‘Feeling wanted is fantastic, I am yet to meet someone that would say otherwise,’ says Kiera Webber, a manager at recruiters Morgan McKinley.
‘But, how do you go about being an employee that everyone wants, particularly when you only have a piece of paper or an online profile to represent you?’
A good question and not one answered by simply saying you’re an over-achiever, or that you meet a job description’s ‘minimum requirements’. You need to be able to get your message across to the right people, not just inside your organisation, but in the wider sphere of your profession, to all your potential future employers and colleagues.
But what should the message be? There are several qualities you need to display, the first of which is the bare minimum, professionalism at all times, while remembering that current colleagues are an invaluable part of your network. ‘It never fails to surprise me how small the world is, which makes the city you work in even smaller,’ says Webber.
‘We will all work alongside colleagues that come and go, and so ensuring they only have positive things to say about you when they move on to a competitor is key. I have actually had managers phone me up before and give me a name of someone they want me to put forward for a role, because they worked closely with them previously and want to do so again.’
It’s all about the referral, people talking about you, says Catriona Jamieson, senior consultant at recruiters Investigo. ‘But only for the right reasons: the drive and wish to succeed, someone who asks for work when they have run out, who wants to learn and be involved with the business; someone who promotes their company and how they are proud to work for them; someone who is always on time and works hard and smart; not someone who spends their life on social media and complains about every little thing. There are not enough of these candidates about and the good ones need cloning.’
One of the most sought after candidate is known as the passive job-seeker, or someone employed but not actively seeking a new role, which doesn’t mean to say they’re not open to change. This silent talent is attractive precisely because they’re good at they’re jobs and show commitment to their employers. ‘Showing commitment is obvious on a resume,’ says Webber.
‘Ensuring you do not move around too much is key. I often speak to candidates that will continue to look for a new contract even when they have just secured one, but having numerous job titles and companies within a short space of time suggests you can’t commit to a company. If you are good, no company is going to let you go anywhere. Having long periods of time at any one place is testament to you and if your current employer retains you for a considerable time, it means you are good and someone else will want you even more.’
Lisa LaRue, a career coach at CareerWorx with over 18 years’ experience helping people plan and manage their careers, also highlights the importance of commitment to your career. ‘By maintaining a high level of CPD you demonstrate a commitment to professional development; you should also consider positioning yourself as a thought leader by contributing to blogs and industry journals.’
All this extra effort will boost your professional exposure and make you more than simply your job title. But how do you make enough noise about yourself to be noticed, without seeming like that’s what you’re doing? LaRue points to the power of LinkedIn as the first port of call for all professionals, whether you’re an active or passive job-seeker.
‘LinkedIn has become one of the most utilised tools by recruiters, particularly for those seeking out passive candidates,’ she says. ‘There has been a huge rise in the percentage of recruiters who are using professional networks and social media (reportedly around 82%) to seek out talent, so it makes sense to carefully curate your online profile to attract their interest.’
LaRue’s tips for optimising your LinkedIn profile
Dedicate some time to create a powerful and engaging LinkedIn profile. Don’t just complete the basics and think that’s enough. It’s important to go the extra mile by fully completing all relevant sections and providing as much information as you can. One of the biggest benefits to LinkedIn is that you have loads more space to communicate your message than you do via a two-page resume, use this to your advantage.
Stand out from the crowd by telling a story rather than delivering a bland, chronological profile of career events. You can do this by adding extra content to your course descriptions, for example, or by fully utilising the 2,000-character allowance in the Summary section of your LinkedIn profile.
Gain good quality recommendations on LinkedIn, as well as endorsements.
Follow relevant organisations and join groups to show a genuine interest in your career.
Neil Johnson is a freelance business journalist who contributes regularly to trade publications and member organisations, covering employability, recruitment, business trends and industrial analysis.