At the macro level, there is a great deal of discussion about the economic factors that create unemployment, but few seem to be addressing the issues that can help turn this around at the micro level, down where real people are battling the effects of the economic condition on a personal front. With the OECD predicting elevated global unemployment through late 2014, knowing how to put your best foot forward and get the callback is essential for the 11.8 million Americans currently out of work.
Down in the trenches, for those searching for jobs, there are some key components that can help them succeed. The first is a mind shift. The unemployed must stop believing that they don't have a job. They do. And that job is to get a job. It's a full time, high-pressure, high-stakes venture. And as the CEO of that venture, each job seeker must ask a simple yet daunting question: Would you hire you?
If the answer isn't a resounding and deeply resonating yes, then it's time to step into the corner office of your life and start making some savvy business changes at the top. Just like the CEO of a company must have a strong, relevant professional brand in order to close the sale, so too must the CEO of a life have a strong, meaningful personal brand to close the deal on employment.
Building this foundation begins with asking the same question every great and successful brand has answered:
What is your unique selling proposition?
When it comes to human beings, there is no such thing as a parody product. And the more expertly and consistently you can learn to leverage what you uniquely have to offer, the more likely you will be in getting a potential recruiter, HR exec or investor to buy it.
Your unique position isn't about being different. It's about making a difference. Getting clear and confident about what you have to offer that can create a positive impact for the company, investor, organization or individual you are looking to partner with. Having only a general sense of what you've got going for you, or trying to be so many things to so many people that you end up standing out for nothing are two very common pitfalls in underdeveloped brands. You are not a general store. You have specific value. And if you don't know what that value is, how can you possibly market it to a recruiter or HR executive?
What is your mission statement?
A clearly defined mission statement serves as a north star to help you stand out and motivate yourself from a place of passion and meaning. It's not just what you have to offer, but why you care to offer it. A common pitfall here is to get too lofty, using inspiring words that don't inspire a simple understanding of what you are trying to say. If your mission is built on a unique proposition that can truly make a positive impact and tangible difference, then it will inspire naturally. No need to dress it up in poetry. When crafting your mission statement, compelling clarity is the wardrobe of choice.
Knowing your mission will translate into determination in the interview process. And in a climate where so many interviewees are exuding desperation, determination will create connection. The key to creating a successful mission statement is to realize that it isn't just about you, but rather it's tailored around how you intend to be of value to a given organization or even the world at large. A company will want to get the most value they can from the salary being supplied, and a clearly defined mission statement can help job candidates make it very clear, very quickly, how they can best provide that value.
Have you paid enough attention to your packaging?
Your personal brand isn't just about how you see yourself, it's also about how others see you. Think of it as your image: The view from the outside looking in. One widely made mistake at this juncture of brand building is to mistake your image for your look, aka your visual style. Just as a brand is more than its logo, your visual identity is more than what you look like. Your image isn't just how others see you, it's what they see in you.
And the way people look at you today is different than it has been in any other generation. In a world where more than one billion search queries occur on Google every day, it's safe to say first impressions are no longer made in person. So to rise above in today's marketplace, how you come across online is as important as how you come across in person. Every post and every picture paints a picture of who you are. And if you think social media is private, think again -- 70 percent of recruiters have reported finding digital deal breakers with candidates they were considering. So when creating an image that truly reflects your unique offering and your core values, remember a large part of your packaging is digital. And digital imaging is forever -- once it's out there, it takes on a life of its own.
Do you have a marketing plan?
Playing hide and seek is no way to get a job or any other opportunity. You have to let people know you are available and what you have to offer. And as any good marketing exec will tell you, when it comes to advertising yourself, it pays to get creative.
Look beyond the same old networking scenes and search engines everyone is using. How else might you get your message out there? Be willing to temp, that's a great way to get in the door and let people know you are there. Scan through your alumni records to see if anyone from your alma mater is looking for someone who does what you do -- lots of time this will help give you the edge. CEOs are not shy when it comes to marketing. Get creative. Get out there. No brand rose to the top by waiting for people to come knocking in its door.
Do you have good brand management?
Good management comes down to a single thing: Being able to lead. As the CEO of the venture known as YOU, there are four key departments of your life you need to manage: Time, healthy, money and ability. Effective management of each and every one of those key resources will make you more attractive to potential companies and clients considering partnering with you.
So, what's the best way to manage these incredibly valuable personal assets? Take action. Action creates results. The more confident and consistent the action, the more positive the results. Take a good hard look at the four departments listed above. Assess the situation like any good CEO would. Brutally honestly. Where can you increase your value offering? Where do you need to reallocate resources? What can you do to make the decision for those considering placing their bets with you a no-brainer?
As a job seeker, the more creatively and meaningfully you can define yourself as a personal brand, the more attractive and effective you will be at securing your chosen professional position. Take a look around, it's worked for all the other mega successful businesses out there, so why not the valuable commodity known as you?