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William Arruda

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Is Your Career Trapped in the Matrix?

Blue Pill + Red Pill I recently stumbled  onto a great post from Chris Brogan, “Avoid the Many Versions of the Matrix.” He raises the question, “Job security= being employed by a stable company. Matrix or no?,” and concludes: “There’s what we think is real; there’s what we observe as real: and then there’s what we can change.”

In reading the post, it occurred to me that many people subscribe to a matrix-like view of successful job search. You know the one. Prepare a sharp resume, strong cover letter, network for job leads, and sharpen up your interviewing skills. Add to this, the propensity of many job seekers to rely on “applying for the job,” and you can see how this leads to a situation where people operate inside of what they “think is real.”

So, what is real?

Well, putting aside the truth that “there is no spoon,” one view of reality is this: for years, insiders have had the edge in winning job offers. And the evidence for this is the vaunted “hidden job market,” which fills an estimated 70 – 80 % of jobs before they’re posted. If you think about it, the candidate who wins an un-posted job most certainly has an inside track of some kind. Either they are an internal candidate, or have a relationship with a company insider.

None of this is to say careerists should abandon traditional job search methods – they still seem to be successful 20 –30 % of the time. It is to say, however, that your focus needs to be not on heating up job search, but in pursuing the “cool” status of someone “in the know.” In short, you need to work at becoming an industry and company insider. And this does take work. Yet, today, we know what matters and have the capacity to do something about it.

What to can you do? Here are just a couple of ideas.

Start by unearthing your personal brand. It’s the foundation for your success. In the process, you can achieve the clarity that helps you articulate what you want to achieve professionally, the unique value you offer, and who needs to know about you. Your personal brand establishes your point of view and provides a platform for engaging others inside of your brand community.

Cultivate relationships with people already in your brand community, but also work to expand it. You probably already know lots of professionally relevant people. In fact, if you attend professional meetings, you likely share drinks and stories with them. Still, there is real benefit in growing your brand community beyond geographic boundaries. Today, via the magic of social media, you have unprecedented access to people globally. And among them are the industry and company insiders you need to meet and start “hanging out” with.

The new reality of successful career management is that you must gain visibility and credibility – and connection – with the insiders who can be important to your professional success. Today, web presence not only provides that visibility, but also drives relationship building. Consider LinkedIn. It has grown dramatically to become a robust tool for engagement. Sure it is, and has been, great as a resume, Rolodex, and job search engine. Today, however, features like Answers, Groups, Status Updates, and a host of application, including Google Docs, Twitter, and SlideShare help you to bring your profile to life.

Even more, these are tools of attraction and connection. Not only do they invite people to learn about you, but allow you to learn about others. They also give you a basis to start conversations that lead to genuine relationships. So, the real value of social media is in your ability to find people as well as information – and then engage based on what you find. Over time, you gain the reputation and connections that drive the perception of you as an insider. 

There is, of course, a paradox here. Once, online connections were looked at suspiciously. Online relationships were not seen as a real relationships, but as fragments of virtual reality, kind of like the Matrix. Yet, increasingly, a heated up social media is driving an ever-increasing range of “real world” mass-mingling events. The game is changing. You now have the tools. And today, if you want to move ahead, your best choice is the red pill.

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Dubbed 'The Personal Branding Guru’ by Entrepreneur magazine, William Arruda is a pioneering brand strategist, speaker, author and founder of Reach Personal Branding. He is credited with turning the concept of personal branding into a global industry.

William delivers keynotes and workshops on the transformative power of personal branding for some of the world’s most successful companies. He energizes and motivates his audiences—and his private clients include some of the world’s most influential leaders. As a thought-leader, William is a sought-after spokesperson on personal branding, social media and leadership. He has appeared on BBC TV, the Discovery Channel and Fox News Live and he’s been featured in countless publications, including Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the New York Times. William is the coauthor of the bestselling book Career Distinction. He is a member of the International Coach Federation and the National Speakers Association. He holds a Master’s Degree in Education.