“You are a desirable woman...or man, men are as desirable as women...In a way!”. You may recognise this adapted David Brent quote but it’s not the best thing to be associated with if you’re looking to present a professional, credible persona.
The job market is about you, your brand and how you are perceived. You’re constantly being judged and like it or not it’s a bit like being on the dating scene. That for most, is a pretty scary experience - you’re outside your comfort zone and you need to be visible, get out there and be noticed without seeming desperate!
With the rise of social media, as the job market picks up and the demand for quality candidates increases, never has there been a time when an individual’s brand has been more exposed and easily accessed.
So what can you do to protect your personal brand and remain a desirable and sought-after candidate?! I’ve highlighted below a few simple pointers you can use during your job search to help ensure you’re the candidate employers want. These techniques ensure you are highly visible to both recruiters and employers whilst also conveying your high value. After all, human nature often leads people to want what they think they can’t have...
1. Contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t accept everyone’s LinkedIn request. LinkedIn isn’t Facebook and it’s not a competition to have the most connections. To keep your LinkedIn network specific and relevant, don’t let everyone in.
2. Only work with recruiters that have come recommended and do your homework. You are giving sales people access to your personal brand so take care in choosing who is representing that brand.
3. Don’t send your CV to a recruiter until you’ve met them or at least had a lengthy conversation. Make sure they understand your skills, your career goals and verify that they work in a reputable manner. Many of my candidates have complained to me about recruiters speculatively sending their CV to employers without their permission, resulting in their details being submitted for the same role more than once. This is extremely poor industry practice and an instant turn off for Hiring Managers. Remember, just like dating, your aim is to remain desirable, not desperate.
4. Don’t be the person who turns up to every networking event. Choose which events you attend wisely and keep it to a maximum of two or three a year. Attending too many events can make you look desperate to move jobs. Whilst networking is a fantastic tool in job searching be wary of making yourself too available.
5. When you’re at a networking event don’t tell everyone you’re looking for a job, be subtle. If you’re out of work put your last company on the name tag and don’t give everything away too quickly. Subtly mention you are seeking new opportunities and arrange to meet up again with any contacts you make if they appear interested.
6. If you’re in a management position doing temp work refer to it as ‘interim’. No one knows the difference anyway and it sounds much better. There’s no stigma attached to the term ‘interim’ and in theory, if you managed to secure that interim job over and above your peers who are also out of work, no one can question your value. Interim candidates are certainly attractive to recruiters who will want to backfill your current interim role when they place you in a permanent position!
7. For candidates seeking senior or executive level roles, do not put your CV on jobsites. This is a last and desperate measure. It shows a lack of personal network and ability to be proactive in your job search.
8. Audit your social media presence. If you have a Twitter account, review your feeds and perhaps create a work account separate to your personal one. Delete any of your previous tweets that may be poorly received by a future employer. Also check that there’s nothing incriminating on Facebook that may affect your credibility. If there is, delete it or check your privacy settings! Many employers do take the time to search for and review candidates on social media.
9. First impressions apply to job searches in a big way whether you like it or not. No longer are you only judged based on how you appear in an interview. Make sure your LinkedIn photo is a good one – professional, clear and conveys you in a really good light.
So in summary, just like in the dating scene, to maintain a desirable personal brand hide the skeletons in your cupboard (make the picture of you on a table in Tenerife in 1995 singing karaoke with a hanky on your head inaccessible to non-friends!), flirt, tease, play the game and I’m sure you’ll get a match! As a business professional try to present that persona at every possible interaction, online and offline.
In the words of the great David Brent “professionalism is...and that’s what I want”.
Stuart is the Director of Investigo’s Property team.
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