In my first post in this series on how to differentiate yourself in today’s job market, I relayed one executive recruiter’s advice to me: “If you’re doing all the right things right (with your targeted job search, networking, resume and interviewing), then the key to job search success is being in the right place, with the right skills and solutions, at the right time.”
I make sure I’m in the right place at the right time by thinking BIG:
- B – Be There: I aim to be where my targeted employers are and where they are looking for talent.
- I – Identify Needs: I identify what my targeted employers are looking for.
- G – Get Noticed: I get noticed by marketing myself as their ideal solution, on- and off-line.
Be Where Your Targets Are
You can’t be where your targeted employers are if you don’t have any targets! Studies and my own personal experience demonstrate that a targeted job search – one that focuses on a particular industry or specific employers who might need your skills, for instance – is far more effective than the “shotgun” method of plastering your resume everywhere during your search for a new job.
Once you’ve identified your targeted employers, let technology save you time. Create saved searches and RSS feeds for the specific roles you want with these firms, using your skills, experience and certifications as keywords. You should create these searches and feeds on employers’ Career/Jobs web pages, as well as on key job boards. For those employers’ whose websites don’t use these tools, use LinkUp and Indeed, which pull jobs from employers’ websites directly. These tools enable you to “be where your targets are” by keeping you abreast of the positions they have open.
You can also be where your targeted employers are by attending the conferences and events that they attend. I’ve noted before that industry conferences and seminars are one of the best ways to stay connected to and network within your industry. Over the past month I’ve attended three major conferences in Business Intelligence and HR Technology, and with TechExecs’ CIO Forum. From these I have gained over 100 new contacts in my industry, many of whom have indicated an interest in my skills. The leads I get by attending conferences are invaluable as employers increasingly rely on internal referrals to find candidates for jobs. Bradley G. Richardson, a partner at executive-search firm Kaye/Bassman International Corp. in Plano, Texas, says “Many employers have cut back on advertising jobs online because they are overwhelmed with applications.” Instead, they are relying on word of mouth and referrals to draw a more manageable number of applicants, he says.
Social media and social networking tools provide yet another way for job seekers to be where their targeted employers are. Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, notes that between 45 and 63 percent of employers use social networking sites “as both recruitment tools for new talent and as screening sites for potential employees.“
You can use LinkedIn and Twitter to identify and connect with individuals within your targeted firms. Career counselors advise using conferences, seminars, online articles in online industry sources (like CIO.com) and corporate and personal blogs for “…news and trends in (your) target industry (and firms) to identify potential job opportunities.” Not only can you use this information as a reference point when introducing yourself to your target firms and internal employees, but it can also demonstrate your knowledge of these firms in future interviews.
Identify What Your Targeted Employers Are Looking For:
As you monitor your targeted employers’ and their key employees’ and hiring managers’ activity on social networking websites and as you scan their advertised job openings, you’ll begin to notice repeated keywords, skills, certifications, traits and experience that they’re looking for. Keep notes on these, as well as on specific articles that key personnel write. If possible, request an informational interview with current and former employees and consultants to learn more about the company culture, the traits they value, their needs, pain points, market and growth potential. You can also request this information from your LinkedIn groups, executive recruiters and other networks.
Get Noticed By Marketing Yourself As Their Ideal Solution, On- And Offline:
Once you’ve established where your targeted employers are, you can begin extending your brand in their direction so that they become aware of your career passions, your expertise and your ability to solve their problems.
If your targeted employers maintain corporate blogs—or if employees of your target companies maintain their own blogs—start reading them and leaving appropriate comments that testify to your knowledge and expertise. Try to work into your comments the keywords that you’ve seen your targeted employers use. Always be sure to “sign” your comments the same way, using your full name, e-mail address and a link to your own blog or LinkedIn profile.
Starting your own blog or website is always a good idea if you’re trying to build your online brand and reputation. Include pages for white papers you write, your resume and professional portfolio. Keep your blog professional—write about topics you’re passionate about, that highlight your expertise. Don’t write about politics or other hot-button topics. Don’t be negative or criticize specific firms or people. I recommend only naming names when you have something nice to say (a practice I employ in this blog!). When you leave comments on other people’s blogs and articles, try to work in the keywords you’ve identified from your target employers. A very good example of an IT executive’s blog is by Peter Giblett, who uses all the advice in this blog! Dan Schawbel’s free, 52-page Complete Blogging Guide! and ProBlogger.net are also very helpful.
Branding yourself takes time and effort, but the result is significantly increased exposure. And like any good marketing person will tell you, increased exposure means increased opportunities.
In part three of this four-part series on Ways to Stand Out and Differentiate Yourself In Today’s Market, I will cover how to make your resume and online profiles sing SEO acappella so employers can find you.
As always, thank you very much for all of your comments, emails and input!!
CIO Job Search: A Real Life Chronicle