David Snyder, colleague, friend and noted author of business best-seller How to Hire a Champion, posted an article last week where he featured some of my thoughts and his insight on distinguishing yourself from the masses in your job search. The “rules” apply to anyone, entry-level to executive. David and I have had discussions, debates and arguments about how one thinks and acts like a champion in their career. In fact many of my nationally known colleagues in the career industry and in hiring circles contributed to this column. But David has an outstanding way of helping codify some of my thoughts and our conversations. Link to his column and follow him for more intelligent insight into your career.
Whether you are at a career crossroads, been laid off, underemployed or quietly planning your next move, here are some of the thoughts David organized for this column for Headway’s 2 million job seekers, employees, clients, and candidates:
Following is John ‘Connor’s Power Checklist of the top 5 tips to ensure that you are ready to begin the job search process, if job seeking is your current goal:
Identify Your Strengths – Look closely and professionally assess how you differentiate yourself from your competition, your peers and others. Find out what makes you unique. Closely track how you provide value. In other words, how do you drive revenue or reduce costs? How do you lead others to produce results? A set of assessment tests to identify your core strengths could be helpful.
Enlist Others – Who can you go to and count on for tough advice on hard choices. Your references matter, obviously. But the relationships you have with those who can help you, endorse you and push you matter as well. A good career coach won’t just comfort and encourage you. They should challenge you to find out if you are following your own Work-Life Mission. Pull together a board of directors for your career. John says: Some of my best clients are my best students. They get in a hurry to develop stronger bonds with those who can help them. They take tough coaching and react like champions. They respond with a championship attitude and use the transition time to reinvent and improve themselves. And they do this by connecting and seeking advice.
Powerfully present yourself with a Professional Personal Marketing Kit. As John points put, the range of presentation tools that need to be sharpened grows daily. According to John, your career arsenal should include a powerful resume, cover letter, networking letter, professional bios written and refined to fit Linked In, examples of your written work and your work samples. John goes on to say you need to prepare for your marketing campaign like a company would. Your marketing kit and personal brand needs to be treated that seriously. In no other time in history has job competition been so keen. So you need to present your substance with creativity and professionalism.
Prepare Your Brand for the Digital World – Every career advancer today must understand that the world of work has changed. Those changes mean you must adapt to the digital age. John recommends Google searching yourself, finding out what comes up and what you need to do to increase the positive perception outsiders have of you. Simple steps include improving your LinkedIn profile by increasing online contributions in your area of industry expertise (written, audio, visual/video). You must also realize that anything you post may positively or negatively impact your brand. Ensure that the circumstantial evidence to be found about you on the web positively impacts who you are now and where you want to go John states. Never release or post anything that could tarnish your brand.
Communicate Your Value in the Interview – Finally, you need to constantly rehearse your case for employment. In other words, what are the statements that define your value and provide the evidence that others should hire you? What are you going to do for them? Again, what is your value proposition? Where do you add value? Where do you help companies reduce cost, add revenue, build stronger teams, or improve quality? Where do you create impact? Be ready for the video interview or the in-person interview, Every key conversation you have with a prospective employer, John says, constitutes an interview. John says many jobseekers and executives in transition do not properly handle phone screens, online applications and even simple email correspondence: All communication is an interview or an assessment of you. Preparation for live interviews is a given. But increasingly, you must also prepare for the video or Skype interview. These are new and upcoming trends that will soon become commonplace. Be prepared.
How do you do all of this, hunt for a new job and keep your current job while you are doing it? You need a very specific game plan for each stage of your career, and this plan could involve coaching.
In preparation for the next column and the next installment in our on-line career development course, consider this one question:
If you were able to have a coach, what would you like to be coached in? Where are your gaps? Who is your competition? What is your playing field?
In other words, what is the one skill or professional strength you wish you could improve to be more marketable, or better prepared for critical job interviews?
Give serious thought to that question before we meet again.