“We live in an age where there is a fire hose of information, and there is no hierarchy of what is important and what is not. Where the truth is often fashioned through a variety of digital means. Are you your avatar? Who are you in social media? What face do you turn toward the world? How much does it have in common with who you actually are?”
Job Search Realities
With record-rates of unemployment, more professionals than ever are gearing up for the great job search. Yet what makes the searach so hard is it’s not just about the unemployed. It’s also very much about all those folks who have jobs but are also searching. That’s the pool of candidates against whom you are competing.
Many who are are searching for a new, better job. are actually still employed. You might be one of them. Mind you, this doesn’t include the unemployment rate, but rather the percentage of people who are currently employed and looking for a better gig. Add that to the current unemployment rate, set to come close to the 25% peark during the Great Depression, and that’s your potential competition.
We were promised that this would all get easier in the digital age, that the rise of online searching tools would make that low-hanging fruit even easier to grab. Companies like Monster.com, the Ladders, Career Builder, etc. advertise that job seekers just need to post a resume, sit back, and wait for the offers to come flooding in.
So why hasn’t that happened for you? The answer is pretty simple. The playing field is open to everyone. The Internet hasn’t made job searching easier, instead, it has made it harder. The digital age has created new platforms and media channels to help increase your visibility, but at the same time, it’s increased everyone else’s too. The rising tide lifted all boats, not just yours.
What does this mean? Well, if you want to compete with any hope of winning, you need to be savvier in your approach. You need to exploit those digital megaphones to differentiate yourself – your brand, your product – in a way that drowns out all that rising noise.
How to Optimize Your Brand
First, you need a simple, cohesive, memorable branding and positioning strategy that touts your potential value. A statement that says as clearly as possible: “This is what I am; this is what I do; here’s how I might be valuable to your organization.” This is not a new concept; job seekers needed this in the pre-digital media age. So, what’s different?
Well, now, you need to figure out where to broadcast the message to reach the right audience in a way that stands out. You also need to realize that this is a moving target. What worked yesterday might not work today.
In the past, job boards were the old reliable platform for posting a resume to get some free advertising. They haven’t gone away, but it is clear that the signal coming from posting a resume on a job board is now distorted and significantly drowned out by the sheer volume of other people who rely on job boards to gain some visibility, especially for those at the mid-level management tier and higher.
None of this is to say that you should discontinue posting your resume on job boards, or that you should stop replying to online job postings. The reality is that you need to find and exploit more platforms.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Before you begin, there are a few job search questions you should ask yourself:
- Do you know what an ATS is? (Applicant tracking software is what most mid to large-sized companies, recruiting firms, and job boards use to make resumes, applications and candidates digitally searchable and retrievable.)
- Have you built your resume with this in mind?
- Is your resume web and ATS friendly?
- Do you even know what that means?
- Do you know how to maximize the chances that you will emerge from a digitized stack of thousands of competing resumes on the basis of keyword searches?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, you need to up your game. You need to do some research and learning or seek professional knowledge and advice.
Back to our previous topic, where else should you be promoting yourself beyond job boards and answering ads? Are you on LinkedIn? If not, you’re in trouble. Is your LinkedIn profile designed and written in such a way as to attract recruiters and employers? Do you have hard hitting content that promotes your brand and touts your ability to contribute and add value? Is your LinkedIn profile compelling and attention getting? Is it memorable? Does it stand out? Based solely on your profile, would you call this person if it weren’t you?
In addition to the basic content of your LinkedIn profile, do you know how many connections you need to have for your profile to even rise above a certain threshold to get you noticed by recruiters and talent management pros? Do you have that many connections? How about endorsements of your skills? What of testimonials/recommendations? Are you reaching out to decision makers? Are you going beyond simply clicking “connect” and trying to communicate with these folks? Are you doing it effectively enough that you are building relationships and initiating conversations?
We have posed many questions here to help get you in the right mindset for an effective job search. The main theme to take away from this article is that merely being on digital media platforms is not going to cut it in your quest for a new and better job. You need to exploit a multitude of platforms and channels – not just LinkedIn – in a manner that heightens your visibility, solidifies and promotes your brand, makes you memorable, and grabs the attention you need.
ECP Can Help
Over the course of thousands of marketing campaigns for executives and managers seeking help in making career transitions, Executive Career Partners has developed – and is constantly refining – strategies, tools and techniques to help our clients optimize their personal brand. We can do the same for you. To learn how ECP can create a solution tailored to your job search needs, schedule a time with one of our Regional Directors.