One of the most significant differences between the job market of the past and the job market of today is the need to sell yourself. If you’re on the hunt for a new job, you must not only promote yourself in interviews, but to everyone who matters — which, generally speaking, is everyone in your network.
Those who ignore this aspect of the modern job hunt are likely to find themselves stuck in a string of unfulfilling jobs.
You have to think like a marketer if you are to land your dream job. Recruiters and hiring managers are always scouring social media for new talent. To catch their attention, you have to promote yourself.
Here are 14 tools, traits, and skills that will help job seekers build and promote their brands — and get the job as a result:
1. Your Purpose
What motivates you? What drives your passion for your work? Your reasons should be your own — not those imparted to you by your mother or a well-meaning professor. Stop letting clichés direct your career. Find your unique purpose, embrace it, and let it drive you.
2. An Elevator Pitch
Many people cannot clearly articulate what it is they bring to a team or company. Just as big brands are clear about the value they create for consumers, you must be clear about the value you create for employers. Craft a brief elevator pitch that clearly outlines the value you create for employers — and back it up with metrics that convince the skeptics.
Stories grab people’s attention, and when they are compelling enough, they can win you support. In addition to a high-level elevator pitch, you should prepare a few stories of your value-creation in action.
4. A Blog/Portfolio
Every job seeker should maintain a comprehensive portfolio of their work, whether it takes the form of a blog or something else. This becomes a one-stop shop for people who want to learn more about what you have to offer.
Maintaining a blog or other public site is also a great way to build an audience, establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, and maybe even attract employers.
5. Business Cards
At the minimum, an electronic business card is essential. Every gathering is a networking opportunity with the potential to advance your career. No matter where you go, bring your business cards and be prepared to hand them out.
6. A List of Target Companies
A list of target employers allows you to conduct your job search in a more precise and purposeful manner. Plus, it allows you to focus your networking on contacts at the companies you’d like to work for. Networking is more effective if you build and deepen those relationships long before you need to cash in a referral favor.
It’s okay for your list of targets to change over time.
7. An Engaging LinkedIn Profile
By now, you know “all-star” status is your goal on LinkedIn. Stay active by commenting on, liking, and sharing content. To stand out against other LinkedIn all-stars in your industry, utilize your recommendations, publications, awards, and volunteer sections whenever possible.
8. Deep Network Relationships
These days, many people seem to value quantity over quality in their networks, but it is the deep relationships that really lead to new career opportunities. People with whom you have mutually beneficially, trust-based relationships will remember you when unposted jobs open up.
9. Powerful References
You want network connections who can speak to your strengths in a compelling way. Stay in touch with your references so that your connections are always warm. Keep them interested in and excited about your career. Share updates so that they can accurately convey the essence of your professional value when the time comes.
10. An Email Newsletter
I facilitate a monthly “Job Lab” in the Ashburn-Wrightwood community in Chicago. One of the regular attendees keeps his connections apprised of his career happenings with an email newsletter. He shares details of his consulting gigs and his insights on relevant topics. This is a powerful way to keep your connections in tune with your efforts.
Make sure thank-you notes are part of your strategy — not only for interviewers, but also for references, network contacts, and even the friend who babysat your kids so you could attend a networking event. A nice touch might be using something like the Starbucks app to send $5 digital gift cards right from your phone.
For people to really get to know you as a professional, you’ll need to engage multiple times. Keep at it — but don’t overwhelm your contacts.
You must be there for others, too! You will need to give more than you get, and that’s okay.
You will hear a lot of “nos” and “maybes” throughout your career. Your ability to endure these inevitable rejections will make all the difference.
14. Social Proof
Social proof is an essential part of your personal brand — but you need to make sure you’re posting the receipts where employers can see them. Don’t be afraid to self-promote. That’s the only way to get on people’s radars.
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, the host and producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and the founder of the blog by the same name.