When youa��re unemployed, the sinking feeling that ita��ll be impossible to find another job isna��t just in the pit of your stomacha��or your head. In many cases, you reallyA�areA�dealing with discrimination from employers.
Northeastern University researchersA�found that someone whoa��s been unemployed for six months or longer is much less likely to land an interview than someone whoa��s been between jobs for only a short time, even if they lack the right skills.
But while theres no magic fix, your prospects dona��t have to be as hopeless as they may feel, and one of the best ways to give them a major boost is to revamp your personal brand. That starts with getting one thing straight right away: When youa��re between jobs, a�?unemployeda�? isA�notA�your personal brand. So if you were a sales manager before you lost your job, then, assuming thata��s the work you still want to do, youa��reA�stillA�a sales manager now.
Showing employers this brand during your job searcha��no matter how long it goes ona��can make a huge difference. And that also means making sure they can find it, including with some smart search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Herea��s where to start.
FIND YOUR KEYWORDS
The foundation of personal SEO is the set of search terms that describes your skills, experience, and accomplishmentsa��your keywords. That means you need to find and leverage the right keywords that your target employers are using to look for their ideal candidate, then work them back into your social media accounts.
So do some research to first check that the most current terms describing your line of worka��your role in your industrya��are up to date and as universally used as they can be. For example, your official job title might have been a�?webmastera�? once upon a time, but there are only a few job postings for a�?webmastersa�? in 2017. The work hasna��t gone away, but it likely has a new name, like a�?web developer,a�? a�?web content developer,a�? or a more specific one like a�?front-a�? or a�?back-end developer.a�?
Once you identify that current job title, update your LinkedIn profile, Twitter bio, resume, and other professional materials accordingly.
Employers are famous for the intensity of their online research practices. You knowA�your social media profiles are all clean, so therea��s no need to Google yourself, right?
Not exactly. Someone else could be giving you a bad name onlinea��someone with the same name as you. And if you think it cana��t happen to you, think again. A friend of mine, Robert, spent four months sending his resume out with no luck. He assumed he was being ignored because of his unemployment, but something else was going on.
Robert didna��t know there was another man with the same name as him, living in the same state, who was actually a disbarred attorney named in a visible Supreme Court case. Yikes.
After Googling his name and learning it was associated with the disgraced lawyer, Robert added his middle initial to his online profiles and resume in order to differentiate himself. Two weeks later, he was finally called in for an interview.
Your name is actually an extremely important set of keywords that you need to monitor and manage. Start by searching your name inside quotation marks (a�?Your Namea�?) to see what other results that complete phrase surfaces. Is there someone out there with the same name thata��s so famous (or infamous) that nothing about you shows up within the first few pages of results? Think of this asA�a�?defensive Googling,a�?A�and do it at least monthly, especially while youa��re unemployed.
If you have a common name and there are a lot of people associated with it, consider adding (or removing) a middle initial to your job search materials. You can also use a shortened version of your name, like using Rob instead of Robert. Whatever version of your name you determine is best, just be consistent. Consistency is key to successful personal branding and SEO.
GET THE MOST FROM LINKEDIN
When youa��ve been unemployed for some time, you may feel like LinkedIn only underscores your employment status. But ita��s actually much worse to neglect your profile (or not create one at all) during the time youa��re out of work.
Even though you dona��t have a current position, your search ranking will drop if your LinkedIn profile doesna��t have a current title listed, making it much harder for recruiters to find you. SoA�add a headline that reflects your goal. Use keywords related to the position you want, the skills you have, your accomplishments, and your industry.
KEEP SHOWING THAT YOU KNOW YOUR STUFF
When employers search your name, you want them to find content that shows what a promising candidate you are, despite being unemployed. Write some blog posts on LinkedIn or just contribute some comments to LinkedIn groups where people in your field find and share information, or even start your own group.
SlideShare is also a great option to show your expertise in a more visual format. Connect your SlideShare files to your LinkedIn profile to increase exposurea��just be aware of any content youa��re creating and sharing thata��s tied to previous work positions.
While it may take some work to get off the ground, a podcast can also show employers your skills. To make the show easier to manage, even after you land your full-time job, find a colleague or friend to co-produce the podcast with you. And keep in mind that you may have a leg up on your fully employed competitors in the job market when it comes to content efforts like thesea��you have the time to pour into them, they dona��t.
If youa��re having a hard time finding a job, Ia��m sure someone at some point has suggested volunteer work. That may sound like a waste of time, but ita��s not.A�Deloitte researchers recently foundA�that volunteer work is one of the most underrated job skills you can put on your resume. Just remember that the work should be relevant to your goals.
For example, reconsider volunteering to clean cages at the animal shelter if youa��re an accountant; instead, see if that shelter has books you can balance, donation funds that need managing, or other help thata��s specifically related to your skills and career goals. That way, the volunteer work bolsters your resume, boosts your networking, and builds your personal brand.
Any long-term job search can be stressful, even when youa��ve already got a job, and even with the best personal brand and personal SEO. Ita��s easy to blame yourself and get caught up in self-doubt. Just try to understand that other smart, capable people are unemployed, tooa��especially younger professionals, where the rates of unemployment and underemployment are disproportionately high.
Changing your mind-set can be extra challenging if youa��re trying to do it alone, but joining a job search group or network for unemployed professionals can give you the support you need. Stay positive, keep putting in the time to sharpen your SEO and personal brand, and youa��ll be back at work before you know it.