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Does that phrase make you cringe, or is it exciting?
There is a lot of talk and hype about personal branding. Some people treat it like it’s the missing key to professional success.
Let me share one concept that I’ve learned the hard way over the years:
If you want people to know and understand you, and talk about you to others, you need to FEED THEM with information.
As a business owner (which is very similar to being a job seeker), I can go weeks and months without anything new… and during those weeks and months no one is spreading the word about my news.
Because I didn’t have news.
But when I create news (that’s an important phrase), people talk about that news.
Recently I announced a huge change in pricing on JibberJobber, where we are moving most of the premium features to the free side. That change was communicated to my contacts. Many of them shared this news with their networks via blogs and social updates.
I created news, shared it with my contacts, and asked them to share it with theirs.
As a job seeker, how do you create news? There are lists of what companies can make press releases out of… why not come up with your own list? Joan Stewart blogs about this stuff.
You’ll have to come up with your own list, but once you do something interesting (aka, once you have created news), SHARE IT. And encourage others to talk about you.
My wife and I were talking about a famous vocalist and about he she sings about who she is, her life, her experiences.
She clearly loves what she does. And her audience easily connects with her. Her personal life and her work life seems congruent. What a blast!
In contrast, when I started my job search I felt like my life was totally incongruent. I got to the point where I was miserable but I had to put on a smiley face and try and network.
I had to pretend I really enjoyed things, like going to events, giving my 30 second pitch in front of strangers, etc. I had to pretend things were GREAT when they were really far from great.
At least, I thought I had to do that.
I didn’t understand the idea of being authentic. I am sure I did not connect with “my audience.” I’m sure they saw the misalignment.
If your job search hurts, maybe it is because you are trying to force things that shouldn’t be forced. I’m not saying this so you can have an excuse to not network with people, but maybe you shift from going to network events and start doing one-on-one meetings (lunches, etc.).
In other words, maybe the strategy is good but the tactics are bad (for you).
I give you permission to change your tactics. Have a good, strong, purposeful strategy, and have tactics aligned with who you are.
And see if some of the hurt doesn’t go away.
You might be like my friend John who said “I’m having too much fun doing this networking stuff!”
And he really was.
When I got laid off I went to a boss I had worked under for a number of years and asked him for a letter of recommendation. He immediately agreed and enthusiastically started writing something.
Later that day he gave me a two page letter of recommendation.
It was horrible.
It was mostly a letter of “Jason is great, but we had to let him go because…” and then went on to explain that it wasn’t my fault, or anything about me, and that he would be happy to recommend me and he wished he could keep me on or find or make a spot for me in the company, but that was just too impossible.
Two pages of that.
It was more like a letter of apology.
I carefully asked him if I could fix a few things and then I wrote something that was a, well, a letter of recommendation!
It might feel weird to write in your boss’s voice, totally bragging about yourself, but this happens all the time. Many times it is easier for you to say the things that should be said (so that you have an influence on the marketing message) than to have your boss, who usually feels bad about what happened, try and fumble their way through.
Did you catch that? Your letter of recommendation is a marketing document.
Make sure you are marketing YOU. If you want to bring out certain characteristics (team player, highly analytical, high social EQ, etc.) and downplay other characteristics that your boss is likely to think about (you have a nice smile, you were a joy to work with, etc.), then make sure you do that.
Let the boss know that you want to make sure certain things come out in your recommendation. Give him or her a list! Make it easy for them to write this. You might even write sentences or paragraphs and say “here are some ideas of what I’m looking for.” They can simply copy and paste from your ideas and you’ll get exactly what you asked for.
This might sound weird but it is commonly done in the business world.
If you have a hard time writing about yourself, get the book Brag!
Today on my JibberJobber blog I wrote about Wayne who graciously shared his technique for trying to get informational interviews (or, time on the phone with people in his field).
Wayne is doing some things right, some things wrong, but not getting any results he wants.
The comments are awesome. Career professionals are weighing in, as well as regular people (non-career-pros). Everyone is pretty much right, and there are themes.
I am proud of Wayne for doing this, AND for asking for input. My questions to you:
Are you doing something? Whether that is networking or asking for informational interviews or whatever, are you doing the hard things in the job search? Don’t hide behind applying online all day (like I did). You have to do the hard things.
Are you asking for feedback? If something isn’t working, find out why and change. This takes guts and humility.
Kudos to Wayne for doing both.
On the Recruiting Animal’s Facebook page he shared a link to this: The inside story of how 382 recruiters pursued an imaginary engineer
There is a lot to learn from this write-up. Even though it is for recruiters to learn, I think we can learn a lot, too. Some things I took away (there are a lot more, read it for yourself):
In #1 the author calls LinkedIn an “overfished pond.” Interesting, huh? You can see their suggestions of other places recruiters are told to look for talent. Where are you?
In #7 we learn how recruiters are writing emails that aren’t effective, and what they can do to make them more effective. How effective are YOUR emails?
In #8 they talk about following up and referencing a previous conversation. Very interesting idea.
In #9 they talk about the “what’s in it for me” concept, which I just wrote about on my JibberJobber blog.
It really comes back to communication, and your ability to develop relationships. But there are lots of gems in that post.
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