If you’ve been on the job market for any length of time, you may have noticed the term ‘branding’ more and more often in reference to your job search. Unless you come from a marketing background this can be mystifying, if not overwhelming. Fear not, it’s really not as esoteric as it sounds and there probably are things you are already doing right.
As a job seeker your brand, simply stated, is you. Think of yourself as a solution to a problem your potential employer is having – a solution for which they are willing to pay handsomely! Your mission is to make sure your customer (that is, employer) is aware of what you can do for them. There are many ways to inform people about yourself; three main ones are your resume, your social media profile, and your references or network. All these will hopefully lead to an interview, where you present yourself in person.
What is a ‘brand’ and why is it important?
Imagine you were planning a nice evening out for dinner and were looking for the perfect restaurant. You might start out with a Google search for restaurants in your area. The impression you gain from various websites, word of mouth and the degree to which all your sources are consistent, will impact how confident you are in choosing the restaurant.
The same is true of your brand. You want to make sure that you have a clear desired job target in mind and that all of your marketing collateral portrays you in the same light. To do this, you must manage your social media presence to be consistent and focused and ensure that your referral network and references are current and up to date with your career goals. What steps can you take to accomplish this?
Step One: Create a strong resume.
This starts with a specific career goal. Next you need to craft a powerful statement detailing what you bring to your future employer as well as a concise, chronological listing of your previous positions (for the last ten years) and your accomplishments. Your resume is your primary marketing document so it’s essential to get it as contemporary and professional as possible to best reflect you.
Step Two: Establish or upgrade your social media presence.
LinkedIn is a primary career site where you should make sure your profile enhances your resume in content and professionalism. Remember, be consistent! If you are in a conservative field, use a conservative, professional headshot for your profile – no exceptions. It is distracting at best and a deal breaker at worst if your LinkedIn profile does not match and enhance your resume.
Step Three: Follow up with your references.
Reach out to your referral network and references to be sure they have copies of your most current resume and your job target. In case it doesn’t go without saying, always ask permission before using someone as a reference and if it’s been more than five years since you asked, ask again.
These are the first three steps you should take towards building a strong and consistent brand. After you have completed these, there are more. You can expand to other social media sites, Google, search engine optimization and more if you like, but to start, all you need to do is build a great resume, great social media profile and a good referral or reference base.