It’s summertime and recruiting starts slowing down. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the weather’s warm and we’re collectively focused on things outside of work. Taking long weekends, trips to the beach, relaxing vacations and sitting by the pool are the preferred activities. Putting on a heavy suit and going on hot, steamy and crowded trains to an interview is not a top priority. Even if you want to interview, the odds are high that the hiring manager and human resources professionals are out of the office and on vacation.
If you’re reading this piece, it’s likely that you’re a smart, career-motivated, type-A person. You’re thinking, “Jack, there must be something I could do to be productive?” Yes, there is. For those who desire to advance their career or find a new job, there are always proactive things to do despite the summer slowdown.
I’ve been attending a networking meet-up event once a month, held early Saturday mornings. This non-profit group is designed for people who are in between jobs or searching for a new position. There is usually a speaker who will discuss a certain aspect of the interview process, offer career advice and related matters. Then, the attendees give a brief elevator pitch to the audience about who they are and what they have to offer. This helps people sharpen their pitch. The hope is that there is another member who could help them with a solid job lead or point them in the right direction.
This Saturday, the featured speaker was a digital marketing executive, Glenn Pasch, CEO of PCG Digital. He offered an interesting lively discussion on taking the techniques used in branding for products, such as automobiles, and apply them to the job seeker. The idea is for people to cultivate and build a unique brand to enhance their image and make themselves attractive to potential hiring managers. In light of the slowness of summer, this is a perfect time to build a brand.
Here are some of his suggestions, along with my own.
- Identify what makes you special and stand out. You need to seriously think about what unique experiences, skills, education, degrees and character traits make you stand out above and beyond other job applicants. Think of what your former employers and colleagues admired about you. Give thought as to why you are much better than your competitors. After you’ve gathered the selling points and your marketable talents, you can start building your brand around it. Glenn gave an interesting example to highlight branding. A job seeker asked his advice on marketing herself to find a new job. She was worried that having held many jobs in different sectors made it messy for hiring managers to understand what she offered. After some probing questions, Glenn learned that she was universally viewed as the go-to person in the office to get things done. He suggested branding herself as the office Octopus—the person who has a hand in everything and could be relied upon to get projects accomplished properly and efficiently. This simple technique drew all the various jobs and responsibilities into a clear and cohesive narrative that any human resources professional or hiring manager could easily understand.
- Write articles and participate on LinkedIn. For professionals, the best way to start branding yourself is by writing posts or articles on LinkedIn. The content would be focused on the professional’s area of expertise. For instance, if you’re a tax accountant, you could offer important information that explains the Trump tax cut and what it means for the reader. The job seeker could also write about their feelings and experiences dealing with the challenges and pressures associated with looking for a job. By expressing yourself, the people who read your articles and posts will gain a better knowledge of who you are as a person. If you are uncomfortable with writing, you can answer questions to the postings of others, offering your advice and opinions. The questions you select to answer and your responses should serve as a way to burnish your brand. An ambitious approach would be to make short videos discussing new developments in your space.
- Get Involved on other relevant social media platforms. In addition to LinkedIn, focus on other social media platforms that are appropriate for your career. Set a schedule for regularly postings on the sites to enhance your brand. Share your accomplishments and achievements. Talk about something exciting you’re working on. Post on a regular basis so people get to know you.
- Research yourself on Google. Scour the internet to find out everything about yourself online. View it as if you’re a hiring manager or human resources professional checking you out. If you find some awkward posts, immediately engage in damage control and remove them. If there are some questionable Tweets, delete them. Take a fresh new look at your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page and other social media footprints to ensure that it reflects the brand you want to present. Your conduct and postings should clearly set forth the value you offer to a potential employer.
- Start speaking and bragging. If you are an expert in your field, seek out conferences and networking events and ask the promoters if you can become a speaker. People will view you in high regard, as you’re the one on the podium. This spotlight will make you known to a wider audience. After the talk, there is usually a casual networking session. People will come up to you since you’re the speaker. You’ll be viewed as an expert and a leader in your space. The act of speaking in front of an audience of your peers validates your brand as a top professional.
- Be honest about your goals. If you’re seeking a new role, don’t be shy about it. Let people know that you’re in the market for a new job. If they don’t know you’re on the search, they won’t reach out to you with opportunities.
These suggestions are perfect for the slow summertime hiring lull. Historically, hiring picks up again in September. You now have about two months to build your brand and get noticed. Since it takes time to gain recognition, you don’t have to worry about not getting any immediate traction. It will be a slow build up. By the time you’re getting good at marketing and branding yourself, we’ll be in September when hiring speeds up. By then, you’ll have a wider audience, more people will know who you are, what you have to offer and why you’d be a great person to hire.
Once you’ve found a new job, please keep the branding up. In this fast-changing environment, you never know if you’ll need to seek out a new job. Also, now that you’re well known, you’ll get recruiting calls trying to lure you away from your job.