Written by: Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." ‒ Walt Disney
Looking for a new job in today’s market can be challenging, especially if you’re not actively networking or have any connections within your field. You might feel like there are no opportunities out there for you and begin to stress. If you’re one of the many people hunting for a new job or gig, it’s time to get proactive about finding that perfect role. Market yourself as a job seeker and increase your visibility in order to land a job sooner rather than later!
Know Where You Want to Work
If you were driving from Chicago without a map, GPS, directions, or ideas, how would you know if you arrived at your destination? Some of you may say, “Since I don’t know where the destination is, wherever I arrive is correct!” That is true, but when it is your career at stake when it is the remainder of your work life and you have no idea where you want to progress to, you will run into too many breakdowns along the road to be comfortable.
Start off by knowing where you want to work next. Take some time to really consider which industries and companies you want to be a part of. Will this role allow you to make a difference? Will this role and firm let you utilize your strengths and skills? Where do you see yourself in five years? Are you qualified to work for this firm? What do you need to learn or know to be qualified? If you’re unsure of where you want to work or what you want to do, you’re starting at a disadvantage because you are outsourcing your thinking to an institution that has their interests at heart and not yours.
You need to make sure you’re speaking to hiring managers at companies and/or in industries that you want to be involved with. When you’re job hunting, it’s tempting to apply to every job you see online. However, this is a tactic that will get you nowhere fast and waste a lot of your time. Employers can sense when you’re applying to every role in the universe. It’s a huge red flag that shows you’re desperate for a job and no one likes desperate people in dating or in hiring.
Know Your Audience
In order to market yourself successfully, you need to know who your audience is and what their needs are. Who are you trying to attract? Who is responsible for making the hiring decision? What is their pain point? What would this person like to hear from you, learn about you, and know about you? Once you understand who you’re talking to, you can create content that will resonate with them and entice them to contact and hire you. Keep in mind that you are marketing yourself to a hiring manager. You need to tailor your plan to hiring managers who are often busy and may not have the time to invest in mentoring a new employee. What issues pique their interest and curiosity. This can make them interested in hiring you.
David was a consultant for many years but was struggling with finding a job. A series of articles he wrote about his area of expertise attracted several firms to him and initially yielded a consulting assignment and then two offers. In addition, an industry expert and he connected and had several conversations that resulted in a book collaboration.
Network and Stay in Touch
Another way to market yourself as a job hunter is by networking with other professionals in your industry. This is one of the easiest ways to find an opportunity at a company of your choice, even if you don’t have any connections or know current employees at the company you are interested in. There are people who know you, who know people at companies you are interested in. Start with connections in your phone who you might text with. Then progress to email contacts, phone contacts, and progressively further from your closest contacts. Ask for advice, participate in events, and help them. Share information with them, too. A woman I knew would periodically send ideas to people who were interested in working for me.
She explicitly told them she was not looking for anything in return but wanted to help them. One hired her. You never know when your networking efforts will pay off. Even when you’re not actively job searching, keep in touch with the people in your network. You never know when they’ll come in handy and when you can help them.
I interviewed J. Kelly Hoey, the author of “Build Your Dream Network” for JobSearchTV.com told me about the importance of building your network before you need it. When someone always says, “How do you network with influencers,” I tell them to be nice to the gatekeepers. It's really simple. You know, whether it's in a law firm, a big corporation, a startup, or a venture capital firm, I see so many people making the mistake of ignoring the associate or the analyst, the person on the low rung of the hierarchy. I think, ‘Hold on. They're the ones who are reporting back to the honchos, on the things that look interesting. They may speak with the founders about something they find interesting or intriguing. You're doing yourself the biggest disservice if you're not looking after the gatekeepers and treating them with respect.”
Stay Current on Industry Trends
Another important way to market yourself as a job seeker is to stay up to date on industry trends. You don’t want to look like someone who is stuck in the past; you want to hire managers to see that you’re a future-focused individual. You’ll impress hiring managers and potential clients if you are looking for a consulting assignment if you know about the latest developments in your field. This shows that you’re passionate about your industry, you’re engaged, and you’re ready for the next challenge in your career journey. When you are job searching, take time to bring yourself up to date on the latest trends and developments in your field. Read industry publications, watch industry conferences, and keep up with the latest news related to your industry. YouTube will help you a lot with this!
Nancy was a commodities broker and would share ideas and information with clients and others who weren’t clients. She became the hub for many of them and was seen as an expert. Michelle Tillis Lederman, the author of “The Connector’s Advantage” who I also interviewed, described the mindsets that help enable people to prioritize relationships and connections. “Connectors “are ‘open and accepting,’ have a clear vision, believe in abundance, and trust, and they're social and curious. They’re conscientious and have a generous spirit versus the non-connector personalities who are miserly in so many different ways. They hold on to things, rather than be generous. In a job search, there's this scarcity mindset. "I need," and I need to protect. I shouldn't tell anybody this, and somebody's going to take this out from under me."
Update Your Resume, Cover Letter, and LinkedIn Profile
Your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile are often the first impression you give when it comes to marketing yourself. Make sure they highlight all of your strengths and showcase why you’re a quality person for a role with this firm or the role with this firm. Don’t expect employers to know everything about you and the work that you’ve done. It’s up to you to give them the information they need to want to interview you. Take time to review your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter to make sure they are congruent and reflect your skills, strengths, and overall experience.
When you are applying for jobs, you are the hunter. When you are being contacted over LinkedIn, you are the hunted. Having your resume and LinkedIn profile appear congruent with information is important. Otherwise, firms think you are lying to them.
Create a Professional Marketing Plan
An important way to organize yourself as a job hunter is to create a marketing plan for your job search. This document outlines your overall strategy for marketing yourself to employers. You should have a plan in place for all social media platforms, any networking events that you plan on attending, any online networking you do, as well as your overall job search. This will help you stay accountable to yourself and on track when it comes to your job search. A marketing plan is something that you can return to frequently and tweak as needed, making adjustments along the way. Make adjustments as you learn during your search. It will allow you to stay focused and be strategic with the way you market yourself.
In addition, track your activity as well as things and conversations you need to follow up on. There is nothing worse for you than dropping the ball on a follow-up with someone who took interest in you but told you to be in contact with them at a later date. What’s the message that you send to them when you don’t follow up?
Make Your Job Search Visible
As a job hunter, it is important to make your job search visible to others. This includes standing out on different platforms and job boards, making sure your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter are optimized and participating in events. Make sure that you’re visible on Indeed, and LinkedIn. On Indeed, make a small change daily by adding or deleting a period of 5 lines from the end of your resume to bring it to the top of search results. Make sure your resume and cover letter are optimized to include keywords that hiring managers are looking for. This will help you show up in search results and give you an edge over others. You should also participate in events such as networking events, virtual job fairs, and webinars. You never know who you’ll meet and what doors might be opened as a result.
The job search process can be long and challenging, especially if you don’t know how to market yourself as a job seeker. You need to know where you want to work, who you are speaking to, and stay current on industry trends. You also need to update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter, create a marketing plan, and make your job search visible.
Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, is a career and leadership coach who helps people with their careers, including a job search, hiring more effectively, managing and leading, and resolving workplace-related issues while being the person they want to be in life. He has written 9 books and guides to job search and hiring, including "The Ultimate Job Interview Framework" and "The Right Answers to Tough Interview Questions." He is the host of No BS Job Search Advice Radio, the #1 podcast in Apple Podcasts for job search with more than 2100 episodes, as well as JobSearchTV.com on YouTube, Amazon, Roku, Apple TV, and 90+ smart sets. Jeff works with clients worldwide and is a popular speaker.