My guest this week is Brian Wagner, who is a long-time friend and Superstar in the Direct Marketing industry and a seasoned Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Marketing Executive. Brian walks the talk and has outlined here how he ‘stood out from the crowd’ in a recent job search opportunity, which he did get.
As you read Brian’s words, see how what he says can be adapted into your own life to stand out from the crowd in any field.
“Today’s job market is nothing like our dad’s or grand-dad’s job market, not even close to what it was just 4 years ago. However, what has remained consistent is the importance of crafting our own distinct self-brand image that clearly telegraphs the type of individual and type of employee co-worker we would be. Remember, we are the brand or product in the job market and our goal is to stand out from the other look-alike generic products on the proverbial candidate shelf.
I just completed a grueling and stressful 9-month job search following a multi-staff layoff. Not only was I competing against other unemployed candidates, I was completing against employed candidates seeking to make a role or salary jump; this latter group we are told are viewed upon as being more desirable hires.
Hence when the cards might be stacked against you, the way to rise above the candidate field is to do things differently. How so? Dig deep into your arsenal and think of how you can stand out, how you can telegraph a professional persona that the employer must have or would be foolish not to consider continuing the conversation with.
Here are some tips on how I accomplished this. Note, what I am sharing is based on actual feedback from both former and now from my new employer. It was these added touches that made the difference and helped to crystallize my-self brand which they very much saw as a fit within their culture and work-staff family.
- Brand presentation
- I hand present my credentials in a presentation folder
- Contents: Resume, Key Accomplishments Summary document, Kudos content from former colleagues (pulled from my LinkedIn endorsements), Blinded Case Study document
- Business card that presents my brand
- Post-call or post-meeting follow ups
- Depending on their timeline, use either email (for time immediacy) or if time allots, send a hand-written thank you note. I prefer the latter as it helps you to stand out.
- Thoughtful follow ups along the journey after each contact with the prospective employer
- Be patient with follow up status check ins (waiting is stressful)
- I suggested 1 – 2 week pauses between follow ups
- Communication channel for follow ups
- Try to learn upfront if there is a channel preference for keeping in touch, if so, try that first
- If unknown, I suggest trying to call, but do not leave a voice message. If you do and they don’t reply you’ve gained nothing
- If you do attempt to leave a message, review your message and if you are not pleased with your recording, hit # or 3 to try to trigger the system to allow you to review, delete and re-record
- Always leave your call back number 2 times, and slowly
- Regarding email, send a concise and thoughtful message
- Your personal appearance brand
- Simply, dress appropriate, dress smart, and dress not for just this role but with a future state eye to the next role
- Go buy a proper fitting shirt, a smart and appropriate tie if you are guy
- If you are comfortable add a little something extra to help the job reviewers to remember you from the crowd of candidates, they see. Perhaps the pattern of ties, pocket squares, or vintage cufflinks, or lapel pin/broaches worn or even your type of eyewear. In my case, I wear proper gentleman hats. All my bio profile pictures (professional and social) show me in one of my hats. It has become a trademark that my clients even have noticed and come to expect. Plus, it’s a clean easy ice breaker conversation topic.
In addition, share thought leadership via professional social media channels to further your voice and thinking. Employers find this valuable as they get a preview into your thinking and understanding of a function, concept, a role, or the industry. Join 1 or more industry appropriate discussion groups and comment on as well as post your own original content. If you feel comfortable, start your own LinkedIn professional discussion group; shows true thought leadership. I did such back in April 2011, Direct Marketing Tips from Real Experience, and now have over 2,100 global followers.
Bonus tip: Be thoughtful as to how you’d want to be communicated to and how if you were the hiring manager.
**** A huge thanks to my friend, Brian who I always learn something from and wanted to allow him to share his wonderful words of wisdom.