The beginning of a new year often causes us to reflect on our career choices. It’s a time when one starts to ponder such weighty questions as “Am I where I want to be in my career?,” “Should I think about moving to a new company?,” or “How can I finally get a great job this year?” If the answer to your musings is that you’re ready for a change in the employment scenery, then you’ve got to prepare yourself for the challenge.
It takes more physical stamina, mental fortitude, and, quite frankly, technological sophistication to land a great job these days than ever before. Fortunately, you have a great asset at your disposal to assist you and it’s your personal brand. Your personal brand is your own reputation for delivering value and satisfaction to other people. If you have a strong personal brand, then you’ll find that potential employers will seek you out instead of you having to find them.
Use your personal brand to attract the attention of others. Here are three simple, but effective, job search strategies you can implement today:
1 – Define Your Brand – Take some to answer these questions. Who are you? What are your strengths and accomplishments? How have you used them to add value to other people? Once you’ve established your personal brand identity, you have to make known to others what you stand for and what sets you apart from other people. In time, the more you deliver quality results that cause people to take notice, the more visibility and awareness you achieve for your brand.
Organizations hire smart people primarily to address their problems and introduce innovative solutions that will ultimately allow them to make more money. Do you have a reputation in your field of expertise as a thought leader, problem solver and innovator? “In today’s job market you need to have name recognition” said Gerald Cauley, an executive coach with Brownstone Consulting, Inc. According to Mr. Cauley, “When people I trust keep mentioning the same name over and over again in a positive light, it tells me that individual is someone I should know for myself.”
Once people know you and your work, they are only too happy to tell other people about you. Many recruiters I know find that almost 50% of their job candidates are identified through a referral from a trusted source. A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that for those who make it to the interview stage, the referred candidates had a 40 percent better chance of being hired than other applicants.
2 – Expand Your Online Presence – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other platforms give you to the tools to promote your personal brand and enable companies to find you. So if LinkedIn is really your thing, you want to make your profile interesting enough so that recruiters will take notice of your career accomplishments and expertise. A LinkedIn page that only shows employers and dates of employment is almost guaranteed to be ignored. If you tweet regularly, then think about the messages you’re sending across cyberspace. Are you trying to build a following? Do you want recruiters to take notice? Then you have to provide content and insight that really matters.
Nick Livingston, director of global recruiting at TubeMogul, a technology company used by marketing agencies and global brands, said, “Social media should show your passion for what you do and highlight the things you know.” He offered the example of how a Sales professional who attends an industry conference can share insight. “Sharing a link with some personal commentary is more impactful to your readers than simply sharing a link by itself. A well timed tweet, combined with the appropriate hashtag, can put you in front of niche audiences. Over time the words, themes or topics in your profile or in status updates sway perceptions and enable the technology behind the scenes to aggregate this public data to provide ‘people recommendations’ to recruiters,” Mr. Livingston said.
You’ll find that your tweets are read, mentioned, or retweeted by more people who find value in your point-of-view. These actions will help to put you on the radar of talent acquisition professionals looking for knowledgeable individuals who may fit well into their organizations.
You also have the opportunity to tap into more professional online communities in order to expose your brand to others in your field. Mr. Livingston cited show and tell websites like Dribble (for illustrators, graphic & web designers), Github (for technologists and engineers), TLNT (for HR and Talent Management practitioners) that will allow individuals to share their expertise and provide examples of their work. Do a Google search of your own profession or industry to locate forums that will enable you to collaborate with colleagues or present examples of your work. When recruiters see examples of how you think and your work product it makes you a much more compelling candidate for a job. And the beauty of it all is that you don’t have to put your resume on a job board, along with millions of other job seekers, with the small chance of you of being selected for an interview.
3 – Leverage Your Network – “You’re only as good as the company you keep” according to Mr. Cauley. He noted that recruiters and hiring managers pay more attention these days to your professional connections. If you brand yourself as an “A” player then it stands to reason that you associate with other strong performers.
When someone is solidly in your network (meaning when you contact them, they actually respond to you), it becomes relatively easy to share your professional goals and aspirations with them. You’ll find that these brand agents are more than willing to share job leads and introduce you to people who may be instrumental in helping you get your desired role. And they often sing your praises when you’re not in the room.
While they may do this because they’re just nice people, they also appreciate the fact that your great brand reputation will also enhance their own. To keep those referrals and recommendation flowing your way, you must be sure to reciprocate and pay it forward. If you refer and recommend others in your network, you will certainly reap good results.
One of the best ways to leverage your network in finding a new job is to use your referrals to land informational interviews. Informational interviews are a powerful tool in helping you gather intelligence about a job, an employer, or a potential market. They work well because they are much less stressful conversations to have (after all there’s no job on the table) and people will often make themselves available to meet with you in order to share their knowledge. Asking for 20-30 minutes of a person’s time to learn something from them is a painless way to gain something priceless; a new addition to your network.
When you take the time to share your brand in person and through social media, it raises your profile substantially. You may still find yourself sending out a resume or two, but gone are the days where you hope for a phone call or email because you sent out a 1,000 resumes. You position yourself to stand out in a hyper-competitive job market and allow the people who are looking for great talent like yourself to find you.
So do a little work today to place yourself in your dream job tomorrow.
Bouvier Williams is a personal brand coach and consultant. He is the president of Your Personal Brand Solution LLC and also writes an online blog called The Personal Brand Professor.