For many new graduates encountering the job market for the first time, they’re discovering a very harsh and competitive environment. Whilst UK unemployment has been falling recently, the number of long-term jobless has hit a 17-year high illustrating that competition for jobs has never be tougher for both young and experienced professionals.
However, with the explosion of social media and other digital communication channels, it’s sometimes difficult to understand why prospective employees still rely primarily on the trusty 2-page CV to promote themselves. Whilst still a very important tool, the CV often paints a very one-dimensional picture of one’s professional history, skills and achievements.
In contrast, digital channels such as websites, blogs, podcasts and social networks can be used to build up a much deeper, more fluid representation of one’s interests, passions and professional experience. When we look at what these channels can do, it’s hard to imagine how this could be effectively captured within a standard CV.
The Modern Marketing Manifesto
In May this year Econsultancy introduced their Modern Marketing Manifesto. The manifesto aims to outline why Econsultancy believe marketing is increasingly valuable and to define what it is to be a modern marketer. The manifesto doesn’t look at digital and traditional marketing in isolation. Instead, it considers how the two can be fused to reconstitute what modern marketing is today.
The two manifestos successfully sum up where the modern marketing landscape should be heading and offers clues as to where marketers should be focusing their efforts. Using this as a backdrop, it’s possible to begin looking at the tools, tactics and channels modern marketers should be using to demonstrate who they are, what they believe in and the top skills many recruiters are looking for.
What do you want to do?
From the outset, it’s important to be clear about what type of marketer you are and the role you’re looking for. Knowing what you believe in and where your passions lie will allow you to shape and refine the messages you want to communicate and identify the channels that will work best for you.
Although it’s often easier and less costly to own a free profile on a social network or blogging site, I believe it’s important to create a self-hosted website that allows you to own your very own piece of digital real-estate. You’ll have more control over visibility and user experience as well as design and the way content is presented.
Based on the previous section (‘what do you want to do’), decide how you want to position yourself, your site and what it will be about. It could be a blog or simply a professional landing page/ nameplate site.
Blogging is one of the most effective ways of building authority and thought-leadership and gives anyone the opportunity to publish their work, ideas and designs in a multitude of formats.
Blogging also offers you the opportunity of getting noticed within both search and social. Great blog content can help you rank in search engines for what you specialise in (e.g. ‘digital marketing specialist Manchester’) and original, helpful, unique content is more likely to get shared across social channels, especially Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
If you decide to blog, you may also want to consider blogging for others people’s sites, too. Guest blogging can give enthusiastic bloggers an extra way of getting their message out to often a wider and more diverse audience.
Writing for sites other than your own can add credibility and shows employers or potential clients that you have the skill and flexibility to adapt your writing and thinking to different situations.
Social media has been a real game-changer for job-seekers and potential employers alike. Never before have people had the opportunity to craft and shape their message with so much freedom and reach such a wide audience at the push of a button.
There are hundreds of social networking platforms to choose from but only so many can be effectively managed at one time. Some social networks are likely to be more useful than others to showcase your professional skills although each will also be dependent on where your interests lie.
One of the first things many recruiters will do is to check out prospective employees’ profiles on LinkedIn, so at the very least it’s worth making sure you have a detailed, up-to-date record of your work history, skills and achievements.
However, LinkedIn is so much more than a place to store one’s online CV. As a professional social network, LinkedIn gives users the opportunity to update their newsfeed with original and curated stories as well as join and participate in groups around the subjects they’re interested in.
Twitter is a brilliant way of connecting with like-minded individuals and thought leaders in any field anywhere in the world.
The real value of Twitter lies in its brevity and the ability it gives users to easily share other people’s content (e.g. through retweets) and start conversations around tweets and hashtags. It’s also another way of demonstrating what you’re interested in by curating content from others you’re following. For example, if your interests lie in social media, regularly sharing and commenting on tweets from experts like Brian Solis, Jeremiah Owyang or Mitch Joel is a great way of demonstrating how you’re keeping up-to-date.
Although it may not have the appeal of Twitter, the professional reputation of LinkedIn or the sheer popularity of Facebook, Google+ is brilliant ‘information network’, allowing you to keep on top of the top trends in marketing.
Many of the influencers on Google+ are passionate advocates of their areas of marketing and building a profile and engaging with followers on Google+ is brilliant for not only developing your own knowledge by discovering new and interesting content but also for syndicating your own ideas and interests.
While often considered the less glamorous cousin of the ‘big 4’ social networks, SlideShare is super platform for demonstrating your skills and experience in a much more visual format through slides and presentations.
Pinterest/ Instagram/ Flickr
The increase in popularity of photo-sharing sites and apps like Pinterest and Instagram prove that great imagery and photography is an effective way of connecting with others.
Whilst it’s not quite as obvious how photo-sharing can build an online curriculum vitae, I’d argue that the huge popularity of Instagram and Pinterest, as well as the dependable Flickr, are great platforms for showing off your personality, sharing pictures from professional events and if you’re a creative, a brilliant way of demonstrating your ideas and concepts.
Despite the many benefits of developing and showcasing your skills online, there is still a huge amount of value in networking and meeting people in real life.
Attending conferences and summits is an excellent way of fine-tuning your knowledge whilst meeting fellow professionals in between seminars and keynotes. Getting to know others in your field of interest at conferences and networking events will allow you to make a more personal connection and guide them towards your website and digital profiles where they can discover more about you online.
Although digital channels offer job-seekers a big opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and reach a wide audience, the humble CV should still not be forgotten. Most recruiters and employers will use CVs as the first stage in the vetting process for new employees so it’s important that your CV is professionally written alongside a compelling cover letter tailored for every role you apply for.
A version of this post was originally published on Smart Insights on 10th September 2013. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure!