As a Career, Job Search, and LinkedIn Coach I am constantly urging my executive-level clients to build a reputation for thought leadership via industry articles, blog posts, and LinkedIn content. While nearly all of them see the potential value in a thought leadership-driven job search approach, most are reluctant to dive right in. What stops them? They struggle with what to write about.
If this is the dilemma you face, you may benefit from the questions and suggestions outlined here. While there are many ways to develop thought leadership content, I have briefly delineated three below, each with a “formula” for crafting your own custom post or article.
Thought Leadership Question #1
Consider the companies and industries that you are targeting in your job search. What specific kinds of problems and challenges do they face in the short- to mid-term?
First, it’s important to address a specific audience in your thought leadership even though individuals outside those companies and industries may read your post. Second, in answering these questions for yourself, it’s helpful to hone in on the problems and challenges these organizations face that you have experience in solving.
- Outline these problems and challenges in your post and detail the dangers posed by each.
- Suggest solutions with short-, mid-, and long-term advantages associated with them.
- Give examples drawn from your experience but focus on your solutions without over-emphasizing your role (your achievements and experience will speak for themselves without overtly tooting your own horn).
- Showcase step-by-step solution implementation much as you would in building CAR (challenge | action | result) stories for your resume, LinkedIn profile, or behavior-based interview responses.
Thought Leadership Question #2
Which industry trends do you think are most likely to impact the companies you are planning to target in your search?
While you may already be aware of trends in your target industry(ies), don’t hesitate to do a little research before diving into this thought leadership question. If you can identify emerging trends that aren’t already well-publicized, you are more likely to appear to be ahead of the crowd on key issues.
- Delineate 5 to 10 industry trends likely to emerge in the next 2 to 5 years.
- Identify the pros and cons of each trend. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
- Suggest action steps that can be taken in the next 1 to 3 years which can position target companies either to mitigate negative trends or seize positive trends.
- If you have industry experience related to these action steps, use it as a specific example.
- If you are aware of the experiences of others, mention it if it’s instructive.
Thought Leadership Question #3
What industry news can you analyze? News might include key personnel changes, acquisitions, mergers, divestitures, events, or products/services.
With this question it’s helpful to set up a Google Alert for industry news of the kind mentioned above. When you’re alerted to a new acquisition or product announcement, you can then apply the following approach to quickly create content that is well-timed – making you appear to be right on top of emerging news.
- Define why you believe this news is important.
- How is it likely to impact the industry as a whole or any relevant sub-sectors?
- How is it likely to impact the company(ies) in question?
- Does this news relate to or exemplify a larger industry trend? If so, what is that trend and how does it relate to this news?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages you perceive in this news or event?
- What strategies do you see underlying this news and what results might they lead to in the short- and mid-term future?
- What alternatives actions can you suggest?
- How might the company in question better position themselves in the future?
The beauty of these quick outlines is that you can use them over and over without duplicating your thought leadership content or appearing to write something too similar to something someone else has written. Your own experience is a rich treasure chest you can draw from to ensure your content is as unique as you are.