Marketing A Shiny New You
To employers, you are a product–just like Nike running shoes or a Kate Spade handbag. And, just like any good retailer, you should market yourself by shouting your best attributes from the rooftops. The way to do that is to network pro-actively, follow-up with a vengeance and never give up until you find the marketing and advertising campaign that works. How will you know you’ve hit pay-dirt? Just as in a company, your revenue line will begin to grow.
The first step to selling yourself in a given industry is to learn as much as you can about the field. Learn the right buzz words.
But jargon alone won’t allow you to bag your dream job. You need to understand what the words mean and how to use them. That can be especially important in specialized, fast-moving industries like telecommunications, new media and biomedicine.
When networking, familiarity with a given industry will allow you to begin dialogues with the people who can actually hire you. Networking requires not only contacting influential people through family, friends and business connections, but attending industry events as well. A pro-active approach to attending seminars, trade shows and other functions is to introduce yourself to the speaker or panelists presenting. Take that business card and write something on the back of it that is pertinent to the speakers’ presentation. Then follow up immediately with a note or e-mail. (Think of the little note on your business card as your advertising slogan.)
Tips For Marketing Yourself:
Clean up Your Act. Resume, business cards, and references all must be in impeccable condition before communicating with the outside world. Remember, this is your marketing material–just as if you were a major company looking for market share–and it should be ready for prime time. If necessary, use a professional to get your collateral material in order. The eventual interview with Mr. Big will seal your fate, but there are other people in the chain of command who will review your material before a decision to hire gets made.
Smile. People would rather talk to someone who is upbeat no matter how their job skills stack up.
Own the Three Cs: Communication, Computers and Critical thinking. Success in the new millennium requires that new hires have the ability to communicate with people as well as with computers. Critical thinking leads to the ability to negotiate through any situation. Employers want to know you can think on your feet. Everyone understands that new technology is making everything move very fast. So if you can demonstrate the ability to negotiate through situations and learn new computer skills, you will get the job.
Rehearse. A good marketing professional would never give a presentation unprepared. Ask a friend to engage you in conversation as if you are in a networking situation. Answer the seven or eight potential questions such as, What are your skills, strengths and weaknesses? and Do you have any experience in ___? You’ll be surprised to learn that some of your answers may need brushing up. If you need help deciding how to present yourself verbally, seek the assistance of a professional career counselor, industry insider, or a friend.
Be Upbeat. Negative advertising often hits the wrong buttons. This is just as true in marketing yourself. While networking, don’t dwell on negativity. If you were fired from your last job, don’t blame your previous employer. And if you have some negative feelings about the industry you are targeting, keep them to yourself. (Unless you’re seeking a job as a film critic, this is not the time or place for negativity.)
Get Out of the House. Many cities host industry events on any given day or evening featuring CEOs and experts who hold forth on a myriad of topics.
Scout the Competition. Any good marketing executive understands the importance of competitive analysis. If you’ve identified a firm that seems right for you, find out something about the qualifications of recent hires. You’ll learn a lot about the “products” vying for your space in the company.
Be Honest. The “truth in advertising” rule applies to you and your background as much as it does to pharmaceuticals or fat-free snack food. (Whenever you are tempted to lie about your experience, try imagining the scene when your new boss finds out that you really can’t run a forklift or write C++. Do you really need the hassle?) Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t shine a positive light on your skills and accomplishments. That’s only good marketing!
Be Yourself. The old adage about being yourself holds true in career hunting. Examine your best qualities and package those attributes for today’s marketplace.