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It’s not easy to stand out in the job-hunting crowd. Even if you do all the right things — networking, customizing your cover letter, and letting your true self show in the interview — often there are so many other candidates that it’s difficult to show why you’re the best choice.

So why not establish yourself as an expert in the field you want to work in? You can do this in a variety of ways; via a blog, public speaking or the vehicle we’re talking about today: by writing an ebook.

Why ebooks are a good investment of your time

EBooks provide an opportunity to be published far more easily than the traditional publishing process: they’re quicker to produce, easier to distribute and cheaper to make. (And for those of you who are still dying to send your photo to recruiters, you can embed multimedia.) This is a huge boon when getting “published” is a new form of street cred. When people are on talk shows now – whether they’re actors or physicists – they’re always introduced as “Big-Time Rich Person, author of Super Important Book You Should Buy.” The fact that they’re authors outshines everything else they’ve done.

It also can be easier to achieve big numbers in the ebook world. With a bit of elbow grease, it’s not unfathomable to get thousands of ebook downloads. With that many people reading your words, your stature as an expert in your field is established; you’ll carry that aura of wisdom forward. (It looks pretty darn good on a résumé, too.) Just like a great industry blog, an ebook can convince people who’ve never heard of you that you know what you’re talking about.

How to produce a relevant ebook

When writing an ebook, go with what you know. You could start with something you know jack about and dedicate the next five years of your life to learning everything there is to know about it, but your lack of judgment will surely be disturbing to future employers. Whether you’ve been working in the automotive industry or doing underwater basket-weaving for the last 10 years, focus on that.

Once you have a general topic in mind, figure out what will attract the most attention. Check out:

  • Social media: What’s trending? What will your friends not shut up about?
  • The news: Don’t focus on a short-term event, but if you’re inspired to write about something lasting (like how to survive a financial crisis), go for it.
  • Current issues your clientele are grappling with: If you’re employed or ever have been, you’ve run into issues that could easily be resolved if people just did something differently.
  • Google Insight and Google Trends

Once you’ve started, use social media to engage your target audience. They can provide you with valuable input, feedback and suggestions.

How ebooks can get you hired

Besides being an obvious résumé booster, an ebook tells employers several things about you:

  1. You have experience and knowledge in the field, and you’re dedicated to and interested in the topic.
  2. You are goal-oriented and an achiever; you’re a self-starter who doesn’t need people managing you to meet a goal.
  3. You have crucial skills they need: writing, research and customer recognition.
  4. You have a good understanding of public relations and marketing. In fact, your eBook can garner you PR ops that may bring your new employer your way.
  5. You have a lot of contacts in the industry. As you engage your audience, you’ll inevitably expand your social circle within your field. Your networking during the writing process can even land you a job.

Case in point: a freelance writer I know was unemployed and wrote an ebook on how to create valuable content. Within two months of its publication, she had offers from two different content farms who’d simply stumbled across her ebook, which demonstrated exactly what she had to offer those companies.

Another guy who works as a management consultant generated so many leads from his ebook (where his contact information was provided) that he doubled his client base in a year.

Before you get desperate enough to dress up in a chicken costume and stand outside your dream employer’s office, write an ebook on a topic you know a lot about, preferably one that companies might want to hire you to help them with. Positioning yourself as a problem-solver and a self-motivated worker will bolster your candidacy – and it looks a heck of a lot better than chicken feathers.