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.
Your job is a boat. It helps you get through the sea of life. But what if your boat starts taking on water?
Basically, you have three options:
-Don’t worry about the leak, just keep the boat straight.
-Find a new boat
If you choose number one you are persistent and want to see things through.
If you choose the second option you recognize the urgency of the situation.
The third strategy? That just might be the best option- quit and find yourself a new job.
The trick is determining how bad the leak is and whether things are recoverable. But don’t discount option three. You’re not living in a romance novel; you don’t have to go down with the ship.
When you think of building something you think of creating a strong foundation first. Then adding solid construction on top of that. A building, when properly constructed is strong and can weather a storm.
A lot of people use the metaphor of building when it comes to their career. Heck one of the more popular websites in the field is called Career Builder.
But I’m not sure that is the best image to use. Today’s economy is dynamic. Its changing. With AI, automation and machine learning if you are not agile you’re not going to last.
Buildings are anything but agile. But you know what is? A garden.
Let’s reframe the discussion and start thinking about growing our careers like a garden. Carefully till the soil. Plant the right seeds. Clear out the weeds. Rest the soil when necessary.
If your career is growing and dynamic it will survive.
When you start school, one of your first lessons is to learn the alphabet. Mastering your ABC’s is the key to unlocking all the rest that the world of knowledge has to offer.
Your first steps in the job search are not too different. In fact, it is still a matter of learning your ABC’s. The context is just a little different.
ABC = Always Be Connecting
Connecting with others, networking, has always been an important step in growing a career, but today networking is an essential for finding high-quality job openings and getting access to the decision makers when it comes to hiring.
Employers will always favor people they either know or those who come recommended, and it has never been easier to become known than it is today in our social media age.
Now more than ever, it really is about who you know.
By expanding your network and staying regularly engaged you can create roads to reach recruiters and make opportunities to earn recommendations.