If you follow your industry closely, you’ll witness the game of musical chairs that happens when one company lures away talent from another. From Ralph Lauren’s new CEO, who was plucked from Old Navy, to an Apple exec who just jumped ship to join luxury goods company LVMH, to Uber—who’s done more poaching than the chef at a breakfast joint—snagging at least 25 people from Twitter since January 2014, poaching is real and it’s happening now.
But it’s not just high-level, high-profile folks who get approached by companies. Anyone can attract interest from a new employer—including you! Here are six steps to becoming simply irresistible on the job market:
1. Put Yourself Out There
Assuming you already have a presence on LinkedIn (and, if not, it’s time to join the 21st century!), there are a few simple ways to use the platform to make yourself easy for hiring managers and recruiters to find and love.
- Add examples of your work (i.e., presentations, articles, projects, videos) that show off your talent.
- Ask colleagues, former co-workers, and clients for recommendations (here’s how).
- Write and share interesting blog posts on your topics of expertise, which—if you have a point of view and strong writing skills—will get read, shared, and liked.
- Optimize your profile for keywords so that you’ll come up in search results.
And, lastly, check “yes” on the “Notify Your Network” button on the sidebar of your profile so that every time you do one of the above, your network will hear about it.
In addition to LinkedIn, which hiring managers and recruiters regularly troll for potential candidates, you can also sign up for an app like Anthology (formerly Poachable), where you can get anonymously matched with companies looking for talent like you.
2. Build a Social Media Following
Are there specific brands and companies you’re interested in working for? If so, follow them on social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Share their news with your own circle so they can see that you’re helping to spread the word about what they’re doing. If it’s a small company, there’s a good chance the social media manager will notice and follow you back. Plus, the more you post, engage, and interact with others, the more likely people will want to follow you. The more followers you have, the more influential you look.
According to a 2015 CareerBuilder survey, 52% of hiring managers are checking candidates’ social media presence before reaching out. So, be smart and use this as an opportunity to make yourself look smart and up on the latest trends relevant to your industry.
3. Connect and Reconnect, Constantly
Let’s not even call it “networking” because that has the word “work” in it and, really, building relationships with people shouldn’t be work at all. It should be fun. It should also be done all of the time—not just when you need something like a new job (or someone to cat-sit for you when on vacation).
If you lightly stay in touch with friends, colleagues, former co-workers, and others in your circle throughout the year, they’re more likely to reach out to you when they hear about a cool job opportunity—especially at their own company, since bringing in good talent will make them look good (and probably score them a sweet referral bonus if you get hired).
4. Find Advocates
Speaking of which, often it really is all about who you know. A recent survey by LinkedIn found that 16% of employees were already connected to a person at the company before getting hired there—so having an ally inside the organization is a big advantage. Also, if you know someone—or someone who knows someone—at a place where you really want to work, let him know you’re interested and it may raise your chances of being approached when a relevant position becomes available.
If you don’t know any employees, think about whether you have connections with others associated with the company, like a consultant, vendor, or client, who can help put in a good word for you.
5. Be Your Own Best Publicist
Promoting yourself is not entirely comfortable for most people—mostly because it feels a lot like bragging. But staying top of mind and reinforcing your value is a great way to get noticed—and ultimately poached. Google yourself—c’mon, we all do it—and see what comes up. That’s what a recruiter, competitor or HR person will see when he or she searches you. If your LinkedIn doesn’t pop up first (and you have a custom URL), think about creating an online portfolio that will.
Have you spoken at any industry events, written a blog post lately, won any awards? If so, be sure to share that on social media—and even use it as an opportunity to send an FYI note to your contacts. Or, you can go above and beyond by launching your own newsletter to share the latest.
6. Set Up Informational Interviews
I’m a big fan of informational interviews because they’re not about a specific position, but rather designed to get to know each other in a more casual way. Assuming you hit it off (professionally), this can lead to a real job opportunity when the time comes.
You can approach them the old-fashioned way (“I’m interested in your career and would love to pick your brain”), or impress the person right off the bat by identifying areas in which you could help the company with a pain point. If you take that route, find out who the right decision-maker would be and reach out to him or her as directly as possible.
Introduce yourself, share your reason for reaching out (i.e., “I noticed your head of marketing just left and I have some ideas for how you can improve your social media footprint without too much extra effort”) and ask if you can set up a 20-minute meeting or phone call at a convenient time. Then, prep for the meeting really well and prepare to wow the person.
Following this advice should help raise your profile and marketability so you get more proactive emails from companies interested in you—think of it as winning that proverbial game of musical chairs, instead of being the slowpoke who gets left out when the music stops.