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The Packaging

The Packaging

In her latest column for Changing Careers Magazine, Angela discusses how to package yourself, whether you’re changing your career, just starting out or looking for a new role.

The first thing that is often seen of you by the ‘buyer’ – who is your prospective employer – is your CV and covering letter. This is your advertisement, your marketing tool and it has to be convincing and leaving the buyer wanting to know more. If you think about the buyer and what’s in their mind, it’s simple; they need someone to fill a gap.

What they don’t want is someone who is going to lose them business or waste money and they will avoid anyone who even hints at that. Danger signs for an employer include short stays at employers, gaps in the CV and huge diversity. The buyer needs to be able to read the CV, understand easily what you have done so far and what you are aiming to do in the future.

Although it is a marketing tool, your CV must not contain every superlative you can think of to describe yourself; things like ‘hard-working’ should go without saying. Instead, provide hard evidence of things you have done to back up that statement. You need to position yourself as a solution provider and make it clear what your major achievements are and ensure they are relevant to the reader.

The next part of your packaging is your social media footprint. Start with your LinkedIn profile. This is a massive advertising window for you because it is often the first port of call for recruiters – both agency and recruiters looking for new staff for their own company. Jobs are advertised there and you can be found on there if someone is searching for your skills. You need to ensure that this ‘window to the business world’ looks like you want it to before anyone sees it! The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can update it easily whenever you want and as many times as you want. Use a business-like headshot– no headshot is an absolute no-no – and a social one is not recommended at all.

I would suggest that even Facebook has a role in your job search, despite the fact that it is probably all about your social life and your connections are family and friends. You absolutely must ensure that your Facebook is locked. I have on more than one occasion not appointed a candidate because I have seen things on their Facebook that don’t reflect the sort of person I need to hire. You must keep it on lock down and review this regularly because Facebook frequently alters settings.

However, within your Facebook network, you have the opportunity to reach out to see if anyone can help you. A status saying; “I am looking for my first job in (ADD SECTOR), does anyone know anyone who works in this area who they can introduce me to – inbox me if so,” might just obtain a critical contact for you. You will be amazed how many of your contacts’ friends, parents or siblings work in your chosen niche!

Regarding Twitter, the same applies. Once you follow important people within your chosen industry, they might look at you. What will they see? If it’s not in line with your professional image then keep your existing one for personal use and lock down your settings and set up another, more professional account.

You should also be networking constantly. You may not have business cards at this stage but they are a worthwhile investment. Keep them simple and plain; just your full name, email address and mobile number. Give yourself a title relating to your job search, e.g. Analyst if you want to be an analyst and so on. Once you start calling yourself something, other people will too and you will hear recruiters saying to each other, “I have an analyst on our books” just because that is the title on the CV or business card! You can order business cards on the internet for very little cost or even free.

Once you have done the groundwork in terms of the materials you present to prospective employers, it’s vital to consider yourself and start to cultivate the brand you want. Think about your values and be clear what they are, what is important to you? This boils down to your values and what you think is admirable. Once you are clear on this you can start to become the best version of yourself.

This comes down to visualisation – think about someone you really admire and would like to be. What is it about them that you admire? When you have an answer to that then you will be able to document your values and know what it is you want people to think and say about you. What image do you want to cultivate and project? If you want to work in a corporate environment, pick an image of someone who you think looks very corporate and who fits right in. Then question that image: what is it about that person that makes them fit in? Then when you have decided on that, you can copy it! Whether we like it or not, research says that more than 90% of our decision-making is based on what we see and not what we hear. Therefore how we look and behave and appear is hugely important in order to be hired.

That’s not to say that what you say and how you say it is not vitally important. Your voice is a powerful and influential aspect of your brand. Clearer, louder voices convey more confidence; practise speaking more clearly and at a louder volume. If your voice tends to go higher when you are nervous, try to take the pitch down a little. Read out paragraphs to yourself and record them on your phone. Do this with your normal voice and then with a slightly louder, deeper, clearer voice. You will be able to see for yourself which one sounds more confident and it is the more confident voice that you should cultivate to use in any employment situation. Another good tip is to speak out loud in front of a mirror or get someone to watch you and give you feedback. Tell them to be hard on you!

Mannerisms are things you do without really thinking but they convey so much and if you can control them it will help to project a confident image. Mannerisms mainly relate to body language but can also relate to things that you say and the way you say them too. Mannerisms to avoid are folding arms, slouching in a chair, tapping a foot or a pen, speaking with eyes closed or looking away when speaking. Develop sitting up straight, giving great eye contact, folding hands in lour lap so as not to use them too much, folding ankles, smiling, not interrupting, listening well, and being enthusiastic. All of these will put the other person at ease too and they will enjoy speaking to you more.

You can do so much to enhance your own brand, but to have other people say great things about you does wonders for building your reputation. Start by gathering testimonials from anyone who might be relevant. Testimonials are like references but are shorter and less formal; usually they are just a couple of sentences and say things like; “John worked as a weekend shop assistant for me and during that time I was extremely impressed with how hard he worked and how reliable he was – I would highly recommend him.” Something like this when said in similar ways by a few people and presented together in one place can have a remarkable impact. If you have packaged yourself well, testimonials will serve to confirm what a potential employer already knows.