The Number One Way to Jump Start Your Job Search

You’ve had it!  Your boss  hijacked the last two team meetings you assembled, or you’re stuck beneath the glass ceiling with no hope of a  promotion.  Whatever your reasons, you’ve decided to commit to finding a new job.   The next step, you decide, is to update your resume. That’s an option, except . . .



Don’t do it!  At least not quite yet. Resist that urge to focus on skills and accomplishments, and look inward, instead.  The best thing you can do to jump start your job search is to clarify your personal brand first.

The Kelley School of Business so understands the necessity of personal branding that it’s a required class for freshmen. Personal branding requires you to convey the following:  Who you are, what you can uniquely offer and how you provide value.  If you succeed in addressing the who, the what and the how in a way that fits an employer’s needs,  you’ll get hired. Therefore, I suggest developing these three aspects of your personal brand before launching a job search campaign.

1) Craft your “elevator pitch:”

I like this formula for nailing down your elevator pitch:

 verb + your target audience + your unique value + result

Think of your elevator pitch as the beating heart of your professional mission.  It should pack a wallop; it should make people curious to hear more about you; it should be delivered with confidence.  For me, when I’m helping a client with her pitch and it gives me goosebumps, I know we’re onto something!  Here is a sampling of elevator pitches I really like:

  • “I help business owners and entrepreneurs achieve their personal and business goals faster”  (Brian Tracy, LinkedIn)
  • “I help academics with limited practical business knowledge to take their research and get it applied in the private sector” (Andrew Neitlich)
  • “I facilitate growth and healing by making a safe space for people to sing, express, and create.” (Laura Sandage, LinkedIn)

2) What 4 or 5 things can you do remarkably well, that you enjoy doing?

It’s easy to take for granted the things you do well or easily.  Consider this though: Glossing over your unique strengths can stall your career development.  Thriving in your career requires a healthy self-awareness of your strengths.  It’s vital that you can articulate them so decision makers and hiring authorities can see how you fill the gap on their team.

Once you’ve identified 4 or 5 skills, organize them into “Show, don’t tell” stories:  Rather than describe yourself as an organized team-player, describe how you implemented an online tracking program for your team that created so much efficiency you all completed the project a week ahead of schedule.  Here is a formula for compelling stories that demonstrate your value:

Task + Action + Result

When considering the result, consider what positive, quantifiable impact you had. Was there a profit or cost-savings? Were others’ jobs simplified? Were you recognized for what you did? What problems did you solve?

Then, take these stories and practice them. Be concise.  Record them. Listen back. Make adjustments. Each story should have energy and describe your unique talents.

3) What aspects of you absolutely need expression in your next job?

Your job satisfaction depends on a fit between who you are–your work values–and what you do daily.  You may not love every aspect of your next job, but be sure to consider what aspects of you–what you value most–must be expressed in your next job. Another way to discern this is to note what’s missing in your current job.

Is creativity vital to your happiness at work? Getting the chance to mentor others?  Employee development? Make decisions without someone checking over your shoulder? A supportive boss? Be very clear about all the “must haves” at your next job, so that you know what to look for next time, and what opportunities you will rule out.

Logging the time in to gain self-awareness about your branding will energize every  phase of your job search. Because you know who you are, and understand your value and impact, it will give you confidence, clarity and purpose.


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