Competition in the job market has intensified over the past number of years. According to Glassdoor, on average a corporate job attracts around 250 applications. Out of these 250 applicants, four to six get called for an interview and only one of those gets hired. These are difficult odds to contend with.
To build a career and to stand out from the crowd, one must strive to effectively “sell” themselves. However, selling oneself does not have to equate to “selling out” or “selling your soul”. As with anything, selling yourself should in practice mean building a strong reputation within your field, as well as cultivating meaningful relationships.
There are a variety of ways in which you can achieve this.
Define Your Skill Set
“Know thyself.”Ancient Greek Aphorism
Before you even start thinking about selling yourself to others, you have to understand exactly what you’re trying to sell. What is your specific skill set and what unique value you can bring to the table?
To get a clear picture of what your skill set is, first write down a list of skills you believe you have. Following this, go through them one by one and note examples of situations where you put that skill into practice.
It’s also useful to determine what sets you apart from others. Perhaps you’ve got experience or an interesting intersection of skills that could be valuable to companies and employers.
Become a Great Communicator
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”Paul J. Meyer
To excel at any sales job, one has to become an excellent communicator. This applies to selling yourself and your skill set as much as it does to anything else.
In addition, employers are always looking for individuals who communicate well.
There are a whole host of great books about communication and presentation. Spend time digesting this information and then put what you’ve learned into practice.
To improve your formal presentation and speaking skills, consider joining a group like Toastmasters, where you’ll have the advantage of getting constructive feedback. This way you can learn how other people perceive you and can tweak your presentation style if necessary.
Establish Yourself as a “Thought Leader” Within Your Industry
“Thought Leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience.”Michael Brenner
There are a number of ways by which you can begin to establish yourself as an authoritative voice within your industry.
Publish Content To Your Own Website
One way to sell yourself is to demonstrate your knowledge or passion through the written word.
Dedicating your time to writing and publishing articles about your area of interest is a great way to impress prospective employers. Having your own website is a brilliant means by which you can start building a web presence. There are a wide range of options for those who wish to establish themselves online.
WordPress.org is a free, open source blogging platform and is considered one of the best to start a website. Wordpress is self-hosted, which means that the only expenses are the hosting fees (which typically cost a few euros per month).
There are also a number of other options, including Wix and Squarespace, which will host your website for a monthly or annual fee.
Other sites offer a place where you can start a blog for free. If you don’t have a budget to set up your own website, consider publishing your articles to Medium, Quora or directly to LinkedIn.
Get Published on Authority Sites
Go one step further and make a name for yourself by getting published on well-established websites within your industry. In order for such websites to consider publishing your articles, you’ll need to provide a lot of value in what you write.
Start by making a list of websites that publish content relating to your industry. Once you’ve established where you’d like to get published, begin brainstorming ideas for articles to pitch to editors.
Strive for the content you publish to be insightful and useful to readers.
Branch Out to Other Mediums
Over the past number of years, video and audio content have also become very popular. Podcasts are now more popular than ever – the global podcasting market was valued at $9.28 billion in 2019 and this is expected to rise in the next few years.
Perhaps consider repurposing the subject matter of your articles into videos or podcasts. This way your ideas will be guaranteed to reach a wider audience.
The Power of Networking
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”Brene Brown
Selling yourself is a lot easier when you’ve built a network. In fact, one of the most common ways people find job opportunities is through a referral.
Creating and maintaining relationships is vitally important when building a career. Reach out and try to connect with people who are involved in your industry or field. The more people who know you in your industry, the better. Remember that the world is made of people – behind every company, process and procedure there is a living, breathing human being and this is why networking is so valuable.
There are a number of ways in which you can begin to build a professional network:
Attend Networking Events and Conferences
Industry events and conferences are a great way to meet other professionals working in your field. The key to building your network successfully at conferences and other events is to be as prepared as possible. As well as having business cards on hand, be ready to share and collect contact details virtually. There are a wide variety of apps available which allow users to scan other peoples’ business card information and share their own via QR code or Bluetooth.
Build Your Social Media Network
Whether you love it or loathe it, social media has become an integral part of professional networking. A majority of professionals use networking sites such as LinkedIn, which are a valuable source of potential contacts.
In addition to using LinkedIn to build your professional network, it’s also an excellent medium for sharing your thoughts and ideas. If you’ve established a blog or website (as discussed above), sharing your articles with your LinkedIn network is a valuable way to build credibility and highlight expertise with your audience.
Meet Face to Face
There’s really no substitute for meeting a person face to face. Think about building upon your “virtual relationships” and reaching out to some of them to create real world connections. For example, identify a small number of people on your LinkedIn network and ask them to grab a coffee or lunch. Meeting a person face to face is far more valuable than maintaining just a virtual relationship. They are more likely to introduce you to others, and this is a great opportunity to expand your network and build your career.