To stay visible in an information saturated world, you need a strong personal brand. Here are a few tips on how to stand out from the crowd.
It’s hard to argue that getting a job isn’t any harder than it used to be, and with the creep of technological unemployment, it’s set to get even harder. In order to snag one of the few jobs that are up for grabs, a candidate has to be exceptional, and the best way to convince recruiters that you’re the exceptional candidate they’re looking for might not include having the best grades or the most impressive resume. Clever self-marketing shows employers that you know how to leverage your assets to their best potential and helps you get their attention in the first place. Self-marketing has a lot in common with marketing any product: asking “What is my audience looking for?” and then packaging your skills and strengths to form a convincing answer to that question should be at the core of your strategy.
You In 160 Characters
Ultimately, branding is about creating a connection in people’s minds between certain characteristics and a product as quickly as possible: the saturated job market means recruiters have only seconds to spend evaluating each possible fit. By honing your elevator pitch, as well as making sure that potential employers hear or see your main selling points, you show your ability to distill complex and nuanced information down to the essentials — an attractive skill in any industry. Twitter is a great place to see elevator pitch masters in action: take a gander at Slack founder Stewart Butterfield’s deceptively lackadaisical effort. In just a few words and a ¯_(ツ)_/¯ emoticon, you’re left with a good idea of his skillset, mission, and outlook.
Look What I Can Do
An important tenet of advertising is show, don’t tell; the best self-promotion tactics also demonstrate the skills that most impress employers in your field. For example, an unemployed Adam Pacitti put his last £500 into a billboard campaign — starring himself. To support his billboard, he also created a website and a video CV, capturing the attention of would-be employers with his creativity and interesting resume format. As well as getting him attention, the massive engagement he achieved showed his ability to reconnoiter the field and sell a product effectively — it’s not surprising that his campaign not only bagged Pacitti a job in advertising, but kickstarted his side career as a public speaker.
Scene Not Herd
That doesn’t mean that it’s easy: getting attention on social media is an uphill struggle, as you’re trying to capture attention in an oversaturated market. The way to tackle social media is to present yourself in a way which appeals to your platform. For example designer and art director Mete Erdogan harnesses Instagrammer’s natural curiosity-bordering-on-nosiness, demonstrating his calligraphy skills with bizarre snippets of strangers’ conversations.
Once he’s reeled in his audience, he casually drops the fact that he happens to offer online art classes. Good promotion is about pulling customers in, rather than pushing them to pay attention to you.
Getting The Word Out
As with marketing a product, it doesn’t matter how great your presentation is if nobody ever hears it. As many as 60% of all job openings are unadvertised, so broadening your network is a must to have a chance of hearing about these opportunities. You might need to be a bit tactical about this if you’re still employed, but publicizing the fact that you’re looking for work makes it more likely that people will think of you if they hear of a vacancy you would be perfect for.
While real-world networking is unbeatable for making name-face associations, building a strong social media presence makes your personal brand searchable and available to peruse at any time. Which platform to focus on varies by industry, but consider what kind of appearance you’re aiming to project: while being too stuffy is as bad as coming across as unprofessional for some businesses, it’s a good general rule to look out for ambiguous statements which are open to misinterpretation: remember that tone doesn’t always come across online.
The idea of creating a personal brand might seem daunting at first, particularly if you’re in a less sales-oriented field, but don’t be discouraged: developing a personal brand just means pithily expressing yourself on a subject you’re already the world expert on: you. Some careful thought and a little imagination could mean getting your dream job, as well as a better awareness of what makes you great at what you do.