On a job search? How to market yourself

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Judy Smith

                   CAREER COACH
                                    Judy Smith

Our new career columnist Judy Smith, R.C.C. (a registered corporate coach), will answer reader questions on all aspects of employment searches, ranging from resume writing, to interviewing, to online job search and more.

Q: I know job hunting has met with a number of changes over the years.  As someone who is over 50, how do I go about getting a job in today’s marketplace?

A: Actually, the most significant aspect of a strong job search has not changed for any age group: It’s all about communication. It still depends on your ability to describe your advantages to a prospective employer in a compelling way.

However, good communication in today’s marketplace has a somewhat challenging feature — a marketing tone. It’s no different than in the world of sales. Only now the product is you.

Communication includes all means of contact — both formal and social:

• In your personal network (friends, social groups, religious groups, community, etc.),

• in your online network if you have one (e.g., Linked In, Facebook, etc.),

• in your interviews, and

• in all your written information (resume, cover letters, thank you letters, etc.).

In keeping with the marketing perspective, you (i.e., the “product”) must be able to define the value you can offer a prospective employer (i.e., the (“buyer”). You need to funnel that value into all your communication with all your contacts — in writing, and in your personal and professional interactions.

The ability to call attention to your specific advantages in each separate setting requires strong “product (or self) knowledge.” To strengthen this knowledge about yourself, start by creating an inventory of your skills.

When you make this list, be sure to include accomplishments additional to those you gained in work settings. Think of other situations — even as far back as childhood — in which you were pleased with what you accomplished.

Develop success stories. Describe those positive situations in a bit of detail. Try to uncover skills you might have otherwise overlooked. Don’t take any skills for granted either.

Think about: What the environment was, what your role and contribution were, what skills you used, and what made that particular experience meaningful to you.

Develop at least six or seven stories. It may take a while, but I assure you, the finished product will be a terrific asset in your job search.

When you’ve completed your inventory of skills, you will indeed know who you are. Like other strong products, you can become a “brand” in today’s marketplace.

Q: What does “branding” mean in a job search?

A: As business management expert Tom Peters said: “To be out in today’s marketplace, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you.”

It’s how Nike sells tennis shoes, Levi’s sells jeans and Revlon sells lipstick. Why should we buy their product and not a competitor’s?

Your brand is a promise of the value you’ll bring to a prospective employer. It’s the answer to every employer’s question, “Why should I hire you?”

Temporarily put aside your previous job titles and position descriptions. Then, take the time to review the success stories you developed earlier.

Ask yourself: What did I do that added measureable, distinctive value? What did I do that I am most proud of? What have I done that I can plainly brag about? Write it all down — and learn it so you can speak about it!

It’s actually pretty simple:

• You are a brand.

• You are in charge of your brand.

• There is no one right way to create the brand called “YOU.”  Now, start today!

Send your job search questions to Smith at smithjudit@gmail.com, or visit her website at www.judysmith.solutions.