Companies & Industries

Getting Unstuck In Your Job Search


If you become the go-to person for expertise in your field and market yourself as a brand, you can create your own job opportunities

There are over 10 million anxious job seekers on the prowl, flooding the job market with applications and résumés. Employees are working tirelessly to convince managers and company heads that their role is crucial to the survival of the company, even in the current economic climate. But the truth is, there are only some 3.1 million available positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey. All hope is not lost. You can attain one of these few positions by marketing yourself as a brand.

Before the recession eclipsed the job market, I was a product marketer at EMC (EMC). While at work, I consistently took on new projects that were out of my job description, such as Six Sigma and the creation of marketing plans for various groups. Outside of work, I became a thought leader on personal branding, with the establishment of a blog, magazine, award, online video series, and articles on the topic. Fast Company eventually wrote about me, while EMC was looking for a social media specialist. I was then recruited for my current position without applying. In this way, I was able to add tremendous value to a new role at my company, in something I was passionate about.

There has been a shift in the way we manage our careers. From applying to jobs through traditional corporate sites and job boards, to leveraging the power of social media tools to connect directly with hiring managers, while showcasing our passions and expertise to a global audience. From working diligently to climb the corporate ladder, to using blogs as career "launching pads." In this way, individuals can command their careers and create their futures.

Become the "go-to" person

Companies don't lay off people who consistently deliver results and are the "go-to" people for a specific business need. Justin Orkin, a senior account executive at Yahoo! (YHOO), discovered this by positioning himself as a "performance expert" in a 16,000+ employee company. He was able to exceed his sales goals by approximately 40%, quarter over quarter, delivering 30% more revenue from his clients, even during the recession. "At the end of the day, it's extremely important to be able to meet the client's needs, but more importantly it's essential to deliver on those expectations," says Justin.

Then there's Daniel Honigman, who started as the social media coordinator at the Chicago Tribune and transitioned into an expanded role at the paper's Tribune parent company, after employees pointed to him as being the go-to guy for social media. Justin and Daniel prove that gaining visibility for a specific talent can help boost recognition within a company. Managers knew to go to them for their skills and were dependent on their knowledge in order to build their businesses, providing both of them with great opportunities.

If they hadn't sought to expose their abilities, they would be stuck in the same roles or would have been laid off over time. Their ambition, coupled with their experience, allowed them to jump over obstacles and succeed.

Become a thought leader

Instead of holding creative ideas back, smart careerists will publish them online for the world to see. Social media tools, such as blogs, allow the employed and the unemployed to show off their skills in a manner that was never before possible. Take Matt Dickman, for example. After blogging and speaking at industry events, Matt was recruited as a director at Fleishman-Hillard, and eventually promoted to vice-president. "Instead of an interview full of questions about my capabilities in social media, I had already established my credibility up front," Matt explains.

Age isn't a requirement for becoming thought leader either! At 25 years old, Adam Salamon was promoted to partnerships director at Bazaarvoice. He acknowledged that his blog was a factor in his promotion and that it helped him build confidence in his abilities and get exposure. Both Matt and Adam differentiated themselves through blogging and are now seen as natural leaders in their organizations. Also, their blogs attracted positive attention and became a conversation starter with executives in their respective companies.

Become networked

There is no job security anymore; people's networks are their only insurance. With social media tools, connecting with other people has never been easier. By using these tools to contribute value to an online community, it's even possible to be recruited by another company, and attain a higher salary.

If you don't believe me, ask Paul Dunay, who worked endlessly for his online community of B2B technology marketers, generating over one thousand blog and Twitter followers, as well as six thousand e-mail newsletter subscribers. The result was not only a new position as global managing director of services marketing at Avaya, but a book deal with Wiley Publishing. "Even during bad economic times, building a strong personal brand can help take your career to the next level," Paul states.

Paul was able to accelerate his own career during a recession because he had worked on building his personal brand before he needed it. His network and visibility online was how employers knew of his expertise and who to go to if they needed someone to fill a specific position. By giving value to others over time, even as a satisfied employee, opportunities will arise and success will follow.

Get unstuck now!

To conquer the economic recession, one must become known for a specific business need while remaining flexible, network inside and outside of one's company, and leverage social media tools for thought leadership. By having a consistent and persuasive personal brand, both job hunters and current workers alike will position themselves for success for years to come.

Dan Schawbel is a personal branding consultant and author of Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future and the publisher of Personal Branding Blog and Personal Branding Magazine. The New York Times called Schawbel a "personal branding guru." He is also a speaker and managing partner of Millennial Branding, a branding company that serves individuals and corporations. Recently he was named to Inc. magazine's 30 Under 30 list.

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