Do you know the secret value of writing your branding statement on LinkedIn? Short version: It has nothing to do with keywords and search value.
Of course your headline/branding statement is important in terms of SEO value on your profile, but it has a second, even more important, function. It is how you chose to define yourself, and as such it has an aspirational element.
I’ll use myself as an example. I used to call myself an “Executive resume writer crafting job-winning resumes for job seekers.” But this was actually limiting. Because what I really wanted to do was be more of a job search coach helping people beyond simply writing the resume. But as long as I defined myself as just a resume writer that was all I did.
That changed when I chose to change how I defined myself. I now consider myself a “Job search coach helping leaders on the rise.” By just rewording what I consider myself to be, I began attracting a different type of client and I started working differently with them.
So your branding statement is also a bit of positive psychology. Tell the world what you want to be, and then go be it.
But you have to tell yourself first.
So what do you really want to be?
If you are going to spend the money to hire a professional executive resume writer (me) then you’ll want to follow these guidelines to get the most out of our relationship.
- Be honest! Never lie on your résumé (and don’t give me false information, either!) The better the information you share the better your new résumé will be.
- The clearer you are about where you’re going in your career, the more effective your résumé will be. Targeting makes all the difference.
- Invest in yourself! Plan to spend 1-3% of your annual salary on your career, including additional training, clothing for a job search, and career documents.
- Look forward, not backwards. I can’t nclude every detail of your life and work history on your résumé. These details are important to who you are, but not necessarily important for this résumé for a particular job target.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to update your résumé. After you’ve landed a new position — and you’re sure you’re going to stay — get back in touch to add the new position. And keep an accomplishments journal so you can track your achievements in your new role.
If you don’t start looking for a new position, then you can’t fail.
If this sounds like ridiculous logic, that’s because it is. Yet this fear-of-failure actually holds a lot of people back from either making a career push up the ladder, or taking a leap and making a complete career switch.
They know they want to, but they convince themselves they are happier where they are. Or that they just need to-
-Pay off student loan debt.
-Wait for their kids to enter school.
-Buy a house.
But you know what? This sounds a little tough-love, but if you never put yourself out there, then you already have failed. There’s really no doubt about that.
Not starting and failing both bring you to the same place.
Right. Where. You. Are. Now. Are you sure you want to be there?
Everyone has a personal brand, whether they consciously create one or not. If you are a job seeker then it pays to take control of yours and tailor it to best work for you.
While entire books have been written on how to create and maintain a brand (and if you want to get technical whole college marketing degrees as well) there are a few simple steps anyone can use to get started.
1. Make a conscious choice how and where to be active. For jobseekers LinkedIN should be your homebase, but there are other beneficial places to be active online as well. Just don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you want an active presense shoot for posting 3 times a week.
2. Say cheese! Yes, your profile picture matters no matter the portal. A professional headshot is great, but not necessary. Just be sure that it is a clear headshot and that you are smiling. And of course under no circumstance should you use a selfie!
3. What’s the first thing you notice in a newspaper or magazing article? The headline. Your social media profiles are no different. For the job seeker this is prime real estate to highlight who you are and what you do. Sell yourself!
4. Be professsional, but let your personality through as well. A decent ratio may be for every three professional posts you do one that is more personal or fun. But no cat memes. When I say fun I mean, post about the camping trip or a great film you saw. Let potential employers see who you are.
If it’s been five or more years since your last job search, you need to come to terms with the fact that you may need to change how you look for a job this time around.
Some quick tips:
1. Technology has changed the job search. Companies are inundated with applicants for job openings because it only takes a few minutes to apply online for a position. This means you need to work harder to differentiate yourself.
2. The least effective way to find a job is to apply for advertised openings, sending your résumé online through a company employment portal or a third-party website. These only account for about 15% of new hires, so don’t spend more than 20% of your time on them.
3. Some things in job search haven’t changed, though. The résumé is not dead (although it doesn’t look the same as it did 10 years ago). Networking can still help you get the inside scoop. And people still hire people. Networking is the key. This is where +70% of new hires come from and clearly is where you should be sending most of your time.
Career turning points are a two step process.
First, you have to recognize that you have, in fact, reached a turning point. You’ve hit that level where your next step is going to determine how the next ten years are likely to play out. So how do you do this?
By being reflective.
Build it into your schedule. Open up your calendar app and on the first day of each season write in “Quarterly Review”. When the day comes sit with a pen and paper for 20-30 minutes. List the quarter’s wins and losses. Then predict where you’ll be in three months.
This should be enough to get you in the reflective mood and open to the possibiltiy of a turning point.
Second, you have to decide to act. A turning point implies direction, so you have to decide which way you are going to move.
Do you want to turn towards a new challenge, or back towards predictability? Neither choice is objectively right or wrong. But only one choice is the right decision for you.
Sometimes the simplest tools are the best ones. Make a good ol’ fashioned pro/con list and see where you end up. More often than not the right decision will be obvious once you have looked at it objectively.
There has been a lot of complaining about job seekers and recruiters and how they treat each other. Sometimes I think we just all need to treat each other with a little more grace.
I periodically reread parts of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations and came across a quote that really resonated this morning as pertaining to this ongoing argument.
[E]very soul is deprived of truth against its will. The same holds true for justice, self control, good will to others and every other virtue. It is essential to constantly keep this in your mind, for it will make you more gentle to all.
No one has all the answers. No one wakes up in the morning and decides to try to ruin someone else’s day. We’re all just stumbling along the same road trying to do our best.
Do we screw up? You betcha. But if we remembered that we are all part of the same struggle it would go a long way to making the journey a bit smoother.