Archive for the ‘Marketing Yourself in the Job Search’ Category

Today has been declared Hire a Slob Day. Employers have agreed to give slobhiring preference to unwashed applicants with stains on their clothes, bedhead and hanging shirttails. The time it will take to get a job offer is inversely proportional to the time that has elapsed since you last took a shower.

The decision to implement this initiative to hire the slovenly has been reached after much debate and a near government shutdown.

Just kidding. Happy April Fool’s Day!

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Seems like all we hear these days is branding this, branding that. We must brand ourselves, professionally speaking, if we want to be taken seriously. If you’re looking for a job, that goes double for you.

But what happens when we have more than one interest that we’re trying to pursue; different images — sometimes conflicting — that we want to project and promote? Are we splitting ourselves in two? And if so, which self will win??

Yes folks, I myself am suffering from Multiple Branding Disorder. I currently have 3 online selves, sort of: one as Employment Counselor, one as MarCom Writer, and my third alter-ego, Comedy Writer. Since I have a lot of years of experience as a career counselor, I’ve mostly branded myself blogwise as the Employment Counselor/Comedy Writer Combo Pack, with an occasional MarCom Writer snippet thrown in.

But now I’m focusing on a comedy thriller I’m working on (“Explode”), and want to brand myself as both my Comedy Writer self and my MarCom Writer self, since that’s my day-job-career path. I have to re-brand myself and hang out with my comedy-and-mystery-writer Twitter-peeps, rather than my job counselor ones. Plus, some of my comedy stuff is edgier than some job hunters looking for job search advice might think of as, uh, appropriate. Which means I’ll likely lose the folks that are mostly interested in job search advice and don’t give a crap about the comedy. But that’s the way the branding iron sizzles.

Nevertheless, here comes some branding advice for job seekers:

  • The self you most want to focus on at this point is how you should brand yourself.
  • If you have more than one self you want to project, it’s okay if there’s some overlap, unless you’re simultaneously trying to brand yourself as conservative religious Republican and porn star. In which case, good luck to you.
  • If some would-be employers are less than enthusiastic about the you that you’re projecting, then guess what? Those aren’t the right employers for you at this point in your life anyway.
  • Here’s my shameless self-plug: though I’ll mostly be concentrating on my novel, this blog has a plethora of posts already on various job search topics, so feel free to peruse.

 

Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?

I’m re-posting a piece I did awhile back on branding/marketing yourself in your job search. If you’ve already read it, just pretend you’re an Oceanic Flight 815 survivor experiencing a time flash.

In your job search quest, you’ve probably seen the word “branding” floating around in the job-o-sphere (here’s a personal branding blog with a lot of helpful tips) and heard your job search strategy compared to a marketing campaign, with you as the product.

While “self-branding” can sound vaguely scary (especially if you’ve ever worked on a horse farm), it’s not as masochistic as it sounds. Marketing yourself is, in fact, an effective way to conduct your job search, and branding is an essential component of that.

Here are some strategies to help you in your job search self-branding efforts:

  • Come up with what you want to be known for – your professional identity (known in marketingspeak as “positioning”). What are your unique talents that make you different from Joe Schmeckel Jobseeker? Are you TechGirl? GrammarGuy? Do you know where all the commas go before they die? Of course, branding yourself as GrammarGuy probably won’t help you much if you’re a forklift driver. It has to be relevant to the field you’re interested in.
  • Figure out what specific benefits your skills/experience can bring to an employer (otherwise known as your “value proposition.”) Fill in the blank: “When my co-workers (or future co-workers) need help with _____________, they come to me.” Hopefully you’ll be able to come up with something other than, “finishing all the leftovers from Adam’s birthday party,” or “remembering the name of Mr. Spock’s mother.”
  • Emphasize your talents on your resume and in your cover letters. Employers, like men in a relationship, hate having to try to read your mind. And when it comes to an employer, since there’s nothing in it for them, they probably won’t bother. If you want them to focus on particular skills that will benefit them, make it obvious which skills those are.
  • Focus your LinkedIn profile and Twitter tagline (excuse the alliteration) on those talents, in much the same way you focus your resume on them. And don’t tell me you don’t have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You’re job-hunting. It’s 2011. Shame on you.
  • Build a positive online rep. relevant to the type of job you’re interested in. Start a blog in your area of expertise, or at least comment on other people’s blogs, showing your knowledge and offering helpful info. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your talents, and get involved in the discussions. But I wouldn’t get involved in anything too potentially controversial when you’re job-hunting. That’s just me.
  • Establish your style. Yes, if your style is Lindsey-Lohan-meets-Charlie-Sheen, you probably need to rein it in a bit. And resumes and cover letters need to be more on the formal side in terms of tone. But you do want your online persona to pretty much reflect who you are and how you want to be perceived at work. After all, you’re unique. You want to be noticed (for the right reasons). Besides, if your persona is too scattered in different directions, a prospective employer might think you have multiple personality disorder.
  • Figure out what your target market is, and go for it. Who are the employers you want to work for, who are likely to need and value your talents? If you want to use your aerial basket-weaving skills in a free-flowing environment, don’t be looking at companies that specialize in a 3-piece suit dress code and actuarial statistical analysis.

Yes, you’re marketing yourself in your job search. You’re the product you’re selling. But that doesn’t mean you should be a snake-oil salesperson who resorts to sneaky tactics. Cuz guess what – it’ll probably blow up in your face. And you won’t be too marketable if you’re headless.

Here are a few dirty tricks not to do in your job search:

  • Lie about your background. Just as it’s sleazy to misrepresent a product, if you’re not honest about your experience and education, it’ll probably come back to bite you in the ass. Remember the Dean at MIT who was fired for saying she had a doctorate when she didn’t? I think she’s currently working as a cashier in the food court.
  • Harass employers. Once, twice, three times are okay for an initial contact or to follow up. More than that, not so much. Irritating the hell out of people isn’t an effective job search strategy. And if you crouch in the bushes and wait to pounce on an employer in the parking lot, you will officially be known evermore as Psycho Stalker Job Seeker Guy. There are laws.
  • Fudge contacts. You don’t want to contact a possible lead and say, “Joe Schmeckle suggested I contact you” if, in fact, you just got Joe Schmeckle’s name off of LinkedIn and he’s never heard of you. Bad form.
  • Conduct an in-your-face job search. Don’t you just love those ads with huge glow-in-the-dark headlines that shriek at you with multiple exclamation points? Bet you don’t.  Neither do employers. Unless they’re over-the-top-squirt-water-out- of-a-big-fake-red-nose themselves, in which case maybe it’s an ideal match. Usually, though, even though it’s important to be enthusiastic, don’t overdo it. Not in your cover letter or resume, or in person. Employers will want to smack you.
  • Try to bully an employer into interviewing or hiring you. I’m sure you wouldn’t do that, but I’ve heard stories….Just as it’s not kosher for a salesperson to ever try to intimidate a customer into buying their product, you don’t ever want to imply in any way that if you don’t get an interview, your Uncle Vito will come pay them a visit with your resume and a baseball bat. Of course, if Uncle Vito works for the company and can put in a good word for you with the hiring manager sans baseball bat, that’s another story.

Here are a few tips on doing a killer job search. And no, I don’t mean visiting your former employer and running amok with a machete.

  • From your research (yeah, I know you know how to do that), find some interesting tidbit about each employer you’re targeting in your job search, and mention it in your cover letter.
  • Better yet, connect the tidbit to how you can benefit them. And I don’t mean, “I read in the Boston Business Journal that you’re being sued for sexual harassment. Since I’ve been sued for that several times myself (I like to sneak around corners and bump into my co-workers to cop a feel), I could help you make it go away.” That’s the idea, though. Just substitute a more positive factoid, or one that may be a problem that you can help them solve, but not one that the National Enquirer would pant over.
  • Send your contacts some helpful info. A job lead, a link to an article about something they want info on or a topic they’re interested in, a link to their favorite porn site (not really). But don’t immediately ask for them to reciprocate. “Here’s that info on when Charlie Sheen’s mother ship is coming to take him home. Have any job leads for me?” is SO not cool.
  • Ask more questions than you answer in your networking interactions. And not, “What’s my area of expertise? What do you want it to be, baby?” Just focus more on them than you, and you’ll be surprised at how much more likely they’ll remember you, want to help you, pledge their eternal devotion to you, and grovel at your feet. Really.
  • Dress the part. Even if it’s not an actual job interview. When you go anywhere that has anything remotely to do with job search/networking/strategic shmoozing, dress like a – dare I say it – winner. I’ve seen job seekers show up at networking events in flip flops and muscle shirts. I mean, come on.
  • Keep busy. If you know what time “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?” comes on, you’re in trouble. And if you’re not, in fact, smarter than a 5th-grader, you might be tempted to stick your wet finger in an electric socket. So set up informational interviews, volunteer, work part-time, take a class, teach a class at a community center. Do constructive stuff you can put on your resume, that’ll help you continue to develop your skills and regularly interact with other humans.
  • Keep a positive attitude. If you’re negative, you’ll be much less likely to find a job, for a slew of reasons. Mostly because the majority of people you come in contact with will think you’re a pain in the ass, and they won’t want to have anything to do with you. Unless they’re negative themselves, in which case you can whine together in your dark cloud of blehhhh.

Here is a sample cover letter. Note that it includes the two key elements of an effective cover letter: why you give a flying jockstrap about them, and concrete examples of how you can help them fulfill all their wildest fantasies. Or at least some of them.

Dear Okra-Man,Super Broccoli

I’m very interested in joining your team at Vegan-Superheroes, Inc.  I recently read on veggieherochronicle.com about how your organization is looking to develop your green capabilities. As my particular superpower is emitting highly charged electromagnetic forces after consuming broccoli, I’m confident I would be a valuable addition to your team.

As you can see from my resume, I initiated chlorophyll-induced power-trances at Niblets Corp., which directly resulted in raising our mega-power capabilities in the must-be-a-f*cking-miracle body healing sector by 300%.

Although I specialize in broccoli-related powers, I’ve also improved the quality of drinking water in multiple urban centers by regurgitating magic neurons into their water supplies after ingesting brussel sprouts and Swiss chard.

I would love to talk with you further about your needs at Vegan-Superheroes. You can reach me at 555-555-5555 or greenisgood@gmail.com.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Spew-Green-Magic Man

 

Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?