Sunday, March 28, 2010

Back to the Future: My First Blog Post

I wrote my first blog post back in November 2008; problem was I didn’t have a blog to post it to at the time. The post was based on one that Seth Godin, the author and entrepreneur, posted on his blog, Marketing lessons from the US election, where he commented on the successful elements of the Obama’s campaign for the presidency. His comments really resonated with me as they relate to people in their job searches. With a few adaptations, below is what I drafted at the time. Read Godin’s post first; then read mine below. Regardless of your political persuasion, can you see the lessons for marketing yourself in your job search?

Stories really matter. People need to talk about their accomplishments rather than their responsibilities. Stories about what you’ve accomplished throughout your career add value to prospective employers. However, the stories need to be relevant and concise, to the point. If the audience can’t relate to the story it’s no good. If the story teller rambles on, they’re losing the audience and the story is no good.

TV is over. What Godin is talking about here is broadcasting. Tactics like direct mail are not effective. Hiring and HR managers are busy people and are selective about what they want to read. Saturating the airwaves / mail doesn’t do any good. While you need to employ technology more in your search, it needs to be strategic technology.

Permission matters. This is where social networks, like, come in. By reaching out to select folks on LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter, asking permission to connect with them and taking care of the list of connections, you build a network that can help in finding the next position. Frankly, this is where you ought to be focusing your job search efforts.

Marketing is tribal. By building the list of decision makers from sites like LinkedIn and nurturing the list, you identify your tribe. For example, PMPs (Project Management Professionals) know intuitively that their tribe members are other project managers with PMP certification. They know how other PMPs will behave, what processes they employ to do their work. Engineers are another tribe; as are IT folks (although with many “sub cultures” within them – developers, DBAs, network administrators, etc.). What about people looking to join a new tribe, those unsure about what they want to do next or knowing they want to do something else? Again, they can use social networks to identify tribes which they might want to join. Not create a new tribe, but find a new tribe. Identifying one’s tribe is critical to success.

Motivating the committed…By creating lists of decision makers who are asked permission to be on the list; by nurturing them and becoming a member of their tribe; by seeking their advice and keeping them apprised of the unfolding situation, you build a network of motivated tribal members who will act on your behalf.

So how is your search campaign unfolding? Are you using marketing techniques that are effective or are you doing the same old, same old? And how’s that working for you?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ctrl_Alt_Del: Time to Reboot Your Search?

So you’ve been engaged in your job search for some time and you’re getting discouraged. Lots (perhaps hundreds) of applications have been completed – online and on paper – and nary a word from the HR departments. Frustrating no? So maybe it’s time to rethink your approach; to reboot your search.

Let’s review your basic tools and how they’re being used in your search.

First off, your resume: How’s it working for you? Does it tell the story about the value you bring? Does it differentiate you from others or are you just part of the pack? Are you specific about what you’re looking for or do you show that you’re so desperate you’ll do anything? Are you leaving it up to the reader- whether HR or hiring manager – to figure out what your strengths are and how you can meet their needs? If so, that’s unfortunate, as they don’t have the time to figure out how you can fit in their organization.

Second, your online presence: Oh, you don’t have an online presence? You’re not on LinkedIn for example? Hmmm, how’s that been working for you? You should have, at minimum, a profile on Your LinkedIn profile should complement, not duplicate, your resume. Together, they help establish your brand. You can scoff about this “branding thing,” but the reality is if you can’t demonstrate unique value, you’re part of the pack; no way will you stand out in the current competitive market for talent. Moreover, recruiters, HR folk and hiring managers are relying more and more on online searches to identify potential candidates. If you’re not out there, you’re not there.

Third, your network: How’s it working for you? Are you connecting with the right people – that is, are you connecting with decision makers who can either hire you or point you in the direction of someone who can? Are you letting friends and former colleagues know specifically what you’re looking for? Are you telling them the right story about what it is you do best? Conversely, are you helping those in your network? Are you expressing an interest in their concerns and challenges, or are your conversations all about you? Remember, networking is a process, not an event.

Interviewing: Often a new client will tell me “if I can get in front of people, if I can get the interview, I know I can get the job.” Many clients will halt their search once they have an interview. “It went well,” they’ll say; “we really connected, it turns out we both went to the same college and we’re both big Rockies fans.” “So,” I’ll ask, “what are their big challenges (the company’s, not the Rockies)? What was it about your resume they liked? What do they look for in building their team (again, the company, not the Rockies)? What’s the next step? How did you follow up afterwards?” Blank stares.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be time to reboot your search. Start over. Develop a resume that expresses the value you’ve accumulated. Make sure it tells the story you desire – where you want to go; not where you’ve been. Develop an online presence that complements your resume. Post a profile on LinkedIn and participate in the community. Join groups and participate in their discussions; answer questions that demonstrate expertise; build connections that matter. Develop your brand. Use and nurture your network. Connect with people you don’t already know; get to know them. Find out what their challenges are. Be seen as a resource. Connect them to others who might help them. Research the company before the interview. Know what their challenges are. Ask questions about how they intend to address these challenges. Tell brief stories about how you’ve addressed similar challenges. Be seen as a resource. Follow up. Don’t just send a thank you note, but reiterate how you’re the best candidate for the job. Note how your past experience and current skills fit what their looking for; be specific. Create your brand.

So, is it time to reboot your search? To develop new tools that are more effective; that tell your story and identify your brand?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Change the Conversation

Whether networking or evaluating employment prospects we tend to assess how we feel about the opportunity: How can this new person I’ve met help me? Does the compensation for the new job fit my goals? Will I have the authority to accomplish what is expected of me?

As job seekers, we’re encouraged to know and articulate our value; tell our story; build our brand. And I’m among the guilty: working with clients to get them comfortable conveying the value they bring to the table.

An unintended consequence is the What’s In It For Me syndrome or WIIFM in today’s electronic shorthand; a rather egocentric approach to a conversation, where we’re pitching ourselves and our talents to anyone willing to listen.

How many of us want to engage in conversations where the purpose is for someone to pitch us on how good they are? How many of us are comfortable in conversations where we feel compelled to pitch ourselves?

But what if the conversation changed? What if, instead of pitching ourselves, our intention is to find out how the other guy is doing? What’s on their mind? What are their big challenges and problems? Maybe, instead of WIIFM, we ask HAYD How Are You Doing – or WOYMWhat’s On Your Mind?

Now how do you feel? If you’re asking someone what their problems are, are you more inclined to listen to how you might help them? Does your intention flow from being of assistance rather than from pitching yourself?

Shifting the conversation doesn’t absolve you from knowing and articulating your value. It just means that you’re not obligated to lead with you, but how you might help. So change the conversation. Ask about how they’re doing; and listen to what they say.