Branding yourself during a job hunt is similar to branding a product. You are, in a sense, selling yourself as the product. Except it’s your next employer you want to market to rather than consumers. To do that, you need to be known as an expert in your field. You want people to know who you are, and you want to network with people of influence, as well as hiring managers.
It takes a little extra effort to brand yourself. This is more difficult than simply churning out job applications and sending your resume everywhere, but the extra effort is well rewarded in the end.
[See The 50 Best Careers of 2011.]
Go beyond the resume. It’s not enough to just have a resume in today’s job market. In some professions, your online visibility is also influential in building your professional credibility. Having a blog and posting social media updates goes a long way to establishing your expertise.
Even if you don’t feel like an expert in your field, you have an opinion. Share your thoughts on trends and news through your blog, and give your two cents on Twitter when people start conversations that interest you.
The benefit of all of this? When employers Google you—and they do—you want them to find tons of sites where you have contributed, written or shared content related to your field. For many employers, an active and dedicated presence online can make up for any job experience you may lack.
What makes you special? Part of your branding is identifying what’s called a “unique selling point.” This is the special skill set that makes you stand out among all job applicants. What is it that past employers have loved about you? Your attention to detail? Ability to think on the fly? Deep industry knowledge?
Once you identify your USP, play off of it as you build your brand. Maximize your talents by learning as much as you can to improve. Write about it. If you’re a whiz at writing press releases, write a few blog posts to help other people write them. If being organized is your thing, share your organization tips on social media sites.
Be the expert. So we’ve established that in order to brand yourself on the job hunt you need to be an expert. It’s your responsibility to do everything you possibly can to maximize your exposure through different channels to build your network.
1. Write about your industry. Write a post on your blog. Write guest posts for other influential blogs in your niche. Comment on other blogs in your field. Respond to social media comments.
2. Start answering questions. Quora, Focus and LinkedIn are all places where people are asking (and answering) questions related to business. Be the source who answers the most questions to get extra exposure on these sites.
3. Start speaking. Public speaking is a great way to show off your expertise, as well as to help you meet great contacts that might come in handy during your job search.
4. Write a book. Not everyone wants to be an author, but having a book under your name is an excellent resume booster. You could always consider working with a ghostwriter if penning a book is an interesting yet daunting endeavor.
It doesn’t end with your next job. Even when you get hired, you still need to work on your brand. You never know if you’ll be laid off or want to resign, so by maintaining your brand, you always stay marketable and known, and you become an asset to your company.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.