It’s a job to look for a job, especially when a recruiter isn’t proactively sourcing you for your next opportunity in digital marketing. And depending on where you are in your career, that scenario may not readily present itself. In the meantime, use your content marketing prowess to make your job search work for you.
By now you know that blasting your resume to fifty employers and praying for an amazing response rate isn’t going to propel you to new and amazing career experiences. You also realize (hopefully) that taking the time to network, personalize messaging and incorporate social media into your search tactics is a more productive approach. However, what you may lack is a road map to incorporating these elements into an effective job networking strategy.
This article offers eleven guidelines for using your content marketing skill set to create a following and dramatically improve your chances of finding an optimal career opportunity. In fact, this approach worked for me a handful of years ago when I landed my job at ExactHire, and I’ve witnessed it being a game-changer for many others since then.
You have to put yourself out there when seeking a new position. While that comes naturally to some, it can be very uncomfortable for others. However, it is less daunting these days because so much proactive reach-out can be done digitally.
When you first embark on a job search, you may decide to tell your existing contacts that you’re looking for a new job in the hopes that they will remember to tell you about open positions they discover. The only problem with this incomplete approach is that who knows how long it will take to land a job so that you can then send out the customary “here’s my new contact information” message. Consequently, it’s reasonable to expect your contacts to forget you are looking during the gap between those two events.
Therefore, in the spirit of CAN-SPAM compliance, invite your circle of contacts to receive periodic updates from you about your job search activity. Not only will this keep your employment situation top of mind for those people, but it will also put you in a position to hear about job openings that aren’t necessarily posted anywhere, but rather, presented to your network by their other contacts. Here’s a call-out message to get your viral job networking team started:
I’m contacting you to ask if you’d be willing to be a part of my job search networking team? With your permission, I’d like to send you a brief, weekly message that highlights the jobs/companies to which I’ve applied. That way, if you know anyone at any of the companies mentioned, you might be willing to help me get a foot in the door by referring my information to the right employee.
I would really appreciate your assistance. If you’re willing to accept my job search updates, simply respond to confirm. Plus, you may opt out at any time.
Now before you blast this message to your entire contact list, make sure you are approaching this initial call-out with care. For example, consider the best medium for communication based on your personality, current employment situation and network following.
If you gravitate toward email communication, then the call-out content above is certainly suited for that medium. However, if you have far more Twitter followers or LinkedIn contacts than you have close acquaintances in your email address book, then short, direct messages on those social networks may be a more efficient use of your time. It is important to make the message one-to-one instead of a mere status update on your social profile. It creates accountability to respond on the part of the recipient and it formalizes his/her “opt-in” to your updates.
If you’re really passionate about your craft and your network would be receptive (let’s say they’re mostly other content marketers), then why not create a squeeze page with a form that invites people to opt in to your drip campaign of employment updates?
I’m personally partial to email because of the response rate I’ve seen with my own network in the past. If this avenue is the right fit for you, make sure you always blind carbon copy (bcc) all recipients and link to resources within the body text rather than attach large portfolio, reference and resume files. Plus, then you can track the most engaged “teammates” based on their custom redirect clicks.
The wider the net you cast in your job search, the more chances you will catch a job. While you may initially invite only your inner circle of contacts, I encourage you to push your boundaries when it comes to engaging other lesser-known acquaintances in your efforts. Here are some obvious contact sources plus a few out of the box options:
- Past co-workers (current ones, too, depending on your employment situation)
- Community organizations of which you are a part
- Casual connections made everywhere from industry events to kid birthday parties
- Authors of blogs to which you’ve contributed, and past contributors to your own blog
- LinkedIn group members – even if you haven’t met in person but tend to comment on the same discussion strings
- Contacts made during failed job interview attempts. In fact, this was the most surprising gold mine of team members for me in the past. This is especially relevant in situations where you are one of two job finalists, but don’t end up getting the job.
As you attract more contacts, keep them engaged by getting to the point quickly. Your weekly updates should serve as a digest of your latest employment exploits, not an unabridged, e-book explanation of your recent interviews.
Create a message template that includes a quick overview of your networking activities. Bullet points are preferable along with clear headings for different action categories such as applications, interviews, follow-ups and potential offers. Bold any mention of specific names of people and organizations so that it is easy for your recipients to scan. You should hyperlink to the websites or social profiles of companies and individuals to add context for your readers.
Succinctly follow-up regarding any movement on items mentioned in the previous update as well. While this can be accomplished with bullet points or a short paragraph, if you have the time and the know-how to flex your marketing muscles, consider a vlog series recapping the week’s events or a series of tweet screenshots that tell the story of your job search-related updates on Twitter. Not only will you more likely engage your audience, but also demonstrate your content production know-how in the process.
Here’s a message format that worked well for me:
Hello Networking Team!
Thank you so much for your continued support. I appreciate the job leads this team has produced for me! Here’s this week’s recap:
Coming Up Soon:
- In-person interview for the Community Manager position this Thursday, 3/17 with Pat Smith at ACME, Inc.
- Coffee with Maria Esposito of Employment Resources this Friday.
My Applications in the Past Week:
Do you know someone at these firms? Could you help me get my foot in the door?
- Applied for Marketing Specialist at Content Profs on 3/9
- Applied for Content Coordinator at Blogs ‘R Us on 3/10
Follow-up from Last Week’s Update:
I had a final interview with the ABC Group for the Social Media Manager position yesterday. I thought my conversations with Joe Johnson (VP of Marketing) and Suzie Chan (Digital Marketing Manager) went really well, and I definitely have a better understanding of the culture and direction of the department and organization.
Thanks for your attention!
[link to LinkedIn public profile]
[link to Twitter handle]
[link to resume]
In addition to the aforementioned interactive content ideas, push yourself to better engage your networking team by being innovative with your message content each week. For example, throw in a mini-infographic highlighting your professional accomplishments if you dabble in design work. Or, highlight some posts from your personal blog or link to your personal “employee media kit” via Slideshare. Customize your digital assets based on your specialties, but think about which content has the greatest potential to be shared outside your network (as long as that’s your intent in the case of a public job search).
Regardless of your occupation, employers of choice want employees who are consistent and reliable. View your job search situation as an opportunity to impress your networking team so that they will advocate on your behalf with organizations to which they are connected. An easy way to demonstrate your focus on delivering results is to stick to sending your update on the same day and time every single week. By doing so, momentum will be in your favor as your following grows and audience members condition themselves to expect and even look forward to your updates. Don’t disappoint your cheer section by flaking out on your regular responsibilities.
It’s important to clarify your expectations to your networking teammates. That is, explain how public your search is, and whether or not recipients have the right to share news of your search, as well as your resources (e.g. portfolio, resume, reference letters, etc.). If you are in job transition, then in most cases it is to your advantage to give others carte blanche on spreading the word about your employment goals. However, if you are already employed and conducting a more discrete search, ask your contacts to check with you before referring your information to individuals and organizations for which you have not yet expressed direct interest.
Your path to your next position is not always a straight line from point A to point B. Depending on factors such as the current economic climate, your particular skill set and the reasons for your job change, there may be many twists and turns along your journey. Therefore, keep an open mind when it comes to considering new types of activities that could be fruitful for your end objective.
Seek out informational interviews in order to network with individuals in organizations that hold interest, but that may not be currently hiring. The goal here is to get introductions to other people that may be hiring at other companies, as well as to use the discussion to learn more about new skill sets and company cultures. Look for networking groups run by like-minded individuals as well as state workforce development initiatives. Lastly, explore position types that you may not have initially considered, but that could serve as stepping-stones to future career opportunities.
You will make more networking progress when you make it evident to others that you want to help them in their endeavors, too. Particularly in the case of requesting informational interviews with newly acquainted individuals, lower any potential uneasiness they may have about speaking with you by offering to connect them with others who may help their own causes (e.g. committee volunteers, friends who share similar interests, potential customers of their company, etc.).
Other creative ways in which you may be able to return a favor include contributing to their blog or offering to volunteer for a short freelance project they’re managing. Having a “how can I help you too?” mentality will help you earn more legitimate networking connections and put you in a better position to be successful once you land your next position, too.
You know that feeling you get when your phone chimes to alert you that someone just retweeted your latest status update? It’s a good feeling. It means that your contribution is valued and it makes you want to do more. Give your networking teammates the same high by acknowledging all of their contributions. In my job search experience, I was often surprised by the short and sweet replies of encouragement I received from mere acquaintances after my weekly update was sent. No matter how short the reply, I always reached out to that person to continue the conversation and let him or her know that I valued the correspondence.
Direct, personalized conversation is a rare commodity these days, and therefore more engaging than ever. Remember that these people are volunteering to help you so it is critical to get back to them in a timely manner.
In the spirit of responsiveness, mind your manners and always thank others for their efforts to help you. Make the exercise more meaningful by reiterating to the person what he/she specifically did that truly made your search easier and more pleasant.
For bigger occasions, send an elaborate thank you via any one of a number of communication channels. For smaller wins simply call out that person (by their initials only) in your weekly update to let them and others know you appreciate their help.
You know your job search content strategy is working when:
- Others forward new job descriptions to you that you haven’t seen posted anywhere,
- Hiring managers reference people in your network while they are interviewing you,
- Your audience offers you unsolicited encouragement and champions your cause,
- Your job applications actually receive a response
- People are happy to make introductions for you.
If you follow these guidelines, you can have more success in your job search. Be authentic, accountable and resourceful as you build your audience and please let me know if I can be on your job networking team!