How to Market Yourself in a Job Search
The job market is highly competitive. For every 100 applicants, only 12 are chosen for an interview. Whether you’re currently unemployed and looking for a job, or you’re employed but seeking to advance or evolve your career, it’s important to market yourself well to improve your chances of success.
We’ve been helping employers locate, evaluate and place talent for over 40 years combined, and are very familiar with what makes candidates stand out. Based on our extensive experience, here are some of our top tips to help you market yourself to potential employers.
Identify your strengths
If you’re unsure what your strengths are, there are a variety of tests that can help you. These personality tests can reveal valuable information that will help you better understand yourself—not only where you excel, but also where you need to work to improve.
You may also find value in asking former colleagues for their input (if you’re comfortable doing so). They’ve worked with you and have experienced your strengths first-hand.
Whether you utilize a personality test or consult former co-workers (or both!), it’s important to get outside input. You may think you know your own strengths, but what others see and experience will likely surprise you.
Consider your audience
What kind of role are you looking to land and at what kind of company? The way you speak to a potential employer will vary based on their industry, size, and other considerations, including:
- Non-profit vs for-profit
- Startup vs large corporation
- Executive position vs entry-level
- Industry or brand-specific culture
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to only apply for executive-level roles at large non-profit organizations in the health industry. Expanding your search parameters can improve your hiring potential. However, you’ll want to tailor your marketing efforts—your resume and all communications—with the target audience in mind. If you’re applying for an industry that’s outside of your previous roles, tie in past industries to show how your experience is relevant.
Beyond the type of employer, considering your audience also includes individuals. Be prepared to interview with multiple managers with different personalities. Do as much advanced research as you can, but also know how to read the room (or the screen if you’re interviewing virtually) and be flexible in your approach.
Our clients have been most impressed with those that come prepared, understand the company’s business challenges and can tie their background to the position the company is hiring for.
Develop your personal brand
Your personal brand is your reputation. It’s a reflection of who you are, what you do and why you do it.
Humans are not stagnant, and your personal brand will likely evolve over time. Even if you’ve gone through a branding exercise before, your job search is a great opportunity to revisit and refine.
Here are some questions to reflect on to help guide your personal brand:
- What are your three biggest strengths/weaknesses?
- What do you value most? (Ambition, stability, vision, empathy, honesty, etc.)
- What are you passionate about?
- What is your ultimate goal? What do you desire for your future?
- After interacting with someone, what kind of impression do you want them to have?
Once you have a strong personal brand established, ensure all your in-person communication, online presence and marketing materials are aligned. Review your social media channels (LinkedIn, website, Twitter, etc.) and make any necessary updates or changes so that no matter where a potential employer finds you, they’ll find the same you.
Share your results, not just your roles
Employers don’t just want to see a list of skills; they want to know how you’ve used them. Include quantifiable data to show real results you have made in past positions. Our clients look at piles of resumes, and the ones that stand out are those that “show”, not just “tell”. Data speaks louder than words.
For example, instead of writing this on your resume:
Helped optimize e-commerce site to drive traffic and improve earning potential
Add substance like this:
Optimized e-commerce site which led to an increase in online sales by 20% in 6 months, over double the sales goal
The first example is vanilla. The second example is specific and impressive; it shows that you deliver. If these lines were on two different resumes that you were reviewing, which would you choose?
This is straightforward and should go without saying, but it happens all the time. Don’t lie! The truth usually comes out. If not in the interview process, then after you’re hired… which could lead to your termination.
Yes, it’s that big of a deal.
In fact, 97% of recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals admitted that discovering a resume lie would cause them to reconsider an applicant’s candidacy—or outright dismiss it.
Explain any gaps in your resume so there’s no mystery. Showcase your strengths and downplay your weaknesses, but don’t say you are an expert in a program that you’ve only used once. Honesty really is the best policy.
Consider your presentation (in-person and via Zoom)
Traditionally, addressing your physical image means presenting yourself in a polished manner: professional clothing, grooming, etc. In today’s world, this also means considering your video-conferencing image as many interviews are happening virtually.
In fact, virtual interviews are likely here to stay. We have heard multiple clients mention that virtual interviews have saved them time/money, and we anticipate video conferencing will be a part of the interview process even when employers return to “business as usual” post-Covid-19.
Here are some considerations for virtual job interviews:
- Set up your computer in a space with good lighting.
- Consider the background your potential employer will see (here are some more tips about that).
- Do a test run to check that the lighting, camera angle and sound are all set.
- Be thoughtful about looking into the camera to make effective eye contact.
- Eliminate all distractions in the area you are using for the interview (make sure you’re alone, turn off your phone, etc.).
Building rapport will be even more important on video conference calls since it is not as natural as being in person. Be thoughtful, intentional, and open to the interview process looking different.
Remember that networking is king
You can have all your ducks in a row—a strong personal brand, a great resume, the best interview prep—but if nobody sees you, it’s all for nothing. As much as 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections. Leverage and grow your network!
If you’re actively searching for a new role, reach out to your personal and professional network to let them know you’re looking. For individuals you think have the most valuable and relevant connections, make your message as personal as possible. Include key points that will help them market you to their employer or connections.
This is a little more nuanced if you are currently employed and don’t want your employer to know that you’re searching. However, being employed certainly doesn’t take networking off the table. Just make sure you trust the people you are reaching out to and let them know that you’re trying to keep it quiet. They will understand.
Searching for your next role is a job in itself. The more you prepare, the better. Our clients are most impressed by candidates who have put in time and effort—it shows! The payoff is well worth it in the end.
Are you a driven and passionate professional seeking opportunities to learn, grow and become a more effective leader in your industry?
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