You are in the initial stages of a job search and trying to figure out how to get the ball rolling. Step back and think about your last shopping expedition for any significant item. Maybe it was a car - or a suit - or a piece of furniture. What led you to purchase that item right from the start? You may have done some initial research online and then gone shopping in a store. What caught your eye initially? A flashy website? A very appealing display in the store? Let me give you a clue - the item you purchased caught your fancy in some way due to BRANDING! And then you did the rest of your evaluation - but the first impression led you to the next step, and the next step - until you made the purchase. But if the item had not been branded well you probably would not have bought it.
So how does this relate to a job search? If you are not branding yourself correctly (or at all) as a candidate you probably will not get the job you want. It really is that simple. When I speak with candidates for the first time about a job search I always ask the question "what are you looking for specifically in your job search." Sounds like a simple question, right? Simple but with a very important purpose. I'm trying to understand not only what you want to do next in your career - but how you are branding yourself in the job market. And you would be amazed at the answers to such a simple question.
Here are a few:
"I just want to do something different."
"I am really not sure what I want to do next."
"I am open to pretty much anything out there right now."
Wow! And you expect someone to hire you based on that? Today's job market is fiercely competitive. Before you even begin the search process you have to do extensive research to understand the market, what you are looking for specifically and how to brand yourself.
Let's start with the research. The internet is an amazing tool in a job search. But perhaps not in the way many people understand and utilize it. If your idea of a job search is applying to any and all jobs that seem interesting via the internet - then brace yourself for a very long search and the distinct possibility of landing in the wrong job. The greatest value the internet provides in a career search is the ability to do extensive research in a short period of time. What industry or type of position is right for you? What are the best companies in that space? Who is hiring? Do you know anyone who works for the companies of greatest interest? Are there any great recruiters specific to your target markets/companies?
Now that you know what industries/companies are of greatest interest you can start creating your own "brand." Why would these companies want to hire you? What experience or skills are unique to you? How do you connect the dots for potential employers and make that part of your messaging from initial contact all the way through the process? It's all in the branding! And it will be obvious to anyone involved in interviews that you have done your homework and are someone they should strongly consider. If you have not done that level of research and branding you are far less likely to get to the first step, let alone get the job.
Effective branding will also help you separate yourself from the competition throughout the interview process. It positions you from the start and allows you to customize your experience and talents in a way that is most appealing to employers. They want to know what you can do for them and how you can make them successful. Your branding should revolve around their needs and your ability to be a long term contributor to that success.
So before you send in your resume or schedule your first phone interview, pay careful attention to your brand and you will have be in a much better position to land the ideal job!
Brian Hill is a National Executive Recruiter specializing in healthcare and IT/technology. Visit www.idealsteps.com for more information on how to create your individual brand.