Author Archives: Alex Freund

About Alex Freund

Alex has extensive experience with interviewing people. He has also practical training in career coaching. Consequently, he formed LandingExpert – Career Coaching services. He is prominent in a number of networking groups and has helped many job seekers with their career searches, providing them with tools, information, marketing material, and one-on-one preparation for the interview. Via his website www.landingexpert.com he offers people in transition and otherwise a comprehensive and updated list of job-search networking groups. This list is being viewed consistently by over 3000 people per month.

Personal Marketing for Job Search

What is personal marketing for job search? 

Finding a job is a competition

When searching for a job, the job seeker must first prepare marketing collateral before stepping into the actual job search. Proper preparation is absolutely the key to success. Jumping into a job search unprepared will not only bring disappointment and lengthen the process but also burn bridges for future attempts. Personal marketing is the creation of a bridge—or the means to be found—in a very competitive market, between the product to be sold (you) and an entity (the employer) that may have need of that specific product—namely, your skills. Regardless of how badly the employer needs that product or how vital it is for a person to generate income or value for that particular product, if one side cannot find and connect with the other, the transaction cannot be completed.

Personal marketing has to be a two-way street, as follows. Inbound marketing is the employer’s creation of the means of finding the candidate. Outbound marketing is the creation of the means for the product to be desirable and wanted by the company.

Outbound marketing 

First, figure out the kind of employer you want to market yourself to. Identify types of employers that look for an employee with your specific qualifications. Here’s how:

Segment your market by various criteria. In other words, where do you want to be in your new job? For example:

  1. By industry: Pharma, utility, financial, advertising, and so on
  2. By size: Large, medium, small, or any size at all
  3. By geographic preference and with or without travel
  4. In a physical job or a virtual one
  5. By position within the vertical hierarchy: CEO, vice president, manager, analyst, and so on.

 Figure out sources in order to locate job leads

  1. Search for published openings—for example, on Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn Jobs. The yield, however, is within single digits.
  2. Network via personal acquaintances, family, friends, former colleagues, and job search networking groups. This approach is the most effective way to find employment, and historically, 60 to 80% of job seekers find their next job by networking.
  3. Various types of recruiters. The yield is around 10%.

Decide on a method for reaching out to prospective employers

  1. Phone call, either cold call or, preferably, by being introduced
  2. Personal letter of introduction
  3. Applying on line to a published opening
  4. Sending a letter with résumé
  5. Sending e-mail and/or regular postal mail
  6. A combination of all of the above should be considered.

Inbound marketing
For inbound marketing, the job seeker should find means of being found—and found desirable—by potential employers. The answer to this issue lies in the individual’s value proposition and personal branding. For those two issues to be fruitful and bring about the desired results, the information they contain has to be communicated consistently and distributed (a) in writing via the individual’s résumé, cover letter, thank-you letter, and business card; (b) by means of the Internet by way of the individual’s LinkedIn profile, other social media, and blogs or professional articles; and (c) verbally, via individual networking one-on-one, group networking, elevator pitch, conversations with recruiters, and of course the interview.

Personal marketing is not much different from marketing for business in general. In both cases, it is imperative to stay focused on the objective. Otherwise, a diluted approach will produce disappointing and weak results.

Five Essential Steps to a Great Job

She just accepted a new job

There are five essential steps to a great job, provided one is willing to do some hard work; shortcuts reduce chances. The following tips are for those who want to stay in the same field. For those who want to change fields or who have no idea what they want to do in the future, there are other steps; and for those career changers, most of these steps are still applicable. The five steps are:

  • Self-appraisal
  • Development of marketing collateral
  • Identification of employment opportunities
  • Project management
  • Interview preparation

Self-appraisal

People who find themselves in transition and are ready to go back to work have a good opportunity to do a self-appraisal. The exercise will pivot the skills and personal attributes that they want to use and sell to a future employer. There are a number of such self-appraisal tests that have been around for a long time and have proved worthwhile—or example, Myers–Briggs, DiSC, Keirsey Temperament Sorter–II, Career Insights, and StrengthsFinder.

Development of marketing collateral

The first things every job seeker must have are an outstanding résumé and an exceptional LinkedIn profile. Notice that I said outstanding and not good or very good. The reason is that because of the vast supply of mostly mediocre résumés and profiles, only outstanding marketing collateral is competitive. My strongest opinion is to have these documents created professionally by a certified and recommended party. Why, you ask? (a) Because you are in fierce competition with others who are also very good at what they do. (b) Because writing a résumé and a LinkedIn profile is part of a profession that requires rigorous training, top skills, longtime experience, and full understanding of the requirements of applicant tracking systems—the software that most medium-size and large companies use to parse résumés. And (c) because poor marketing collateral generates no traction and wastes time. Once a résumé and LinkedIn profile have been done, they’ll still need periodic tweaking. Make sure they contain the right keywords. You can research keywords via Google AdWords and check out your competition’s keywords via LinkedIn.

Next, develop your value proposition by answering to the following four questions. What do you do? Who are your customers? What benefits do your customers perceive that you provide? What do you offer that is unique or that is the kind of service your customers can’t get anywhere else?

The next step is the development of your personal brand. Personal brand is the impression you make, what you are known for, and what people say about you. A brand is not a logo, a tagline, or a product; it’s a relationship. People tend to relate to others they know, trust, and like. Personal branding consists of perception, reputation, influence, and image. When creating your personal brand, you have to be able to answer the following three questions. Who are you? What do you do? and, Why does it matter? You should routinely Google yourself, set up Google Alerts with your name, and brand your e-mail signature.

Now’s the time to start your personal marketing. First, define your objective and goal. Consider the type of job, determine the title, and list what’s important based on your values, such as recognition, money, job security, promotion, belonging, purpose, and commitment. Next, identify a specific audience. For example, you should target companies, employers, industries, locations, commuting distance, home office, and title. At all times, you have to differentiate yourself by targeting your audience with your message. Determine the best venue. Periodically measure your results and make adjustments accordingly.

The last step is to advertise and promote yourself. Use social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You have to relentlessly increase the number of connections on each social medium. To become visible, you have to participate in group discussions and answer questions. Such actions validate that you are an expert, and they differentiate you from the crowd. Make sure you have a professionally produced picture. Fill out your profiles on social media completely. LinkedIn makes it very easy to publish articles available to be read by a large audience. And last, participate in job search networking groups.

Identification of employment opportunities

Of course, that’s the ultimate goal, but where? There are several places. For example, a search on the LinkedIn tab called Jobs—by job title. Via an indeed.com search on title. Via SIC or NAICS code number (government industry classifications) on onetonline.org. Local libraries have various databases, but the most effective way is participation in various job search networking groups. Clearly, you must continually explore and research opportunities. A good source is by working with your local reference librarian. By participating in various LinkedIn groups, you can submit questions, and hopefully, people would be willing to help. Read job-search-relevant articles because they can provide clues. Focus on a dozen or so target companies, and follow their employment sections. Create a list of key people to contact primarily at your target companies.

Project management

Your job search could be protracted over several months. The amount of information available is quickly expanding to the point that a serious job seeker needs to start closely managing a job search project. At a minimum, a constantly updated spreadsheet will do. Some use a customer relationship management tool. A couple of the more popular ones are JibberJobber and CareerShift.

Interview preparation

This is an absolute must because in the end, there will be only one winner getting the job offer. Prepare for being asked Tell me about yourself.

Develop a minimum of 15 SARB or STAR or PAR or CAR answers. These are answers to interview questions in a format by which you start with the background situation, followed by the action you took, and ending with the result and the benefit to the employer. Best is to practice with someone who could guide and critique. An added value would be to record the practice session to see yourself in action. Research the company to the max. Appear extremely knowledgeable about the company you are interviewing with. Cultural fit with the organization is of utmost importance. And even though you cannot change the way they perceive you based on the impression you make, you can certainly influence that impression by showing them your interest in and deep knowledge about them. Thorough preparation can pay off very handsomely. But even that’s not the end. The company is in control of the process until they extend an offer, and at that point, control moves over to you. This is when you must continue learning about the company and its true culture, so that you can negotiate the compensation package. Most companies expect and are prepared to negotiate. Are you?

 

Employed but Frightened

How to secure your future ?

David, a recent client, is not looking for help to get a job. He has one—for the past 20 years. The job started way back then as a weeklong gig after he graduated from college but didn’t yet know what he wanted to do. David seemed—in the eyes of his supervisor, then a vice president and now the CEO—a promising young man who might have a future with the company. He was industrious, a hard worker, and good at winning over and maintaining the respect of coworkers.

Through the years, David kept being promoted when the opportunity was right. His growth on the job consisted not only of title changes but also changes in areas of responsibility, size of budgets he oversaw, and number of people reporting to him. And his remuneration changed accordingly. The big boss liked him and took him under his wing.

The company kept growing and after some more time, was employing 70 people and had annual sales of $60 million. At its start, the company culture had been typical of a small organization, but as the company grew, so changed its culture: politics and power games creeped in, replacing that small-company mentality, and corporate decisions gradually became made in direct relationship to the size of a general manager’s territory, number of employees in that division, and amount of contribution to the profit margin.

In the meantime, David got married to a professional woman who has not worked outside the home for the past five years while caring for their one daughter. The couple purchased a very nice house in a different state, away from the company’s headquarters, in the geographic area where his business is.

Over time, new and powerful and talented people joined the ever-growing company, and David was becoming scared about whether he’d be able to maintain his position in the long run. He assured me the ax is not over his head yet, but there are no long-term plans for his future, either. His long-term close relationship with the CEO has also loosened, and serious business problems keep him up at night. He’s mentioned that the paternalistic corporate culture has changed, that loyalty is no longer a core company belief, and that several of his old-time colleagues either have left or were replaced with younger, qualified, and talented people, most of whom have relevant master’s degrees.

David is smart and is aware that his long-term future is not secure. He has a family and heavy financial responsibility, and that’s where his vulnerability lies. So, what now?

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Once David recognized his situation, he called me, having found my contact details by way of a Google or LinkedIn search. During our initial phone conversation, he made it clear that he was not looking for interview preparation—which is 90% of the way I help clients—but needed someone who could help him create a long-term plan for mapping out his next 20 or more years of employment. He needs to take action in a certain direction that will enhance his value to his company—or even a different company—in his area of expertise. “I have no idea what my value is in the marketplace,” he said. Although he himself constantly interviews candidates for his division, he admitted to me that because this has been his only job, he’s never, ever himself had a job interview with a potential employer. And so, in that area he feels lost and without experience.

Is this you in the picture?

After spending two hours and 45 minutes together, we took the first step toward David’s goal. David realizes that one session will not be enough for him to get all his answers, but both of us felt very satisfied with the progress we made. In attempting to resolve David’s dilemma, we decided to explore both (1) opportunities for his further growth at his company and (2) opportunities elsewhere.

To begin with, I suggested he attend a certain Webinar.  Later he said that  this particular one-hour Webinar was very impressive, well documented, and logical.

As a second step, David must produce some marketing collateral. He needs both an outstanding résumé (an excellent one’s not good enough) and an equally outstanding LinkedIn profile. Neither production should be a do-it-yourself project. The creation of such material requires a professional who is deeply experienced, certified, and highly recommended by others. So, I gave David several names of such people who specialize in his industry. Once that’s done, David and I will meet again to talk about how to work with recruiters, where to find and explore opportunities, how to penetrate the hidden job market, how to be effective at networking, how to communicate both verbally and in writing, and, last, how to win an interview, get a job offer, and negotiate the salary.

How to tell what your own value is in the marketplace? No, it’s not what you think your value is. It’s what a bona fide employer is willing to pay. And it doesn’t stop there: both the employer and the job candidate have to think about employment several years ahead. Employment is an investment by both parties. And it better be a good one.