Brand: You, Creating and Self-Marketing Yourself to Find a Job During Tough Times

A career brand is an image that portrays you as an expert in your field, attracts your ideal employer, and reveals how you can help their business. How can you promote your career brand effectively, to stand out among increasing competition in the workforce? Self-marketing!

Before you begin self-marketing, you need to understand:

1. What you are going to market about yourself

2. Who you are going to market yourself to

3. Why you are going to market yourself to them

This article offers some important tools to develop your career brand and understand your self-marketing plan.

Goals of Self-Marketing

1. Provide direction to help eliminate trial and error. As a result, save time and money.

2. Network with key industry players.

3. Identify your transferable skills. Marketing these skills, not just job history and accomplishments, puts you in higher demand (i.e., more interviews).

4. Determine what other industries your transferable skills fit into. The industry you are in affects the success of your career. Market yourself in growing industries (green-collar, biotechnology, nutrition, IT). Steer away from dying 5. industries (textile, printing, newspapers, steel manufacturing, etc.).

6. Resolve any setbacks that hurt your career and prevent you from getting interviews. Fix your resume so it does not portray you as “a job hopper”, “lacking education”, or “unable to advance at a company”.

Create Your Own Mission Statement

Just as mission statements provide direction and purpose for companies, individuals can benefit from having their own personal mission statement too.

Your mission statement says what is important to you. Write yours before starting a career to get on the right path and connect with companies that have similar values and beliefs. You can revise it or write a new one at a career crossroads. Its sense of purpose is great motivation!

What to include:

1. Goals – Aspirations in life (short-term and long-term)

2. Core values – Who you are and what your priorities are

3. Successes – Professional, personal, etc.

4. Offerings – How you can make a difference for the world, your family, employer or future employers, friends and community

Integrate Assessments into Your Career Branding

Career and personality assessments reveal consistent patterns in your traits, characteristics, strengths, preferences, and skills. The assessment results may lead you in a new career direction. If you have an established career, they tell you how well your traits and branding messages align with your career path.

Present your distinctive and noteworthy traits to your targeted employers. Remember that not all recurring patterns contribute to good branding (e.g., introversion). Disregard any pattern you feel is not really you.

Incorporate the assessment results into your career branding materials: resume, cover letter, elevator speech, interview responses, portfolio, business card, etc. Convey a consistent branding message throughout all of these materials. But you can use different branding statements for different industries.

Tag! You Are “It”!

Self-marketing is not just about selling your specific skills. Everyone has skills. They get you in the door, but not necessarily get you the job. There can be 100 or more applicants per job posting, and they all have the same or better skills as you. How can you stand out as “the one”?

Develop a tag-line. A great tag-line tells people exactly what a product is and how they will benefit from using it. This is what employers want to know about you! Specifically, how you will help them make and save money. Tell them how much money you helped a previous or current employer make or save on a given project, sale, or time period.

Dear Career Journal…

Did you have a diary or journal when you were young? It helped you express feelings when no one else would listen, or when you did not want anyone else to listen! Similarly, a journal can help and guide us in our professional adult life too.

Writing in a career journal allows you to set aside time to think and learn more about yourself and your career. Just as when you were younger, using a journal allows you to express emotions (good and bad) about career progress. When you read past entries, see how far you have come!

Use your career journal to:

1. Write your personal mission statement

2. React to self-assessment tests

3. Do a SWOT (Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats) analysis

4. Evaluate your current situation

5. Reflect on your successes and failures

6. Devise career goal ideas (breaking into a new career, as a volunteer or consultant)

7. Think about career alternatives

8. Establish daily or weekly career-related objectives or tasks

9. Develop action plans to achieve your objectives and tasks

10. Make checklists

11. Record network contacts, job interview results, etc.

12. Develop job correspondence material (cover letters, resumes, thank you letters, etc.)

13. Practice job interview questions and answers

14. Gather salary information

15. Jot down ideas and information you like and want to use in the future

16. Record things you want or need to learn, skills to improve upon

17. Discover and explore your workplace values

18. Record your job-related likes and dislikes (and employers’ likes and dislikes)

19. Note lessons learned

20. Develop ways to improve the workplace

21. Review job-search trends

22. Develop plans for achieving promotions

23. Document the career paths of your peers that you want to emulate

24. Prepare for job performance reviews

Do not keep your career journal at your workplace. Keep it at home on your computer or in a notebook. Try to set a regular time of day to work on your journal, maybe right after work. Maybe before work to get yourself motivated and focused on what you can achieve that day!

Your journal is always ready, and no matter where your career path leads you, you can continue to use it throughout your professional life.

Key Marketing Tools:

Strategic Marketing Plan

Your plan answers these questions:

1. What have I accomplished, where am I now, and where will my career be if I do not take action?

2. Where do I want to go with my career?

3. How do I get to where I want to go?

4. How do I put my plan into action?

5. What do I need to change if I am not getting success?

Market Research

Understand trends in your career field. Consult resources such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook. Interview industry professionals. Study the companies you would like to work for. Use this information for your cover letter, resume and job interview.

Marketing Mix

You are probably already familiar with the 4 P’s of marketing, or the “marketing mix”. The 4 P’s are product, promotion, place, and price. Translate these in terms of you and your career for job search success.

Product

You are the product with unique characteristics, features, and skills. Expose your “product features” in your tag-line and resume. Let employers know your work experience, leadership experience, professional memberships, technical skills, education and training.

Make sure that your on-line marketing tools (i.e., Facebook or Myspace) are cleaned up and employer ready. You do not want a potential employer to see something on your personal networking sites that will land you in trouble.

Do not forget “packaging”, to properly present yourself and your credentials to potential employers.

Promotion

This is your cover letter, resume, phone calls, correspondence and interviewing. Promotion tools include anything that you can use to get a job interview and ultimately get a job offer.

Be memorable by utilizing multimedia marketing like email, follow-up phone calls, or try using regular priority mail envelopes to send resumes, cover letters and other “marketing materials”. This increases your career brand and distinctiveness.

Place

This includes everywhere employers can access you. How are you reaching employers or people who can connect you with employers?

1. Internet job-searching and applying to job postings

2. Cold calling

3. Networking with current and former coworkers, colleagues and alumni

4. Speaking with recruiters at staffing and employment agencies and company HR departments

5. Visiting your university career centers and alumni offices

6. Attending professional association meetings and seminars

Price

Price includes all aspects of the compensation you can receive from potential employers, as well as your strategies to get the price you want, and that the employer feels you deserve. Your price not only includes salary, but also insurance, benefits, paid time off and perks.

Call in the SWOT Team!

Performing a SWOT Analysis, used in marketing planning, is helpful to use in your career planning. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It answers:

1. What are your Strengths and Weaknesses (in your internal environment)?

2. What are Opportunities and Threats in your career field (external environment)?

Strengths

Internal, positive aspects which you can capitalize upon, such as:

1. Work experience

2. Education

3. Technical skills and knowledge (e.g., computer skills)

4. Personal characteristics (e.g., superior work ethic)

5. Strong network of contacts

6. Involvement with professional associations and organizations

7. Enjoying what you do

Weaknesses

Internal, negative aspects that you plan on improving, such as:

1. Lack of work experience

2. Inconsistent major with the job you are looking for

3. Lack of specific job knowledge

4. Weak technical knowledge

5. Weak skills (leadership, interpersonal, communication, teamwork)

6. Weak job-hunting skills

7. Negative personal characteristics (e.g., no motivation, indecisiveness, shyness)

8. Weaknesses identified in past performance appraisals

Opportunities

External, positive conditions out of your control, but you plan to leverage or add value:

1. Field trends* that create more jobs (e.g., globalization, technology)

2. Field needs your set of skills

3. Opportunities for advancement in your field

4. Location

5. Strong network

Threats

External, negative conditions out of your control, but you may be able to overcome:

1. Field trends* that diminish jobs (e.g., downsizing, obsolescence)

2. Companies are not hiring people with your major/degree

3. Competition from college graduates with your same degree

4. Competitors with superior skills, experience or knowledge

5. Competitors who attended better schools

6. Limited advancement in your field (too competitive)

7. Limited professional development in your field

8. Find hiring/employment trends in your field. Go on-line to ABI/INFORM, Business News Bank, and Lexis/Nexis.

After completing your SWOT Analysis, add the results to your Strategic Marketing Plan. Also, use your SWOT results to develop the following in your Plan:

1. Career goals

2. Marketing strategies

3. Action plan with deadlines

The Elevator Speech

The Elevator Speech is a clear, concise introduction that can be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator from the top to the bottom of a building. It can be as short as 15 seconds or as long as three minutes. Write down your Elevator Speech, and practice it so it comes naturally. Be ready to deliver it!

Use it at:

1. Networking events (including “unconventional” ones, like shopping)

2. Career fairs

3. Cold calls to employers

4. Voice-mails

5. Your current workplace, when you encounter the higher-ups

6. Job interviews when asked, “Why should I hire you?” and “Tell me about yourself”

Your Elevator Speech includes:

1. A greeting

2. Your name

3. Your industry or field

4. Accomplishments, background, qualifications and skills

5. If you are graduating soon, what school and what degree

6. What you want to do and why

7. Why you enjoy what you do or want to do

8. What interests you about the listener’s company/business

9. What sets you apart from others

10. Your tag-line that you developed!

11. Your mission statement that you developed!

Finally, capture their interest and request action.

1. At a career fair: “May I have your business card, and give you my card and resume? Can you add me to your company’s interview schedule?”

2. Networking: “What advice do you have for me? What employers do you suggest I contact?”

3. On a cold call: “When can we meet to discuss how I can help your company? May I send you my resume?”

Value of Using Multi-Page Booklets in a Small Business During Tough Economic Times

This is the third in a series of articles on the design and use of print media for value added marketing and advertising during tough economic times. The goal of this article is the same. Use print media for marketing and promotion during tough economic times. It provides the best value for your marketing dollars. Our specific marketing goal is increase the spending base of existing customers and attract new customers.

This article deals with multi-page booklets. They are probably one of the most expensive of the printed promotional tools, but depending on what your business offers, can be one of the most value added. Multi-page booklets can be used as menus in a restaurant, menus in a salon and spa, product catalogs, multi-page brochures and more. When your business needs to convey a lot of information about products or services in a professional and classy style, the multi-page booklet may be your answer.

Dimensions and Paper- There are variations, but the standard dimension are typically 8″ x 9″, 8.5″ x 11″ and 8.5 x 5.5″. Most standard run printers offer booklets ranging from 4 to 32 pages. Printers specializing in catalogs and magazines offer more pages, but that is out of the realm of we are discussing today. scored and folded in the center. Booklets typically are printed on 100lb Gloss Book Paper and come with or without UV coating. Variations in the type of paper and finish will likely cost more. Order quantities range from 100 to many 1,000. The more you buy, the better the value.

Design/Message – As mentioned earlier, the multi-page booklet is the choice for conveying high quantity, high quality, classy offerings. When using the higher cost multi page booklet approach, ensure you know what message you want to convey and how you want to convey it. If your business pays several hundred dollars for booklets and you decide after the fact they were not what you wanted, our value proposition just went out the window. The basic rule of thumb when using them are:

o best for businesses that have many products, each with detailed descriptions that need to presented in an organized, easily read manner.

o best for businesses that are providing a variety of services with complicated descriptions.

o make sure the design and message coincides with the theme, decor and branding of your business.

o As with other printed materials, keep it simple and easy to read. Flowing hard to read fonts in titles and text, tend to lose readers. Make it as easy as possible for your prospective client, but make it look good. Again, design and message is where a good graphics artist is a must.

Uses – we mentioned some uses earlier, but we will go into a little more detail in this area.

  • Your business includes internet sales of 15 to 18 health and beauty products. Using an 8 page multi-page booklet as a catalog describing the products, manufacturer, availability, ingredients and pricing may be ideal. A catalog can be shipped with some or all orders and provides quick information concerning your other available products.
  • Your business is a salon and spa that offers hair care, skin care and massage services. Using a 4 page booklet as your menu of services may be your solution. With your graphic artist’s help, you can convey detailed information about services, training and certifications your business has, pricing and present it all in a classy style that coordinates with the decor of your salon and spa.
  • Your business is a small neighborhood ethnic restaurant that specializes preparing in-house and take-out the way the customer wants it. Your solution may be a 8 page booklet as your menu. The menu would describe your standard meals and pricing along with the specialty items available for the made to order dishes with pricing. This menu would be given to first time customers as a reward for coming in. They can take it home and determine what there next eat-in or take out will be beforehand.

Again, I am going to harp on branding. The most important thing to remember is to keep all of your promotional materials branded to your business for quick recognition. That means use the same logo, colors, fonts, and themes when developing your print marketing materials.

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