Building Your Finance Leadership Brand: Act Like You’re Looking For A Job, Even If You’re Not

We all know that the job searching landscape is virtually unrecognisable from where it sat 10 years ago. Social media, virtual talent acquisition teams and that scary button “Apply Using Your LinkedIn Profile” means that taking comfort in an Arial pt. 10 CV that replicated your position descriptions, word-for-word, since University is probably not quite going to cut it now in today’s digital age. Even if looking for a job isn’t your priority right now, it cannot be stressed enough that building a multi-platform ‘brand’, just like your marketing colleagues will tell you takes time – months, if not years, and consistent focus, so you need to start now to be exposed to the right opportunities down the road that will effectively meet your career potential.

#1 Constantly evaluate your career goals

Most people when asked, are not clear about their medium to long term career goals. Rule one in making yourself market-ready is really understanding your career objective, and accepting that this may change over time. Think long and hard about your end goal, and research what competencies and skills you need to get there. Identify the gap between the stage you are at now, and try to map out 3 to 5 career stepping stones to bridge those skills gaps. This might involve international experience, time outside of finance, or even moving industries. With this career plan, you can then start to evaluate what opportunities might be present in your current organisation, and what you will have to look for externally.

#2 It’s time to embrace your annual appraisal

Even if you’ve had a brilliant year, the process of an annual or quarterly review is time-consuming and can be confronting – we all have those ‘goals’ that get pushed to the back burner. However, appraisals are absolutely vital to keeping yourself on track, keeping you evaluating career goals, and not to mention building your profile in your current organisation. If you’ve had a great year, tell people about it. Embrace the review process, and fight for it to happen regularly.

#3 Keep track of your accomplishments and update your CV, regularly

If you’ve tried to write a CV in the last couple of years, or even prepared for an interview, you’ll know the struggle associated with articulating achievements. The simple fact is, apart from headline results, most of us can’t communicate every day things we do that make a difference in our jobs, mainly because we forget. Every time you lead a mini-project, deliver an above-expectation result, or receive a complimentary email, store it. Keep a spreadsheet, or update your CV in note format using the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result), so that when you need that information, it’s there.

#4 Create (or improve) your digital presence

Yes, you can apply for most jobs now just using your LinkedIn profile. In fact, it’s likely that in a number of years we might completely replace the traditional CV altogether – some businesses already don’t use them. And then there’s the chance of being headhunted, nearly all of which is completed by recruiters using LinkedIn or other social media platforms to gather their information. Even if you’re not actively seeking a new role, you must create an awareness of who you are in the marketplace by having a credible online presence, so that when you do go out to market, recruiters will know who you are – already.

It’s clear looking for a job is now is no longer an apply-blindly-and-hope-to-hear-back-soon process, but an exercise in sales and marketing. It’s about sending out a message about who you are, via many different platforms, to establish a credible presence in the market that will serve you in many ways. Above all though, building your brand is not just about looking for a job – it’s about building a brand that will expose you to opportunities – and opportunities that may serve your own strategic objectives in your current organisation – through networking, thought leadership events and maybe even customer forums. Opening and keeping the door open to conversations is critical as a leader, but impossible without a brand.

Good luck!

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