The dream when forging a career isn’t to keep searching the job boards until you find the perfect job or gig.
That’s because, even after you’ve put in a lot of time doing that, you still have to go through a rigorous process of applying and interviewing for the position. To make it worse, all of that work still only nets you a small chance of being hired.
Since it requires less time and effort on your part, the ideal situation is for employers to come to you. You can make that happen by proving yourself online and in-person just once instead of each time you apply for a new position. If you know what you’re doing an employer can be confident you’re a good hire before you ever even speak to each other.
There are a lot of ways to find success, but the best way is often the one with the least time wasted. Here are five ways you can prove yourself so that success will find you instead of the other way around.
1. Make an online portfolio
If you want people to follow you, you need a destination. While most often utilized by people in creative fields, a portfolio can be advantageous in almost any industry. It’s another place to send potential employers and clients, and a more impressive one than social media outlets like LinkedIn.
A portfolio is a great opportunity to display your samples, skills and experience in a format most becoming of your work. SquareSpace and Weebly are among the best and easiest to use website builders for those purposes.
Remember to keep the portfolio simple and uncluttered, to choose a template that suits what you’re selling and to only spotlight your best work. If you do all of that, and include the all-important “Hire Me” tab, you’re more likely to turn interest into action and seal the deal.
2. Have an active, engaging social media presence
Before you seal the deal with the help of a professional portfolio, however, you have to get people interested enough to visit your website in the first place. An effective social media presence can, if done right, lead people there.
What makes a social media presence effective? Your posts need to be, at minimum, one of three things: informative, interesting or entertaining.
The category you should focus on depends on your industry. An accountant probably won’t benefit much from tweeting math jokes (entertainment). Likewise, a comedian isn’t likely to attract a lot of followers by writing about the history of comedy (information).
If you’re simply posting what you feel like posting, you’re not using it professionally and risk alienating the people who can offer you work. You have to be more thoughtful than that.
Consistency in release is just as crucial as consistency in content. If you want to get work off of social media, treat it like a job that you have to “show up to” every day. You can use tools like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule your posts in advance, but if your updates become irregular then you’re giving people an excuse to jump ship and showing that you can’t be relied upon.
3. Make noise
It’s not enough to regularly post on social media or even to regularly post great content on social media. You have to make sure you’re heard over the millions of voices vying for attention. Two ways you can do that are by being unique and by being selectively controversial.
If you stand apart from anyone else who’s offering the same products or skills, you’ll be a step ahead. Look at your sets of skills, in and out of the professional world. The right combination of your interests can make you one of a kind.
For example, Joe Sergi is the authoritative voice on the law in regard to comic books. He merged his professional career as a lawyer with his passion for comics, and carved out a place for himself that no one else has. Find a similar way to stand out.
Controversy can be dangerous, but it can also be necessary if you want to get eyes on you. Think about your views on various aspects of your industry, and pinpoint the ones that don’t align with the majority. If you can make a strong case in favor of your opinion, share it by blogging or posting on social media.
You might make some enemies, yes, but even disdain is better than disinterest. More importantly, though, you’ll make friends and become a go-to person to hire by the people who agree with you.
4. Make friends
It’s usually not what you know that gets you work without actively seeking it out. The connections you cultivate and the friendships you forge can directly lead to paid opportunities. The scary truth of business is that oftentimes all someone needs is passable skills if the person handing out the assignment is already in their corner.
“Networking” is often considered an ugly word, but it’s really just being useful and pleasant to be around. Success at networking is basically the same as success on social media, except you’re talking one-to-one and looking the individuals in the eyes. If you’re capable of that, take advantage of any events or conventions or meet-ups for people in your field.
5. Make good art
This message, popularized by best-selling author Neil Gaiman, applies to both creative and non-creative fields. Do your thing, and do it well. If you do, and if you follow the other tips on this list, people will discover you because they’ll lose out if they don’t.
First study, then practice, then prove yourself. It really can be as simple as that.
Have you tried these steps? Has it led to success? Let us know in the comments below!