Lesson 2 – Cultural differences in applying & Personal Branding – Part 1

In this second lesson, we will focus on the cultural differences in applying between different continents and countries. To prepare yourself for this part, I would like to ask you to think about the way the applying process in your home country works. Think about the following things:

  • Is a resume needed?
  • How many interviews will you have before you receive a job offer?
  • What do you have to say during an interview that will help you to land the job available?
  • Is the applying process digital or psychical?
  • Is the place where you will work or your occupation defined by your (family) background?
  • Is the workplace in your home country a very hierarchical place?
  • Can you speak up to your boss in your home country?

Now think about the country you would like to work in or are currently residing in. You must have noticed some general cultural differences not related to applying or finding a job. What did you notice? Cultural differences are usually incorporated in everything we do and breath. This also goes for the applying process. Moving to another country means also you will probably (have to) adapt some common practices in your new country to be successful in finding a job. The good news is you can prepare yourself for this.

So if you focus on the applying process, what do you think are the common practices of applying in the country you wish to work in? What did you experience already? What was a big difference or surprise for you? Since these differences originate in the roots of a country or region, I would like you to think about the following things:

  • How do you think the hierarchy on the workplace will be?
  • Will this perspective on hierarchy change the expectations during the applying process?
  • What does this mean for the way you will conduct your job search?

A well- known Dutch psychologist, Geert Hofstede, developed a beautiful instrument to define the differences between cultures based on research conducted all over the world. You can find out more about his method and outcomes over here.

Erin Meyer also developed a wonderful tool, the culture and country mapping tool, which tells you more about the cultural differences at the workplace and the implications this has on the collaboration between people. These are some wonderful resources to deep-dive into if you want to know more, during the second session, I will explain a bit more on what this means in daily life.

In the second part of the meeting, we will move towards the practicalities of your job search, which starts with the subject of Personal Branding.

What is Personal Branding?
Your personal brand is how you promote yourself. It is the unique combination of skills, experience, and personality that you want the world to see you. It is the telling of your story, and how it reflects your conduct, behaviour, spoken and unspoken words, and attitudes. This also means your personal brand reflects in your resume, your cover letter, your social media presence (LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube – depends on where you are active).

Why is personal branding important?
Effective personal branding will differentiate you from the competition and allow you to build trust with prospective clients and employers. A strong personal brand is cohesive, clear, consistent and aims to serve a specific audience. 

Preparation Lesson 2
Building a personal brand starts with a bit of introspection. Every good job search starts with a bit of introspection. This is why I developed a 3 step exercise to help you with this preparation. The first step contains a bit of introspection on your own, the second step involves getting feedback from others on your skills and capabilities and the third step is bringing this all together. It would be awesome if you could make a start with this exercise before the next lesson.

Find the exercise over here.

After you conducted the exercise I invite you to watch the recording of this lesson to in the video section before you continue with the remaining part of this lesson.

By now you watch the video about Cultural Differences in applying and Personal Branding. This means it is time to start building your online and offline presentation by setting up a resume and a cover letter. Perhaps you also decided to make use of LinkedIn or other social media accounts and want to set up your online presence.

There are a few things I want to say about this topic. First of all, there is loads of information on the internet about resume building and how to do it. This information is usually set up for a specific job market, or country, something to take into account when processing all information.

I am sure you are here because to refine your resume. To show you how I build a resume, I recorded a movie Resume Building for you. In this movie, you can see how I process all information and how I link the resume to the vacancy you are applying to. Before you start building your resume and are going to watch the movie about resume building, I want you to gather all information needed to build a resume:

  1. All your educational and work experience
  2. All your achievements within your work experience
  3. Your personal information like address, dob, phone number, email address
  4. The job search preparation you did, more specifically: the competencies you want to highlight in your resume.
  5. An example of a vacancy you want to apply to.

Now it is time to watch the movie Resume Building in the video section. After watching this movie you can return here to continue with the remaining part of this lesson.

In the movie, I showed you a great resume contains a summary. I know how difficult writing a summary can be. Don’t worry, I am here to help out. My e-book What’s your added value is designed to help you set up a summary for your resume and LinkedIn profile. Loads of my clients already made use of the ebook and find it a useful tool.

You can find the e-book here.   

If you finished your resume, I invite you to a resume swap with your job search buddy or somebody in this course. Share your resume and ask for the following feedback:

  1. What are the three words the reader remembers after reading this resume?
  2. A tip for improvement of the resume
  3. What did you like about the resume?
  • The answer to the first question will help you to define if you are on the right path. If the 3 words given don’t reflect the first impression you want to make, there is some work to do.
  • The answer to the second question will help you to improve your resume further.
  • The answer to the third questions reminds you about the things you wish to keep in your resume.

No job search buddy? No worries, you can also ask your neighbour, your friend or an aquintance to help you out. 

To wrap up the subject of resume building, I designed a Resume building checklist for you. You can find it here.
I also like to share 2 resume templates I use when working with my clients. You can find them here and here. No, I will not supply you with the word formats of these templates if you ask. This is for a reason. Employers like to see your personal style in the resume, so I think it will not help you if you copy my templates. Also, these templates are not fit for every local job market, they are focused on the preferences of the Dutch labour market. It’s up to you to set up a resume that suits you. To spice the looks of your resume you could consider using a CV generator like NOVO resume or use the design tool canva.com. Both options have a free version.

Before we move on the preparation of lesson 3. So, if you are not interested in this, you can skip this paragraph and go to the next.

LinkedIn can be a powerful online platform for job seekers. LinkedIn is meant to build professional relationships. The intonation used on the platform and the people actively present on LinkedIn are there for business, recruitment of job-seeking purposes. If you browse through the platform you will notice the language used is more formal compared to social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook. Based on this information you can decide if LinkedIn is the right platform for you.

Sometimes people feel they have to be active there because it is told is so many courses and training about job seekers. Well, let me tell you this. LinkedIn is especially useful when having at least a Bachelor of Science or Masters degree PLUS when the application is used in the country you are applying in AND if the people of the industry you wish to work in are also active over there. For example:

  • a hairdresser or beauty consultant is usually more active on Instagram of Facebook and doesn’t use LinkedIn (with the exception of my hairdresser, I guess. He does make use LinkedIn since he also works for the TV industry. For him being present on LinkedIn is a strategic choice).
  • Marketing Specialists, Software developers, people from the HR Industry and business owners who work business to business are often present on LinkedIn.

In the Netherlands, UK and US, the usage of LinkedIn is common, but in other countries, it is not.

  • In the Netherlands, LinkedIn can increase your chances to land a job with 30%, a big number.
  • In Germany, people are using the XING platform for doing business and building professional relations.
  • In the UK and the US, it is perceived as a way of building new connections rapidly, but does not always add value. At least, this is the perception of some of my clients.

If you decide you want to be present on LinkedIn and want to build your LinkedIn profile, I herewith offer you to make use of the LinkedIn checklist I designed. If you follow the points mentioned in the checklist, you have built yourself a LinkedIn checklist making use of the possibility the algorithm offers.

You can find the checklist here.

The third lesson is going to be about the use of LinkedIn and setting up a cover letter. To prepare yourself for this session, I want you to collect the following information and write yourself a first draft of your cover letter:

  1. Find a vacancy your really would love to apply to
  2. Define the requirements you comply with
  3. Think about and write down some examples of previous work or internship experience that you think aligns with this job description.
  4. Define and write down which competencies the company asks for and that you own as well
  5. Think and write down why you would love to get hired for this job.
  6. Think and write down why you would love to work for this company. O, and by the way, this part is not about the wonderful training opportunities or compensations and benefits that they have to offer.  
  7. Set up a first draft of a cover letter yourself.

If you want to, you can send your draft to marielle@marielleobels.com. We can use your cover letter in the next session, if you don’t mind that I share it with the group.

See you in lesson 3!

The link to the meetings is included in the general information section.