You may have heard that you need to “brand yourself” in order to be successful in your career. While “branding” (which is defined as “to make an indelible mark or impression on somebody or something”) is a valuable strategy, you may be more comfortable with the idea of simply positioning yourself to be successful in your job search and career.
Many jobseekers don’t realise they have already positioned themselves — they just haven’t articulated it yet. Maybe you’re known as “the sales manager that makes quota, no matter what’s going on in the economy,” or “the engineer that can speak in a language the customer understands.” That’s your positioning.
To cultivate the positioning that will help you reach your career goals, you must understand and be able to communicate what makes you exceptional and compelling.
You must find a way to stand out in a crowded job search. If you’re not known for something, you won’t be known for anything. One size does not fit all.
Finding a job is a lot like dating — it’s about finding a match between two parties (you and the company). It’s not just about money — although that is important. It’s also about helping the company meet a need that it has.
Companies hire because of their needs. This is true for all jobs — from an entry-level administrative position to the CEO’s job.
Understand the emotional motivation behind the job opening. What problem is the company trying to solve? Solving the problem can be about saving time or building customer relationships. Positioning yourself to solve a problem.
The question you want to answer for the employer is, “Why should you hire me?” When employers are hiring, they really want to know: “Why should I choose you instead of someone else?” Positioning is an important part of answering this question. You can’t be all things to all employers, so you need to figure out what sets you apart.
Personal positioning is unique to you. Figure out what makes you different. Consistency in this messaging will help you throughout the job search and interview process.
You need to express: “I am this.” Someone who is reading your résumé or LinkedIn profile should be able to recognise you in it.
The most difficult part about positioning is sounding original. Be specific about what distinguishes you. Your positioning is not your job title. Also, if your position could be said about almost anyone with your same job title, it needs work.
It’s important for a jobseeker to stand out from the pool of applicants in order to receive serious consideration as a candidate. Personal positioning allows you to establish a clear message of who you are, the experience you have, and how you can be an asset to the employer.
Make sure your personal positioning aligns with your target company’s wants, needs, and/or values. Remember: Employers hire for their reasons, not yours!
You have to get the reader’s attention quickly. Your positioning is often the first impression an employer has of you, so make it count! (And speaking of first impressions, remember that how you dress is also part of your personal positioning.)
Benefits of Positioning
The ability to communicate “why you” is important in the job search. It can help you stand out from other job candidates. It can make you memorable. You want the interviewer to say, “Oh, I remember (him/her)!”
You will also use your positioning in many ways throughout your job search. Your LinkedIn Headline can be your personal position tagline. Your tagline can also be used on your résumé and as your tagline on your Twitter account. It can also be used as the subject line in an email to a prospective employer, hiring manager, or recruiter.
Your full positioning statement can be included in your LinkedIn Summary section, worked into the Qualifications Statement or Summary on the résumé, or incorporated in your cover letter. When networking, your positioning statement can be the answer to the question, “What do you do?” In an interview, your personal position can be used when asked, “Tell me about yourself.”
Knowing your skills and professional qualifications — and being able to articulate them — will also help you navigate applicant tracking systems (ATS).
Position yourself effectively to attract connections, opportunities, and job offers.
How to Develop Your Positioning
To identify how to position yourself, it helps to examine a couple of key issues:
- What is the Company’s Need? What specific problem are they trying to solve with this job? Are they trying to make money? Save money? Save time? Keep existing customers? Acquire new customers?
- What are your Core Abilities? What special abilities do you possess that separate you from other candidates for this position?
- What are your Values? What is your belief system (behavior and ethics) that is inherent to you? Does this set you apart?
- What is your Connection to the Company’s Need? Do you possess something special that solves your target employer’s problem?
Be aware of the kind of work you are willing to do, and the kind of work you don’t want to do. Make a list of the things you like to do, and what you don’t like to do.
Look at your work history for clues to your positioning. What in your work history did you do to make things better? Look for instances where you showed leadership and accomplishments.
Check out your existing online profile. What comes up when you Google yourself? What is your social media presence? What are you known for online?
Begin with the end in mind: What job do you want? Then figure out what qualities, attributes, and skills are required for success in that job. Do you possess them? How can you demonstrate that?
If you’d like our comprehensive list of 19 questions and suggested additional resources that will you with your positioning, contact [email protected].