Communications Specialist for Insperity Recruiting Services, specializing in employment branding and recruitment marketing.
Regardless of what type of job you’re searching for, marketing yourself is an essential first step in the job search process. While there are a select few professionals who are so well connected or whose skills are in such high demand that they don’t need to market, most people don’t fall into this category. On the contrary, a successful job search requires marketing, promoting and selling a unique and valuable product: your personal brand.
The Current Job Landscape (The ‘Why’)
It’s no secret that the past year has been unlike any other. A global pandemic has severely affected the economy and unemployment numbers, as well as how the world socializes and conducts business. As a result, job seekers have been impacted in two ways:
1. Due to the number of business closures and resulting layoffs, there is increased competition for open positions. This highlights the need for self-marketing, enabling those who do it effectively to stand out from the crowd and get hired sooner.
2. Since the start of the pandemic, the world has embraced remote work and remained socially distant. Networking events and career fairs have moved online, removing distance barriers and allowing job seekers to network from anywhere.
This combination of increased competition for jobs and the ability to actively network and interview without leaving the house means more candidates will be upping their marketing and self-promotion game, while those who don’t will get left behind.
A Marketing Plan (The ‘How’)
Despite the change in where you network, the methods by which you market yourself to employers should not change, regardless of the current pandemic. Here are a few essential steps to effective self-promotion during a job search.
Establish Your Brand
Before you sell yourself to employers, you must ensure your personal brand is polished. Start with a branding statement — a one- or two-sentence summary of your skills, work experience and career goals. This can be included on your resume, cover letter and social media pages.
Next, make sure your LinkedIn profile includes a professional photo, headline, personal summary, work experience, job-related keywords and visible contact information. If you’re active on other social media sites, be sure your pages feature content that highlights your brand and is not negative or offensive. Finally, depending upon your target position and industry, you may choose to expand your online presence with a website, blog or digital portfolio, all of which serve to enhance your personal brand.
While career events and industry conferences were once the only way for job seekers to make valuable connections, the internet has made the whole world accessible to everyone with the click of a mouse. Once your LinkedIn profile is optimized, join industry-specific groups and connect with others in your field who have similar titles or job duties to what you seek. Ask for advice or referrals, and always offer to help in return.
Research companies you think would be ideal employers, read through their websites and visit their career pages. Then connect with their employees on LinkedIn and repeat the process. Remember to keep your search targeted, only apply to positions for which you’re qualified and customize your resume for each application. Failing to do so may brand you as a candidate who is always unqualified.
Polish Your Soft Skills
When looking to fill open positions, there’s no substitute for the hard skills required to complete job duties. However, employers often prioritize soft skills during the hiring process, as their role in employees’ success is universal. Your interactions with recruiters and hiring managers (your emails, cover letter and resume) demonstrate your communication skills. The way you choose to brand yourself (your LinkedIn profile content and social media posts) demonstrates your creativity. Because these will serve as your first impression, it’s especially important to ensure they are polished. As for other soft skills (teamwork, problem-solving, openness to feedback, etc.), they will be evident to employers within your first week on the job.
Become A Subject Matter Expert
There’s a big difference between those who are subject matter experts in their industry and those who struggle to look like they are in order to get hired. Employers can easily tell the difference, and obviously prefer to hire the former. In addition to researching, networking and applying, build time into your daily schedule to share content on social media. This can include blogs, articles or original pieces — anything that those in your industry would find valuable.
Also, always be just as willing to offer advice, recommendations or referrals as you are to receive them. Remember that every employer wants to hire experts in their field, but no one wants to hire someone who’s only interested in helping themselves. Finally, try to make time to share and interact even after you’re hired, as true subject matter experts should prioritize this regardless of employment status.
Branding, marketing and self-promotion have always been important for job seekers. Though the methods by which these occur may gradually change over time, a sudden crisis can accelerate the change. Over the past year, Covid-19 has not only increased unemployment numbers, but also set new standards for why and how job seekers should market themselves. As the job market slowly recovers, more and more job seekers will transition back into the workforce. Those who understand the importance of personal branding and marketing, and who do it effectively, will likely see a quicker path to employment.
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