Personal branding is very important. More and more, you’ll realize this. If you’ve ever known or been a hiring manager, you know all too well how hard it is for a single applicant to stand out in that tall stack of résumés when a job is open. You’re the proverbial needle in the haystack. Here are a few easy ways to get out of the haystack and in front of that next great opportunity.
First, get rid of your primary excuse. “I don’t have time,” is an excuse and it isn’t a reality for anyone. You DO have time. Everyone does. You just need to carve out a few minutes every day towards your future. It’s more than worth it. Like Brian Honigman says, you need to build your industry reputation beyond the brand of your employer.
Kill It In Your Annual Review
This is probably the easiest and least time-consuming thing that you can think about, working, and execute. Every year, you have at least one opportunity to advance yourself at your current employer. When it comes time to have your annual review, you should walk in, exude confidence, and ask for exactly what you want.
You can’t go in there and wing it though. Have a plan. What do you want to do at this company that you’re not doing already? What do you think you’re worth? What title do you want?
You’ll most likely have to ask for these things yourself, and depending on how your boss or employer works, you might want to think about asking for these things before the review so that you can get it during the review.
The reason it’s so important to ask about these things – and get them – is because what you leave this company with will be the bare minimum of what you are able to get at the next employer. You can’t be the Director of Marketing, unless you’ve managed people in a marketing team already.
Anyone that knows me, knows that “participate” is probably my second favorite word, behind “awesome.” This is because there’s almost no barrier to entry to “participate” and participation can open up a seemingly endless number of doors for you.
There are so many ways to participate that will help you in your specific industry. They could include blogging, for example. With services like Wordpress, Tumblr, and Blogger, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start and maintain a blog. There’s no fees and no technical expertise required.
Depending on the industry you’re in, you could also go to user group meetings, conferences, forums, and more. All of these things will lead to a couple of very critical things that can propel your career forward.
- Recognition – People will know who you are since you’re providing value to their lives. They will follow you, recommend you, and help build your brand for you.
- Opportunity – When a new opportunity becomes available, people will think of you. This could be a new job, speaking at a conference, or maybe something even more grandiose, like writing a book.
Keep Your Résumé Updated
If you’re like the average person, you probably only look at your résumé when you’re looking for your next job. This is the most common mistake people make when it comes to branding themselves. Even if you’re perfectly happy in your current job and with your current employer, you should be looking at and updating your résumé at least a few times annually.
This is an excellent opportunity to ensure that you get relevant information into it while it’s still fresh in your mind, but it’s also a time for self-reflection. Did you do anything résumé-worthy over the past few months? If not, your management realize this too.
The most critical part of this process is keeping your goals in mind, and see the progress you’ve made towards them over time. If you’ve looked at your résumé 3 times this year and haven’t made progress towards your next position, then you have some work to do.
Keep LinkedIn Updated, Often
LinkedIn is equally one of the most underrated tools you have, and the most powerful tool you have at your disposal. LinkedIn is the digital representation of your professional self. It’s the best version of your résumé that you have. Each time you update your résumé, you should be also updating your LinkedIn profile, and vice versa.
Keep your profile notifications turned on. Every time you update your profile, your entire network will know. This is a good thing. It keeps you in the top of the mind of the people that might recommend you, but it also helps to give visibility to your current employer.
When you update your LinkedIn profile, be sure to fill out everything that you possibly can. This is contrary to what you would do with your résumé. Include any useful media you generated or that’s related to your current/past employers, projects, awards, publications, skills/endorsements, education, and recommendations.
Accept every LinkedIn invitation that comes your way. You never know who might bring your next opportunity. In addition, don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from all of your connections. Sure, many will ignore the request, but many won’t – and recommendations are the social proof that you are amazing at what you do. Don’t worry, you can choose which recommendations show in your profile.
These steps are the tip of iceberg when it comes to LinkedIn. You can’t work on it hard enough.
Take the Interview
Personal branding will lead to interviews one way or another – even if you’re not seeking them at the moment. Next to speaking in front of an audience, being interviewed is likely one of your bigger fears. Few people enjoy being interviewed.
If you’re asked to interview for something, do it. Go to the interview and prep for it like you needed the job, regardless of whether or not you’re looking for a new job. There are several key reasons for this.
First, you’ll have the opportunity to keep your interview skills dusted off. This is critical for you since you’ll be that much more polished when it comes time to interview for a job you actually want. Just like an NFL player won’t get onto the field without plenty of practice, you shouldn’t walk into an interview without first having practiced.
Next, you’ll get a chance to see what people are looking for. What questions are they asking these days? What kind of skills are they valuing the most? What kind of cultures are out there?
Finally, you might get an offer for the job. Not only is this a great morale booster, but you might be surprised to get an offer that you actually want. More importantly, you will find out what people are offering for the job that you want. This is great information to have at your disposal when it’s time for the interviews that you really care about.
This article is cross-posted from my personal blog.