“Job hunting is frustrating” is without a doubt the most popular complaint I’ve seen job seekers make on LinkedIn. And I get it. With all the do’s and don’t of CV writing, interviewing and negotiating, the struggle to get new work is real.
And despite putting your best food forward, few recruiters get back to you and this is soul crushing. It’s even harder when you’re trying to change careers and no recruiter is giving you the big break you need.
So what’s a person to do?
Many people suggest you keep pushing. Apply for anything or everything and in time someone will give you the job.
But can I make a confession? I believe this is the worst advice you can listen to. Why?
Because you, my friend, have no time to waste. Nor would you like to settle for work you wish you didn’t have to do. And so I’m going to give you a third option.
Get extremely good at discovering the job you’re meant to do and create a personal brand that makes you the perfect fit for that role.
Opportunities come more effortlessly when hiring managers feel choosing you is a complete no-brainer. The offers don’t however come as easily when you look uninterested in the role and appear to be no better than every other candidate out there.
So in today’s blog post, I’m going to share with you the 10 things you need to do to look like the no-brainer hire. This post will explain the steps you need to take to figure out what job you’re meant to do, and how to build a personal brand that makes you irresistible.
I admit, this list may sound like a lot, but these steps can be done fairly quickly and will definitely make job searching much more fun and successful.
To make it even easier for you, I’ve even created a free, printable checklist you can download, which lists each step so that it’s easy to refer to when you are in your job hunting process. Can I get a woop woop?
BEFORE YOU LOOK FOR A JOB, get clear on the role you really want to do
step 1: write down 10 things you hate to do for work
The first thing you need to do when you’re looking for a job is to get crystal clear on the kind of role you don’t want to do.
Yes. The job you don’t want to do! Not the job you’re willing to do.
The reason for this is that if you’re lucky enough to live past the average retirement age of 67, you’ll be working for at least 45 years!! (That’s of course if you don’t become a housewife/husband, win the lottery or create an 8 figure business that’ll pay for an early retirement).
Unless you’re looking for a temporary job to help you make ends meet, it’s time you set the bar higher and only look for jobs you really want to do.
As most of my clients aren’t clear on what their dream job is and are just in the motion of applying for work they think they can do, I always advise them to take a step back and start by creating a list of everything that makes them hate working.
For example “I hate working 70 hour weeks, I hate crunching data, I hate detail focused tasks, I hate having to manage large groups of people” and so on.
Knowing this will help you avoid wasting time completing job applications for roles you don’t want and will struggle getting hired for that job anyway because recruiters can tell you’re not that interested.
step 2: Visualise your dream life
The saying “If you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” is something the most fulfilled and successful people live by.
Your Oprah’s, David Beckham’s, Beyonce’s, Einstein’s, J.K Rowling’s and so on became successful at what they do because they genuinely love their profession. They all had visions of what they’d love to do with their career and focused on this profession long before it was even clear they’d be the best of the best. They’ve achieved things beyond their wildest dreams because they started by trying to turn their vision into reality.
Getting an amazing job isn’t about getting the next job or even about paying your bills. If you want a career that you’ll enjoy and succeed in, you need to start imagining the kind of career you want to build.
An easy way to start is to is to visualise the kind of life you’d like to live in 3 years time. If anything were possible and money were no object, how would you like to be spending your time?
While this may seem like a random exercise, it’s not. Your visualisations help you tap into your souls deepest desires. It shows you your values and helps you imagine the kind of job you want and what opportunities your next role must provide.
3 years is the perfect time horizon for a visualisation because you have plenty of time to make your dreams happen, and it’s also going to come around in no time. Isn’t that awesome?
step 3: Choose a career path that excites you
Once you have a visualisation of what you want, write a list of the paths you can take to make your dreams come true.
Think about all your skills, your favourite topics to read and discuss, the hobbies you’d love to turn into a profession and the things you wish you could do but have parked for whatever reason.
Exploring all the different professions you can pursue will help you to discover there’s more things you can do with your career than you initially thought of.
Granted, there may be some things that you think are impossible to pursue. For example, if you’re a HR manager and you have a major love for food and wish you could open a restaurant. But without the budget, relationships, staff and experience it’d be almost impossible to launch your dream restaurant successfully.
But fear not. Instead, think about this dream profession as your end goal, and imagine which job you can do next that will help you get eventually get that job. For example, in this case of the food loving HR manager, it may be that their next role is working in HR for a leading restaurant in the city.
When you have a list of the different paths you can take, pick a profession you think you’d most enjoy doing (and are capable of doing today with your current skill set) and make that your focus for your job search.
step 4: write your gold company hit list
Once you’re clear on which career path(s) you’ll be most interested in pursuing, create your gold company hit list.
This is your wish list of all the companies you would like to work for. And the reason why they have a gold status over every other company is that, like a person you really want to date and win over, these are the companies you want to wine and dine. These are the companies you’ll be creative and go above and beyond for.
You can create your gold company hit list by simply shortlisting the top 5 companies you really, really want to work for.
step 5: Make a decision on what jobs you’re going to apply for
Based on your gold company hit list, you’ll need to make a decision on the specific role you’re going to focus on during your job search.
The more specific you are the better. One of the main reasons multi-talented people struggle to pass the screening round is because they look competent at many things but don’t look like specialists at anything.
An easy way to get around this is to focus on one role you’re going to apply for. Pick a role that is consistently available at companies on your gold company hit list. And if the company you really want to work for doesn’t have a vacancy, no problem! Simply be specific about the role you want to perform for them.
The role you pick will be the basis of what you’ll build your personal brand on.
BEFORE YOU APPLY FOR the job, create your personal brand
Awesome! Now you’ve figured out what you’re meant to do, here comes the fun part – getting hired to do it!
The art to becoming a no-brainer hire is to create a personal brand that makes you irresistible to interview and hire.
But what is a personal brand? And how do you create one?
To answer this question, I’m first going to take a step back and explain what a brand is and why you need one a personal brand for your career.
Many people think a brand is all about logos, tag lines, colours and visual identity. When in reality it’s more than that.
A brand is how a company, celebrity or individual is perceived, represented and what they offer you. A brand is what makes certain products stand out over others.
For example, it’s why someone chooses a Coca-Cola over an unknown drink without even thinking about it logically. It’s why Beyonce has so many beehives and they’ll argue till they turn blue in the face about how awesome her music video is even if someone else made a better music video. They love what she represents and what she creates, even if there are other talented musicians out there.
If you want to stand out, you need to have your own personal brand. How others perceive you, what you represent and what you’re offering is the very thing that will make you stand out, even if other candidates are just as qualified for the position.
Here are the steps you can take to build a brand.
step 6: write a killer elevator pitch
Many hiring managers receive a ton of applications. And if you’re applying for a role that’s particularly competitive, I can guarantee you they’ll be swamped and bored going through the tons of applications they receive because they all look pretty similar.
Use this to your advantage. I repeat, most applications are boring and irrelevant. To stand out from the pack, all you need to do is write an elevator pitch that’s interesting to read and you’ll immediately grab the attention of a recruiter.
Your elevator pitch is your punch line bio which you put at the top of your cover letter, LinkedIn bio and CV. It communicates who you are, what you do and why you’re the perfect candidate for the job in 2-3 sentences.
If a recruiter can’t instantly tell you’re the right person for the role, your application will be ignored. Your elevator pitch immediately helps your application to appear worth reading.
step 7: Write a juicy cover letter
Some people think CV’s are the only important part of the job application. Well, they’re wrong. Many recruiters ignore CV’s if they don’t come with a cover letter. After all, cover letters tell the story of who you are, why you want the job and why you’ll be the right candidate for the role.
Your cover letter is your full blown pitch to get hired. It’s is your chance to make a strong case for why you want this job, what you’ll achieve doing this job and why you’re the ideal person to hire.
If you communicate why you’re the perfect person for the role in an honest, conversational way, you’ll look genuinely interested and suitable for the position.
Get this cover letter right and you’ll be invited for the interview. Screw it up and no one will call you back for an interview let alone hire you.
So whatever you do, don’t rush this step!
step 8: NETWORK BY ARRANGING INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS
The next thing you need to do is connect with someone that already works at the companies on your gold hit list.
While many companies say they like diversity, the reality is candidates that have a relationship with people already working for the company tend to be favoured.
This is because hiring someone off the street is a risky call for any employer. What if the person they hire doesn’t turn out to be kind or reliable or even skilled? It’s too costly a mistake to make.
To minimise risk, many companies incentivise staff to refer their talented friends or acquaintances. That way they can be sure their next hire is legit great.
Trouble is, what if you don’t know someone who works there and can’t get a referral?
Fear not my friend. There’s one small and simple thing you can do to do get a referral from someone on the inside. Simply reach out to someone working at the company doing a similar role to what you want to do and ask if you can do an informational interview.
An informational interview is where you ask someone about their job, what it’s like working there and the types of exciting projects they get up to. This is a super effective way to research the company and is the easiest way to make a connection and get a referral if you don’t already know someone that works there.
LinkedIn is a great tool for this because you don’t need to find peoples e-mail address. Connecting with people on LinkedIn is almost as easy as getting a swipe right on Tinder. Bingo!
step 9: Write a CV that passes the screen test
Your CV is the most critical part of your application. It helps recruiters decide whether you’re qualified for the role. Even if you have a kick butt cover letter and a referral, recruiters won’t move you to the next round if your CV doesn’t match the qualifications and experience listed on the job description.
Make it easy for them. Spell it out simply and clearly. With a quick glance of your CV, recruiters should get a clear picture of the relevant education and experience you have.
A trick for doing this that is often over looked is making your CV look as readable and fascinating to read as possible. Think clean design and clean font. And write your career history and accomplishments in no more than two pages (but preferably one.)
The easiest way to make your CV an interesting read is to imagine you’re explaining the amazing things you’ve achieved to your parents. Your parents may don’t understand every bit of industry jargon and they’d be bored hearing you go on and on about your daily activities. All they want to know is what do you do and what have you achieved. That’s all they’ll remember.
I always recommend avoiding using industry jargon because sometimes it can confuse the hiring manager. If the recipient is confused or bored they won’t clearly understand whether you’re qualified for the position.
Make it easy for yourself by making it easy for them to understand the impact and relevance of what you’ve done.
step 10: Create a branded LinkedIn profile that transforms you into an influencer
The mission of LinkedIn is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Use LinkedIn to help you connect with recruiters and companies. It’s a great resource to build your personal brand and grow your connections online.
Write articles about topics that are relevant to the work you want to do to make you appear like a thought leader. Engage in other peoples posts and show that you really are interested in working in this industry and role.
If you genuinely want to do this role (and you followed the first 5 steps) this will actually be fun and will help you evolve into an influencer in the industry, and more importantly make you a no-brainer hire in the short and long term.
And that’s it! Phew! Thanks for hangin’ in there with me. As a parting gift, I put all of these points into a checklist that you can print out and refer to whenever you’re looking for a new work. You can download the checklist right here or by clicking the image above. Yay!