Review: Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht
INSIDER TIP: Aliza Licht’s Leave Your Mark is an incredibly helpful book for any young professional in the entry stages of a career in communications.
You have to hand it to Licht. That vibrant bright green cover has been pretty much impossible to ignore on Instagram. I follow a lot of fellow social media managers, and I swear this book has graced the feed of each of them at some point since it was released last year.
I loved this book.
I found myself nodding along so many times, thinking yes. yes. YES.
I really wish I’d had this book around when I finished undergrad and started my job hunt. It would have saved me so much time and frustration.
If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a “mentorship in 288 pages” that guides you through Aliza Licht’s career and highlights the lessons she’s learned — “insider tips.” Licht, the former SVP of global communications at Donna Karan International, majored in neurobiology and physiology before deciding right before graduation that she really wanted a career in fashion editorial.
She decided to turn her career around and details how she built herself up with an unrelated degree and no editorial experience.
Licht also embraced social media during her career, curating the @dkny “DKNY PR GIRL” Twitter handle taught her (and, therefore, readers as well) a lot about online branding.
It’s worth noting that even though Licht’s career is focused on fashion public relations, this book has a lot of applicable lessons for anyone studying — or starting a career in — marketing, PR, communications, social media, journalism or any other applicable career.
I’ll spare you a full recap (go read the book) and touch on my favorite parts instead.
- Resumés and cover letters
I loved Licht’s tips for streamlining resumés and cover letters. Important takes? Don’t list positions/ “accomplishments” for the sake of listing them.
“For example, I don’t care what sorority or fraternity you were in. I want to know what you did in college that is going to help the company. So if you were president or social chair of that sorority, that tells me something. It tells me that when you speak, people listen. That’s a skill worth sharing.”
Always include statistics, and instead of listing your job responsibilities “managed Twitter account,” list your job accomplishments “grew Twitter following by XX percent.”
“For example, it’s not enough to say that you ‘grew the business.’ You need to be specific and say, for example, that you ‘grew the business by 5 percent.'”
“INSIDER TIP: What you have done is more important that what you were supposed to do.”
Also, use the same keywords that the potential employer uses in the job posting. I have a bio at the top of my resume that uses a lot of those buzzwords. Did you know that a lot of companies use resumé filter software? The software scans documents for relevant words, so by including those words in your resumé, you’re a step ahead of everybody else.
- Promotions and raises
This chapter was a bit of a reality check, but is also super helpful to understand how raises and promotions work from an upper-level management perspective. Licht detailed how she was turned down when she requested a promotion after a year and a half during her first professional job, and then listed off some of the reasons why she won’t hand out a promotion.
“…there’s the person who comes in at review time and starts rattling off all the things she’s done that year — things that are very simply her job. You already get paid for all those things. It’s called your SALARY. INSIDER TIP: You don’t get a promotion for doing your job; you get a promotion for going above and beyond your job.”
Licht advises employees to learn not only their jobs, but the jobs of those around them. Seek to make yourself irreplaceable, she advises. The employee doing two or three jobs at once is much harder to replace than the employee who is just doing one.
“INSIDER TIP: Act one level above the job you currently have.”
Licht also included a useful self-assessment full of questions to reflect on prior to asking for a promotion or raise, some advice on how to graciously deal when you are declined that promotion or raise, and tips on how to negotiate a salary.
- Social media
There’s no possible way I can list off all the great tidbits of information when it comes to this book’s talk on social media and branding. Licht detailed the creation of the @dkny “DKNY PR GIRL” brand, mentioning some of the high points and low points. She provided a real-life case study, talking about what worked and what didn’t work for the brand.
Obviously, we aren’t all going to have wildly-successful Twitter followings like the DKNY brand, but there are still a lot of applicable lessons Licht preaches.
When it comes to creating your online persona, put it all out there.
“…if you are a dynamic professional, it’s actually interesting content to show some behind-the-scenes views of your personal life.”
But also, don’t do that.
“…what you post speaks volumes about you. That’s a good thing. It’s something that you can strategically employ to build your own reputation Your social presence should be a carefully curated version of yourself.”
A lot of Licht’s advice regarding social media is common sense. Pretend the delete button doesn’t exist. Sincerely address a crisis immediately. Maintain a balance between personal and professional. Engage, engage engage.
- Personal branding
I really liked Licht’s advice re: personal branding. Most people don’t think of themselves as a brand, but with the Internet, there’s no reason not to. It’s an easy (and, free!) way to market yourself, and there’s absolutely not reason to not take advantage.
“Personal branding is not about becoming famous. In fact, that’s the least it’s about. Personal branding is about self-reflection and ultimately outward presentation. Personal branding is about identifying the best version of you and striving toward achieving and communicating that every day.”
Licht urges everybody to work as a publicist for him or herself. She created a step-by-step guide for readers to use when it comes to branding themselves, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone struggling with what his or her brand is. I know I dealt with this personally when I had to realign my brand following a move and a career change. Licht’s guide is great, and I’ll definitely be following them within the coming weeks just to make sure I’m on track with my own personal brand.
Have you read Leave Your Mark? Let’s chat in the comments!