Job seekers who want to break into a new role in 2019 need to think hard about the image (or brand) they project to employers. Building a strong professional brand that is aligned to the companies or industries you wish to work for will absolutely increase your chances of getting hired.
You need to assume that any recruiter that you approach is going to research you online, so you should have pillars in place that reinforce your skills, expertise and interest in your desired field.
Meanwhile, by branding yourself through online content and engagement, you may even draw an audience of followers, including recruiters who are interested in your profile.
How do you go about branding yourself? Here’s a three-step strategy to follow.
1. Develop Your Own Website and Blog
If you want to brand yourself as an expert, you need a way to showcase your past work and current ideas. A website or blog is the perfect medium.
Just about every company uses a website as a central tool for brand-building. You should do the same.
Don’t worry, nowadays building your own website, with your own personalized URL, requires little to no technical knowledge. Wix, SquareSpace and WordPress are just a few the most popular platforms people use.
The advantage of having your own professional website is that it can house a wide range of content that is relevant to employers. Plus the site alone can be used as evidence of your skills: tech-savviness, eye for design, etc.
Having a website that includes a well-written bio and updated resume/CV will allow employers to find you online. Plus there is a growing trend of recruiters asking candidates for creative job applications. Sharing a link to a personal website where you customize content to a specific job type is bound to impress.
Having a blog integrated into your website can be a major boost to your professional brand. Through a blog, you have the opportunity to write about what matters to you and demonstrate your knowledge of particular issues in order to impress employers.
For example, if you are passionate about sustainable technology and your goal is to work in the field, then blog about it. Tap your thoughts and creativity and produce content on topics that are dear to you. Then, make sure you point employers to this content during the recruitment process.
DOs and DON’Ts of Creating a Personal Website/blog that Appeals to Recruiters
- Set a clear focus niche for your blog based on your career goals
- Produce timely, original content
- Integrate with social media channels
- Get sloppy (strive for consistent design and error-free content)
- Be too negative or political with blog posts
- Forget to include contact info (phone, email, etc.)
2. Harness Social Media
Social media has a bearing on your professional brand whether you like it or not.
The vast majority of recruiters screen candidates by searching them online and reviewing their social media profiles. What will they dig up on you?
You may not want to use social media for strategically positioning yourself as an expert in a specific field. But you absolutely will want to make sure that any of your active profiles don’t hurt your chances of getting hired.
At the very least, every job searcher should do their own audit of their social media channels and determine what content employers might see. Change your privacy settings if needed.
However, ensuring a clean online presence is the bare minimum that you can do using the power of social media. By embracing its many sharing and networking functions, you can cement yourself as a thought leader and get your message in front of those who make hiring decisions.
For example, social media gives you plenty of channels for sharing news and content from your website or blog. As mentioned above, integrating social media with a personal website or blog is a must as it allows you to promote your site to your network.
If you don’t have a blog or website, then you can still share your opinions through social media. Twitter, after all, is a micro-blogging platform, while LinkedIn is a common medium for self-publishing longer-form articles.
When you are totally immersed in a particular field, chances are you come across all kinds of interesting content that may be valuable to like-minded people. Share it!
Sharing content with your network by posting links to articles and videos is a way of proving you are engaged in specific issues. There is also the added benefit that if you share or comment on other people’s content, they will reciprocate or engage with you.
As a job seeker, following the companies you want to work for through their social media channels offers many opportunities to express your interest in them. You can essentially become a “superfan” of these companies by consistently commenting on or sharing their content.
The benefit of becoming a superfan is that you are always up to speed with what the company is doing, giving you in-depth knowledge of their operations. This knowledge can then be used to write an amazing cover letter or letter of interest, and you may rely on it during job interviews.
Of course, social media has also become a popular tool for soliciting jobs. The obvious example is LinkedIn where you can identify recruiters and connect with them directly. But identifying opportunities through Facebook and Twitter can also prove effective.
Regardless of the platform, when you connect with companies through social media, their first impression of you will be based on the brand you’ve built and expressed using your accounts.
DOs and DON’Ts of Professional Branding Through Social Media
- Strive for consistency across social platforms (usernames, headshots, etc.)
- Include your resume summary on your social profiles (especially for LinkedIn)
- Share content that people in your target industry might find valuable
- Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry
- Follow and comment on content from targeted employers
- Reach out to recruiters to ask for informational interviews
- Use unprofessional usernames or photos
- Forget to edit all content before posting
- Be offended by critical comments from others – keep any responses professional
- Spam online groups with your resume/CV
- Comment on absolutely everything a company posts – give your replies substance
- Ask recruiters for jobs through social media
3. Engage Elsewhere
Having your own website and an active social media presence will help you get noticed amongst recruiters.
But if you want to go even further in establishing your name and building your professional brand, you can look for other engagement opportunities.
Your goal is to make it known to as many people as possible that you have something to offer: skills or expertise in a particular area.
Go to industry networking events in your field. Better yet, don’t just attend, see if you can participate in panel discussions or speaking opportunities.
Try to get published in industry publications, newspapers or online. Many media outlets crave well-informed content that expresses strong opinions about current issues. Be prepared to encounter some resistance from editors, but keep pitching your writing.
You can always resort to self-publishing on your blog, or other platforms that attract talented writers looking to express themselves, like Medium.com.
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