Let’s suppose you have a lot of information about yourself that you want to share with potential employers. You also have multiple resources for sharing that information: your professional resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, online articles and blogs, and more.
Does it matter what you communicate, where, when, and how? As a matter of fact, it does.
You probably wouldn’t ramble on to your Aunt Minnie about your work as a senior technology executive if she barely knew how to turn on a computer.
For different reasons, you don’t need to go into exhaustive detail when applying for a position as a CTO. Employers will undoubtedly assume you already have a certain level of knowledge. They’re more likely to be interested in specific value you can bring to their organization.
So your communication should take into account the audience you’re directing your communication to—and that can change from time to time, depending on your purpose.
Avoid Mixed Messages by Clarifying Your Purpose
Where you decide to communicate your professional value depends on why you’re communicating it and what target you have in mind. For example, you might want to submit for a specific employment opportunity that’s in line with your job search target.
Say you’ve identified an open position you feel well qualified for and are interested in. Although you might start with some networking (a good idea), you’ll eventually want to submit your resume, possibly with a cover letter. The letter should be at least partially customized to fit the opportunity you’re pursuing. You should also make sure your resume is on target for the needs of the company and position.
On the other hand, if you’re planning a long-term job search or simply beefing up your overall career management, you could take a look at your LinkedIn profile and other online involvement (organizations, article or blogs you’ve written, and so on). Those self-marketing tools can potentially reach a broader audience. You still need to keep your value proposition in mind, but you won’t be able to target the profile as tightly as the resume and cover letter.
To illustrate: You can’t focus your LinkedIn profile on two divergent career directions. Or, rather, you can’t do it very effectively. If you try, the impression you leave on readers is likely to be that of someone who can’t decide what he wants to be when he grows up. You will probably need to make a choice on which direction you prefer and focus on that.
Time Your Communication
If you have a specific job or career direction in mind, you might include some writing and publishing activities that will help reinforce your visibility and suitability for that kind of position. For instance, you might author a multi-part blog series that focuses on key qualifications and value in the desired area. Ideally, you would launch this series before you start your serious job search, so you can weave it into your search activities to underscore your value message.
Obviously, this is in addition to timing your resume and cover letter submissions appropriately, which will be governed by when you identify a suitable opportunity.
What Can Go Wrong with Mixed Messages
It’s important to make clear to readers of any message just what you’re aiming for with the communication, so they can see how it’s relevant to them and why they should care. Failing to do that can turn off the very people you most want to reach. If you make the focus and relevance clear, you have a much better chance of connecting with them in a useful way.
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