Job Seekers: Get Your Story Straight!

 

Communication…it can be your greatest ally or most formidable enemy. As a job seeker, you are the CEO of your own job search, along with being the director of marketing and communications.

This means that you are responsible for developing your search’s strategic plan along with being in charge of its implementation. You are managing this project. It’s a multi-step, time-intensive task and, unfortunately, many candidates struggle to do it well.

Communication of your “story” (i.e., why a hiring manager should give you serious consideration as a candidate) is inclusive of all things written, verbalized and put into the digital world by you along with everything written, spoken and put into the digital world by others about you. All of this must be consistent with the message that you wish to deliver/be received by others.

For example, it is not uncommon for someone’s resume and LinkedIn profile to look like they are describing two different people! This same thing also happens frequently in regard to the message a candidate wants to be delivered by their references, connections, contacts, people they’ve met through networking, etc., and what is actually “out there”.

So, how can a candidate ensure that their story is communicated clearly and consistently?

Here are a few things to consider:

The Message: You need to make certain that your written, verbal and digital messages ALL ultimately help a hiring manager answer these two questions:

Why am I going to look like a genius for hiring you?

How are you going to help my team/group go from “good to great”?

In other words…clearly define for me your value, your “it/wow” factor, the skills/traits that you possess, which are key to being considered as an ideal candidate. And, understand that your definition of value and fit should be customized to each targeted employer.

For example, let’s say that you find six employers all who are seeking a Project Manager. It is very likely that, if each of those 6 PM position descriptions have 10 required skills and competencies to be considered a “great match”, all of the 6 would not list the same 10 items and the differences could be significant – thus, the need for customization. Your LinkedIn profile should incorporate what your research shows as the skills, competencies and traits most commonly required by companies seeking the type of position, which you feel is your dream job.

Delivery: Once you have your core message developed, the key is to deliver it consistently through various channels. These channels are inclusive of your: resume, (one page) executive profile, business card, references, Facebook page, personal website, LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, blog, and comments made on various social media postings.

What many candidates fail to recognize is that their story can be told, in part, by whom they follow or are connected with on social media. For example, if I wish to be perceived as a person very knowledgeable in the area of managing projects, then my LinkedIn connections and groups and who I follow on LinkedIn and Twitter should be reflective of such.

Candidates need to also be aware that simply asking someone, “Hey, can you be a reference for me for my job search?” is, by itself, pretty much a useless exercise. WHAT are they going to say about the candidate? It is the jobseeker’s responsibility to select a set of references who are able to speak very specifically in regard to skills and competencies defined as being required/critical to be considered seriously for a position. If I ask references, “One of the critical skills for the position for which we are considering Susan is strong leadership. Tell me specifically why she would be a great fit for us from that perspective,” I expect input that incorporates details related to situations, which they witnessed first-hand, and tell a very compelling story of her proven leadership abilities. This should be a “given” for all references contacted and all recommendations displayed in a candidate’s LinkedIn profile.

Don’t forget that during the entire period of your search, you should be actively developing a “sales force” that will sell the value of you. Your sales team firmly believes in the product, which is YOU. Ultimately, why a hiring manger would look like a genius for adding you to their team, thus helping to move their organization to the next level of performance.

This is the core of what is networking…the building of a powerful and effective sales force. And, like any sales team, all individuals must be selling the same product by describing the same benefits of that product to the potential buyer. Consistency of message hugely effects candidate credibility.

When an employer does their research on a candidate, they are expecting to see (and hear) content/dialog that strongly quantifies the “I’m a great match for the XYZ position at your organization as a result of my…” claims/statements made by the applicant.

Develop a powerful message, which clearly and effectively communicates to hiring managers that bringing you on-board might just be the best career decision that person has ever made, and train your sales team to deliver it with passion and consistency.

This is what CEO’s do.