I was talking to a client last week about the importance of a simple networking tool that is now ubiquitously used by professionals, recruiters and astute entrepreneurs alike, LinkedIn. It is a powerful way to connect to the hundreds of professionals that you have interacted with, worked for and impressed over the years. More importantly, it’s a great way to establish a few “cyberspace building blocks” for a professional brand. You know what surprised me? This particular professional had no real frame of reference regarding the importance of social media in career search and branding. To be fair, this person is an accomplished senior level professional that has not had the burden of looking for a job in the last twenty years. “For two decades I have been simply tapped on the shoulder for my next gig. It’s always been that way.” Unfortunately, it’s not that way anymore.
Twenty years ago finding your next role was relatively simple and I am not talking about looking in the paper or filling out job applications. A good professional brand used to consist of three things:
- Be dependable and show up on time (i.e. “work hard”)
- Get an education in your field
- Be loyal to the “hand that feeds ya” (i.e. be a company soldier).
In 1990 with the US unemployment rate at 5.6% the services, financial and IT sectors were exploding. If you brought these three secret ingredients to the 90’s marketplace you got hired and stayed employed. Companies and their hiring managers needed professionals who could come to their roles with a few basic ingredients and stay for the long haul. Ah, the “good ole days”.
Today, career search is not as much about being “present” as it is about being “found” — being found to be a solution to an employer’s problems, being found on LinkedIn (and everywhere else for that matter), and being found to have credible results and contributions. My high school band director used to say, “Showing up is not enough. Anyone can be mediocre.” How true! As in marching band competitions so it also goes in a career search and building a professional brand. Defining who we are as professionals and what we can deliver is critical to our future. We can’t compete with tools that are twenty years old…
Barton Career Advisors, LLC is a relationship based outplacement and career coaching firm offering premier career transition services to corporations and individuals throughout the US and Canada. The company which is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware offers flexible outplacement for businesses and career coaching and resume construction for individual clients. The company supports its one to one approach with its innovative career transition portal, CoachOnetoOne™. Through Speaker Services the company works with corporations, professional associations, conferences and non-profits to provide training and key-note presentations on career related topics. Barton Career Advisors employs a need-based business model, BCA One-to-One, which is driven by experience and client outcomes.
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It certainly is no secret to anyone reading this that there is a new “normal” in the process of personal career management. More than ever, professionals of all skill levels — and within all industries — have been tasked with the complicated process of managing their careers in transition. You know what’s scary? Not very many of us know how to navigate the labyrinth of the new economy. Take care! We now inhabit a career minefield. An old marketing concept from 1961 has re-emerged at the center of professional branding and…it makes perfect sense. Each of us as professionals must now understand our Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It’s simple. What about our professional brand makes us desired as a sought solution to our respective organization’s problems? Can we assess ourselves? Are we in touch with our professional wins? Does our body of materials demonstrate our worth? Can we count on our network to help us solve problems? The new imperative is the job seeker who can answer these questions— the Enlightened Job Seeker.
Assessment is required to reach the state of career enlightenment and the job seeker must know herself better than ever before. She is willing to do the cathartic assessment to understand strengths, weaknesses, personality type and desired work. She knows however that too much “thinking” is probably not a good thing. When faced with mistakes her instinct is to act with purpose to correct professional flaws and continue the evolution. Because the enlightened job seeker knows herself she does not make desperate career management decisions. The right behaviors produce the right results, time after time. She knows it!
Network your way to a successful career? You better believe it! The enlightened job seeker gets a tremendous “kick” out of their competitors who treat networking events like a drive by shooting! A collection of 2,123 “contacts” on LinkedIn is not a network—it’s a list of names. Making deposits into “relationship accounts” ensures that we get reciprocal benefits for the long run. Fully aware professionals prepare for every event and informational meeting with a purpose in mind. They go the extra mile to ensure that the most influential players in their network are not overleveraged. Getting out of the office pays big dividends for the enthusiastic practioner of enlightened career teachings. Post and pray? NEVER! Action conquers fear. Period.