Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Marketing Your Way to a New Career

Recently, an unemployed recruiter I met through ProNet Career Resources of Central Florida, a job search and networking group, asked me for my help. "With all your marketing skills, can you help me get the word out about my resume makeovers?"

This gentleman, Howie Appel, had been a recruiter for engineers and IT professionals for over 20 years. Currently, he's in transition, like so many others. To make some money on the side, he offers his 'resume makeovers' to other transitioning professionals. He will review several resumes at each of the monthly meetings for ProNet, free of charge, in front of the group so that we all learn not to abbreviate anything, use all caps, misspell words or commit other unprofessional acts on a resume. If someone wants a more in depth and personal review, he offers his services for that on the side. His objective is to help others find new career opportunities and find one for himself as well. And, in the meantime, he has found a niche to make some extra cash.

So, what does all this have to do with marketing yourself? Everything.

As a group, ProNet members strive to offer each other help. This man's talents lie in human resources - so he's a natural choice to get advice on how your resume is seen from the other side of the desk. He is using his professional skills and marketing himself every time he goes to a networking event or reviews a resume. A lot of these people that he's helping will have jobs (soon, I hope) and the companies they work for may need a recruiter. Who's name will they remember? That's right, the one who helped them first.

As for me, I'm a marketer at heart and so my advice to the group is and has always been to 'market yourself.' I've spent the better part of 13 years marketing companies and products. When I left my last position, I made the mental switch to stop thinking that products and companies are the only things you can market...and I chose to 'market me'.

I have started and stopped writing this post several times. I cringe to think that so many people will take my advice that this great marketing channel I have found will dry up. But, I think those fears are unfounded. First, not everyone is dedicated enough to do what I'm about to suggest. And second, the online world is still developing and growing. I doubt in my lifetime, that the leads I can generate by marketing myself (and marketing companies and products) online will ever dry up. So, putting my fears aside - I'll tell you what my advice to my unemployed recruiter friend was...

To refresh your memory (since I've babbled so long), his question was: "With all your marketing skills, can you help me get the word out about my resume makeovers?" I offered the following advice:

"I would suggest writing up a "top three mistakes" paragraph about the top three mistakes people make when putting together a resume. Make them generic suggestions and only a short paragraph, but informative. In the next paragraph mention something personal, like how you've been a recruiter for x-number of years and have seen all sorts of "bad" resumes where people just don't get the job because of these and other mistakes. Then offer your services, saying for a nominal fee of $X, I'll review your resume and give you pointers on landing that next job.

Once you've got this put together, I'd post it in every LinkedIn group that has to do with finding a job, career search and even the marketing and executive groups. Find groups with lots of exposure, meaning lots of members - both employed and unemployed people. Add a catchy title, like 'Fired before Hired' or '3 reasons I won't hire you'...

Hopefully doing things like this will draw attention to yourself. You have to do these types of posts at least one a week. Change them up and keep approaching it from the angle of trying to help others with less push on you getting paid to do it. Some of the posts you probably shouldn't mention your "services" at all. You can write about anything that's in your circle of expertise to draw attention to yourself.

If you have a blog, use it to push traffic from LinkedIn to your blog. This allows you more internet space for promotion. You'll have not only had your LinkedIn profile to promote your previous employment and qualifications, but also your blog can become somewhat of an online portfolio of your knowledge and skills. Sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it works. You have to really market yourself."

Granted this isn't the only thing I'd suggest to promote yourself, as networking in general is probably more important, but it's a step out of the ordinary. It's doing something productive and promoting yourself. It's getting off the couch, away from the job boards, and it works.

Several people I've discussed this with have had comments like, "I don't want to appear fake." and "I am uncomfortable about saying I'm the best at this or that and gushing over my qualifications." To those people I've had to say, be yourself. Go into it with the idea that you're there to help others, not yourself. And, just tell the truth. If you're not an expert, say you're not an expert, but then say, here's what you do know. Ask for help from others, you may actually learn something along the way and make a great networking connection with someone online.

Bottom line in marketing yourself... Just do it.
(Hmm, that could could be a great slogan. Now, why didn't I think of that?)

Howie Appel has over 20 years of professional recruiting experience in both corporate and agency environments, both as a contractor and full-time employee. He is currently the Executive Director (volunteer) of ProNet Career Resources dba ProNet Central Florida. Howie is available for a personal and in depth 'Resume Review' and can be reached via email: or by phone at 407-333-8158.

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