Published November 06, 2012
The political campaign season is coming to an end, but if you are looking to get ahead at work or find employment, you should take note on the candidates’ strategies to win the White House.
By approaching your job search as if you’re running for office, you’ll be better prepared to rise above the competition and achieve your career goals.
Most people have more than one job in their career since each job should serve as a stepping stone for the career you want, says Amanda Augustine, job search expert at TheLadders. “If you don’t manage your career, no one else will.”
Just like presidential candidates market their platform to voters, your job search is also a marketing campaign and your platform should highlight your skills and experience that will help convince an employer why you’re the most qualified candidate, says Brent Rasmussen, CareerBuilder’s president of North America. “You have to appeal to different constituents who will hire you since, in most interviews, you don’t just interview with one person and there’s a consensus.”
By focusing on your campaign and actively managing your career, when you’re ready to make a proactive move, you’ll have the right foundation in place to help you get there, says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, Glassdoor careers and workplace expert. The fundamentals of running for president are similar to any job hunt.
Lobby for Support
“You need supporters, people who will recommend you for the job,” says Rasmussen. As part of your job campaign, experts recommend seeking out people who will serve as mentors to help you grow and move to the next level.
“Advocates can help a tremendous amount,” says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert. When you’re doing anything new, you have to act on your own merits, but having an experienced professional to qualify and recommend you can help push you along.
To find potential mentors, Williams suggests looking for people with strong track records in your chosen industry. “Getting endorsed by the right people can be a great way to help you achieve your career goals.”
“Networking internally and externally is equally important,” says Rasmussen. Reach out to people you admire and ask how they got to that position.
A mentor can serve as a reference, make introductions and teach softer, industry-specific skills needed to climb the corporate ladder, says Augustine. “At best, they’re going to vouch for your skillset and sell your merit.”
Rasmussen adds that once you get elected and hired by an employer, you must start working on your approval ratings. “You need trusted advisors, whether that’s your boss or another mentor, and if you’re in a management position, you need to assemble a good cabinet—you need strong players to strategize with and execute on initiatives.”
Manage Your Campaign On and Offline
“Have an online personal brand that’s in alignment with your offline personal brand,” says Augustine. When launching your job-search campaign, use a variety of resources like job boards, staffing firms, social media as well as in-person networking opportunities.
“There comes a time when you have to do the work and unless you do the work, you won’t be able to pitch,” says Williams. It’s just as important to build your skillset and refine your message as it is to campaign. The more you campaign, the more aware people become about you.
Experts suggest tailoring your pitch to your target market—recruiters, networking contacts, hiring managers and interviewers. Having a polished, unified brand will help people looking for your talents find you, says Augustine.
Kiss the Babies
“Shaking hands means a lot to people, whether in person or by social media,” says Williams. Companies don’t always post open positions and people in your network can give access to word-of-mouth opportunities.
As you meet people, they’ll remember your attitude more than anything so stay positive and energetic. “Enthusiasm and energy is important in any conversation—the energy and focus influences and impresses the other person at the meeting table,” says Barrett-Poindexter.
To develop a genuine connection with people, make small talk, ask questions and listen, recommends Augustine. “Exchange contact information and follow up. Connect through LinkedIn and be sure to maintain these new relationships,” says Augustine.
Know Your Constituency
“People hire people who they’re most comfortable with and have the most confidence in to grow an initiative,” says Rasmussen.
As you look for opportunities, you want to match your skills with what an employer or boss wants by gearing your pitch towards your constituents, adds Williams. “If the goal is to get a job, it’s as much about what you’ve done as it is about what’s important about potential employers.”
By building strong relationships and consensus, people will have faith in you to move forward with an initiative, says Rasmussen. Since you’re not the only person who wants to get ahead, be prepared to tell people why you’re the most qualified person.
Stick to the Issues
“You really need to be able to clearly articulate who you are and what problems you solve,” says Barrett-Poindexter. In your career, be aware of what you do to provide bottom line value. Since jobs require specific skills, pick an area to become specialized in.
Take inventory of your key strengths and passions and develop targeted goals outlined in your resume, cover letter, online profiles and talking points for networking and interviews, says Augustine. This will help recruiters and hiring managers understand what you’re great at and looking to do. Otherwise, you may end up networking with people and applying for jobs that aren’t aligned with your goals.
In an interview, show that you’ve researched an organization and talk about how you can bring the organization forward or catch the competition, says Rasmussen. “There’s a difference between people who are always trying to make the company better versus those who are just collecting a paycheck.” Stay informed on the issues and factors impacting company performance, industry trends and competitors.