With COVID-19 continuing to impact job search, 3 things are more important than ever:
Targeting (and research) … Personal Branding … Networking
Some employers (maybe your current employer) are furloughing or laying off people. Others are hiring new people.
If you’ve been furloughed or laid off, don’t count on your employer taking you back. They may turn to people who have better, more relevant skills that will meet their future needs.
Figure that you need to start from scratch with your job search. And figure that your new job may involve all or some remote work.
You may think that this is the time to hit the job boards even harder than before. But, as always, the old way (networking) is the best way to land a good-fit job.
How Targeting, Personal Branding and Networking Work
I’ve pulled together a number of resources and posts written by me and others to help you.
✅ Targeting and Research
Targeting helps you identify opportunities at companies where you’ll be a mutual good fit. And research helps you determine the skills and qualifications you have, that those employers need. This also informs you where and how you may need to skill up.
Many job seekers resist targeting select employers, because they don’t want to limit their search. They want to be open to any opportunities that may be a good fit for them.
There’s a problem with this approach. When you’re writing your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc. you won’t know who you’re writing for. You won’t know which specific strengths, qualities and qualifications to zero in on.
Being generic, to cover as many bases (or job opportunities) as possible, will probably lead to a very prolonged job search.
Understand the first rule of marketing.
Your resume, LinkedIn profile and other job search materials are marketing communications. One of the main principles of marketing is to know your target audience. You need to understand their “pain points”, so that you can position yourself as their problem solver.
This may seem counter-intuitive. The more you niche your marketing and job search efforts toward specific employers, the more appealing you’ll be as a candidate.
As much as possible, focus your personal marketing materials, and present yourself, as the best hiring choice for specific employers.
Targeting also helps you with due diligence, so that you don’t get yourself into a company that’s all wrong for you.
Here are some resources and articles to help you with targeting and research:
✅ Personal Branding
Personal branding helps you identify the personal qualities and characteristics you have that make you uniquely qualified to benefit your target employers.
People very often don’t “get” what branding really is. They think it has to do with hard skills alone.
For example, in a LinkedIn update of mine about LinkedIn profile mistakes, Content Writer Chris Morton offered up an ineffective branding statement:
“Creative, career-driven professional and excellent team-building communicator who thinks outside the box and goes the extra mile to excel in all paradigm shifts across multiple environments and with all stakeholders, and who has proven, innovative success in bootstrapping corporate cultures where all endeavors and core competencies fit into his wheelhouse.”
Branding is about differentiation, not sameness.
My response to him in the LinkedIn update:
“Chris, you’ve composed the kind of non-branding so-called “brand statement” seen all too often. Because it’s loaded with buzzwords and generic information, it could apply to almost anyone. There’s nothing in it to differentiate the person, and help hiring professionals and employers envision that person contributing and positively impacting their company.
But surprisingly, this is just the kind of thing so many candidates want in their LinkedIn profiles. They want sameness, not differentiation. They don’t understand that they need to stand out from the sea of others who have similar qualifications.”
Here are some resources and articles to help you with personal branding:
Networking helps you uncover opportunities and become known (at least somewhat) at the companies you’re targeting. When you’re a known entity to people within your target companies, you’re more likely to be considered for their advertised jobs. It’s also the way into their so-called “hidden” jobs. These are the jobs that are never advertised. You’ll only have access to them by networking and connecting your way into these companies.
Networking is not about asking various people for a job or if they know about an opening. It’s more about making connections and gently staying top-of-mind. Then, when people hear or a good-fit opportunity for you, they will lead you to that opportunity.
Job Search Strategist Jason Alba concurs that networking will be more important than ever:
“Jobs have always been filled based on trust and relationships. People hire who they know, or who is referred to them, or who somehow ends up on the radar. Networking doesn’t have to happen in person, though. When you think about networking as relationship building more than as a superficial exercise, you’ll find your networking efforts are more focused and effective.”
Don’t over-step with networking.
But Career Coach Dawn Graham cautions:
“On a good day: 1) most professionals you’re likely to reach out to are overwhelmed with more on their to-do lists than they can handle, and 2) asking someone who you don’t have a relationship with to invest their social capital in you at any time can come across as potentially tone-deaf.”
Check out her article, What’s Changed About Networking (You May Be Surprised), to read more about what’s changed with networking:
- Different conversations
- Lending a hand
To expand your network, connect on LinkedIn with all kinds of people. Some you may know already, some you may not. Here are some options, including advice from Career Coach Shelley Piedmont:
- Work colleagues, vendors, clients
- Employees at your target companies
- Recruiters in your niche
- Alumni and other school groups
- Those who react to your posts and articles on LinkedIn and other social media
- Volunteers with your community organizations
- Those you meet at networking events, conferences, workshops, etc.
- Suggestions in LinkedIn’s “People you may know” section
- Those using the LinkedIn hashtag #ONO (open to new opportunities)
- Neighbors, service providers
- Local business owners
- Members of your LinkedIn Groups
- Influencers in your industry and field
Here are some more resources and articles to help you with networking:
For lots more help, see my COVID-19 job search resources page. It’s all FREE!
And start your targeting, personal branding and networking work the right way, with my proprietary worksheets.