If you are in the midst of a job search, you are probably painfully aware that it is not on most marketers' top 10 list of fun things to do. But what if you never had to look for a job again? What if this were the last job search you ever undertake?
I am not suggesting that you stay at your new company until you retire; job tenure statistics tell us that's not very likely. I am also not implying that it's likely that you'll win the lottery (you have a greater chance of being hit by lightning).
I am recommending that you do a job search role reversal: Instead of seeking out jobs, have them come to you! That's the future of career management—and for savvy careerists, the future is now.
Don't Seek—Be Sought After
Of course, the idea of being sought-after is appealing. But it doesn't just happen. You must be deliberate and steadfast in building demand for your services if you want jobs to fall in your lap. You need to be both visible and valuable for it to work.
Make this your last job search—ever! Here's how.
1. Know who needs to know you
You must identify all the people who need to know about you so they can find you when they need what it is that you have to offer. It would exhaust your resources to become visible to everyone. So you must be crystal clear about your target audience.
You are probably well aware of your company's target market, but can you describe yours?
Make a list of all the job titles of people who will be instrumental in helping you reach your career goals. This should include hiring managers, executive recruiters who work with marketers, and people who influence them.
2. Get in their face
Once you know who needs to know about you, you must make yourself known to them. You need to be a household name among this target group of people. You can live in total obscurity as far as the rest of the world is concerned, but with this critical constituency, you want to become a mega-star.
I call it being selectively famous. Just as Mattel makes an indelible mark on the Sesame Street set, you must become memorable to your target audience.
3. Don't go into hiding
And once you are known, you must be ever visible. Just as celebrities seek out appearances on talk shows and articles in magazines to stay in view of their fans, you too must keep the visibility constant. This takes planning and a commitment to staying connected.
1. Demonstrate value
Hiring managers, executive recruiters, and potential business partners need to find what you have to offer both relevant and compelling. So you need to demonstrate the value you contribute. Visibility alone will not make you sought-after.
2. Be unique
When something can be found just about anywhere, people rarely seek it out. It's when something is rare that it becomes sought after. So you need to know what makes you unique.
And among those items that put you in a class by yourself, you must determine which will be most compelling to your target audience.
Are you the most ethical CMO? The creative ad guy who believes that all ad campaigns need stringent revenue metrics? The creative director who cares deeply for his staff ad clients?
3. Have courage
You must be willing to take a stand and risk offending some people. All strong brands are eager to share their point of view. This ensures that your message gets heard above the noise.
If you are singing the same tune as everyone else, your voice will be lost in the choir. Sing your own song, and sing it loudly. It will get you noticed.
4. Be consistent
People need to know what you stand for. Avoid the temptation to repeat the message of the day. Unless you're Madonna (who has built an empire around reinvention), you need to stick to your guns. As advertisers know, it's repetition that ensures the message is heard and understood.
Tips for Being Sought-After
- Build a large and relevant social network, adding people regularly.
- Maintain your network by regularly giving to the members. A network has no value to you if you let it go cold. Build network-strengthening activities into your daily "do" list.
- Increase your virtual visibility. Buy your domain name; build your online presence through a Web site or blog and interaction with like-minded professionals through social networks and relevant Web portals. Make sure you show up in Google when people search on the keywords for which you want to be known.
- Increase your physical visibility. Take every opportunity to speak publicly. Publish articles. Consider writing a book. Constant communication is critical.
- Take leadership roles in appropriate professional associations. And if the right organization doesn't exist, create your own.
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