The Key To Job Search Success? Try Branding Yourself!

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Dan Schawbel Anyone who owns a computer knows that simply sending out blanket resumes to random employers just doesn't cut it in today's job market. The old methods of searching for a job and attending networking events have been replaced by a more viable online employment quest, utilizing social media, online networking, video promotion and more.

According to author and career expert Dan Schawbel, while a resume may still remain an important part of helping to grab an employer's or headhunter's attention, you also need a unique and special edge to stand out from the pack. Schawbel is a managing partner of Millennial Branding LLC, and a leading authority on what he calls "personal branding."

In Schawbel's revised and updated book, 'ME 2.0: Four Steps to Building Your Future,' he stands firmly behind the belief that your single greatest asset for success is your own self. However, the key to that success is developing your skills and assets, via social networking and other media outlets, into a personal brand that can be skillfully leveraged and crafted to build a bright future.

AOL spoke with Schawbel about his updated book and how personal branding can open a new world of professional and social opportunity.

Q. Describe what you mean by "personal branding" and how important is it to achieve success in today's job market.

A. Personal branding is the process by which you uncover what makes you special and desirable in the marketplace, and then communicate your value to the right audience. It's important as a tool because it empowers you to take advantage of your talents, get attention and the career satisfaction you deserve. In today's job market, where the unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, the only way to differentiate yourself and become visible to employers is by establishing yourself. If you fail to develop your brand, it will be extremely difficult to network, be discovered by employers, and achieve your potential.

Q. You've revised and updated your earlier edition of 'Me 2.0.' Why?

A. I realized how much technology had changed in a little under a year. I also had a lot of new material that I could include, and I wanted to make it a bit more relevant to other age groups, not just Gen Y. My audience has grown to be mainstream these days, and executives are primarily the people that hire me for consulting. It's also very important that the book is updated with the latest tools and strategies so that people stay relevant with the times, and ahead of the pack

personal networkingHow has the Internet changed the way we look for, and obtain, professional success in the job market?

The Internet has completely revolutionized the way in which we manage our brands, and our careers, forever. There's no going back either! I look at the internet as the global talent pool. It's a place where 80 percent of companies are searching for information about you in Google, Facebook, and other search engines and social networks. If you aren't found, then you don't exist, and if you are found, you will be judged based on what exists under your name.

In order to become part of the global talent pool, thus having a chance to compete in the economy, you need your own website (yourfullname.com), as well as profiles on social networks. You will need to manage your online identify for the rest of your life, as it is part of who you are and how the world will interact with you.

Q. Many folks hate the job they have or are forced to take into today's economy. How can personal branding turn one's passion into a business?

A. You need to identify what makes you different, what your passion is, what your strengths are, and what your short-term and long-term goals are. If you fail to do this, it will be extremely hard for you to become employed in today's economy because employers have a different set of expectations for job seekers. If two candidates have the same professional background, but one is more excited about the position, they will get it.

Employers want to hire individuals who have good soft skills, which includes interpersonal communication, teamwork, and organizational skills. If you have the right amount of passion, determination, persistence, and a reasonable goal, you're in a good position to start a business. Obviously, there needs to be a market for what you're offering as well.

Q. What are some of the common mistakes some people make in searching for a job?

A. A lot of people fail to create and manage their online presence, and as a result lose job opportunities. A lot of job seekers rely on job boards and online networking, while avoiding personal meetings and events. They also tend to only network when they need it instead of always networking, which produces better results.

Q. How essential is using today's social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, to achieve professional success... and how do they help?

A. It's essential to use the platforms that the majority of the Internet population is using because then you can connect directly to hiring managers, instead of through a job board, which leads nowhere. The Internet has leveled the recruiting playing field, and social networks are the tools that allow you to reach out to people that can hire you or refer you. These tools are only good if you have created a strong product. You need the right skills and passion in order for people to notice you and take interest in you.

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Q. How effective are sites like You Tube or having one's own website to market yourself effectively?

YouTube and other video websites can help you get your brand out there if you're comfortable videoing yourself. If you aren't, and you come off awkward, then it can actually hurt you. Video is a powerful branding tool because you can experience first-hand what a person will be like if you hire them or work with them. People feel as though they already know you, so it mitigates risk.

Q. What are some the best ways to maximize one's online presence to find a job?

A. The best way is to target your online presence toward the jobs you're really passionate about. This way, your presence will become a filter, attracting the right opportunities and repelling the job you're not really interested in. The more targeted you are, the easier it will be to become visible in search engines, and therefore you have a better chance of being found by employers.

Q. Beyond professional success, how does personal branding benefit an individual in building their future?

A. Personal branding allows you to build a lifestyle around what you love the most. Work will become a hobby and your energy and happiness in the workplace will translate to out of your work activities. Everything in your life will start to make sense and more people will want to surround you.

Q. There are so many different social media and networking sites, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more. How do you know which one is best for your needs?

A. You should be active on all three of those social networks. The best social network for starting a conversation with an employer is Twitter because it's a public setting where people feel comfortable. LinkedIn is also a great tool because it's perceived as a professional network, which means that people are expecting to connect with other people for job-related reasons. Facebook is the most difficult social network to use because you already have to have a relationship with someone to add them as a friend.

Q. Can you give a few key tips to maximize your own personal brand?

A. Five things:
  • Figure out your niche and base if off your passion and expertise.
  • Network with at least three new people each day, both online and offline.
  • Start getting into the habit of public speaking, starting with the college you went to or within your company.
  • Create a blog that showcases your ideas and thoughts around key topics in your industry.
  • Give value and support to other people without asking for anything in return.

Q. What is the most important message you'd like people to take away after reading your book?

A. In order to be successful in the new world of work, you have to be the commander of your career. Build your brand based off of your passion, and become empowered to succeed in everything that you do.

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