Distinguishing yourself from other executives in a job search
Data from the CDI Global Hiring Survey reveals that just under 60% of hiring managers and recruiters always or sometimes google a candidate, or use social media to find out more about that candidate’s qualifications, expertise and suitability.
The growing importance of a carefully-managed, consistent online presence has become essential for most senior executives in the job market. Failing to develop and protect your “digital footprint” can damage your chances of career progression.
A scattergun job search is unlikely to pay off. Instead, compiling a list of organisations where you can perform to your best, and analysing how you fit their particular requirements, will help you design career marketing materials that appeal.
Professional CV writers and career coaches generally agree that “personal branding” is an essential strategy. A clear understanding of your combination of strengths, experience, personal values and attributes will help you identify and express your “brand” – the unique value you bring a potential employer. Don’t ignore the personal. Your values, motivations, personality traits and key strengths are all powerful differentiating factors.
A well-defined branding message can then serve as the basis for all your job search materials and in how you use professional networking platforms. Crucially, when applied to a shortlist of appropriate companies, it means that you can identify which of your strengths and qualities to highlight.
A range of application materials
A targeted CV and cover letter based on your research into the needs of your shortlisted companies should be relevant and packed with “achievement stories” that demonstrate how you contribute to the bottom line. Focus on your strategic value and leadership qualities, quantify with numerical results, and avoid cliché and vague adjectives.
Other useful materials to have to hand include career summaries, such as a one-page, stand-alone summary after your CV; or an executive biography for situations where a more formal CV may be inappropriate, such as for public speaking, media requests, or networking events.
An executive biography can provide extra, rich detail, especially in spotlighting your areas of expertise, leadership skills and personal qualities behind your most important career milestones. You can also add a more personal touch by mentioning your voluntary or civic involvement or interests.
If you’ve never written an executive biography, follow the advice of FastCompany to “restrain the hyperbole, cite high-authority sources, and claim expertise in a limited realm.”
An active online presence
If you can’t be found online, and particularly on professional networks, you are most probably doing yourself a disservice. On LinkedIn, a keyword-rich, 100% complete profile will ensure you can be found in targeted searches, and regular updates and involvement in appropriate groups will enhance your professional credibility. Google+ is becoming increasingly important as a networking tool, and a complete profile (with links to and from content posted elsewhere) helps make you more visible in Google searches. Here’s a guide
to maximising your Google+ profile for visibility.
There are other ways you can build your reputation online. Twitter enables you to find contacts and develop key relationships. Demonstrate industry knowledge and contribute to relevant discussions to position yourself as a thought-leader and influencer. Your own website or blog, while not garnering you instant reach, is another useful platform to demonstrate expert knowledge.
Rules of engagement
Be consistent. Your professional persona must be evident, whether online or offline. For example, the details on your LinkedIn or Google+ profile should reflect and complement your CV (while not being copy-and-paste identical) and your Twitter feed or blog posts should also be on-brand.
Be where your audience is. Depending on your target industry, this might be on certain blogs or forums. Make sure that this is where you put most of your effort.
Be complete. Social media platforms give you the opportunity to state industry and location, include a photo and links (to other websites) and a brief bio. Make sure you give enough information to encourage people to read further.
Be vigilant. Google your own name from time to time to monitor your overall visibility and to check that what you find is positive. Negative mentions can be pushed down through greater online activity.
Photo credit: Robert S Donovan