Note about this post: This article will expand on things that I feel everyone would benefit from knowing (not just entrepreneurs). After speaking with many of you who regularly read my blog or listen to my podcast, it was clear that a lot of you are currently in a full-time job and looking to either make a career change or start a new job before building your own business. That being said, even if you are currently running a business full-time, I hope these tips on blogging and personal branding will spark new ideas for you too.
This post is based off of my analysis of the trends I’ve seen developing with social media and the online ‘world’. I recently discussed this on a morning show in Portland as I feel we are now at a point where almost everyone in 2017 should have some form of an online presence and a website. If not, I believe a huge opportunity will be missed.
If you are looking for a new job or to make a career change, it seems that the sole conversation around social media or being online is to avoid it (because heaven forbid your potential employers see you with an alcoholic drink in your hand) or perhaps setting up a LinkedIn profile.
However, according to Monster.com (and numerous other reports), at least 77% of employers will Google your name before deciding to meet you in person. That then leads to the question, why leave those search results up to chance? What if you could amass an online following, have control over what potential employers see of you, and open the doors to new job opportunities?
I believe the days of only freelancers, businesses or entrepreneurs having an online presence is shifting and I’m going to explain how you can use this trend to your advantage. I’m also going to share why only a small percentage of people are doing this, and how you can use the power of the internet and our online ‘economy’ to your advantage (even if you’re just starting out).
The Big Why
Let’s first start by taking a look at the current system:
Currently, social media is normally used for personal use (such as sharing a photo of your latest meal or that funny cat video… 😉 ). Depending on your privacy settings, some of your photos or posts (especially if they were from a while ago) may be available for the public to see. Then, when you start applying for jobs, your potential employer Googles your name and you are left hoping only positive things show up.
Personally, this seems extremely inefficient. Even if nothing shows up when your name is searched, that also means that there is nothing memorable about you when you’re being compared to other candidates.
However, what if the process looked a bit more like this:
You embrace the power of social media, create a website and share your knowledge/insights on your industry. Your potential employers then can Google your name (or see your website listed on your resume) and you immediately stand out by proving your credibility and showing them you know what you’re talking about.
Another added benefit from having a website from the beginning is that if you do want to start your own business one day, you will already have a website that has traffic driving to it and built trust with your following. That makes the transition much easier than starting from scratch!
I’m going to come back to the latter sequence but first, here’s an example of an individual ‘job seeker’ that received incredible results from utilizing the power of having a personal website.
The Resume That Went Viral
Back in 2013, a man by the name of Philippe Dubost was searching for a job. After sending in resume after resume, he decided to implement a more creative approach to his job search. He created a personal website that looked like the Amazon shopping site but, customized the page so it reflected his experience and achievements.
The result? Over a million views in 8 days and a line up of job offers.
Now, this of course goes without saying, results aren’t typical. However, while your own website likely won’t go viral, it can have the same impact on the visitors and your potential employers.
This can be done by using a website to share your knowledge (via blogging, videos etc.), showcase your personality, and establish your credibility to really stand out.
But, before I go through how to blog effectively, there is one important element we need to focus on first: becoming a personal brand.
See Yourself as a Brand
When I say ‘brand’, I’m not referring to a company, logo or any of the things we commonly associate with that term. In this case I will be referencing Marty Neumeier’s definition which is the feeling that your audience (i.e. potential employers, web visitors etc.) have of you.
This is key.
We are all humans with emotions, no matter the industry. By understanding this, you can work on building rapport and creating a genuine connection with potential employers; something that simply cannot be translated on a paper resume or LinkedIn bio.
I see it as a melting pot of personal attributes, skills, experience and knowledge. Individually, no matter how smart or talented you are, there will always be someone else that carries one of those traits too.
Becoming a Personal Brand
So how do you build trust with an audience or your potential employers online? The beauty of this question is that it’s not something that can be paid for and there isn’t a way to fast track the results. It can only be achieved by delivering consistent value, sharing insights and offering solutions. In other words: it’s fair game for everyone, no matter who you are or where you’re starting from.
There are a few ways you can do this with a website but I feel the most straightforward and effective method is to start a blog or post videos to share your knowledge.
By doing this consistently, you allow yourself to become an irreplaceable ‘commodity’ in the job market. You are no longer relying on a resume (that 100% of other candidates have) to show you are skilled or educated, now you are proving it.
In fact, in a sea of of talent and competition, skill is no longer something you can rely on to stand out. Having a degree or years of relevant experience are likely just another box you tick in the process.
Skill and talent alone, are replaceable.
I’m going to say that again because it is so important…skill and talent alone, are replaceable. You may be good at what you do but, there are likely 5 – 10 other people that are just as skilled with similar work experience on their resumes.
What makes you an invaluable resource and stand out to your potential employers is you and your personal brand.
It’s now time to use your website and blog to share your knowledge and expertise. This is important as you are using it to prove why you are credible.
However, rather than writing articles or posts about generic topics in your industry, I challenge you to find the conversation that is not being discussed.
Whether or not you agree with the consensus of a certain topic, still try to find a unique angle to write about.
We see this over and over, especially in the current political climate where the articles, television skits, and posts on social media always seem to be of the same rhetoric.
The result? Your voice is added to the rest of the noise and while people may agree, they have read that same perspective 100 times and quite frankly, it feels repetitive.
What may have been an extremely valid point has now been diminished by the lack of attention it drew.
Questioning vs. Reporting.
When an event happens that could provide you with a very relevant and valuable post, most of the time I will see people ‘reporting’ rather than questioning the facts in front of them.
They will express their opinions but, it’s on the same part of a story that everyone else is.
While it’s harder to do, I challenge you to question what is in front of you and start a new discussion. Be creative and write content that is not only unique but thought provoking.
One of my favourite examples of how this can be done is from Canadian lifestyle blogger, Elise Purdon. She wrote about a popular topic but shared a completely different point of view than what most people were doing.
The trending story was about a young Instagramer who decided to ‘quit’ social media (you likely read about this). News outlets, blogs, and television shows were all covering it but, it was always the same point: social media is bad.
Elise harnessed this story’s popularity but made everyone stop when she discussed it in a completely different way. She shared her opinion on social media and why it wasn’t as negative as people were saying. She also shared her experiences being a fashion blogger and provided points to back up her message. It was an absolutely brilliant way to share her voice, express her beliefs and still have it reflect a relevant discussion.
You Can Do This
While there are numerous ways you can stand out online, I hope this post has inspired you to take a creative approach with your future endeavors. Whether your next step is to find a new job or perhaps change careers so you can support your dreams of running a business, I encourage you to always find ways to set yourself apart. Remember, you have the almost infinite possibilities of the internet (something previous generations never had the opportunity of) and by taking advantage of this now (before it’s common practice) I know it will open doors for you. 🙂
Wait! If you have 2 mins to spare… leave a comment below letting me know what your biggest takeaway was! 💁🏽