Thanks to the internet, in particular social media, it’s easier than ever to connect with recruiters and potential employers. However, the competition is fiercer too – even when you look abroad. But being online gives you a chance to promote yourself, much more thoroughly than you can with a CV and long before you get to the interview stage of an application.
In fact, with the right personal brand, you may even find employers abroad start chasing you, rather than the other way around.
Author Dan Schawbel explains;
‘The best way to get a job is to build a strong, appealing brand that attracts new opportunities. You have to think of yourself as a company and it’s much easier to close inbound leads (recruiters e-mailing you) then cold calling (you e-mailing recruiters).’
This is particularly useful when searching for career opportunities in Australia and New Zealand. The shortage of highly-skilled applicants in these countries means that companies are more likely to be on the lookout for suitable candidates, rather than relying on candidates coming to them.
According to Jayson DeMers;
‘Personal brands attract recruiters. Most professional recruiters now use social media to do much of their scouting and vetting, so having an attractive personal brand will draw job opportunities without requiring you to lift a finger.’
So what is personal brand and how does it help you get a job abroad?
Companies all across the world use branding to convey key messages to their target audience. Everything from their logo and company colours to their website layout and tone of voice says something important about them. A brand sets out the company’s ethos, creating something that is so identifiable and engaging that consumers are willing to pay extra just to buy into it.
A personal brand is no different. It is the way you others perceive you; the conclusions they draw about your skills and abilities with the small amount of information they have. We all naturally make assumptions very quickly, so just a few facts can cement or dismiss your chances of landing an interview or job offer.
The good thing is that if you know your brand is how employers are judging you, you have a chance to control how they see you and influence the conclusions they come to. In the same way you wouldn’t turn up to a formal interview in your pyjamas, you don’t want your personal brand to present an image of carelessness or unprofessionalism.
Why is a personal brand important? According to leading recruitment experts Hays;
‘Companies want to make sure that prospective employees are a cultural fit, as well as having the right competencies. Social media makes it easier for employers and potential managers to check you out online so it is imperative that you take control and actively create and manage your personal brand online and offline.’
Remember – while being an expat may make you seem like an exotic choice, you could easily get tripped up if employers ask ‘Why shouldn’t I hire a resident worker?’ Nationals already know the culture and business environment. That could give them an edge over you, but your personal brand allows you to overcome concerns like that by showcasing your other skills and abilities.
Developing a personal brand involves being mindful of the attitudes and ethos your social media exhibits and tailoring them accordingly to present the right impression. There are many ways you can go about building or improving your personal brand, but the best way to start is to look at what is already there.
‘An effective personal brand means that other people and yourself have the same view of who you think you are. Take the brave step to find out what they are thinking. It will help you to investigate, and eliminate, any gaps between who you think you are, and how others see you, if you first gather information from trustworthy colleagues or family, about their perceptions of you and your behaviours.’
Once you know how you are already perceived, you will be able to take steps to alter or improve those perceptions. Hays suggests that you;
‘ensure you align your online profile and activities with the personal brand you want to project. For example, if you are building a personal brand that stands for leadership and creative problem solving then you don’t want your online activities to be negative or clichéd.’
Who you choose to follow online says a lot about you. Follow and connect with relevant industry influencers – popular accounts from people in a relevant position of authority who regularly share their insights. For instance, someone looking for a job in information technology would want to follow the leaders in that field, such as IBM, Microsoft, Accenture and Oracle.
While international giants are of course a good place to start, you will be sure to impress a potential employer if you also follow the domestic leaders in the country in which you wish to work. This shows you are familiar with the local industry, ensuring you will easily acclimatise and integrate.
Interaction is key – don’t simply observe. Share relevant articles and updates from the influencers you follow and try to get involved in debates. Impart your knowledge and add your point of view to conversations. This helps demonstrate your understanding of the subject matter and your ability to communicate with others.
Use a blog or site such as Medium or Tumblr to develop your own thoughts. Do you have an interesting personal project you can share regular details on? Have you developed a new process or strategy for dealing with a common industry problem? Even if you simply profile your favourite companies and people, identifying their strengths and discussing what you can learn from them, you are demonstrating an analytical mind-set and a desire to better yourself.
All of this is highly desirable to an employer. Thanks to social media, they can become far more immersed in you as a person than they can by simply flicking through your CV. After reading your CV an employer may know that they want to interview you; after seeing your personal brand online they may know they want to hire you.
Getting a job overseas is little different to getting one here. True, you may need a visa and the commute to the interview could involve a plane rather than a bus, but the principles are the same. Whether you’re competing against another aspiring expat or a domestic resident, your potential employer still wants to know the same thing; what will you bring to their company?
With a strong personal brand, you will have made yourself easy to find, telegraphed your competencies and supplied the interviewer with plenty of evidence of your skills and achievements, giving them a strong idea of your capabilities.
Considering you are willing to move overseas for your career options, having to spend a little time building your personal brand is hardly a big task. Put the time in now and it can set you on the right career path for life.
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