Continuing our series working with employment superstars, we have Chris Perry of Career Marketeer, a career search and personal branding blog. In the below interview I had a chance to learn about attitude, resumes, personal branding and more. I urge you to take notes and apply them to your job search here in Orlando.
JobSpot: I was reading your site and you mentioned attitude as the number 1 tip for when looking for a job. Can you talk about the impact a change in attitude can have on a person during this time?
Chris: Attitude can make or break your job search. The job hunt is a challenge and with a challenge comes success and failure. The unfortunate part is that some job seekers let the failure discourage them, depress them, frustrate them and even control them. This negative attitude comes across not only in your interviews and networking, making you a less attractive candidate, but also starts to slow your efforts and progress down, making you a less aggressive candidate. Remember, in today’s job market, the best candidate’s success rate may be 1 out of 100, so just keep in mind that you may have 99 “failures” before you reach that 1 “success,” but that should be enough motivation to keep your chin up and keep trying for that job search victory.
JobSpot: There is a lot of chatter on personal branding and using social media tools to connect with employers, others in their industry, etc. How should job seekers be using these tools in a practical way?
Chris: First of all, your personal brand should start offline. Who you are and the unique and differentiating value that you offer others should not be initially or solely dependent on your social media activities and online efforts.
Second, once you have identified that value and how you want to communicate it, you can then begin to use social media and internet to help optimize your results. Whatever you end up using in your online personal branding, whether it be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or a personal blog/website, make sure you are communicating your brand and your value consistently across all channels. It is rare that an employer or potential career contact already knows you, what you look like, your background and history etc. You need to make sure that you brand yourself consistently in your pictures, your content etc. so that they can easily connect you from one network, blog or network to another.
Third, you should also make sure that you cross-promote yourself across your various networks, blogs and sites so that someone who stumbles across your blog, for example, can quickly link to your LinkedIn profile and see your resume. This helps strengthen and synergize all of your activities online.
Last and most important, make sure that you are presenting value and/or contributing value to others. While you may be looking for a job for yourself, make sure you are presenting value to potential employers on your LinkedIn profile or VisualCV, make sure you are offering valuable insight in your area of interest/expertise on your blog and/or make sure you are reaching out and offering to help other contacts in your field.
JobSpot: When job seekers are applying on job boards and not hearing back from companies, what are some steps that they can take to get in noticed, or heard on these big sites? When do they cross the line and when are they providing great follow-up procedures?
Chris: When applying for jobs on the job boards or employers’ websites, make sure your resume, whether copied/pasted in or uploaded, contains the keywords from the job description. This doesn’t mean overload your resume with inappropriate keywords, this just means that you need to have the keywords and phrases from the job description incorporated somehow. Many times, this is how the employers are searching for candidates through databases of uploaded resumes. They don’t have time to look at them all, so they use a couple of keywords to bring up the “top” resumes. Tailor your resume with that in mind. What words in this job description appear to be most important or relevant to this role and what words would I search for if I had to pick top candidates submitting resumes for this position?
I also think it is acceptable to write the HR managers, if listed, expressing your interest in the specific opportunity for which you applied. Another option is to reach out to contacts on LinkedIn in your company and function of interest and request informational interviews. In these interviews, you can discuss your interest and your application for a specific opportunity and ask them how they would advise pursuing this or other opportunities further. This can often open up some doors for referrals and assistance.
Caution: Never pester potential hiring managers or contacts. Also, when reaching out to anyone, they know you want a job, so don’t ask for one directly. Don’t email someone for the first time and include your resume. This looks greedy and selfish. Reach out to them for a brief informational interview and really strive to learn about them and their career and company before bringing up what you want. If appropriate, ask for advice on how to pursue an opportunity there, whether they can offer any assistance and/or if they know anyone you could speak to further about employment.
JobSpot: Where do traditional resumes play in today’s job application environment?
Chris: The traditional resume is definitely seeing less action than it used to, especially now that more employers require you to copy and paste and/or upload your resume to their website databases and that more professionals use their LinkedIn profiles, VisualCV’s and even personal websites in their online and offline networking.
However, the traditional resume is still a powerful tool if used effectively. Networking events and job fairs are still venues for distributing your traditional resume. If you know the hiring manager or HR professional in your company of interest, mailing a paper resume with a cover letter or written note to that contact is “stickier” and often stands out much better than one that has been emailed these days. Also, I personally found my current employment by reaching out to selected contacts in my companies of interest via LinkedIn and by requesting short informational interviews. In these interviews, I sought information about them, their careers and their company’s opportunities. In many cases, this led to them asking me to send them my resume, and in one case, led to an official interview and my job offer. In conclusion, the traditional resume can still serve you well if you identify the right potential recipients.
JobSpot: For people looking for a job for maybe the first time in years (layoffs, retirement, etc), what are those precious first steps they can take to make sure they get off to a good start and find employment again quickly?
Chris: Most professionals who have been in the workforce often “forget” their personal brand. What I mean is that they know their strengths and value, but haven’t had to practice communicating it to really sell themselves for a new opportunity. I recommend taking a little time to reevaluate your goals and your strengths to help you identify your unique and differentiating value (a.k.a. your personal brand). You should speak with your family, friends and past colleagues for their input to help you get external perspective. Once you have this personal brand and a pitch or statement to support it, you will need to make sure you are consistently communicating it across all of your career search outputs (i.e. your resume, your cover letter, your LinkedIn account, your blog, your emails, your VisualCV, you name it).
Now that you have renewed or reestablished your personal brand, reach out to your personal and professional network, people you know and that know you. Communicate your situation and your personal brand and give your top supporters an opportunity to help you. This doesn’t mean you will get an opportunity because of your family and friends, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. For all you know, someone’s college roommate or neighbor could have an opening. Just ask.
Make sure to reach out and expand beyond your current network. Connect with others in your field and industry and offer your value, strengths and skills. In everything you do, whether in networking, emails or interviews, make sure you are always focused on how your personal brand can help the company, the person etc.
JobSpot: Can you talk about Career Rocketeer and your goals in building the site and your brand in the coming months? What value do you see bringing to job seekers and companies alike?
Chris: There are so many great career blogs out there; however, most job seekers don’t have a lot of time to read them all. As a recent job seeker myself, I realized just how valuable a team blog providing job seekers with one place to come and read top career advice from many top career experts would be. And thus, Career Rocketeer was born.
I am very excited about what we are doing and am always looking for ways to improve our site, our communities and our content to help job seekers in their career search and personal branding efforts off and online.
We also know that there are many job seekers out there who would prefer something in hard copy to read, and so we are excited to be launching a new quarterly print publication entitled “Launchpad” which we hope will become considered the “Cliff Notes” or “Spark Notes” of the career search, featuring exclusive articles from the top career experts. Our first issue will be “launched” in November. For more info, please check our site.
JobSpot: How does this align with your own career trajectory? Why do you wake up everyday?
Chris: I consider myself a Brand and Marketing Generator and what I drives me and gets me out of bed every day is helping generate creative ideas and solutions to help the lives of others. What draws me to the career search industry is the uniqueness of every job seeker and the opportunity to simplify this overall job search process and help people find work they love by presenting themselves uniquely and effectively.
Chris Perry is a Gen Y Brand and Marketing Generator, a Career Search and Personal Branding Expert and the Founder of Career Rocketeer, the Career Search and Personal Branding Blog.