[This article first appeared on Job-Hunt.org, for my Personal Branding Expert gig.]

Few of us make it through our entire working lives without some period of forced unemployment. Consider yourself lucky if it’s never happened to you. But don’t think it never will.

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The best defense against the probable inevitability of unemployment? Assume that it may happen to you, and be prepared. Things can change in an instant.

Wise people understand that we’re all always in perpetual job search, whether or not we’ve been steadily employed throughout our careers. They know that they should always keep their networks alive, and be accessible and open to new opportunities.

This means continuously communicating your personal brand and unique value to the kinds of employers you would want to work for next, mainly through your LinkedIn profile.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and contains lots of content saturated with your relevant key words and phrases. This way, your profile will be optimized to help you get found, on an ongoing basis, by recruiters and hiring decision makers at the companies that interest you.

And stay active with LinkedIn Groups and other networking activities there, and on other social media.

Also, keep your resume and other personal marketing materials up to date and at the ready.

That’s all well and good, but most of us don’t do these things. So let’s say you haven’t, and suddenly you’ve been laid off or fired. What can you do to catch up with branding your value to companies you’ll now have to actively pursue?

Here are 4 ways to get your career back on track:

1. Work on Targeting and Your Personal Brand Messaging

Haven’t done anything yet to define your brand and create brand-supporting personal marketing materials (LinkedIn profile, resume, bio, etc.)? It’s time you started at square one with my 10-step Personal Branding Worksheet.

If you’ve already defined your brand, this is the time to revisit and refresh it, to align your personal marketing materials with the needs of your target employers.

2. Rebuild and Expand Your Network

Reconnect with everyone you can think of, in any walk of life, and let them know your career goals. Search the LinkedIn company profiles of those you want to target, look for employees you may know, and invite them to connect. Ask everyone you know if they know anyone at your target companies, and ask for an introduction. Also, look for senior level executives at these companies who may be hiring decision makers, and reach out to them.

Explore the goldmine of “hidden” jobs, which you’ll network your way into.

3. Find Ways to Fill Potential Employment Gaps, Before They Happen

It can take many months to find a new good fit job. You need to do some kind of work – whether or not you receive compensation – to avoid major gaps in your LinkedIn profile and resume. Typically, things get sticky with gaps of one year or more. So do what you can to keep that from happening.

Here are some suggestions. Do your best to find work that is consistent with your personal brand and unique value proposition to your target employers. Then this fill-in work experience will be of greater value to them:

  • Volunteer – charities, schools, hospitals, civic groups, etc.
  • Find consulting gigs or short-term interim work
  • Secure temp work
  • Upgrade and polish your relevant skills – go back to school, either online or in-person

4. Get Comfortable with Social Media

Now you’ll probably have the time to noodle around with LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other social media, and learn how to build your brand on them. And hopefully, you’ll have time to work on building your online presence, to be more visible and “finadable”.

Bottom Line

Unemployment happens to most of us, and to the best of us. It’s often no reflection on you and your performance. Your best defense is to be prepared BEFORE it ever happens. But if it sneaks up on you, follow my guidelines to keep your personal brand alive, as you navigate your job search.

More Information About Executive Job Search

The New 10-Step Executive Personal Branding Worksheet

How Do I Find a Job in the “Hidden” Job Market?

Volunteering Powers Up Your Personal Brand, Network, and Executive Job Search

Get the Most Out of LinkedIn

10 Best Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Online

 

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Deadly LinkedIn Mistake: Forgetting LinkedIn Groups

by Meg Guiseppi on August 10, 2015

How many LinkedIn Groups do you belong to and actively use?

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I review lots of LinkedIn profiles of executive job seekers. Most of the ones I see have only a handful of Group memberships, if any.

They’re missing out on one of LinkedIn’s most powerful features.

Why Are LinkedIn Groups So Valuable in Job Search?

Groups help you:

  • Generate interest and build credibility for the value you offer your target employers.
  • Keep your personal brand top-of-mind.
  • Position yourself as a thought leader and subject matter expert in your field.
  • Learn from other experts in your field.
  • Bring new people into your network, to open yourself to more opportunities.
  • Find the right people to connect with to advance your job search and career.
  • Connect directly with people who are not first degree connections.

The last point here needs to be stressed. You can send free InMails directly (and privately) to Group members, no matter what your LinkedIn connection status.

Executive recruiters, who rely heavily on LinkedIn to source candidates, also belong to various Groups. When you both belong to the same Group, you already have something in common. A Group InMail from you puts you ahead of candidates who send them a generic InMail.

And when you’re a fellow Group member, you’re more likely to be initially contacted by recruiters, especially if you’ve been actively participating and building credibility as a subject matter expert. You’re that much easier to interact with.

In June 2015, LinkedIn changed its restrictions on communicating with fellow Group members. Take a look at the rules before proceeding.

How to Use LinkedIn Groups

At first, just look around and get a feel for how that Group operates. Then:

  • Regularly share good information by starting new discussions. Post relevant blog posts and articles you’ve come across.
  • Add a few brief thoughts of your own that reinforce your Subject Matter Expertise (SME).
  • Check out existing discussions and add your own SME-reinforcing comments.
  • Always respond to any comments others make about your contributions, as quickly as possible.
  • Carefully proofread any of your comments before you post. Along with showcasing your knowledge, you’re also demonstrating your communications skills.
  • Take a look at the Jobs and Promotions tabs (if available in that Group).
  • Click a member’s photo to learn more about their group activity.

How to Find the Right LinkedIn Groups To Join

LinkedIn allows you to be a member of up to 50 Groups at once. Over time, expect to leave some Groups and join others, depending upon their relevance to your job search and career goals at the time. Stay away from Groups with few members. Look, instead, for the bigger ones.

Here are 3 ways to find Groups:

1. In the drop-down menu to the left of the search box at the top of any page, select “Groups”. Type in your keywords or a Group name to search. Then refine your search using the checkboxes on the left.

2. Move your cursor over “Interests” at the top of your homepage and select Groups. Select the “Find a Group” link on the right side of the page.

3. Go to the LinkedIn profiles of competitors, colleagues, and people who’s radar you want to get on. Look for the Groups they belong to and click on appropriate ones to join yourself.

IMPORTANT !!! If You’re Job-Hunting Under Cover …

It’s okay to join Groups for job seekers and visit regularly to pick up valuable advice about navigating today’s daunting job search, but:

  • DON’T show the Group logo on your profile.
  • DON’T participate or post anything here (or in any Group, or anywhere else online) that will “out” your search.

More About LinkedIn and Executive Job Search

Deadly LinkedIn Mistake: Generic, Short Summary Section

Deadly LinkedIn Mistake: Neglecting SEO and Keywords

Deadly LinkedIn Mistake: Anemic, Incomplete Profile

5 Reasons Your LinkedIn Profile Isn’t Working

Get the Most Out of LinkedIn

graphic on Pixabay

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