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Differentiate Yourself Online

How you show up online has grown increasingly important — especially when you’re job searching. Here are FOUR quick tips for cutting through the noise, differentiating yourself, and standing out.

It’s no secret that more (if not all) of our communications have turned digital — text, email, tweet, reel, chat, zoom, DM, post, comment, like, share… and the list goes on. Regardless of how you feel about it, online interactions are here to stay and are a critical component of the job search process. Differentiating yourself online is an exceptional opportunity to showcase who you are, what you stand for, and the value you will bring to your new employer.

Quick Tip #1: Start with a solid foundation.

Define who you are and what you stand for.

As Yoko Ono eloquently states, “You change the world by being yourself.” When thinking about who you are and what you stand for, try starting with the end in mind. Visualize yourself 30 years from now — looking back, what did you accomplish? Who did you help? What are you remembered for?

Once you have a focus, you must balance where you’ve been with where you want to go. For example, if you’re ready to move into a leadership role, spend some time researching and defining your leadership philosophy. Maybe you feel drawn to servant leadership — putting your team first before your own needs? Or perhaps you agree with the transformational leadership philosophy, which is about leading through inspiration?

From there, define WHY this philosophy is essential to you. What stories shaped your beliefs? Building this foundation and sharing your unique stories will stand out. Of course, others may share similar leadership philosophies, although NO ONE has the same experiences that shaped their views. Share your story.

One thing to watch out for when establishing your brand — your job title does not make you unique. Your job title doesn’t tell people what you stand for. Your job title doesn’t even showcase where you land in a hierarchy. Not to mention — a “specialist” at one company is entirely different from a “specialist” at another company. When you take the time to reflect and define your personal brand, leave your job title aside. 

So, what do you want to be known for?

Quick Tip #2 — Words matter. 

Think about it, when you’re online, the words you read either grab your attention or they cause you to glaze over and continue scrolling.

What words describe you and what you stand for? Are they dull and overused? Or do they make you want to jump in and learn more?

Determining words that define your personal brand can tricky especially because you’re in your head all.the.time. This is where I suggest phoning (or texting or tweeting or DM-ing or emailing) a friend or two for help. Ask them how they would describe you in 5 words or less. Check-in with former colleagues; how would they describe you and your work style? Once you have a few lists of words, analyze them — what are the similarities? What words resonate with you?

Another way to approach this is by getting to know the companies you want to work with. What words do they use to describe their company culture? If those words resonate with you, use them! This is a fantastic way to showcase your interest to a potential employer.

Quick Tip #3: LinkedIn is an essential platform to build a professional presence.

Did you know there are 760+ million professionals (and counting!) on LinkedIn? Did you know recruiters will use LinkedIn as a search tool when scouting out top talent? 

If you’re not already leveraging this platform for job searching, add it to your list today! It’s a powerful tool when researching companies, targeting new connections, and sharing your opinion.

As a career coach, I hear from clients all the time that they want recruiters to come to them — they want to be approached for a job. If this is the case, to stand out and cut through the noise, you must find ways to showcase who you are and what you stand for.

An easy way to start is by breaking the ice with simple likes, comments, and shares on posts that resonate with you from people who work at a company you’re interested in. Trust me; there are people behind the posts who are likely questioning themselves before clicking the “post” button. If you take the time to genuinely like, comment, or share their post, they will notice.

I know this from my experience as an in-house recruiter. Here’s a quick story!

When I was a corporate recruiter, a woman regularly commented on my posts — she was very thoughtful and genuine with her comments, and I appreciated her thoughts. Indeed, I noticed her. After a couple of interactions, she asked me for a 20-minute informational interview to learn more about my company. Of course, after those genuine interactions, I made the time for her. And that informational interview turned into an actual interview with the hiring manager for an entry-level Marketing role.

Starting authentic + professional conversations on LinkedIn can lead to a new job.

I know that networking online with strangers can sound daunting. Try this simple reframe — think about it as if you were going to a professional event. You would walk into a room not knowing anyone and leave with new connections. You’d likely hand out your business card and expect to stay in touch with your brand-new colleagues. Think of LinkedIn as that networking event. Believe me, networking on LinkedIn with strangers is a thing and perfectly acceptable in today’s changing professional landscape.

Quick Tip #4 — Be consistent across platforms. 

My favorite analogy for talking about the importance of consistency is related to party planning. Now, I am the worst party planner! I’d much rather have a spontaneous backyard barbeque than plan something extravagant. Nonetheless, I’ve found that this is a good example and seems to resonate. If you’re planning a party and wish to have a theme, you’re going to pick ONE theme — perhaps a 70’s disco party OR maybe a fancy black & white ball? Can you imagine combining both of those themes into one party? You might end up with some great stories and even better photos, although it wouldn’t make much sense and would likely cause confusion to your guests.

It’s the same thing for a corporate recruiter who has your resume that states you’re a “Social Media Manager” and then heads over to LinkedIn, where your headline reads, “Video Game Industry Expert | Creative Blogger | Digital Marketing Specialist.” I get that Social Media Manager might be under the umbrella of a digital marketing specialist, although it’s not consistent about who you are and what you’re looking for.

In closing, when defining who you are and what you stand for, balance humility + confidence in sharing your story, dive consistency across platforms, show up and be memorable. This quote from Steve Martin sums it up well, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” 

For more on this topic, I invite you to listen to the Career Clarity podcast; Tactical Tips for Marketing Yourself with Jenn Smith.

Differentiate Yourself Online

Differentiate Yourself Online

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