Once upon a time, a very long time ago in Internet years, I wrote a webinar and publication on finding your next job with social media. I stumbled over it recently while cleaning up one of my archives. While lots of the individual pieces are badly out of date, the work as a whole is still relevant.
Job search is a sales job
The first most important thing to realize is that job hunting is a sales job. You are selling yourself. You are selling your services. You are selling what you can do to benefit another organization.
What is your brand?
As with any sales product, you have to know what it is that you're selling. Why would someone buy what you have to offer? Can you express in 140 characters - the space of one tweet - why someone should hire you? More importantly, can you express why someone should hire you versus someone else? What's distinct about you?
For example, suppose you are putting your resume in front of a hiring manager. What would set you apart if we removed your name from your resume? Could we still tell it was uniquely you and not some other random marketing professional? In the product marketing world, this is the white label test. Remove the logo from Apple's iPhone or MacBook, and you can still tell it's an Apple product. Remove the logo from the front of a Tesla, and you still know it’s a Tesla.
Finding your brand
What can you do so uniquely that you will be the only person we would call for that skill? What’s your professional superhero power?
Here’s another exercise to distill your unique brand. Sit down with the beverage of your choice and review your life. What keeps coming up? What threads do you see recurring throughout your life's story? For example, when I was in high school, I ran for class president, won, and then helped other kids run for class offices. We did things like printing brochures and flyers because I was one of the few kids who knew how to use the graphic layout software and the brand new laser printer.
In graduate school, to pay rent while I was studying, I helped companies build websites. Again, I was one of the few folks who could put together a website relatively quickly and inexpensively by leveraging technology for marketing purposes.
Looking over my life I see a common thread: helping other people market things using technology. I have been a marketing technologist all my life. I just didn't define it so uniquely until the last few years.
What common threads run through the history of your life? What themes keep showing up over and over again that you can point to and say “that's what I do”?
Capturing Your Brand
Once you know the theme, the story of your life, write it down in three formats.
- Write down the full page version of your story.
- Write down your story in two to three paragraphs.
- Write down your story in 140 or less.
Having the three versions of your story - short, medium, and long - will give you the ability to tell your story in a way that fits the time requirements or the space requirements that you're given.
- You’ll use the 140 character version for things like social media biographies.
- You’ll use the 2-3 paragraphs for cover letters, introductions, and the start of your LinkedIn profile.
- You’ll use the full page version in speeches, interviews, and blog posts.
Next: Packaging Your Brand
In the next post in the series, we will examine how to capture your brand and package it. We will look at websites and social media profiles, all the basic infrastructure you need to have in place in order to effectively present who you are.
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