Archive for the ‘Marketing/Social Media’ Category

Seems like all we hear these days is branding this, branding that. We must brand ourselves, professionally speaking, if we want to be taken seriously. If you’re looking for a job, that goes double for you.

But what happens when we have more than one interest that we’re trying to pursue; different images — sometimes conflicting — that we want to project and promote? Are we splitting ourselves in two? And if so, which self will win??

Yes folks, I myself am suffering from Multiple Branding Disorder. I currently have 3 online selves, sort of: one as Employment Counselor, one as MarCom Writer, and my third alter-ego, Comedy Writer. Since I have a lot of years of experience as a career counselor, I’ve mostly branded myself blogwise as the Employment Counselor/Comedy Writer Combo Pack, with an occasional MarCom Writer snippet thrown in.

But now I’m focusing on a comedy thriller I’m working on (“Explode”), and want to brand myself as both my Comedy Writer self and my MarCom Writer self, since that’s my day-job-career path. I have to re-brand myself and hang out with my comedy-and-mystery-writer Twitter-peeps, rather than my job counselor ones. Plus, some of my comedy stuff is edgier than some job hunters looking for job search advice might think of as, uh, appropriate. Which means I’ll likely lose the folks that are mostly interested in job search advice and don’t give a crap about the comedy. But that’s the way the branding iron sizzles.

Nevertheless, here comes some branding advice for job seekers:

  • The self you most want to focus on at this point is how you should brand yourself.
  • If you have more than one self you want to project, it’s okay if there’s some overlap, unless you’re simultaneously trying to brand yourself as conservative religious Republican and porn star. In which case, good luck to you.
  • If some would-be employers are less than enthusiastic about the you that you’re projecting, then guess what? Those aren’t the right employers for you at this point in your life anyway.
  • Here’s my shameless self-plug: though I’ll mostly be concentrating on my novel, this blog has a plethora of posts already on various job search topics, so feel free to peruse.

 

Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?

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I’m re-posting a piece I did awhile back on branding/marketing yourself in your job search. If you’ve already read it, just pretend you’re an Oceanic Flight 815 survivor experiencing a time flash.

In your job search quest, you’ve probably seen the word “branding” floating around in the job-o-sphere (here’s a personal branding blog with a lot of helpful tips) and heard your job search strategy compared to a marketing campaign, with you as the product.

While “self-branding” can sound vaguely scary (especially if you’ve ever worked on a horse farm), it’s not as masochistic as it sounds. Marketing yourself is, in fact, an effective way to conduct your job search, and branding is an essential component of that.

Here are some strategies to help you in your job search self-branding efforts:

  • Come up with what you want to be known for – your professional identity (known in marketingspeak as “positioning”). What are your unique talents that make you different from Joe Schmeckel Jobseeker? Are you TechGirl? GrammarGuy? Do you know where all the commas go before they die? Of course, branding yourself as GrammarGuy probably won’t help you much if you’re a forklift driver. It has to be relevant to the field you’re interested in.
  • Figure out what specific benefits your skills/experience can bring to an employer (otherwise known as your “value proposition.”) Fill in the blank: “When my co-workers (or future co-workers) need help with _____________, they come to me.” Hopefully you’ll be able to come up with something other than, “finishing all the leftovers from Adam’s birthday party,” or “remembering the name of Mr. Spock’s mother.”
  • Emphasize your talents on your resume and in your cover letters. Employers, like men in a relationship, hate having to try to read your mind. And when it comes to an employer, since there’s nothing in it for them, they probably won’t bother. If you want them to focus on particular skills that will benefit them, make it obvious which skills those are.
  • Focus your LinkedIn profile and Twitter tagline (excuse the alliteration) on those talents, in much the same way you focus your resume on them. And don’t tell me you don’t have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You’re job-hunting. It’s 2011. Shame on you.
  • Build a positive online rep. relevant to the type of job you’re interested in. Start a blog in your area of expertise, or at least comment on other people’s blogs, showing your knowledge and offering helpful info. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your talents, and get involved in the discussions. But I wouldn’t get involved in anything too potentially controversial when you’re job-hunting. That’s just me.
  • Establish your style. Yes, if your style is Lindsey-Lohan-meets-Charlie-Sheen, you probably need to rein it in a bit. And resumes and cover letters need to be more on the formal side in terms of tone. But you do want your online persona to pretty much reflect who you are and how you want to be perceived at work. After all, you’re unique. You want to be noticed (for the right reasons). Besides, if your persona is too scattered in different directions, a prospective employer might think you have multiple personality disorder.
  • Figure out what your target market is, and go for it. Who are the employers you want to work for, who are likely to need and value your talents? If you want to use your aerial basket-weaving skills in a free-flowing environment, don’t be looking at companies that specialize in a 3-piece suit dress code and actuarial statistical analysis.

In your job search quest, you’ve probably seen the word “branding” floating around in the job-osphere (here’s a personal branding blog with a lot of helpful tips) and heard your job search strategy compared to a marketing campaign, with you as the product.

While “self-branding” can sound vaguely scary (especially if you’ve ever worked on a horse farm), it’s not as masochistic as it sounds. Marketing yourself is, in fact, an effective way to conduct your job search, and branding is an essential component of that.

Here are some strategies to help you in your job search self-branding efforts:

  • Come up with what you want to be known for — your professional identity (known in marketingspeak as “positioning”). What are your unique talents that make you different from Joe Schmeckel Jobseeker? Are you TechGirl? GrammarGuy? Do you know where all the commas go before they die? Of course, branding yourself as GrammarGuy probably won’t help you much if you’re a forklift driver. It has to be relevant to the field you’re interested in.
  • Figure out what specific benefits your skills/experience can bring to an employer (otherwise known as your “value proposition.”) Fill in the blank: “When my co-workers (or future co-workers) need help with _____________, they come to me.” Hopefully you’ll be able to come up with something other than, “finishing all the leftovers from Adam’s birthday party,” or “remembering the name of Mr. Spock’s mother.”
  • Emphasize your talents on your resume and in your cover letters. Employers, like men in a relationship, hate having to try to read your mind. And when it comes to an employer, since there’s nothing in it for them, they probably won’t bother. If you want them to focus on particular skills that will benefit them, make it obvious which skills those are.
  • Focus your LinkedIn profile and Twitter tagline (excuse the alliteration) on those talents, in much the same way as you focus your resume on them. And don’t tell me you don’t have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You’re job-hunting. It’s 2011. Shame on you.
  • Build a positive online rep. relevant to the type of job you’re interested in. Start a blog in your area of expertise, or at least comment on other people’s blogs, showing your knowledge and offering helpful info. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your talents, and get involved in the discussions. But I wouldn’t get involved in anything too potentially controversial when you’re job-hunting. That’s just me.
  • Establish your style. Yes, if your style is Lindsey-Lohan-meets-Charlie-Sheen, you probably need to rein it in a bit. And resumes and cover letters need to be more on the formal side in terms of tone. But you do want your online persona to pretty much reflect who you are and how you want to be perceived at work. After all, you’re unique. You want to be noticed (for the right reasons). Besides, if your persona is too scattered in different directions, a prospective employer might think you have multiple personality disorder.
  • Figure out what your target market is, and go for it. Who are the employers you want to work for, who are likely to need and value your talents? If you want to use your aerial basket-weaving skills in a free-flowing environment, don’t be looking at companies that specialize in a 3-piece suit dress code and actuarial statistical analysis.

Social media isn’t just a means to announce to the world that you just had some bad brussel sprouts at lunch. There are lots of ways you can use Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook to do an effective job search. Here are a few:

  • Make sure you use keywords and phrases most relevant to your field in your LinkedIn profile (I’ll assume you already have one – if not, get it up there yesterday!). More and more employers are trolling LinkedIn to find candidates, before even posting a job on job boards like Monster. They do a search for specific skills listed in profiles, and have been known to contact applicants whose profiles come up as a result. So if you’re looking for a job as a contortionist, be sure to include “twisting,”  “bending,” “extreme stretching,” and perhaps “overextension” in your profile.
  • Use your connections on LinkedIn to help you network your way into companies you’re interested in. It’s a professional networking site; that’s what it’s for. Hunt around in your connections to see who they’re connected to (1st or 2nd-level connections) to find companies to target in your job search. Ask the people you’re already connected to to introduce you, which consists of sending a message on LinkedIn saying, “My former colleague Joe Shmo would like to connect to you on LinkedIn,” or some such wording, and they check off the option that matches how your connection knows you (you’re Joe Shmo in this scenario).
  • When you want to apply to a particular company, do a company search on LinkedIn and see what current or former employees are in your network of connections. If several people come up who are not current connections, they’re probably connected to you by 2nd, 3rd, or 209th degrees (kind of like the Kevin Bacon game). You can connect with them in the aforementioned manner, and politely inquire as to relevant info about the company you’re interested in. Unless you’re connected to them by the 209th degree, in which case you’ll be staring at the LinkedIn screen until your eyeballs fall out.
  • Follow companies you’re interested in on LinkedIn, and “like” a post here and there. It’s a good way to get your name floating around in their online subconscious, network your way in and keep updated on what they’re up to. If they have a page, but haven’t posted anything in 3 years, that’ll tell you something (like they need you desperately if you’re a social media manager, so hurray for you!).
  • Join groups on LinkedIn that relate to your field. Make intelligent comments; share interesting and helpful info/links. This’ll help you build a positive reputation and possibly get you noticed by prospective employers or helpful contacts. So be sure to keep the embarrassing and insipid stuff to yourself.
  • Open a Twitter account, with a job title and tagline that best represents you professionally. It will also help you build your rep, and employers do searches on Twitter too. (twitter too – I felt like Judy Garland for a minute there. Sans pills, though.)
  • Use Twitter to follow employers you’re interested in and find info relevant to your field. Twitter’s about links – to job boards, to positions listed on company websites, to articles about what’s happening at a particular company or in a certain field, and anything and everything else you can possibly think of (and some things you’d rather not).
  • Use Twitter’s job search function – Use keywords (yeah, that again). A ton of stuff will come up on you – some of it like the garlic pasta you had last night, but some useful links too, like job listings and company info.
  • Better yet, use hashtags with keywords. If you’re not familiar with hashtags, it’s the Twitter term for putting a “#” before a keyword (as in #copywriting jobs), and is often used for events/tweets relevant to a specific topic. More relevant stuff will tend to come up than if you just use the keywords without the hashtags. Why, you ask? Beats the sh*t out of me.
  • Tweet info relevant to your field, or links to other jobs for fellow job seekers. Be a helpful little twit. Sorry, just had to say that.
  • Let your Facebook friends know you’re looking, and what you’re looking for, and what your particular areas of expertise are. Unless you’re currently employed and don’t want your employer to know you’re looking, in which case ix-nay on the obsearch-jay.