A lot of job seekers who have not yet landed a job point to marketing as a key concern. It is true that your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile are important to your job search. By all means, maintain an updated, error-free resume. Write a compelling cover letter with your unique voice and value proposition. Optimize your LinkedIn profile for your dream career. Strong marketing is especially helpful in getting started on the path to a new job.
A clear and comprehensive resume CAN get you considered
Most job applications require a resume. If you apply unsolicited, the resume is often the first thing prospective employers see. Resumes are skimmed in seconds. If your resume is clear enough to be easily read and comprehensive enough to reflect a potential match to the job, it can land you an interview.A cover letter CAN help you to steer where prospective employers focus
The resume has a rigid structure and is written in abbreviated bullet points. However, the cover letter is in prose that you can shape to highlight exactly what you want prospective employers to know about you. You pick and choose what experience to detail, which skills to highlight and what personal attributes make you uniquely qualified. The cover letter is a sales letter, and if you tailor it to the role you want, you make a case for why a prospective employer should want you to meet with you about the role. Note that the cover letter is to make the hiring team want to meet you, not hire you – there are a lot more steps in hiring.
A keyword-rich relevant LinkedIn profile CAN help you get discovered
A keyword-rich LinkedIn profile has lots of keywords that can help you get picked up when recruiters search for candidates. However, you also want your keywords to be relevant to jobs you actually want, to speak to the hiring managers and recruiters looking to fill these jobs and to represent experience that you can back up in interviews and work samples. The About/ Summary portion of LinkedIn is like a mini-cover letter, highlighting for readers what you want them to know.
Thoughtful, ongoing LinkedIn activity CAN support a career pivot
Unlike a resume or cover letter, your LinkedIn profile is active, if you post your ideas and insights, or at least curate and comment on other content. This activity is one example of what you know, how you think and how you might approach an issue or problem. If you’re a career changer, thoughtful ongoing activity related to your new target field can help peers in the field see you as a colleague, rather than an outsider. The social networking aspect of LinkedIn – e.g., making connections, joining groups – can help you access decision-makers or influencers for the jobs you want.
Even the best marketing CANNOT land you a job
It is the networking aspect of LinkedIn, not the static marketing profile, that nurtures relationships with decision-makers and influencers. Even the best marketing, whether via LinkedIn, cover letter or resume is insufficient because it only gives you an opening. You still have to close. If you rely solely on marketing, you cede control of your job search to whoever happens to read your resume or find your LinkedIn profile. Many cover letters aren’t read, and some applications don’t even ask for one.
In addition to marketing, you have to be responsive if someone does call. I can’t tell you how many candidates I have contacted in my 20+ years of recruiting who don’t respond at all or get back to me days, weeks or even months after my initial outreach. Your interviewing skills need to be strong and your stories, examples and discussion points should align with your marketing. You also need strong references because prospective employers will ask, and you don’t want to scramble at the last minute.
Most importantly, keep multiple leads in play. If you’re interviewing with one company, even if you’re in the late stages and things look rosy, continue to submit to other postings. Continue to meet new people and nurture existing contacts. Continue to refine your marketing as you get a better sense for what prompts prospective employers and recruiters to reach out.
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