social media world we now live in.

When We First Met

This Netflix original movie starring Adam DeVine (from Workaholics and Pitch Perfect) had all the makings of a classic rom-com. It explores the concept of who we’re “meant to be” with through time travel. What do you expect? I loved it. (Duh.)

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

This Amazon original series definitely deserves all of the awards it has won. Rachel Brosnahan is a treasure who perfectly plays a 1950s housewife in NYC who decides to become a stand-up comic after her husband leaves her (and their two kids) for his secretary. It dragged a little in the middle, but it survived the Amazon curse of getting cancelled after one season (RIP Z and Good Girls Revolt), as they’re starting to film season two this month. Also, I’m going to need her entire wardrobe. Can some fashion house create a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel line?

Listen:

Chase Atlantic

I have this new guilty pleasure called Chase Atlantic. It’s an Australian alternative/indie band that also has a saxophone player and some naughty lyrics. Listening to their EPs felt like the first time I heard Say Anything back in high school. They describe themselves as “dark alternative pop punctuated by rock and R&B.” I don’t know why I love it so much, but I got really excited when I saw they were playing Warped Tour this year. (Can you believe I plan on going to my first and last Warped Tour at age 30?)

What’s on your list for March?

The best things I read/watched/listened to: January 2018

I Married Adventure Kate Spade

ICYMI, my 2018 resolution is to do more things that make me forget to check my phone. My goal is to replace the time wasted scrolling through social media with better-quality content that feeds my soul, ex. books, music, and movies. I detailed my strategies and how it’s going so far in this article I wrote for CharlotteFive.

I would say the biggest contributor to my success has been the Amazon Kindle I picked up over the holidays. It was on sale, plus I applied a gift card I got with credit card points, so we purchased it for just $14. (Best Christmas present ever.) I got the basic model (which is all you need!) and it’s small enough to fit in my purse, so I take it with me wherever I go. And now, when I have some free time, I find myself reaching for my Kindle instead of my cell phone.

To keep my motivation up, I started a new notebook for 2018 where I keep track of everything I read, watch, and listen to. Here are some of the best ones from January:

Read:

The Selection by Keira Cass

This YA book is a cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor and I devoured it in four days! Highly recommend if you like stories about young love and imagining what the world will be like hundreds of years from now.

Younger by Pamela Redmond Satran

This is the book the TV Land series starring Hilary Duff and Sutton Foster is based on. This was a fun, breezy read, although I like the TV show 10x better. The only character I liked more in the book was Josh (I’m #TeamCharles).

(And yes, if you can’t tell, I love love stories. If the book doesn’t make me swoon, I don’t want it.)

Watch:

Good Girls Revolt on Amazon Prime

MPR and I binged this show over Christmas break. It’s about gender equality and sexual discrimination in newsrooms in the late 1960s, and how the female characters’ fight to be journalists spills over into their personal lives. I fell in love with all of the characters (especially Jane Hollander) and am incredibly sad that this terrific show was canceled after just one season. WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS TO ME AMAZON?!

Lady Bird

I highly recommend this movie for ladies who were in high school in the early 2000s. I saw so much of my high school experience in this movie, right down to the ridiculous boys the main character dated. I’ve been in love with Saoirse Ronan ever since I saw her in Brooklyn, but she’s somehow even more believable in Lady Bird. Watch it now.

Listen:

After Laughter by Paramore

I never followed Paramore over the years outside of their singles, but this album had me bopping all the way through. I love the 80s influence and how their sound has matured over the years.

Mania by Fall Out Boy

Oh my. This is the best album I’ve heard from Fall Out Boy since From Under the Cork Tree. Be still my teenage heart. They still have the best lyrics in the pop-punk world. (FIGHT ME.)

Any recommendations for February? Drop them in the comments below!

2018 Resolutions

2018

I love New Year’s Eve. Not for going out (always overrated, in my opinion), but because of  the fresh start it promises. I enjoy looking back on my year, seeing what I accomplished, and setting new goals for myself. It’s a good way to ensure that you never stop growing. Because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

2017 was a big year for us. We bought a house, became vegetarians, decluttered, and actually did some traveling for pleasure, including Cuba and Nashville. But I also crushed the professionals goals I set out for myself last year:

  1. Attend more networking events: I attended every single PRSA Charlotte luncheon, helped plan the PRSA Charlotte Communications Symposium, and at the end of this year, I ended up taking over the PRSA Charlotte New Professionals Committee. My mantra for the past couple years has been “bloom where you are planted,” and with every step I take to get more involved, I set deeper, stronger roots here in Charlotte.
  2. Volunteer regularly: This past summer, I joined the Junior League of Charlotte. While I’m still in my provisional year, I’ve already met so many wonderful women and made new friends, all while helping to improve our community.
  3. Make more time for the things that truly make me happy: I’ve gotten better and better at saying no to things I just don’t want to do. Life is short, and I want to fill my days with what I enjoy, not obligations.

Now we’re on the eve of 2018, and my resolution is much more broad:

do more things that make you forget to check your phone

Earlier this year, both MPR and I conducted an experiment where we deleted all of the social media apps from our phones. (The only exception for me was Instagram, because I manage accounts for work, and there’s no way to post on Instagram from a computer.) I found that the apps kept sending me irrelevant notifications, and it’s nearly impossible to ignore those red badges on your home screen. I was tired of feeling the urgent need to open those apps, especially when 99% of the time, the notifications were pointless and after scrolling through my feeds, I was left feeling unfulfilled.

So I deleted Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Slack. At first it was a little challenging, but I did successfully break the habit of mindlessly pulling out my phone and scrolling. And as a result, I decreased the amount of time I spent on Instagram, even though it was still on my phone.

As a PR girl, I never thought that I could delete social media from my phone. But the truth is that I wasn’t any less informed and I didn’t become a recluse, I simply learned to use the networks more intentionally.

This fall, I ended up re-downloading Twitter because I help manage the PRSA Charlotte social media accounts, and we like to live tweet the luncheons, but I turned off all notifications. (Pro tip, if you try to turn off notifications on any app and it doesn’t seem to work, delete the app, re-download it, and when it prompts you to receive notifications, just hit no/not now.)

So to prevent a backslide in 2018, my resolution is to do more things that make me forget to check my phone. This includes reading more books, discovering and listening to more music, and watching higher quality shows and movies. (Side note: I forgot how overwhelming cable TV is! When we were home for Christmas, the act of trying to find something to watch on the thousands of channels made me just want to shut everything off. Netflix + Hulu for life!)

My resolution also includes getting into yoga, spending more time outside with Rufio, and continuing our quest to clean eating. It’s pretty incredible how much time you realize you have after you cut out mindless apps.

What are you working on in 2018?

PR Girl Travels: Nashville

I believe in Nashville

On Halloween weekend we headed to Nashville for an Islanders/Predators hockey game. It was our first time ever in Nashville, and we had the best time! We shared an Airbnb with friends and went to the game with a ton of other people part of MPR’s Isles meet-up group – plus Danny & Taylor made the trip down from New York!

One of my favorite things about relocating to the South is all of the new destinations we can explore within driving distance of Charlotte. Nashville is about 6 hours away, and the route took us right through beautiful Asheville. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend making the drive in the fall months because we got to do some leaf-peeping along the way – and we even drove through snow on our way home! (Don’t worry, I was prepared with the Michael Bublé Christmas CD locked and loaded.) 🍂

I think what I loved most about Nashville was the energy, and yes, there really is live music on every floor of every bar on Broadway. I can’t say I follow country music, but I sure can appreciate it. 🎶

Broadway in Nashville

Acme Feed & Seed

I was a little worried about finding good restaurants for the group that had vegetarian options for me and MPR (AKA not BBQ), but I can honestly say it was a breeze. We did not have one bad meal. I got an amazing falafel sandwich at Acme Feed & Seed, flavorful Korean BBQ tofu tacos at Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge, and an egg and cheese on a buttery biscuit at Milk & Honey.

Korean BBQ Tofu Tacos

Egg and Cheese on a Biscuit Milk & Honey

While exploring Nashville, we ran into numerous people from the Islanders team because they were all staying downtown. We even picked the same dinner spot as one of the coaches, and after we introduced ourselves, he gave us passes to meet some of the players after the game. We were definitely fan-girling, but we were able to sneak in a few selfies. (It helped that they had just won 6-2!)

Isles Meet Ups CLT

Islanders vs. Predators

Cal Clutterbuck

Anders Lee

On our way out Sunday morning, we stopped by the famous Biscuit Love to grab some bonuts to go – that’s biscuit dough fried like a doughnut. And yes, it’s worth the wait when the line wraps around the building! (Luckily we were in and out because we got there at 8 AM.)

Biscuit Love Nashville

I also couldn’t leave Nashville without popping into Reese Witherspoon’s store, Draper James. I came very close to buying a set of mugs with cute little scotty dogs and dachshunds on them, but I’m pretty sure if I came home with one more mug, MPR would kick me out. (What can I say? I enjoy teatime!)

Draper James Nashville

Amelia's flower truck

Nashville skyline

Overall it was a great trip and I’m so thankful we got to share it with the best friends – both new and old. It was fun to see our New York and Charlotte words collide, and I’m looking forward to our upcoming trips to Raleigh and Brooklyn! 🏒