Event Recap – STAND OUT as an International Trade Professional

On Tuesday, 4th September, Professionals in International Trade (PIT) in partnership with NSW Trade & Investment held an interactive personal branding workshop on how to Stand Out as an International Trade professional.

The event was keenly anticipated by PIT members, who understand how crucial it is for international trade and investment professionals to stand out and be noticed by employers and clients in what is a very competitive and niche industry.

The event saw over 40 attendees from across the international trade industry made up of representatives from Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The evening was moderated by PIT’s Vice-Chair Fatou N’diaye and supported by an impressive and insightful speaker line up comprising:

Key Takeaways:

An interactive workshop focused on:

  • Adapting to the Future of Work & Lifelong learning
  • Better resume writing
  • Building an online presence using LinkedIn
  • The importance of professional headshots.

1. Adapting to the Future of Work & Lifelong learning (by Yvonne Kelly & Clara McCarthy)

The Future of Work: The job market is increasingly being impacted by the rise of digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence, as an anecdote “A two-year study from McKinsey Global Institute suggests that by 2030, intelligent agents and robots could eliminate as much as 30 percent of the world’s human labour, displacing the jobs of as many as 800 million people”. Another finding states over 2/3 of kindergarten kids today will end up in careers that don’t exist yet.

Lifelong learning: All this reinforces the need for those in workforce and job seekers to focus on continuous training & development; developing soft skills; and data interpretation (the latter two which are easily transferable and are as yet beyond the capabilities of artificial intelligence). Given this environment, it is therefore crucial for professionals, particularly those working in international trade to grow and maintain their personal branding, reputation and online presence.

2. Better Resume writing (by Yvonne Kelly)

Unique personal branding document: A resume should be your key personal branding document and be unique to the individual. It is important to invest time and effort in getting this right, and it is surprising how little / irregularly people update their resumes unless they are about to apply for jobs/promotions. Ideally, resumes should be reviewed and updated every 3 months, even if one is not looking for a job as it is always better to be prepared in the event of opportunities arising. Keep in mind the adage ‘the perfect job may not always be available when you are ready’.

Keywords: Review the job/role/position description and ensure you pick-up keywords used and re-use them in your resume and cover letter. This is particularly crucial given the increasing use of algorithms to scan through job application material in the initial round of candidate vetting.

First/cover page: HR personnel, recruiters and HR managers often briefly scan the first page of your resume and then only decide if they want to know more about the candidate by reading the proceeding pages of your resume, hence it is crucial to make a great impression on the first page of your resume to capture a recruiter’s attention and imagination.

The following guidelines are suggested:

  • Professional Overview: A strong, clear and succinct professional overview outlining what you have done (i.e. skills and experiences) in the first paragraph and what makes you unique and different in the second paragraph.
  • Education: Outline your academic qualifications relevant to the role, as most professional jobs in international trade development roles require some minimum qualifications.
  • Professional experience summary: Summarise your professional experiences (ideally the only the ones relevant to the role) in tabular format; highlighting the organisation; role/title; duration; industry and location of the position.
  • Personal biodata: the first page should also include your name, location (e.g. city & country), contact details (e.g. mobile number & email), a personal photo is not recommended due to anti-discrimination concerns.
  • Location: be transparent and truthful about your real location (e.g. if applying for a job in another country/state, recruiters often need to know much lead time it would take for new candidates to relocate prior to starting their role etc.).
  • Government security clearances: place this on the first page, particularly if applying for government jobs.

Second page: This should provide more detail into your employment history outlining your key responsibilities and most importantly the key achievements, improvements and value-add you provided.

The following guidelines are suggested:

  • Present vs past tense: Use present tense for your current role and past tense for all others.
  • Keywords: Bold & highlight keywords as necessary.
  • Transferable skills: highlight transferable skills, soft skills (e.g. stakeholder management) particularly important when changing careers, industries or even roles.
  • Volunteer roles: include volunteer roles if relevant to the role, this often highlights real interest & passion in the industry.
  • Referees: should be only be available upon request, always call and check-in with your referees before your prospective employer conducts the referee check.

Interview tips:

  • Research your panel: Read up on your interview panel members, their backgrounds, interests and professional histories; it also helps to mention common contacts via LinkedIn which often changes the tone of interview (often for the better).

Yvonne Kelly – Director, Driftwood Group

3. Building an online presence using LinkedIn (by Clara McCarthy)

The Power of being LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented service mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their resumes. With an estimated 562 million users as of May 2018, LinkedIn is primarily a data company which sells access to information about its members to recruiters and sales professionals. LinkedIn also offers video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills via its Lynda.com online learning platform. Remember the most important decisions in your career will occur when you’re not in the room.

The following LinkedIn tips/guidelines are suggested:

  • Picture: Always have professional portrait picture (ideally in colour) on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Background picture: ensure it is professionally taken, or at least reflects your unique personality, the picture should blend in with the colour schemes on LinkedIn (e.g. darker rather than lighter colours).
  • Overview: always write the overview in first person, be succinct as people often don’t click the drop-down ‘Show More’ option at the bottom, use the Professional Overview on your resume as a guide.
  • Tagline: A catchy, yet simple tagline (e.g. Trade & Investment professional at Organisation X) goes a long way in capturing people’s attention.
  • Dashboard: Consider being a mentor and providing career advice by participating on LinkedIn’s career advice platform.
  • Job Titles: Adjust your job titles on LinkedIn accordingly as your title/role internally may be more commonly known by other titles externally (e.g. a Relationship Manager in one company is also a Business Development Manager, Account Executive in another company).
  • Post articles/media: Writing an article or publishing media on LinkedIn demonstrates how you can add your own value, thought leadership and share insights/experiences on a subject matter related to your role & career. This in turn generates views, comments and often increases interest in you as a knowledgeable individual or subject matter expert.
  • Responsibilities/Achievements: summarise these in not more than 5 sentences, focusing on what was important about the role.
  • Endorsements & Recommendations: these are less important given that you often have to be connected to people on LinkedIn to get these.
  • Interests: Following relevant organisations; influencers; groups and schools allows you to keep up to date on what’s happening.
  • Social Selling Index: LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI) (updated daily) measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships, by ranking your profile against other LinkedIn profiles across your industry and network.

4. The importance of professional headshots (by Daniel Sommer)

Looking good as they say is the first key to success, and similarly a professional headshot/portrait goes a long way in increasing your marketability, given the very human tendency to judge books by their covers (and in similar vein, people by their photos). Your headshot is your personal logo for your personal brand and should be treated as such. Whether you’re connecting with peers and potential employers/clients on LinkedIn or you’re looking to find the love of your life on Match.com, you are being judged by your profile picture or lack thereof. It is recommended that you regularly update your headshot every 2 years.

Why do you need a Headshot: Helps you build a professional online, digital presence and identity, particularly important when an estimated 93% of people subconsciously make decisions literally at ‘face value’ (though they like to think otherwise).

Who needs a Headshot: The short answer is Everybody, and particularly given the increasing casualisation, contractual, freelance nature of the workforce where personal branding is key.

What is the purpose of a Headshot: Professional headshots conveys confidence, trust and approachability, ensuring how you look is coherent with how you present yourself professionally via your resume/LinkedIn profile etc. It is important to allow the ‘real person’ to shine through the headshot, so be yourself.

Look towards the sunlight and the shadows will always fall behind you.

 Thank You

We would like to thank our 3 speakers for contributing their time, experience and insights with the PIT Community. We also want to thank our kind hosts at NSW Trade & Investment in supporting us with a venue and catering for the evening.