17/03/2017 03:56 SAST | Updated 17/03/2017 09:30 SAST

How To Be The Relevant, In-Demand Job Seeker In A Competitive Market

In today’s merciless job market, it’s definitely a matter of survival of the fittest. The job seeker who continuously adapts will strengthen their brand.

Getty Images/ iStockphoto

It's a known fact that the job market is highly competitive, and these days, having just a good qualification and some job experience alone are not going to get you the job. Technology is advancing rapidly and the way that people think about talent acquisition is evolving. Recruitment methods are adapting and job seekers are becoming savvier in order to differentiate themselves as the most hirable candidate.

In today's merciless job market, it's definitely a matter of survival of the fittest. The job seeker who is relevant and in-demand for the top jobs today and ten years from now, is the individual who adapts to change and progresses along with the advancements in technology and their industry. They also align themselves with the latest recruitment techniques and constantly re-invent and strengthen their own personal brand.

Grow with the times

In essence, it's about growth. If you do not grow with the times, you are going to stay behind, miss out on great job opportunities and find yourself either in a stagnating career or unemployed. It all starts with making a shift in your thinking - how you think about yourself, your expertise and short-and long term career goals.

It's important to let go of a passive attitude towards your career, thinking that you can solely rely on your qualifications, experience and CV to advance your career. You have to take control over the outcomes of your career and start working with a strategy to distinguish yourself as a relevant and in-demand job seeker - the ONE to hire above the rest.

Brand yourself

See yourself as a brand that has to be marketed. You have certain special skills and expertise that others need, and by marketing yourself effectively, the top jobs will come to you.

There are many innovative ways in which you can market yourself and build your personal brand. Use technology to your advantage. Start with your online presence, otherwise known as your 'digital footprint'. This is the way that you are being perceived online. Are you portraying that professional image needed to advance your career? 'Google' yourself and see what results come up.

Be social

Make sure you have a strong presence on the various social media platforms, like LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and that you portray an image conducive to career growth. Get rid of any content shared by you or that you've been tagged in that could harm your professional reputation, like drunken, partying photos with friends, aggressive, negative rants or anything that could put off potential head-hunters. Recruiters nowadays not only look to a candidate's CV to give them insight into the person, but they do a thorough digital search of their online profiles, which greatly influences their decision on whether or not to pursue a candidate.

Also publish posts that are able to draw potential recruiters and job offers. Share content that shows that you are serious about your career and knowledgeable about the latest developments in your industry. Use your social media to network, engage with influencers and also share their content. LinkedIn is a great platform to do this.

Get a website

Do you have your own website? It's another great way to build your personal brand and to control your online presence to a greater extent. You also don't have to pay a fortune for a decent looking website, there are great free tools available online to get your website up and running.

Use your website to showcase your expertise and skills and upload valuable, shareable content to draw traffic and potential job and networking opportunities to your 'brand'. You can also optimise your website for the search engines (SEO) so that when a recruiter or employer is looking for someone with special skills, your name pops up in their search results Your online presence needs to be constantly monitored and updated to stay ahead of the game in your career.

Expand your knowledge

To keep your career from stagnating, you have to keep up-to-date on the latest changes and trends in your industry. Grab any opportunities to upskill and expand your knowledge on your trade. Read as much as you can, take courses, learn from other experts, attend seminars and webinars etc.

Employers are looking for people who can not only do the job, but add value, bring new improvements and problem solutions and promote the general growth of their business.

Write thought leadership articles and partake in speaking engagements

You want to establish yourself as a leader in your industry, someone who paves the way with fresh thinking and innovation. Someone with credibility and authority, an expert who knows what they are talking about. By writing thought-leadership pieces and liaising with external publishers and the media you are able to establish yourself as leader in your industry. At first it might be difficult to get published, but the more you write, even if it's just on your own website, LinkedIn or smaller publications, the bigger opportunities will come your way.

Being a leader in your trade often also leads to invitations for interviews and speaking engagements to share your knowledge. Grab these opportunities to be recognised and heard. When doing these interviews or speaking engagements, be confident, communicate clearly and be to the point, but also engaging with your audience. Be ready to receive feedback and criticism, but learn and grow from it, rather than be deflated by it.

Be visible on job portals

The days of faxing or dropping off your printed CV at potential employers' offices are long gone. Recruitment has gone 100 percent digital. Employers and recruitment agencies rely on smart digital job portals and other online recruitment tools to connect with top candidates.

These job portals provide recruiters with fresh CVs, and allow them to filter candidates to match their specific job criteria. They also give job seekers great tools to connect with recruiters and stay alerted of the latest job opportunities in their area. Registering your CV online doesn't only allow you to apply for jobs as they become vacant and listed, but puts you in the talent pool of top candidates to be headhunted.

Today's job market is incredibly competitive, yes, but by taking charge of your career now and the way that you approach it, you'll be able to set yourself apart from the crowd and successfully navigate your way to the top jobs in your industry.