Five ideas to differentiate your career branding

How you differentiate yourself is critical for a successful job search.  With double-digit unemployment, every little nuance of your personal marketing package can make a difference between getting the interview and getting “the job”.  Here are five ideas to make you stand out from the pack.

1) Back to the future:  Everyone emails their resume and/or applies online. Why not go the extra mile and actually mail your resume to the hiring manager? Even better, consider sending the letter via certified mail or Fed X. (I got my first job after college by sending Human Resources a certified letter.) Sending an email is easy, but utilizing traditional mail shows deep interest and a second opportunity to stand out before the “applicant tracking software” takes over.

2) Present professionally: Consider using professional folders, high quality linen stock papers, slightly less mainstream colored paper, acetate covers, professional binding etc… Have professionally printed business cards, a professional looking personal website and be sure to slightly over dress for the role.

3) Prepare Differently: Approach any meeting or interview like it is a multi million dollar sales opportunity.  That means show up with a well thought out presentation, not just your resume. The presentation should have a well constructed outline that ends with a clear statement as to how you can solve problems for and add value for the hiring manager and their company.

4) Walk the walk, not just talk the talk: Document a mini case study of a problem you faced in your career, the solution you came up with, and explain the result/outcome.  Have facts and figures to back up your statements. Then be sure to relate this back to the company and position you are applying for.  To often candidates only speak about what they have done, as opposed to what they, can and will do, for the hiring company.

5) Personal Introductions/Referrals: Finding a way to get a message to a hiring manager through a “connected conatact” is perhaps the best way to begin to differentiate yourself as a strong candidate for a position.  You can not put enough emphasis on having a contact of the hiring manager suggest a candidate.  Even if the suggestion comes once removed, with so many candidates for every position, this may be one of the ultimate differentiators.  By leveraging LinkedIn, Facebook and other online social networking tools, this has become easier than ever before.  Simply mine your coneections until you find a contact at the hiring contact.  Then ask your friend for the power introduction.  this may sound like an uncomfirtable process for many, but it happens every single day in business, and in this market, everyone needs to differentiate.

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