Looking for a new job is not an easy task. Not only must we actively approach a maximum of companies, but we must be at our best, while we have no control over the hiring process, which is different for each company. And these processes are optimized for hiring managers but not for candidates, and contain more pitfalls than shortcuts for job seekers.
Having been on both sides of the hiring process, as a jobseeker and as a hiring manager, my discussions with candidates from all walks of life leave little room for interpretation: hiring processes are really painful. So much that some people think of it as a conveyor belt filled with candidates, who are sorted out by robotic arms that reject those who are not “perfect by the standards”.
Unless you check all the items from the list of requirements (let’s be serious, it never happens), and with the growing number of atypical candidates (I am myself black belt in atypicalness), it’s not easy to stand out with the tools and reflexes we normally have.
Basically, what I propose is to invest your time and efforts so that recruiters and managers come to you, rather than having to go to them. In short, to work on your professional brand.
It’s all about not following the herd
Let’s not be afraid to name the problems. Maintaining and sending a resume, or keeping a LinkedIn profile up to date is within anybody’s reach. The same goes for the thousands of debilitating application forms that can be filled in to be in companies’ databases. (“I just sent my resume, why do I have to copy and paste all its content into a form?”) Even if it takes time and effort, everyone can do that. And the best way to blend into a herd is to disguise yourself as sheep and bleat.
So the first step is to understand and accept that we can not just do the same as others, or do the minimum necessary. First of all, nobody was ever able to change anything, including their own predicaments, by doing like everybody else. Also, why would a company be satisfied with those who are content with doing the minimum necessary? Yes, you will need to invest time and effort. Yes, it’s not always pleasant. But you will get much better results. And you will have an influence on your future: you will be an actor or an actress in your job search, not a passive victim waiting for the favor of being chosen.
Over time, with my experiene and my interactions with people from all walks of life, I’ve come up with a list of tips to increase one’s professional brand, and be able to stand out, especially when looking for a job.
1. Adopt a growth mindset
This step is unavoidable and necessary for everything that follows in this article. None of the tips I will give you here will work if you indulge in a fixed mindset. You must remove your blinkers, and ignore those little thoughts suggesting that you can not do this or that.
In short, we need to stop putting spokes in our own wheels, learn to live with our impostor syndrome and even give it a good lesson. We will talk about it later. All the results you will get will be because you will have tried something new.
2. Surround yourself with people who do what you do and who believe what you believe
It’s not just about networking. By surrounding yourself with people who do the same thing as you, it’s almost inevitable that it will generate very interesting discussions, you will develop your curiosity, you will see with whom you have the most affinities, and it would not be surprising if you embark on some projects with some of those people. In the end, you will end up being known to your peers, who will think of you when they hear that someone is looking for an expert in your field. And this group of people will certainly become your main audience, if you apply point # 4 of this article.
LinkedIn is a great way to develop this kind of network. When I became a Scrum Master in 2015, the first thing I did was add to my network all the Scrum Masters I could find in Montreal. Not only has it brought me a lot since then, but I have been able to bring them a lot as well.
Showing up at conferences, meetups, or events related to your expertise (many are free) is also a great way to make sure that people make a mental association between you and your expertise. This is not to be neglected.