With the lowest unemployment rate in years and more competition than ever for available positions, taking a strategic approach to effectively marketing yourself as a candidate is essential. When getting ready to go out on the job hunt, ask yourself: what are hiring companies truly looking for in an applicant?
Build up your resume
There are a few key hiring factors which employers look for in potential candidates. Arguably, the most important task in marketing yourself to future employers is updating both your resume and your cover letter. If you’ve already created a resume and basic cover letter, great! You are ahead of the game! If not, that’s okay too. If you need a resume template to get you started, there are tons of great examples you can find online. Either way, here are a few tips to keep your materials looking fresh and appealing to hiring managers.
Share your experiences
For starters, they want to know where you’ve recently worked, and the time spent in each position. Is it a trustworthy or well-known company? Will they be able to provide positive references? If you are going into the legal field, odds are the employer will want to confirm you’re barred in the state you are applying to, and possibly even neighboring states, depending on the situation. Make sure to account for any gaps in your employment, whether it be a pause for travel, family or to pursue an independent career opportunity; don’t leave any open spaces.
Be concise and succinct
When creating a resume, keep it to one page maximum. If you have been in the workforce for awhile, you may want to expand to two pages, just make sure to keep it concise. To the extent that you can, make sure you highlight relevant information for the job you are applying to. You don’t need to include your high school waitressing job if you are several years into the workforce of an unrelated field.
A note about the order of information: remember, educational information should be on top, followed by professional experiences and skills. When listing your experiences, both educational and professional, include the most recent entries at the top, followed by previous experiences below in descending order. Your bullets should be brief, yet descriptive, and in the present tense for your current position and past tense for previous positions.
Marketing yourself online
There are a few things you can do to your online profiles now, which will help you in the long run. For starters, update your LinkedIn at least every 6 months with any new skills or work experiences. This takes a little bit of time, but will ensure that when possible employers look at your page, they can see you’ve put in the effort and they’re looking at the most up-to-date information.
Tips for your social media profiles
When it comes to social media during the job search, LinkedIn is conceivably the most important – so if you don’t have a profile, I recommend you create one. Make sure to use an appropriate picture of just you for your profile image. Next, include a cover photo as something relevant to your work, life or even a basic stock photo… just don’t leave it blank. Moving on to your summary, verify it is comprehensible and accurate to what you are presently doing, while also ensuring all previous work and education information is neat and fully updated. In addition to the summary, the title under your name should be your current role or field – make it something quick, accurate and eye-catching.
Now that your LinkedIn profile has been updated, take a look at any other publicly available social media pages you have, ensuring they are all “work appropriate”. Remember when your parents told you to be careful of what you put on the internet because it’s out there forever? They weren’t wrong! Of course, we’re not saying you can’t have a good time, or that you need to hide who you are, just make sure whatever is on social media is information you don’t mind being shared with the world – including future employers.
Marketing yourself in-person
While it’s important to market yourself digitally, marketing yourself in-person is just as valuable. Join associations and attend networking events relevant to the field you are applying to – you never know when you might meet someone who can introduce you to your next opportunity, so always carry business cards.
Consider a professional recruiter or staffing company
Sometimes the hardest part of the process is just getting into a room with potential employers, and a recruiter can help you do just that. Most reputable recruiters and search professionals have access to position listings not publicly available and have built relationships with the hiring companies. In addition, a recruiter can provide feedback on your resume and application materials, give you pointers and practice interviewing techniques, and negotiate on your behalf if an offer of employment is made.
Get out there!
Now that you know the basics of what hiring managers are looking for and how to effectively market yourself as a candidate, it is time to get out there! Physically and cognitively. Determine to make the people who meet you, remember you. Practice a 30 second elevator pitch so you’re ready to leave a lasting impression when an opportunity presents itself. If you are actively looking for a job, try to make it to a couple of networking events per week. Don’t forget a firm handshake, to wear a professional outfit and even bring a resume & business cards in case you meet someone who is interested. If you’re ready to dive into the job search, browse the open positions near you. Good luck!
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