I've spoken at length about how to use social media to network and get yourself noticed outside the traditional channels. In addition to doing this, you need something about you that stands out from the other candidates, and then you need to effectively convey that to potential employers. You basically need a personal marketing plan.
1. Describe Your Dream Job
First you need to identify what you want to be doing.
- What are the skills someone doing that job needs to have?
- What are that person’s daily tasks?
- What behavioural competencies are required for this position?
- What type of experience does that person need?
- What does this person’s career path look like?
You should be able to answer most of these questions before even starting to think about applying. Then you need to identify the gaps between you and the ideal candidate for this position. Before applying for this position, you may need to upgrade some skills or gain some experience. Don’t sit there defeated saying “I can’t get experience because no one will hire me.” There are internship opportunities or not-for-profits, and small businesses who would gladly accept a volunteer to do whatever it is you do. Then when you introduce yourself, you can replace the word “unemployed bum” with “freelancer” or “professional consultant” even if you’re not getting paid.
2. Identify Your Key Differentiators
- What is unique about you?
- Why do you stand out from the other candidates?
- Do you have accomplishments that other candidates may not have (i.e. awards, publications, relevant memberships, etc.)?
Get to know your own personality. Ask some friends how they would describe you. You need recruiters to look at your resume and online profiles, and really feel like they know you. Unless you’re just a miserable person… then hide your personality at all costs.
3. Build Your Brand
Once you’ve done this, you need to be able to describe yourself as the ideal candidate. Seamlessly link your description of yourself to the description of the ideal candidate. When you introduce yourself to people, they will often ask what you do. You need a brief description of yourself that highlights your key differentiators. You should also tailor it to your audience. There may be more than one career path to your ideal job, or more than one job that interests you. Know your audience, and make sure you’re telling them what they want to hear from you. Companies wouldn’t use the same marketing collateral across all clients. They tailor it to highlight the products or services most valued by different target markets. You should do the same for your target companies.
Once you’ve created the outline of your candidate brand, update all of your social networking sites well as your resume, business card, etc. to reflect this brand. Then you can start to develop an application process. Much like a sales process, you’re going to be generating leads and identifying the most effective methods of reaching out to those companies, that is consistent with your personal brand. I have an entire series of “How To” posts about using social networking for the job hunt called “Dude Where’s My Job?” Take a look back through for more tips on interacting with these companies online.
Sitting at home, filling out applications and applying to open ads is old-school. That job search model is not productive in this type of economy, so why would you sit home and do the same thing over and over again with no results? Stand out and be productive.