Perhaps once it was that simple to get recognition for your achievements, but times have changed. There are now more young people out of work than ever before, and it’s certainly not because they aren’t skilled. In fact, they’re more educated than generations that came before them and yet, the number of graduates who are able to translate this academic route into a job role is dwindling.
With more highly qualified people available for work, the jobs market becomes incredibly competitive. And this doesn’t just apply to students, although it is inevitable that they will be hungry to get on the jobs ladder just as much as the next person seeking employment.
If anything, younger workers may be the preferred option. As ‘juniors’ they can be cheaper, and they are also willing to be moulded, unlike older generations where traditions and old habits may be difficult to shift.
Looking at the employment plain overall, it’s clear to see why knowing how to sell yourself effectively is vital. It doesn’t matter whether you are going for a new job role, hoping for a promotion or if you want to become an expert in a niche area.
If for no other reason, knowing how to market yourself properly is about protection as much as it is about progression. Think about the amount of redundancies that have occurred since the beginning of the recession. If you were in the running for the chop, would you be able to defend your worth?
The following action points should help you to stand out from the crowd, no matter what you are trying to achieve.
1. Always be yourself
It’s been reported that a large number of people lie on their CV. Only recently, it emerged that Scott Thompson, the chief executive of Yahoo! “embellished his academic credentials” claiming that he had obtained a computer science degree. It later turned out this wasn’t the case and despite his company stating that he is a great employee with a great track record of success, the point was, he achieved the position unfairly, and on the basis of false information.
Although there was a positive in there (his company was happy to label him as a great employee) his reputation is now tainted. Reinventing yourself and lying are two very different things. How can you expect others to like you if you didn’t like yourself enough to show people who you are? It’s counterproductive and you’re creating more work for yourself playing pretend.
2. Don’t be cocky. In fact, do.
The key here is to have the goods to back your claims. No-one wants to work with a know-it-all if teamwork is essential in that environment. That said, sometimes ballsy personalities make for great sales persons and can push the boundaries of a team’s structure. Judging when it’s appropriate is key.
Also, you’re well within your right to let potential employers/industries/colleagues – whoever it may be that you’re trying to impress! – know how good you are at certain tasks. In fact, you’d be wasting your time if you weren’t bothering to highlight your strong points.
If you’re claiming to be an expert in area, prove it. Actions speak louder than words. Start a blog commenting on your industry. Visit trade shows and keep abreast of new developments. Just saying you are good at sales or teamwork or management isn’t enough.
3. Know the market
This is an easy one. Do your research! There is such a wealth of information out there, that there really is no excuse to not be fully brushed up on the area you want to stand out in.
Putting in the time means you should be able to have a two-way conversation with a potential employer as opposed to an interview question-and-answer session.
If you are looking for a new job, or for a promotion, be realistic. Look for the average wages in this area. Asking for higher than this amount will look both cheeky and like you haven’t bothered to investigate the details.
4. Network online.
A lot of business is still a lot about who you know and not necessarily about what you know. A virtual ‘meeting’ could put you in the path of the person that could transform your career.
We say ‘virtual’ because, let’s face it, with such stiff employment competition, there simply isn’t the time for managers to meet everyone that needs help. Providing something useful for them could show off your strengths, put you in their good books and make you first on their list if a position opens up.
Another benefit to an online presence is your accessibility. Google your own name, and what do you see? If there is anything there that you wouldn’t want your employers to see, you’ve got some work to do. If you aren’t in the search results at all, to some people, you simply don’t exist.
Get onto LinkedIn. Start a blog. Try tweeting other industry professionals. Connecting through the internet means you can access those you can’t in person. This could potentially build a relationship. Remember, it’s who you know.
5. Don’t forget about your USP
What makes you so special? The hard truth is that there are plenty of other people who could do your job just as well, if not better than you.
It’s a hard one to accept but once you do, you are then more focused to sell your strong points, and admit your shortfalls. Many interviewers will ask what your weakness is. If you claim that you have none, you look pompous and unprepared. Make sure you know what you could develop, and make conscious and decent efforts to act upon this. Take an extra course. Read the right text books. Attend the relevant trade events. The fact that you are trying to better yourself will speak volumes and should increase your confidence as well as your CV.