How do I find a new job? (5):


personal branding on computer keyboard key buttonIf you really want to succeed in finding the job you really want then you need to treat job search like a job. Which means, like any job, professionalism should be at the heart of everything you do.

In this series of articles I’ve often referred to the product ‘You’. The unique set of features and benefits which you have to offer an employer. Job search is a sales exercise but it is also a marketing exercise. And an important part of marketing is the idea of the brand.

Tip 13: Personal branding

Every product has a brand associated with it and you are no different. Essentially the impression you create as you go about your business is your brand. It’s important to ensure that your brand portrays you in a professional light at all times. So, if you haven’t already, you must establish a professional brand for yourself.

To convey professionalism you must ensure you have the following:-

1. An online profile on LinkedIn: Social media is powerful and everyone who is anyone will have a social media presence today, particularly on professional sites such as LinkedIn. A complete, professional profile on LinkedIn is important nowadays.

If I am considering you for a job then I will check out your LinkedIn profile before I interview you. If you don’t have one then I would be wondering whether you are getting a bit ‘past your sell by date’.

If for example you’re a Sales professional and you tell me that you have a wide network of contacts, then I would expect to see an indication of a large number of connections to your LinkedIn profile. If what I actually see is inconsistent with your claims then I will assume you’re exaggerating.

So set up a profile on LinkedIn, complete it fully with a professional looking head and shoulders photograph and start connecting to your contacts.

Once you establish an online presence it’s important to keep the details up to date. It’s also important to ensure that any information available about you online is visible, available, and relevant in terms of where you are in your career, what you have to offer and where you’re trying to go next.

Another important activity on LinkedIn is to participate in relevant Groups. It’s a good idea to respond to questions raised by people in Groups whenever you get the opportunity. This is a perfect way to showcase your talents.

Try to post some interesting content occasionally too. You can also curate and share interesting things you’ve seen and read online. And remember; social media is about engagement. So engage with people on LinkedIn whenever you can. You never know when that might pay dividends.

2. An email address which looks professional: Having a wacky email address like studmuffin69@myemail.com is fine in a college environment. I am sure all of your student mates thought it was fun. Use that with me in a business context and I would be extremely unimpressed.

Set up a separate email account for your job search activity with a professional-looking format such as John.Smith@myemail.com and point all your social networks to that address.

3. A professional signature on your email account: Set up a professional signature on your email account that shows not only your address and telephone numbers but also links to online activity you might have such as blogs, as well as social media sites like LinkedIn. That way every email message you despatch will contain these details and mark you out not only as someone who is professional but also someone who is current.

4. A personal business card: You’re trying to sell yourself so you’ve got to put yourself about a bit and talk to people. You never know who you might meet and when. So be ready to give them your details if they ask for them. The easiest way to do that is to have your own business card which contains all of your personal details. These are inexpensive to buy nowadays so looking professional has never been easier.

5. Make it easy for people to contact you: The phone number included on your CV or resumé, your personal business card and your email signature should be one which either you will answer immediately or it will go to voicemail if you’re not available.

Now once you’ve established your professional brand you can really help your cause if you can get yourself noticed and there are many ways to do this.

Tip 14: Get yourself noticed

If you can establish yourself as an expert in your field then that is a very powerful way of getting noticed. Key to this of course is building up your knowledge and knowhow in your chosen field. That means keeping up to date with developments; attending seminars and exhibitions; reading books on your subject, as well as professional and trade magazines.

Then you have to ensure that people know just how much you know. This can be achieved by writing articles for professional and trade magazines, as well as finding opportunities for speaking engagements at conferences. If you can make a point which is perhaps a little bit controversial then you will get noticed. As the Arab proverb suggests, “Be contrary and be known.”

You must have knowledge but you also must be seen to have knowledge. Without visibility, ability is nothing more than unrealised potential.

Another way to become visible is through writing a blog. Blogs are fantastic because you have complete control over what is published on your blog. Essentially through your blog you can self-publish regular articles about your chosen subject. Generate a following, with the aid of social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter as a means of spreading your message and increasing traffic to your blog. If you can produce good quality content consistently then you will get noticed, particularly if you’ve optimised your blog to make it search engine friendly.

Alternatively you could self-publish your own video tutorials on YouTube or create podcasts of your chosen subject and distribute them through your blog or through the iTunes store.

There are so many ways to be creative now and all at little or no cost.

Another way to get noticed is through voluntary work.

Volunteering can help you gain exposure as an expert in your field. And it can add value to your CV or resumé too. So if you see an opportunity to volunteer and showcase your skills and expertise in this capacity, then go for it.

At this point a word of caution is appropriate. As your job search starts to gain momentum, and you start homing in on specific companies and jobs for which you believe you could be an ideal match, there is one thing you must always bear in mind; watch out for scams.

Tip 15: Watch out for scams

It is a sad fact that there will never be any shortage of unscrupulous people who are ready and waiting to take advantage of the unwary and the vulnerable. They have absolutely no shame. So even with job search you have to beware of the scam artists.

As an example, a friend of mine recently experienced a scam. He was looking for a new job and he had posted his details on various jobsites and had applied for a number of vacancies he’d seen advertised online. So when he received an official looking email offering him an interview naturally his confidence soared. The email provided a telephone number and advised him to call a named individual to setup the time and date for the interview.

What wasn’t obvious to him at the time was that the telephone number was actually a premium rate telephone number. When he called the number there was a series of interactive voice response messages and then he was placed in a queue. It all sounded very plausible but sadly the setup was bogus and he’d been stung. After 15 minutes in the queue, being charged a premium rate, he realised what had happened and could do little but chalk it down to experience. It proved to be an expensive lesson for him.

These scams can include everything from working from home schemes to paying for list of jobs which are supposedly available but turn out largely to be a work of fiction.

Even some agencies will use tricks in an attempt to generate revenue for themselves. For instance some agencies will trawl jobsites looking for the CVs or resumés of candidates with highly marketable skills. They will then approach companies with the claim that they have the cream of the market. If an employer does express interest then the agency will then call you. However the problem for you as a candidate is that actually most employers hate being approached this way. So the potential is there for you to suffer reputational damage, as well as harm to your professional brand.

Make sure if you are responding to an advertisement that it is for a real job. You must ensure that you are getting genuine detail about a real vacancy. It there is any doubt as to how genuine an opportunity it is, don’t apply.

When you do apply for a genuine job opportunity there will always be a reference number associated with your application. So if you receive an email regarding a job, if it really is one for which you’ve applied then it should quote that reference number. If it does not, then you need to approach it with great care.

Keep good records and make sure you keep them up to date.

And always remember this; be careful out there!

More job search tips will follow in my next article in this series.

In the meantime; in addition to the scams I’ve mentioned in this article, how many more job search scams could you name?

Sharing them with our readers could be a great help to someone, some time.

© Roy Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Previous articles in this series:-

How do I find a new job? (1)

How do I find a new job? (2)

How do I find a new job? (3)

How do I find a new job? (4)

What job can I do?


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