Last week, I wrote an article about my friend Suze, who lost her job over the summer and is trying to figure out which way to go in her current job search.
While Suze is trying to decide which career path to pursue, she's facing another, equally-daunting challenge-trying to build an online presence to get the word out to potential employers about who she is, her expertise, and what she has to offer.
This is a major challenge, especially for professionals over 40, who remember the days when typing and sending resumes to prospective employers was considered sufficient self-promotion. More than anyone else, job seekers in this group are learning the hard way that the entire world of work, especially as it applies to the job search, has changed, and what worked just a couple of years ago is not as effective today.
Marketing oneself is something which takes time and consistent, determined effort. It is not something which is done successfully when you're frustrated, frightened, and furtively searching for work. It can and should be done when you're gainfully employed. That way, whether you willfully resign from your job or are downsized in some other fashion, you have a head start in your job search.
Following are just a few tips to help you get started:
Keep your resume updated. Each time you complete a special project or assignment, get a promotion, or receive an award, you should update your resume or professional portfolio. Keep a running tally of accolades, and don't be afraid to ask colleagues or supervisors for testimonials about your work or contribution to a project. This way, you don't waste valuable time trying to compile successes (or references) when you're trying to get a promotion or raise, or looking for a new job.
Join social networks. An estimated 32 million people use Twitter. Twenty-one million are on Facebook. LinkedIn is regarded by recruiters and executive-level decision makers as a hotbed of professional talent. A growing number of employers plan to increase their usage of social networks in their recruitment efforts. The bottom line: take part in social networking. Participate in forums and start group discussions. It doesn't matter how many or which ones you join; the point is to connect with others and participate in the dialogue with individuals in your industry or other areas of interest.
Create a paper trail. The wonderful thing about the Information Age is that it provides endless vehicles through which individuals can express their own unique voice. Are you particularly knowledgeable about a particular subject? Do you have first-hand experience in an area? Do you have strong views or special insight on a topic which you'd like to share with others? Write articles for websites, start a personal website, or start a blog. Market yourself and establish your own specific brand.
Network. I can't stress this enough. Remember that fifty-percent of all available jobs are never advertised. Get out and meet and connect with people. Even if you're not currently looking for a job, you just might stumble upon an amazing opportunity. Meetup.com is a wonderful resource for networking opportunities in your area.
Doing these things while working a full-time job can be overwhelming. Start by doing one thing and doing it well. Small steps taken consistently over time lead to big successes.
Have you lost a job recently and feel like you're playing catch up in learning how to market yourself? Email me. Let's talk about it.