Done my CV. Tick. Sent it to some employers. Tick. Searched the job boards and sent my CV to loads of them. Tick. Just want a job. Mmm… don’t know what else I can do.
Sound familiar? If this is your job and career search strategy, then it’s time for a reality check.
Finding a career that genuinely lights your fire and a job that helps you move in your chosen direction involves a lot of hard effort of exploring and positioning. The way you go about it is a tell-tale sign for you and employers as to whether you are really serious.
Think of romancing an employer like searching for the right person for you. It involves more than a single date on Tinder (unless it’s love at first sight). Warming up the relationship means being engaging, interesting, personable, memorable, likeable and recognising what you are both looking for in a partner. Here’s what employers say they like and don’t like when you’re chatting them up.
How can you explore and position yourself with employers so you have a better chance of getting the job you want? Here are 8 increasingly common ways:
Love your profile
Create a profile on LinkedIn, the Facebook for professional people. It’s the number one site used by recruitment companies. They will look you up to see how you present yourself. They advertise vacancies there. They send you adverts for jobs they think would interest you. Be found on LinkedIn. The game has changed. Don’t waste so much of your time searching job boards, let the job and career find you (through USP not ESP).
Get on Twitter. Learn how to use it to research for job vacancies and build relationships with people in sectors that interest you. Start a conversation with people in your dream job. Challenge your pre-conceptions that Twitter is about people who tweet what they ate for breakfast. Find out the benefits from people who use it successfully for job, career and business.
A funny thing happened on the way to the online forum…
LinkedIn has hundreds of group forums on every business subject you can imagine. Companies, as well as individuals, have their own pages and forums. People discuss topical and relevant issues relating to their worlds. Engage in debates. Ask questions. Respond to other people’s comments with your own views. Be tolerant. Be provocative (in a positive way). Get noticed. Don’t sell.
To blog or vlog, that is the question
‘I can’t write. I have nothing to say. I don’t have time.’ How do you know? You can set up blog with a free WordPress site in 5 minutes. Think of the audience you want to target with your fabulous prose. Write 300-500 words on something that interests you and them. The discussions on LinkedIn will prompt you for what’s hot right now.
Prefer to talk than write? Video yourself instead and create a vlog.
Learn from others what works by searching Google for popular bloggers in your field. Make it a priority to learn the basics of SEO (search engine optimisation) and how to use keywords and phrases.
My Masters’ tutor said to me ‘see everything as data’ (I was doing an ethnographic research study). Great advice for this geek! I can usually find a topic to blog about in almost any discussion. Write about the things you talk about. Pose questions to stimulate discussion. Ask for feedback.
Connect online and face-to-face
Invite people you get to know in person and online to connect with you on LinkedIn. Start building up your own set of raving fans. Every time you have something to say, they will read it and often share it with their fans. If the geography fits, meet up in person with people you get on with or who can help. Use Skype.
Find a networking group or two that meets face-to-face and go regularly so you build up relationships (I go to both professional and business-related ones). Learn from the experts how to handle yourself in these places. Attend conferences, seminars, workshops, openings to meet with people from the employers or industry that interest you.
Be a reporter
Informational interviews are a targeted way of networking and getting on the radar of an employer before you apply for a job or go down a career path. Ring up the person whose job you would love to do. Go and see them to pick their brains. ‘What’s it like to work here? What helps to make you a success here? What advice would you give me about a career in your industry?’
Don’t take your CV, you’re not going for a job. Be like a reporter. Find out something topical about them before you go. Follow up with a thank you email. Be memorable, something quirky so they link your name with it. True stories: the person who showed a video of her dance troupe on her phone; the person who took her own Coronation Street mug with her; the person who sent a Mars Bar with a covering letter. Too gimmicky? Maybe, but they stood out.
Find a platform for public speaking
I can sense the shivers running down your spine! Find a relevant platform where you can speak so you get noticed. If you talk about what you know and love, your nerves will disappear as you get sucked into the zone. Connect, don’t perform. Practise. Get feedback from a raving fan. Practise. Do it again (and again).
Do something for nothing
The research says that throwing yourself into something bigger than yourself often provides people with meaning in their job or career. We all love a cause and we’re social animals. Make it personal. You won’t be doing it for the money. Help others and you will help yourself. 7 out of 10 employers prefer someone who has volunteering experience.
Message in a bottle
The most overused and overhyped phrase in job hunting, personal branding, has become an all encompassing concept about YOU. If you took points 1-7 above, described yourself as a result or weaved a story about yourself and what an employer will get, then you’ve pretty much nailed it. Read Sally Hogshead’s book How the World Sees You and take her questionnaire if you’re struggling. Create a Google+ profile or about.me personal webpage.
If you were a perfume or an aftershave, what would you call it and why? Employers want to know the essence of you. So capture it. Make them fall in love with you!
Which of these 8 ways to get noticed work best for you? What will you try and when? Let me know how you get on.