As 2013 dawns on us, many Americans are still struggling against a high national unemployment rate. But starting your new career can begin with one simple practice to set you apart from other candidates: rebranding your professional image.
Job seekers often think that just because they have experience, HR managers will find their resume attractive. But the fact is, hiring managers are increasingly looking beyond the resume and cover letter to determine if a candidate would be a good fit. They’re conducting Google searches, reading blogs, and otherwise digging into your professional image to determine just how well you know your stuff–and if you’d be a good fit for company culture.
For job seekers looking to snag a new career in 2013, here are five rebranding tips to get started:
1. Become an expert. Impress a hiring manager by knowing all the ins and outs of your field or practice. Become an expert by conducting regular research and focusing on skills development. Subscribe to newsletters, attend webinars and professional seminars, attend informational interviews, stay up to date on current events, and follow what key players in your new target industry are up to on Twitter and other social networks. Start a blog to offer your own insight, too, and direct hiring managers to the link when you apply for jobs. This will show you’re able to effectively gather and process information related to your new career, and that you’re willing to go above and beyond both for your individual career efforts and the overall good of a company.
2. Transition your social platforms. If you haven’t been keeping tabs on your online presence, don’t wait to start revamping your image. Ensure your online profiles like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ accurately reflect your new career goals. While it’s alright to focus a bit on what you’ve already accomplished in your career, place more emphasis on where you’d like to end up. Start sharing content related to your new industry (see above!), and clearly state your areas of expertise and career goals in your bio.
3. Determine your audience. Your rebranding efforts for a new career will be futile if you don’t focus on targeting the right audience with your new-found expertise. Ask yourself who will benefit from the insight you have to share, and determine who and where the key thought leaders, companies, professionals, and even bloggers are in your target industry. This will help you to glean key insight into the best practices and pathways for getting your foot in the door and finally snagging industry contacts.
4. Build your network. It can’t be said enough: the key to a job you love is networking, networking, networking. If you find you haven’t already established solid relationships with professionals you admire, stop wasting time and reach out to them! Many job seekers are too shy or apprehensive to approach successful professionals to glean advice on their industry or insight on potential job openings, but failing to take this step in 2013 will be the number one way you sabotage your career.
5. Search within your niche. Starting a new career means you also need to find out where the open positions lie. While the aforementioned steps can help with this–like networking and social media revamping–it’s important to also focus on visiting niche job boards and exploring online communities that are specifically dedicated to your field. Take advantage of LinkedIn groups, Twitter chats, message boards–anything you think can grant you a lead or an “in” for your new career.
Rebranding your professional image doesn’t have to be difficult. In 2013, make it your mission to start taking these small steps to crafting a personal brand that will bring you career success and help you to finally go where you want to be. Good luck!
How do you plan to stand out to employer in your search for a new career?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.