You’ve probably been told that you should treat looking for a job as a job in itself — that is, approach it with the same degree of conviction, professionalism and tenacity as you would if you were getting paid for it. But you should also apply your best professional skills and acumen to turn your resume, portfolio and online presence into an integrated marketing campaign.
Instead of making random updates to your resume and thinking about your portfolio independently, treat them like they’re part of your integrated marketing campaign. Unlike the old days when a resume sent in to a “help wanted” ad was the only part of you a potential employer saw, there are now countless ways employers and recruiters might find you. It can range from Googling you and viewing your portfolio to downloading your resume from a job board to going down the “people also viewed” rabbit hole on LinkedIn. How can you create your own integrated marketing campaign to make each impression count even more?
Synergy is one of the most overused words in advertising or marketing, but it’s an important concept. By creating families of related things, the individual parts add up to something more than if you were simply creating one-offs. That’s the whole idea behind this: that your resume, your portfolio, your business card, your social media feed and even your invoices all look like they belong in the same family or are part of the same personal brand.
If you’re on the art side, this probably comes more naturally to you. But if you’re a copywriter, think about making sure your color palette, font choices/typography, and use of graphics or images align consistently.
Don’t get hung up on your brand being an expression of your personality.
When you’re developing your personal brand, don’t focus so much on the “personal” aspect. Obviously, you should find your own marketing materials attractive (since you’re probably going to look at them hundreds of times during your job search), but don’t get hung up on reflecting aspects of yourself like what a girly-girl you are, or that you’re into tech, or that everyone thinks you’d be a great comedian. You can give your visual identity a style, but make sure it complements your skills and aspirations.
Art directors, designers and illustrators are expected to have more flair in their creations, but avoid jokey or garish fonts. Be creative, but don’t give a hiring manager any reason to automatically dismiss you before you even get to the interview stage.
However, DO find a way to include some of those important points that make you, you. If your extracurriculars have even a shred of relevance to your career (e.g., you do improv, you run a fashion blog, you’re teaching yourself to code), find a way to include it. Increasingly, employers are looking at potential candidates for what they add to the company culture, and the more your resume can reflect your authentic self, the better.
Tailor your resume and your portfolio, too
If you’re like me, you probably have a million variations of your resume on your computer, each tailored to a slightly different opportunity. (Though I hope, unlike me, you come up with a system for naming them so you know exactly what you’re sending out.) But what about your portfolio?
Tailoring your portfolio can be more time intensive, but it will give your job search a boost by showing a would-be employer you have exactly the kind of skills and experience they’re looking for.
For example, if I’m pursuing a specific opportunity, such as going after a client in hospitality or tourism, or responding to an ad seeking an expert in branded content, I’ll create a page that showcases about eight to 10 relevant examples. (Portfolio templates on platforms like Squarespace make the exercise practically “drag and drop” so I’m done in an hour.) I also still provide a link to my portfolio, since that provides a more thorough review of my skills.
If you’re competent with InDesign, you can also set up a portfolio template, and then quickly switch in and out projects based on the job you’re applying for. The extra work that goes into either one of these solutions is worth it to better your odds, and employers will really appreciate your effort.
Boost your LinkedIn presence
Your social media presence matters in your job search. And chances are that LinkedIn is the first place potential employers will go. Make sure your LinkedIn summary syncs up with what you’re putting on your resume. Use either a professional headshot or a simple, appropriate photo — don’t break out your best Blue Steel; just look well put-together and like you’re at least making an effort. Include a link to your portfolio. Again, treat this like another aspect of a job, and make your actions on this platform strategic: share and comment on posts that are relevant to your ambitions, join a targeted group such as B2B Technology Marketing Community or Search Engine Land, and network with others in your industry. And never, ever, ever spam your contacts with, “Hey, can you help me get a job?”
Remember: It takes more than one TV commercial to make a sale
Just like a single billboard or banner ad is often not enough to get a consumer to pick up the phone, your own YOU campaign may require a few touches to get it to stick. This is especially true for freelancers who are marketing their services to new clients. Make sure each one of those touches works to support your job search or has been tailored for a specific opportunity or to highlight a particular skill set.
You also may need to tinker with your campaign to improve your results. When you make it to the interview stage, don’t be afraid to ask what appealed in your resume or portfolio. If you hear the same thing often enough, think about making similar changes throughout. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from professionals you trust, either. Keep at it, and before long, you’ll go from going through the motions to having a job!
Lisa is a Creative Circle candidate and seasoned advertising copywriter who lives in Los Angeles. Her background includes both in-house and agency work on Fortune 500 and global accounts in the consumer and healthcare/pharmaceutical fields. She excels at words, fashion, and cats. If you want to work with Lisa, contact Creative Circle Los Angeles.