Archive for the ‘Personal Branding’ category

4 Keys for Business Cards for Job-Seekers (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

March 29, 2011

I did not have business cards during my job search when I got my dream job to work in the front-office for an NBA team at the age of 21.  I don’t  believe they are essential to your success as a job-seeker either. 

Having said that, if you really want to have some cards created, they better look very impressive.  A business card that looks like it was printed on your home computer will diminish the value of your first impression.  In other words, it’s better to not have business cards than to have cards that look cheap or sloppy.  So, if you choose to invest in business cards, make sure you follow these 4 tips:

  1. Include a professional headshot.  I learned this by meeting hundreds of fellow professional speakers over the last few years.  Nearly all of them have headshots on their business cards.  The first time I saw a picture on a business card, I thought it was weird.  The 10th time I saw a headshot on a business card, I changed my mind (and my own business cards).  A LinkedIn profile lacks personality without a great headshot, and your business card will as well.  Just don’t make your headshot too big, or it can look obnoxious.  To be consistent, just use the picture from your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Include your full contact information: full name, professional email address, mailing address, phone number, and links to your relevant social media profiles (i.e. LinkedIn).
  3. Show your value.  Include a few bulleted points on the back of your card with several relevant achievements or academic/professional highlights.  Or, you could include a short (5-10 words) value statement where you express your dream/professional mission or where you state how you make other people/organizations better (i.e. like if my cards were to say “I help students and recent grads get their dream jobs”).
  4. Get your cards designed by a professional.  You can find a graphic designer at,, or  You could also just get a friend with a graphic design background to create them for you. If you are not a graphic designer, do not design your business cards yourself or they will probably look amateur.

How can you tell if your cards appear to be high-quality?  People should actually comment on how great they look.  If they don’t, throw out your cards and get some new ones (or just focus on what’s most important: having real conversations with people and building real relationships)!

P.S. For more free tips on how you (or your group’s members) can get their dream jobs and advance their careers, visit my web site at

-Pete Leibman

-President of Idealize Enterprises

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour

Creator of The Washington Wizards’ Sports Careers Day



7.5 Fashion and Style Rules for Career Success (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 22, 2010

If you want colleagues, bosses, customers, and employers to respect you and take you seriously, you MUST take pride in your physical appearance.  Any chance of a job offer, sale, or promotion can be eliminated (no matter how talented you are) if you don’t look the part.

Here are 7.5 rules to make sure you dress for success in any professional setting, whether that be a day at the office, a career fair, a networking event, or a job interview:

  1. Dress for the environment.  Do some homework on what others will be wearing at your event/office, and plan accordingly.   In general, you want to err on the side of being conservative and overdressed.  However, you can lose points for over-dressing also.  For example, you would look ridiculous wearing a 3-piece suit with a tie and pocket square to an interview for a job as a video game designer or for a company picnic at a local park. 
  2. Match.  No matter where you are, make sure your entire outfit matches from head to toe (i.e. belt with shoes, tie with shirt, shirt with pants, and so on).
  3. Fit matters more than brand.  You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on the most expensive clothing lines, but you do need to make sure your clothes fit correctly for your body.  You already know you should not wear anything that is too tight or that shows too much skin, but you should also not wear clothes that are too loose.  Clothes that are very baggy make you look sloppy and like a little kid. 
  4. Shoes or lose.  Always wear a nice pair of shoes, and make sure they are not worn-out and that they are clean (and nicely polished, if they are leather).
  5. Keep it crisp and fresh.  Make sure your clothes are ironed, free of any holes or stains, and not worn out or outdated.
  6. Smell swell.  This sounds obvious, but it is worth repeating.  Wear deodorant and shower and brush your teeth as close to your work-day or appointment as possible.  If you are headed to a day of work in the office, shower that morning (not the night before).  If you have an evening networking event, shower and brush your teeth right beforehand.   (Yes, that means you might have to go home after work before you go to your evening event.)  Avoid heavy cologne or perfumes; it’s not a good thing if people can smell you from down the hall.
  7. Accessorize appropriately.  A sharp tie, a nice watch, or a classy piece of jewelry can be a great finishing touch to an outfit, but don’t go overboard.  Again, it’s better to err on the conservative side in a professional setting.

7.5 Phone-a-friend.  Still confused?  Get advice from a fashionable friend(s).

Take your appearance seriously, and you will feel better about yourself, and your bank account will thank you!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to

Looks Matter! (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

December 3, 2010

You don’t need to look like an A-list celebrity to achieve career success, but you do have to put your best foot forward at all times.  You tell the world what to think of you based on how you present yourself. 

Other people will subconsciously make judgments about your character, personality, intelligence, and your overall value as a human being based on what they see when they look at you.  It might not be fair, but it’s a reality.

You might not be comfortable with the analogy, but you need to see yourself as a brand, as a product.  No matter what your goals are for your life, you will be more likely to achieve them if you look your best.  I’m not telling you to be phony or artificial; just take pride in how you look.

Here’s a quick example to demonstrate the power of branding and appearances.

A typical bottle of water sells for $1 at the store.  However, there is a high-end bottled water called Bling H20.  Guess what Bling H20 sells for? 

$40 per bottle!

Does Bling H20 taste 40 times better than a traditional bottle of water?  Of course not.  However, people buy it because it LOOKS much better than a traditional bottle of water.  Bling H2O has crystals embedded into the outside of each bottle!

In order to get your dream job and advance your career, you must build YOUR brand.  People will believe you are more valuable if you LOOK more valuable.  Put your best foot forward at all times, in-person, online, and on paper.  Looks matter!

Do you have a story about how looks have impacted your career or life?  If so, please share below!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to

6 Ways to Look More Professional and Impressive Online (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

November 23, 2010

Have you “googled” yourself lately?  If not, why not?!  

Potential employers, clients, and business partners will definitely “google” you before deciding whether to hire you or work with you.  If that is not motivation enough, you better believe that potential romantic partners will also look you up online to check you out! 

After you “google” yourself, you might find that you do not seem to exist on the Internet (i.e. nothing comes up for your name), or you might not like what you find. 

Search engine marketing is well outside of my marketing/business expertise, but I do know that social media web sites rank very high for google search results.  Here’s some proof.  When I “googled” myself yesterday, here were the first 4 results that appeared.  Notice that they are links to my LinkedIn profile, my “Career Muscles” blog, and my Facebook page.

Google results for "Pete Leibman"

Here are 6 easy ways you can take control of what someone sees when “googling” you:

  1. Buy the domain name for your name (i.e.  This is important for 2 reasons.  First of all, it prevents someone else with the same name as you from setting up their own page at this address.  Secondly, if you have web site design background, you can build a basic web site that positions you the way you want to be seen.  Note: if the domain name for your name is not available, consider getting a domain name that includes your middle initial or middle name.
  2. Clean up your Facebook page.  Facebook also ranks very high when someone searches for you online.  As I have written before, employers will definitely be checking you out on Facebook as well.  Keep your Facebook page set to private, and be sure that you remove any unprofessional pictures, quotes, comments, or wall posts.
  3. Use a vanity name for your LinkedIn page.  After you create a GREAT LinkedIn profile, you can modify the web link for your profile and create what is known as a “vanity URL” to make your LinkedIn profile more searchable for your name.  See below for a screen shot for my vanity URL, along with where you can edit your web link for your LinkedIn profile:

Use a "vanity URL" for your LinkedIn profile

4. Set up a blog at  As I have written before, blogging is a phenomenal way to strengthen and demonstrate your written communication skills.  Potential employers and clients will be impressed IF you produce high-quality content.  If you incorporate your name into your blog, your blog will also be very likely to pop up in search results for your name, like it does for me.

 5. Create a Twitter account for  Twitter also ranks high when someone searches for you online.  Just make sure your tweets are professional and that they add value to people who follow you.  My Twitter account shows up for me on page 1 of search results for my name (see below), and many of my tweets show up on subsequent pages of my search results.  Since my tweets are high-value and since I have a great headline on my Twitter page, my online identity is enhanced yet again. 

A link to my Twitter account on page 1 of my google results

6. Upload a few video testimonials on You-Tube.  I saved the best tip for last.  Get a flip camera (a high-quality HD camera is only $100-$200 these days), and get several 30-second video testimonials from bosses, colleagues, or customers.  Then, post these videos on YouTube with titles like “Testimonial for John Smith from ABC Company.”  I recently posted a video from a student who attended a presentation I made last month at Stanford University.  Now, the following shows up on page 1 when someone “googles” my name:

A link to a video testimonial for me on page 1 of my google results

There are all sorts of additional ways you can take control of your online identity, but applying the 6 social media secrets above will significantly improve your “google juice” and make you look much more professional and impressive online.  Looks matter!  Take control of your online identity NOW!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises


Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to 

What image are you portraying on Facebook? (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

November 16, 2010

If a company is thinking about investing thousands of dollars into you by hiring you, you better believe that they are going to stalk you online to learn as much about you as possible.

Back in 2005, my younger brother, Matt, was interviewing for a summer internship position with a small PR firm in Philadelphia.  Since the company only had 6 employees, the President of the agency conducted interviews with potential interns.

Midway through the interview with my brother, the President looked at Matt and said, “Can you explain the following quote from your Facebook page to me?  On your page, you wrote ‘It’s not that I’m lazy.  It’s that I just don’t care.’  What did you mean by that?”

In case you have not seen the movie Office Space, that is a line from Peter Gibbons, the lead character of the movie (see above picture). 

My brother is actually one of the hardest working people I know, and he was just trying to be funny.  However, the person interviewing him was not laughing.  My brother ultimately got rejected for that position.

Here is the scariest part of that story.  My brother’s Facebook page was set to “private,” and the President of the company did not even have an account on Facebook.  (This was in 2005 when less than 5 million people were on the social networking web site; today, more than 500 million people use the site.)  The President was able to access my brother’s page through one of his interns who happened to be Facebook friends with my brother.  Through his intern, the hiring person had access to every quote, comment, wall post, and picture on my brother’s page.  Yikes…

Setting your Facebook page to private is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.  With over 500 million people on Facebook and with most young professionals having hundreds of “friends,” it’s not a stretch to believe that a hiring person can find someone they know who is friends with you.  Once they find someone who has access to your page, they can then see EVERYTHING on your page.

It amazes me what people post on their pages for the world to see.  I have a friend who posts new pictures of himself weekly where he is either flexing with his shirt off and/or drunk at a party.  He looks like he’s trying to get cast on season 3 of the Jersey Shore!  Another one of my Facebook friends recently used extremely vulgar language when describing her ex.  Another friend often bashes her boss and colleagues through her wall posts.  I could go on and on and on.  Their online behavior certainly isn’t helping their chances of getting hired or promoted. 

In summary, you don’t’ need to be 100% buttoned-up online, but you do need to be smart about how you portray yourself to the world.

Don’t let one comment, quote, or picture be the reason you get rejected or fired from your dream job!  Keep everything on your Facebook page respectable, or prepare to be disrespected, unemployed and underpaid…

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises



P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability for the 2011 Dream Job College Tour, please send an email to 

4.5 Keys for Making a Great First Impression (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 11, 2010

Strong communication skills are consistently ranked as the #1 skill employers desire in their employees.  However, communication is not just about what you say or write.  Communication also includes body language, and studies indicate that body language is significantly more important than actual language. 

Body language is especially important in a first impression.  In a matter of seconds, we automatically size up someone we meet.  These initial, subconscious judgments have very powerful consequences on how we are seen in future encounters; it is very challenging to overcome a bad first impression.

Recruiting directors, hiring persons, and senior executives frequently complain to me that most students make very poor first impressions.  Here are 4.5 keys on how you can S.H.E.D. this negative stereotype and position yourself the right way:

  1. SMILE: A genuine smile is inviting and contagious.  It conveys friendliness, removes barriers, and encourages others to want to get to know you.  A warm smile immediately makes you more likeable!
  2. HANDSHAKE: A strong handshake conveys confidence and integrity.  Having said that, do NOT try to devour the other person’s hand!  Just make a nice, firm shake.
  3. EYE CONTACT: Eye contact also indicates confidence.  Upon meeting someone, look them right in the eye for 2-3 seconds and then look away.  Like a suffocating handshake, eye contact can also be taken too far.  If you look into someone’s eyes for too long, you will make them uncomfortable.
  4. DRESS.  Err on the side of being over-dressed, but dress appropriately and professional for every situation.  And, don’t try to make fashion statements!  It is better to be conservative than flamboyant.

Bonus tip: Stand up straight and have good posture!  Good posture implies confidence as well.

Do you want to S.H.E.D. the negative stereotype associated with most young professionals?  When you meet someone for the first time, Smile, deliver a strong (not suffocating) Handshake, make direct Eye contact for 2-3 seconds, Dress appropriately for the situation, and stand up straight!  Do this, and you will be seen as confident, likeable, trustworthy, and friendly, 4 traits that will help you get your dream job and help you build better relationships with potential bosses, customers, and colleagues!

-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert and Professional Speaker

-President of Idealize Enterprises


P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please email me at

4 Traits For Successful Job Search Networking (written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

October 4, 2010

Job Search Networking is the process of generating referrals and job leads through people you already know or people you meet during your job search.  Someone’s willingness to help you during a job search is not based on how long or how intimately he/she knows you.  Instead, it is based on how much he/she likes you and trusts you.  In other words, you don’t need to have known a person for 10 years for him to endorse you to people he knows.  You just need to make him confident that you will represent him well if he puts his reputation on the line by introducing you to his contacts.  For example, one of the executives influential in helping me get my dream job in college was someone I spoke to for less than 3 minutes in-person (I introduced myself to him at a networking event).

Before referring you to someone else, a person is consciously or subconsciously asking himself, “Do I like and trust this person enough to put my reputation on the line by introducing him/her to someone else?”  If the answer is “yes,” a young job-seeker can usually get almost anyone to open his rolodex.  You MUST demonstrate the following 4 traits to prove yourself likeable and trustworthy and to R.E.A.P. the benefits of networking:

  1. Reliable:  If you say you will call at a certain time, you have to call at that time.  If you say you will follow-up, you have to follow-up promptly.  If you ask someone for advice, you need to use their advice.  Be reliable!
  2. Enthusiastic:  If you are not excited about the type of job you are pursuing, you will not inspire others to help you.  You need to get excited before you can expect others to get excited about helping you.  Be enthusiastic!
  3. Appreciative: Older executives remember once being in your shoes, and many of them enjoy helping younger professionals now.  All they will expect in return is genuine appreciation.  Acknowledge that you understand they are very busy, do not take up much of their time, and send  a simple, sincere thank you note after you get connected.  Be appreciative!
  4. Professional:  If you expect people to put their reputation on the line by hiring you or by introducing you to other people they know, you have to put your best foot forward at all times (online and in-person).  Be professional!

 It is incredibly easy and simple for a job-seeker to exhibit these 4 characteristics during a job search, but it amazes me how rarely young professionals do!  If networking is not working for you, it might be because of how you are presenting yourself to other people.  Networking works when you are reliable, enthusiastic, appreciative, and professional.  Make sure you R.E.A.P the benefits of your networking efforts!

-Pete Leibman

Career Expert and President of Idealize Enterprises


P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide.  To learn more about my speaking availability, please email me at