This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
It’s a delicate dance: You want to talk about your past and present accomplishments. But say too much, and you may come across as bragging. Don’t say anything at all, and no one knows about the great work you’ve done. So, how do you successfully market yourself in a job search?
Following are six tips for marketing yourself for a job.
1. Create an elevator pitch
Start by creating your elevator pitch, which is a concise statement of who you are, what you want to do career-wise and what you can provide to a company.
The key to creating an elevator pitch is to identify your strengths and explain how they can benefit the potential employer. While your elevator pitch is short, creating one means taking a deep dive into your work history, education and combined experiences to identify what you bring to the table.
With a solid elevator pitch in place, you can build on it and use the pitch to market yourself throughout a job search.
2. Build your brand
Once you’ve got an elevator pitch, it’s time to build a personal brand. If the idea of “branding” yourself doesn’t appeal to you, we get it. Branding yourself can seem like bragging.
However, creating a personal brand for your job search isn’t bragging as much as it is marketing yourself for a job in an appropriately professional manner. Think of it as an extension of your elevator pitch: You’re letting employers know who you are professionally, what you bring to the table and — most importantly — why they should hire you.
The difference, though, is that with your personal brand, you can go deeper than an elevator pitch. For example, if part of your personal branding includes a website with a portfolio, in addition to showcasing your work samples, you can also showcase who you are as an employee and an individual.
Take advantage of the “about” section to explain your professional self to potential employers. This shouldn’t be as long as a novel, but it doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) as short as an elevator pitch. Talk about what motivates you or why you got into the career field.
Creating a personal brand takes time and effort, but it can be well worth it for your job search.
3. Promote your network
Everyone has heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And while what you know does play a significant role in landing a job, it’s hard to deny that building a strong network can also be an essential element of a job search and career success.
There’s plenty of advice for helping you start, grow and enhance your network. But it’s important to remember that while your network is there for you, in some respects, your network isn’t about you.
A crucial yet often overlooked part of networking is what you can bring to others in your network. What is your value to the other members of your network? How do you help them?
Helping other people in your network can go a long way toward spreading goodwill throughout and makes it more likely people will want to help you when you need it most. Even during a job search, make sure you’re balancing the types of communications you have with your network.
4. Invest in your skills
There are two reasons why you should continue your education well beyond the end of your formal education.
First, one of the top transferable skills that employers look for in employees is “curiosity.” While that could translate into asking about your weekend, what that means in relation to your job search is that employers want employees who are committed to learning more about their profession.
So, take some classes that will give you the skills you need to do your job and do it well. Maybe you need to learn some advanced spreadsheet tricks. Or, you take a class about some new and interesting project management techniques. Whatever it is, these classes can demonstrate how committed you are to learning and advancing in your career. And, they don’t have to be formal university-level courses for credit. There are several online learning options available in a less-traditional setting.
Second, sometimes in your job search, you may notice that the job postings list skills or certifications that you don’t have. Taking some time now to learn those skills or obtain that certification can help you land that new job in the future.
Volunteering during your job search is another great how-to-market-yourself tip. For starters, it helps give you a little more “depth,” meaning that the employer can get a fuller picture of who you are as a person. However, depending on what you do, volunteering during your job search can be a great way to keep your skills up to date, too.
For example, if you’re a programmer and you’re in between jobs, volunteering your services to local charities or schools helps keep your portfolio current, demonstrates your hard skills and shows potential employers that you stayed active and professionally engaged even though you weren’t in a paid position.
6. Connect the dots
Even though you’ve put a lot of work into marketing yourself, sometimes you still have to connect the dots for a potential employer. A great way to do this is by using the STAR method. This helps employers understand how you used your skills to achieve results.
Here’s how it works. When someone asks you about a professional accomplishment, you could say, “I streamlined invoicing procedures.” And while that’s a good thing, there’s not a lot to that answer. Instead, explain the situation you faced, how you overcame it and what the result was. Below is an example:
“I noticed that certain clients were frequently paying their invoices late. It turns out the problem was a different department turning in their statements late, due to a bug with their software. I contacted the tech team who fixed the bug, and that helped. But I also set a firm deadline for when all statements had to be in the accounting office. That leads to bills going out earlier and invoices being paid in a more timely manner.”
These details help the employer understand what you did, why you did it and how your skills might benefit them. And although this uses a lot of “I” statements, this doesn’t fall into the category of “bragging,” since you worked with other teams to resolve the issue.
Self-promote the humble way
It’s easy to think that marketing and promoting yourself during a job search (or anytime in your career) can come off as bragging. But, if you don’t market and promote yourself, how will people know about your accomplishments and achievements? More importantly, how will potential employers know that you’ve got what it takes to do the job?
As long as you take the time to craft your statements carefully and remember to promote others in your network, you’ll find yourself promoting yourself in a humble manner to help you achieve job search (and career!) success.
Interested in more personalized advice on crafting an elevator pitch or personal brand? Want to know more about using the STAR method on a resume or in an interview? Consider scheduling a session with a FlexJobs career coach.
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