If you’re still reading after three days – thank you! I hope some of my experiences will help you in what, these days, should be your non-ending search for your next position.
Today we’ll start with a walk down the detergent aisle in the grocery store. So many selections! Tide. Cheer. Sun. Gain. Powder. Liquid. Don’t they all do the same thing? How do you choose your detergent?
Today’s job market is much like that. Hiring managers are walking down the aisle. They literally have their pick from all the boxes on the shelf. How are you setting yourself apart?
Here’s another way to ask the same question. You’re at a race. You’re in your starting corral and are making small talk with people around you. You mention that you’re looking for a new job (why not?). The person next to you says, "My company is hiring. What are you looking for?" You have about 30 seconds to respond before the start gun goes off. What are you going to say?
Our ability to land that dream job is based on our ability to set ourselves apart from our competition. It’s about establishing our personal brand. That’s a lot more than just listing some accomplishments on a piece of paper and calling it a resume. I’m still working on establishing my personal brand, but here are some things that I’ve learned (in order of importance):
Elevator pitch (or starting corral pitch): You *will* get a phone call when you are prospecting. So are at least a few dozen other people. What are you going to say about yourself and what you are looking to do in the first 30 seconds to make sure that the person on the other end of the line is going to be interested in talking to you for 5 minutes? Get you pitch down pat. Practice. It’s not a speech. It’s from your heart. It has to be.
Accomplishments: What have you accomplished in your career. Here’s where things get tough. It’s not what you’ve done, but what the impact of what you have done was. I’m a member of a couple of networking groups for “executives in transition”. I can’t tell you how many resumes I see where the accomplishment is, “I managed a group of 5 accounting professionals.” I’ve got news for you. So have about umpteen million people out there. So what? An accomplishment is, “I managed the accounting department at XYZ where I had responsibility for a department budget of $750,000. I streamlined processes that resulted in an increase in efficiency of 10% from year to year.” See the difference? You’re no longer just a box of detergent. Think of the impact that your work had to the bottom line of where you worked. Write each of the points that are on your resume down on a sheet of paper. Quantify the results of each. If you can't, don't put it on your resume. Remember - your resume is your reflection. Give your interviewers something compelling to talk to you about.
Recommendations: In two words - get them. Here's where the value of networking really comes into play. If someone is going to vouch for you, have them do one of two things - either make an introduction to the hiring manager (along with a personal recommendation) or have them leave a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. People want to be comfortable with their decisions. A recommendation from someone they know goes a long way to making them comfortable. In fact, one of the comments yesterday from fellow blogger Naomi says a lot, " I also know of some recruiters and hiring managers who refuse to consider candidates because their LinkedIn resource is not "robust" enough." Get those recomendations.
A couple words of caution. Just like poor quality can destroy a brand (anyone drive a Jaguar?), poor "quality" will destroy your personal brand. Anyone want to guess another website that recruiters check when looking at you? Just be aware - what they find on Facebook or through a Google search will *not* be used as reasons to hire you. Think about that before you post a scathing diatribe attacking your boss or your company, or before you decide to share those photos from the strip joint bender last weekend.
There is one thing that should never leave your mind during your job search - the person who is interviewing you *really* wants to fill that position. Think about it - would you really want to have to spend hours of your day interviewing people to fill a position? Why don't you help them walk through the detergent aisle?
Tomorrow I'll use myself as a case study.
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