Last week I shared with you 5 Alarming Trends in Job Search Market where I highlighted some growing trends in the job market that are making the career progress of an average professional a lot more difficult and challenging.
Let’s accept the brutal reality; in an over-supplied talent market everybody cannot win. It’s the survival of the fittest or the ones most adaptable to change. There are ways and means you can learn and develop a competitive advantage that can make you distinct from the crowd.
The good news is that, by law of averages, not everybody can develop a competitive advantage or make them distinct. That is your opportunity. If you can elevate yourself to be among the top 10 percent within your profession, your chances of accelerating on the corporate ladder will significantly enhance.
How do you become part of the top 10 percent? Do things differently than what 90 percent do and keep doing and remaining ahead of them.
Here are 5 key approaches you can adopt to attract new career opportunities in the short term, whether you are looking for internal growth or an external move:
1. Create visibility through a strong online presence:
Your online profile is your new identity. Forget the CV. Before a recruiter or employer can become interested in your CV, they want to search your profile on LinkedIn, FB, Twitter, Google+ etc. If they are impressed with your online profile, then they may ask a copy of your CV. You must ensure that your online profile portrays a professional image and a distinct brand.
Pay special attention to your LinkedIn profile. More and more recruiters are starting their searches on LinkedIn. Get some expert help to look your LI profile more professional and stand out. Don’t be shy to load up your page with your career achievements. Ask your connections for recommendations and endorsement. That enhances the credibility of your profile.
According to top executive recruiters, the best candidates are the ones who are not actively looking for a job. The beauty of creating a strong online presence is that without labeling yourself a job seeker, you make yourself visible and noticeable to recruiters and potential employers.
2. Allocate time for structured networking:
More and more searches are taking place in close networks. Recruiters and hiring managers are avoiding posting jobs publicly. They are a lot more comfortable to start their searches with the people they already know.
Most jobs are being filled through professional and social networks. Connect to your professional body or industry association and actively participate in their activities. Your goal should be to create visibility and let important people notice you. They may connect you with attractive career opportunities.
3. Create a personal brand that look distinct:
Don’t try to be an all-rounder generalist; try to be a specialist. Find out your talents and specialties that make you distinct and unique from others. What are the things that you are good at and can do better than others.
If you are an M&A expert or a tech-savvy, let the world know about it. Write blogs, speak at the conference or sit at the panel to share your views. Build your brand around these specialties to develop your competitive advantage. This is the only way to be noticed among the crowd.
4. Highlight your achievement; not qualifications:
Todays’ businesses are smarter with a brutal focus on making money. They need the talent that can help them create value or grow their business. Make sure that major part of your CV or online profile highlights your career achievements; not qualifications and responsibilities.
Whatever is your current job, focus on creating massive value for your employer beyond the call of your duty. Do more than what you are paid for. You will do yourself a favor by developing habits of star performers. You cannot add more degrees or certifications beyond a limit but you can keep adding your results and achievements. And by the way, who cares about degrees or certificates if you are already delivering results.
5. Develop your business acumen:
During the last two decades, technology has taken over bulk of the traditional accounting activities. New accounting software and ERP systems are designed to be run by non-accountants. Today’s modern businesses, therefore, demand finance professionals to be more involved in the business.
Unfortunately, most of the finance professionals lack in their business acumen. This is your opportunity. Take advantage of this general weakness and build your strength around it to make yourself distinct and more valuable.
You don’t need to do an MBA for this. Take a few short courses on business and strategy and try to understand the business model and value creation cycle of the business you work for. Share your ideas with your superiors and demonstrate your knowledge of business, not accounting. It will pay you off much better.
Peter Drucker once said, “Businesses have only two functions: marketing and innovation”. In the current environment, this is equally applicable to senior level professionals. In a highly competitive talent market, you must continually innovate and market your talent to grow your career.
Knowledge is power but without its application it is useless. As a professional you are a knowledge worker who is in the business of selling your knowledge. Selling requires marketing. Unfortunately, most of us are not good marketer or consider personal marketing as a bad thing.
Personal marketing is a talent. We must understand that the game has changed. In an oversupplied talent market, we must ensure that the world knows our talent and appreciates what we are good at. Creating visibility, active networking, developing our personal brand and projecting our achievements and business knowledge are all forms of effective personal marketing.
Marketing connects a need with the solution. Without marketing remarkable ideas would die and innovative products may not reach to consumers. Personal marketing work the same way.
No doubt, it’s much more difficult and challenging environment to grow your career. But not everyone will rise to that challenge. That’s your opportunity. Make a commitment to become part of the top 10 percent within your profession by aggressively innovating and marketing your talent and, let me assure you, opportunities will always wait for you.**
Questions? Thoughts? Please post your comments below and I will try to reply.
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— Saleem Sufi
If you are a senior Finance professional, and want to accelerate your career, please visit What it Takes to Become a CFO.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Saleem Sufi is a CFO Leadership Coach and Strategy Expert with more than 20 years CFO level experience working for top world class Fortune 500 and Private Equity owned companies in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe and United States. He is the Founder and President of MECA CFO Alliance where he leads the CFO Academy with an entire focus on leadership development and career growth among the senior Finance community.