Creative thinking in a crowded jobs market
In an increasingly crowded job market, the best executives need to think creatively to make themselves more competitive and more visible to potential employers. The revolution in social media means that it’s easier than ever to build your personal brand online, through professional social networks such as LinkedIn, and self-publishing technology like blogs and Twitter.
By using these tools to build your online presence, you can increase your personal profile within your industry, making it easier for talent-hunters to find you and discover what you’re all about. We’re all aware that potential employers are highly likely to Google us and social media helps us to ensure that what they find will enhance their view of us.
LinkedIn - your online CV
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for managing your professional network, and can also be thought of as your online CV. Headhunters frequently use LinkedIn to find potential candidates for the roles they are trying to fill. If an employer is carrying out some online research on you it’s very likely that your LinkedIn page is one of the first things they’ll find on Google.
It pays to keep your profile up to date, so make sure it’s fleshed out with the details of your career history and education, as well as a professional photo, and make the effort to add relevant people to your network regularly.
LinkedIn allows you to post short status updates on your profile, you can use this to link any media articles you may have written or are featured in, or simply to highlight any recent professional activity that you want people to know about.
It’s also worth finding some LinkedIn groups to participate in. These are simply discussion forums which focus on different industries and business issues, and by contributing regularly you can raise your profile within that circle. If there’s no group that is relevant to your particular sphere of expertise, you might consider starting one up, which would help to position you as an authoritative voice on the topic.
LinkedIn is also a great tool for reaching out to potential employers. Identify the people you would like to talk to and then work out how you’re connected to them, or how you can get people to introduce you.
Blogging - a platform for thought leadership
Senior executives should also consider setting up a blog and using it to publish their own comment and opinion around their industry. Blogging makes it easy to create your own thought leadership platform, so if you are able to share some insight in an engaging style and have the discipline to write regular posts, you can quite quickly establish yourself as an authoritative voice in your industry. This is a great way to get noticed by potential employers and to help yourself stand out from the crowd of competing candidates.
The key to successful business blogging is getting people to notice you - the way you do that is by engaging others in conversation to make them aware of your blog. This means commenting on other industry blogs, discussion forums (or LinkedIn groups) and reaching out to trade publications which often turn to industry bloggers when they need comment for their own articles.
It’s important not to stray too far into blatant self-promotion as this can be counterproductive. Your blog will only get noticed if you’re writing about issues that are of genuine interest to your audience.
Twitter - share content with your community
If writing blog posts isn’t something you’re comfortable with, Twitter is a good alternative. It’s a great tool for becoming a ‘content curator’ which simply means sharing links to articles and resources which are relevant to your industry, along with a little comment of your own. You can use a tool like Tweepz.com to find people in your industry on Twitter, and by engaging with them (i.e. following them and responding to their comments) you can build your own profile on the platform.
You can use Twitter alongside a blog too, since a strong Twitter profile is a great place to let people know about articles you’ve written.
Stand out to employers through social media
The key point at the heart of all this, is that you can use social media to build a strong professional profile online. This will not only draw employers’ attention to you but also make you a more attractive candidate when you apply for a new role. As well as raising your profile within your industry, taking the time to build an online presence for yourself will help ensure that when somebody Googles your name the first page or two of search results will be filled with useful, positive information about your professional background.
To be successful at this you need to think as a journalist and, to a lesser extent, as a PR executive. Create and share content that people will find interesting and engaging enough to share with their peers, but always be mindful of how the content will affect your standing with potential employers.