We all have dream jobs and career fields. We are bombarded with inspirational quotes saying “go after what you want” and “don’t settle”. Good advice, but behind the daydream lies a call to action that requires more than inspired passion to get you to where you want to be. Whether you are a new graduate or a seasoned professional looking for a new position, your relevance and visibility to the companies and industry for which you want to work are critical to landing your dream job.
Let’s say you want to work in the marketing department at Nike. You may have a marketing degree and some marketing experience, but that doesn’t necessarily make you relevant. Do you have knowledge or experience in athletic fashion, global reach or consumer spending trends? Unique skills that would make you an asset to the position you’re seeking? Experience in marketing for retail, athletic apparel or footwear? If your answer is no to most of these questions then you need to learn to make your irrelevant experience seem relevant. Maybe you haven’t worked in the athletic industry, but you experience in global branding, expansion and reach for other major fashion labels or consumer products.
You can find ways to bridge the gap and make your experience relevant. If your current job is very different from the one you want, look for ways your experience relates to the job you want and seek ways to highlight and expand on that experience. For example, if you work in a non-creative field but want to become a graphic designer, take steps to make that change while in your current position. Start taking graphic design classes and see if you can do anything to assist the graphic design or marketing department at your current company. If you already make lots of graphs and flowcharts in your current position, find ways to make them more creative and unique. The more effort you put into being relevant, the more you’ll start to to see similarities carry over from what you do to what you want to do.
Now that you’ve made yourself relevant, how are companies going to find you?
Social professional networks have recently taken the top spot as the source for quality hires. Smart companies are no longer waiting for the right candidates to apply. They’re actively seeking them out on social media. Given that over 1 billion people are connected to a social networking site, why wouldn’t managers use social media to find you (and learn about you) before you even apply? You don’t need to be a social media wizard to get noticed. Just make sure you are actively connecting to and interacting with companies you’re interested in and professionals within the field and that your profile can make it through a keyword search.
Recruiters and managers searched LinkedIn and other social networks using keywords relevant to the position they’re trying to fill. Your profile needs to be optimized with keywords that are relevant to your ideal position. Likewise, if you’ve submitted your resume online for a particular position, the first step in an automated screening process, in which resumes are chosen based on keyword relevance. So be sure and customize your resume for the job you’re applying for to keep you at the top of the virtual stack.
Before you land the interview, nail the interview, get the offer, accept the job and enjoy a successful, challenging and rewarding career, you need to get noticed. Having a balance of both relevance and visibility is the way to do it.