Our job market continues to be ultra-competitive; many job seekers seem willing to try anything to set themselves apart.
Unfortunately for some, the idea of “personal branding” seems to be perceived as permission to spam the world with useless content, proving exactly why they are struggling.
The LinkedIn profile needs work, a lot of work. Same with the resume, online presence, blog… and more. This ispersonal branding, though – so, like a direct mailer or email blaster who knows that less than 0.1% of his stuff will ever be opened, it’s okay to ignore the iron-clad rules of marketing, yes? We’re job hunting, so we can just forget about quality over quantity – and just send out crap that won’t ever get read, right?
On many levels, nothing could be farther from the truth – or more damaging to your job candidacy. Why? Because in today’s world, value is expected from any communication.
And instead of providing that value, you… are a spammer.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree… and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Do yourself (and those recipients of your personal branding spam) a favor: take the time to determine what makes you unique, hireable and desirable. Also, take the time to discover the reasons why your job search isn’t going well.
Not sure how to begin? Do this…
Discover Your Value Proposition
Take some time to reflect. Then write down the Top 5 reasons why someone would hire you. The real reasons… not the crap anyone would say like “I’m a hard worker” and “I’ve always been a lifelong learner”.
Here’s a hint: Usually, your value proposition lies in your soft skills, achievements, hard experience, your network and passion. If you need help determining your Top 5 list, ask your mentors, professors and colleagues – anyone who knows you professionally (sorry, this does not include your roomie, significant other or mother).
Identify Your “Recruiter Objections”
Recruiters and hiring managers spend much of their time finding reasons NOT to hire you.
So, just as important as knowing your value proposition is knowing the reasons why a recruiter will pass you over. Right now, make a list of the Top 5 reasons why you are NOT getting hired. Be objective. Again, ask for help from former mentors and supervisors. The reasons you aren’t getting hired are there… you just have to be willing to listen.
Hint: For many entering the workplace for the first time, these objections may relate to a candidate’s lack of experience or education. For workforce veterans, it may be the “overqualified” excuse thrown at you by recruiters. For others, regardless of age, the objection may stem from a lack of industry knowledge.
Build Your Personal Brand: Selling Points and Counter-Objections
“Sell the good stuff. Counter the bad.”
When I was neck-deep in learning sales, that was the advice I got from a valuable mentor. Simply put, his advice was to focus on what would get me a “yes” – and be 100% prepared to rationalize what might result in a “no” answer. This sage advice easily applies to job searches, where youare selling you.
In fact, there is simply no easier way to create an authentic, sincere personal brand than to confidently display your value proposition while showing you recognize your faults and shortcomings.
Here’s the best part about selling good and countering the bad… often, your “value proposition” list (good) is often the primary resource for countering the “objection” list (bad).
For example, a recent graduate would be perfect for a posted position but the employer is looking for someone with three to five years of experience. The cover letter may include a concise statement that simultaneously sells and counters:
“I do not have the three years of experience listed as a requirement; however, I have excelled at two internships within this space – exceeding expectations by 132%. I also have an undeniable passion (I look forward to discussing why) for the mission and have the work ethic and leadership skills necessary to excel as a member of your team.”
This same attitude could be extended to the LinkedIn profile, resume, online presence – and every other method of broadcasting a confident personal brand. In effect, you are countering objections before they even arise!
If your value proposition is unclear, if you haven’t yet figured out the skills and assets that make you the candidate-to-hire, you’re just spamming the same crap that isn’t working for you now… only to a bigger, even more judgmental audience.
Essentially, all your “personal branding” is doing… is eliminating you from consideration, faster. As Abraham Lincoln also said:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak out and remove all doubt.”
Before continuing your current personal branding efforts, ask yourself: “Am I effectively personal branding… or just spamming?”