If you are searching for a new role – or thinking that you may need to soon, now’s the time to put together a personal marketing plan. Effective job search demands active outreach to those who may help you find the right opportunity as well as to target employers.

Learning to think of yourself as a product is critical. This includes discovering what you are ‘selling’ and how to emphasis those aspects that most appeal to the right employers. Once you know your ‘product’ and have clarified the value you offer employers, it is time for a marketing campaign. The simple tips below are designed to support your search.

Tip 1. Up Your Social Media Visibility

Search your own name to see what comes up. Is it what you want folks to see? Are most recent and best information links showing on the first page of results? What else will you do to help your visibility?

Lots of good info is available on personal branding – read some articles and pick out a few tips to follow through. Great branding requires you to have a specific focus in terms of both the roles which interest you and the employers you are targeting.

Check your LinkedIn profile. If you were starting it now, does it show what you need?  Don’t just update your profile summary, consider a complete review and re-do. (Yes, first turn off the updates – there is a button on your profile editing page to do that.)

  • Is your headshot a crisp picture of you in appropriate business attire, smiling?
  • Does your profile summary clearly convey your relevant skills, current experience, and the value you add?
  • Do you show boring job descriptions or great snapshots of your achievements and results?
  • Have you used the best keywords for your work and desired employers?
  • Is there good grammar and correct spelling throughout?

Ask a few trusted contacts to review your profile and make suggestions. Enlist some past bosses and others who know your work to write recommendations – recruiters and hiring managers look for these.

Update your status regularly. Share relevant industry articles. Contribute to the most important groups in your career field. Consider joining others that may be useful. Skip posting political commentary, animal videos, or quizzes. You want to be seen as smart and engaged in your field, someone who adds value to any effort.

Learn how to use Twitter for job search tips. Also to connect with target employers and their recruiters. Follow company pages on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Also consider using a personal website, a portfolio, Twitter feed, or blog as ways to show what you offer to potential employers.

Tip 2. Use Email and Voicemail to Support Your Goals

Consider a separate email for your job search – it makes the process easier to track and keep going quickly. Make sure your email address is professional and clear. A simple Name@ is fine. JoeSchmoePMP@ or MaryMindCISSP@ are great ways to remind people of a key skill or certification you offer. Set up a useful email signature. Include your name, your preferred contact details, and a line or two about your work interests.

Keep your voicemail message professional and brief. If you are not allowed to use a cellphone at work but still want to include it as a way to contact you, state that you return messages at 1-2 specific times each day and when.

Tip 3. Use Your Network Effectively

Too often we start a job search by blasting out a request for a job to all we know. Not smart, rarely effective. Instead:

  • Think about your network and segment it into categories by each category of help you need – ideas, info on target employers, references, contacts, support.
  • Figure out the easiest way for you to keep track of your actions with each person and do so.
  • Set a weekly target for the number of people you will contact for ideas and support, then act. Make the number realistic! You are not going to write a meaningful note or have a great conversation with 25-50 people each week.
  • Keep records and follow-up as needed. Remember to say thanks and to give back too!

Tip 4. Business Cards

Investing in a business card specifically to support your job search pays off. Go for a simple style and be sure to use both sides.

  • Side 1 includes the basics of name, desired job type, social media links – such as your personalized LinkedIn URL, and contact information.
  • Side 2 offers a brief ‘highlights’ list about you – include hot skills/expertise, relevant certifications, whatever else is most important to your target employers.

These cards are great for meetings you attend and other professional events. Use when talking with people at community or kid’s events and any other place you may be connecting with people. They offer people a quick and easy way to remember you and contact you. That makes it easier to help you with your search. Take them along on job interviews as well as when attending community events or job fairs.

Job search is tough enough. Developing a plan to market yourself includes using every means possible. Writing it down helps you to keep on track and execute it effectively. Use all your resources to help achieve your goals rapidly.