The ecosystem of creative career fields functions incredibly similar to the way social statuses did in high school. There are too many similarly talented people, creating or begging to create too much of the same exact thing. In addition, there are too few slots available in order for one to stand out in the crowd.
Worse, still, is the resume. While it's not dead, it doesn't hold the same "oomph" that it used to. That piece of paper you spent hours revising and Googling "best verbs for a resume" keywords for, in order to make it sparkle and shine, can be instantly erased from a hiring manager's mind the moment the potential employer types your name into Google and discovers nothing (of value).
The truth is, in today's hiring climate, you need to make yourself stand out in a crowd. It's a popularity contest of media, audience and wits. Your status as a successful – much less valuable – professional demands that you apply some basic principles of PR , high-school drama and media know-how to get the upper hand.
You need to be seen as popular in your industry: plain and simple. Why? Because companies and hiring managers alike want people who are already noticeable.
1. Give them something to talk about.
Nowadays, you are expected to supply companies with multiple sources in order to essentially prove your worth. Of course, five years ago, having a blog under your name was impressive. It was something to be noted.
Fifteen years ago, it was borderline revolutionary. Yet, today, if you send only one link to a publication or portfolio (and no, LinkedIn doesn't count) to any hiring manager in the creative sector in the hopes of securing an interview, you might as well not send any at all.
Sure, the accomplishments you list in detail under each job on your resume somewhat matter. But the number of times – and more importantly, the places where your name shows up in a Google search – matter much more.
Those raving reviews your former employers send you are nice, to be sure. But if there is only a single brag-worthy reference of you in the vast world of the Internet, most hiring managers will simply assume you must be new to the game. They might even assume you're not talented.
When you apply for any creative role, provide sources to showcase your worth. Sources can vary greatly. They can include bylines in case studies or other reputable reports, links to published articles on major news outlets or syndication platforms, mentions in press releases, podcasts and recorded lectures at speaking events or anything else creative with your name on it.
The point is to demonstrate you have others – no matter whether they're commenters on a publication, active connections on LinkedIn or credible mentors – who can verify your professional value.
2. Become part of the (industry) gossip.
You are expected to have a LinkedIn profile. But it's not a free pass. Simply having a LinkedIn profile really doesn't matter all that much. Being active on LinkedIn does.
LinkedIn is not a directory in which to list your name. Rather, it's a professional platform, and it's undoubtedly social by nature.
If you don't interact on the site, you're simply using it as an online location to portray your resume on. The employer already has your resume. You really don't need to send a link to exactly the same thing online.
To make your LinkedIn profile valuable and helpful in your job search, you must actively be social on the site. Being social on LinkedIn means publishing industry insight pieces, actually engaging with others on a platform – yes, that means liking and sharing posts –and collecting that magic number of over 500 connections.
Why? Because you're expected to be popular in your industry. Employers want employees who are already being talked about.
3. Make yourself the person who the "popular" people want to follow.
It's estimated that every minute, 5,711 websites are launched. Every day, 2.37 million blog posts are published. Clearly, it's tough to stand out in the online crowd.
You've likely learned, read or even been told that professional connections matter. While that's true, there's more to it than that. It doesn't really matter how many business cards you have from your latest convention if you don't actually engage with those professional acquaintances.
The people with whom you are connected in your industry are the greatest untapped resources to your success. But they're only as valuable to you as you make them.
Don't hide behind the digital route and simply connect with these people on LinkedIn. Instead, email them, meet with them and make them a part of your career. Your professional connections can not only get your resume to the top of the pile, but they can also vouch for you. They can connect you to up-and-coming industry leaders and make your name and face known to others who have additional connections.
The more real, in-person connections you have in your industry, the more chances you have at professional success. These people are are, arguably, the single most important factor for your professional growth. Their worth greatly outweighs whatever it says on your diploma and the amount of "relevant experience" you have in your field.
The trick is to influence people in order to get what you want. What you want is to be memorable.
Network with these people. Once they know you, surprise them with something remarkable. This could be a creative solution to a problem those in your industry often face, a radical point of view on a tried-and-true topic, an invention, a startup idea or anything, really.
You become radical, reputable and seen as a leader when you start to take control of the conversation about the industry and yourself. You do this by challenging the status quo in your industry and making it known to those who matter.
Make yourself memorable to the right people, and you won't have to search for jobs openings. Opportunities will come to you.