I’m stuck in what I would say is a “rut.” I’ve been employed at my current position for a little over eight years and am sort of stuck. There’s no chance of advancement. I’m bored and know that I have many transferable skills (in pharmaceutical sales); however, because I don’t have direct experience in the area I want to take my career, I can’t even get an interview.
I’ve been sending out my resume for over a year now. I had it professionally assessed by someone experienced in this line of work, so I know it’s professional and highlights my transferable skills. I feel incredibly confident that if I could just obtain an interview, I’d be well on my way to getting the job. Any suggestions or insights on how else I can promote myself to stand out? I’m at a loss!!
You just struck a chord with 90% of people who have tried to apply for jobs online. It’s tricky; you can’t ignore the standard application process, but what do you do when the portals become black holes? Assuming you’ve already been tweaking your resume and customizing your cover letter every time you apply for an opening, following up, and still getting no response, it’s time to take other action.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and I’m here to help you navigate it all so that you get interviews (and, subsequently, offers).
Build Your Personal Brand
Once you’ve decided to delve into a new line of work, one of the most important (and fun) things you can do is establish your personal brand. This is effective for two reasons. First, when a recruiter believes you’re a good candidate based on your resume, they will almost always Google your name or try to find you on LinkedIn before contacting you. You want the information that they find to further sell you as a great candidate.
Second, a strong and comprehensive online profile could get you found before you even know about an opening. Being directly contacted by a recruiter is entirely possible (and if you want to learn more about getting poached, check out what recruiter Jaclyn Westlake has to say).
If you’re in the early stages of building your brand, here’s what you need to know:
Make sure you have a completed LinkedIn profile that aligns with your resume. A high-quality headshot and full, detailed summary that demonstrates your passion for your new industry are essential components. The summary’s also a great place to sell your transferable skills.
Create a personal website. No need to take an HTML/CSS class when SquareSpace exists to make your life easier. Think of this as an online business card: Having one is essential, regardless of how many (or few) bells and whistle it contains.
Manage your social media. Tweeting about your profession or posting pictures of industry networking events can help paint a more complete picture of you and your aspirations. On the flip side, your social profiles are another thing a recruiter’s going to see if and when he searches your name online, so make sure they don’t contain anything you wouldn’t be proud to share.
I should note that you want your brand to reflect both passion and skill in the industry you’re seeking. If you can’t honestly do that right now, then you’ll need to take a class, find a side gig, or volunteer so that you do have that experience. Then make sure that’s highlighted on your personal site or on your LinkedIn profile.
Work Your Network
Ask a career coach the best way to find a new job and they’ll respond the same way: network. If you know someone who can be your internal champion, the digital application will be far from the only thing you have to snag the hiring manager’s attention. There are no shortcuts or secrets to building a network overnight, but there are definitely some best practices you can implement starting now:
Set a goal to connect with five relevant people per week. LinkedIn’s probably your best bet for this, but you can also find people on Twitter or through personal websites containing a “contact me” page. Some industries even have their own resources for connecting with others in your field (For example, Angellist is one for the startup community).
Work on getting to know your new connections. Make a plan to set up one informational interview every week. Sitting down (in real life) with someone who is doing the job you want and learning everything you can about it will give you talking points for reaching out to other industry folks—and it may put you at the forefront of their mind in the event that there’s an opening at their company. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice on getting your foot in the door.
Take advantage of hiring events, meetups, professional mixers, or any other industry event happening in your area and meet people who can give you more insight into a specific job, and maybe even recommend you for a role when the time comes.
A well-developed personal brand and an active, thriving network could be just the thing to get you past the application process and to the interview stage. Unlike job applications, these tools will continue to improve your job search for years to come. So get started! When you focus on the right pieces of the job search you won’t just see more interviews, you might even start to enjoy them.
This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Credible Career Coach in the subject line.
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