Hillary spent seven months in 2017 looking for a job. She didn't get any interviews. She was convinced there was something wrong with her. Her career confidence dwindled. I don't blame her for feeling this way. The unemployment rate last year was at a record-low (and continues to be). Employers are complaining they can't find enough talent. Which means, getting hired in a good economy should be easy, right? But, the truth is, even if you're a rockstar at what you do, failing to do one thing prior to embarking on a job search can result in it taking much longer. Hillary didn't complete a critical activity before she started looking for work and it resulted in months of wasted job search efforts.

Brand or BE Branded.

The most common mistake people make when starting a job search is failing to take time to properly explore the answers to the question: "What makes me worth hiring?" All too often, I see people skip the process of defining their value proposition. The result is a resume and LinkedIn profile that make no sense. And, a job search that is all over the board and very unproductive. Understanding your value so you can brand yourself is the most effective way to send a clear and convincing message to companies you are the one they need.

How are you the aspirin to a company's pain?

There is a famous quote by Henry Ford, "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." This is especially true in job search. If you don't know how to assess and quantify your value to employers, then you won't be able to convince them you're worth hiring. The key is to know what problems you solve and what skills you use to solve them. Once you identify that, you can articulate it properly on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Not sure how to do this?

Let's say you are a project manager. I often see this type of description:

Accomplished project manager with proven track record of success. Innovative and resourceful in my approach, I am adept at time-management and excel in the art of coordinating operations.

What's wrong with the above? Well, for starters, it doesn't really prove anything. You say you are these things, but where are the facts to validate your lofty claims? Furthermore, you sound like every other project manager i.e. overconfident and unintentionally selling yourself too hard.

If you want to develop a better brand, start by asking yourself these three questions:

  • What are my top transferable skill sets?
  • How many years of experience do I have in each one?
  • What examples of past success can I give to prove I excel at each skill?

Based on the answers, you can develop a branding statement that proves you are successful. For example, you might say, 

I have 10+ years experience as a project manager. I've been in charge of more than 15 multi-phase projects with budgets ranging in size of $20,000 to $1.2M, and have a 97% on time and under budget delivery rate.

Can you see the difference? The second branding statement is factual and impressive. No need to sell yourself, the numbers do it for you. 

Don't let your job search drag on because you didn't brand yourself properly.

Assessing and revealing your unique brand to companies is vital to an effective job search. Why waste time marketing yourself with a resume or LinkedIn profile that fail to properly convey your value? Take time to articulate your brand so you can stand out and attract the attention (and respect!) of employers.