Everything these days is about branding, marketing, social media, and how to “project” who and what you are online and in person. It can become complicated quickly and even overwhelming. We often counsel candidates regarding how to polish their resumes, manage their social media platforms throughout the insurance job search, communication, and much more.
What you are and have become in your insurance career can be difficult to sum up in a one-page document or online profile. Here are a few quick tips to make that process easier:
1. Be true to yourself.
I can’t tell you how many times I talk with candidates who clearly aren’t a match for a job, and they often try to talk me into the skill sets they may or may not possess to see if they can fit a square peg into a round hole. I've never understood why someone would want to do that. Why would you want a job interview for a role, fake out the employer, get the job, and suddenly realize you have zero qualifications that make you good at the job?
I coach youth basketball and one of our tag lines all season was, “Play our brand of basketball.” If we tried to play the other team’s brand of basketball, it never worked. Same goes for your job search. When you try to be something you’re not, it will not end well for you.
2. Keep it professional.
This is broad and could send us down a deep, dark rabbit hole, but the bottom line here is to tread carefully and steer clear of that DO NOT USE list. For example:
- Politics (elections!)
- Belief systems
- Personal preferences
I used to be shocked by the stories I heard about interviews gone wrong or public profiles put into question. Candidates often feel like they can be more “real” with the insurance recruiter, but I am here to caution you that being honest and being over the line are separated by a thin barrier. You can instantly be branded in the wrong bucket by one small thing you say that you believe will not have repercussions. And for those of you that believe your Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter, and Instagram pages are none of anyone’s business, I will remind you that once on the internet, always on the internet.
3. Know the difference between evolution and wholesale change of a brand.
Okay, this one may seem a little esoteric. Allow me to explain. I counsel candidates about tweaks to their branding and possible career changes.
- Sometimes people want to slowly transition from sales to service, or vice versa.
- Other times people like to move from an individual contributor role to management.
- Some even desire a change from leadership back into an individual contributor role.
If you approach the process strategically you can accomplish great things. If instead you approach it as jumping off a cliff and completely starting from scratch, that can be a dangerous proposition. Just because you have done one thing or one job well for 15-20 years, it does not mean you can’t do something different. BUT you must be intentional and stick to a plan over time.
Candidates can oftentimes fall into what I call a jealousy trap and want the best of both worlds. If they are in sales, they are tired of all of the pressure and want to “slow down.” Yet they don’t want to do all that is required of someone in more of a client servicing role. They just want to release the pressure of a goal (again, or vice versa). Someone in client service could be jealous of the salespeople who are always out of the office entertaining clients. But they don’t want all of the pressure that comes with being a salesperson with a goal hanging over their head.
By slowly changing your brand and strategy regarding a next step in your career, you can take baby steps toward a grand goal to determine if that is even possible long term. You could also call this focusing on the journey and not always the destination. The path may unveil a different destination.
4. Pretend your grandmother can see and hear everything you are doing.
Okay, this one may be a little cheesy and more applicable to personal life. But I really think it can provide guidance to your job search as well. Think about it – would you post wild, radical ideas on your social media if you knew your grandmother would view all of them? Or if you imagine yourself back in high school or college. You are talking with your grandmother about dreams and aspirations. Most grandmothers heap unwarranted praise and adoration on their grandchildren, but they also want what is best for you. So if you are 5’4” and uncoordinated, you go on to tell your grandmother you want to play center for the Los Angeles Lakers, she will probably give you a hug but tell you that you are crazy. I know my grandmothers would see the BS from a country mile away and would put me in my place. And appalled at some of the posts I see on my friends' and colleagues’ social media. Granted they are from a different generation, but again, they'd spot the bad posts from a distance and chastise you for putting bad things on your pages.
I realize that creating and maintaining your brand as a candidate is a moving target. So the best thing to do is create something that evolves with the times, but never lets you stray far from your...
You may miss out on jobs that sound appealing on the surface, but never would have been a match over time. Enjoy the ride and focus and what works for you!