Self-marketing isn't just about getting noticed -- a clowns nose, purple hair and trombone will get you noticed, but not likely a job. Rather, the goal of self-marketing is to show a potential employer what you have to offer that will be of benefit to their organization and then to be remembered for it.
"Self-marketing is about trying to stay top of mind. Chances are, many others have applied for the same position and it's not always the best qualified person that gets the job," says Michel Franco, a former recruiter with Minacs Worldwide Inc.
The following are some suggestions to help make you "top of mind" with a potential employer:
Know what you have to offer. "I think people often undersell themselves. There are lots of ways that people contribute within an organization, but often they forget about their contribution or think it's irrelevant," says Rob Hosking, Toronto branch manager for professional staffing firm Robert Half Canada.
Create a list of accomplishments. Include everything you can think of from the things you did to increase revenue, to helping to organize the company's Christmas party.
Do a skills inventory and a personality inventory. Ask friends and family to contribute to your list too. "Try to figure out what your strongest assets and liabilities are, and then ask yourself how you can change some of those liabilities into assets," Hosking says.
Establish what you want. "The first step of self-marketing is getting a plan in place. Where are you today? Where do you want to ultimately go? And what steps do you need to take to get there," Hosking says.
Some people think that a willingness to take any job will make them a more desirable candidate, but most of the time that's not the case -- a potential employer might see this as being unfocused and indecisive.
Be ready to talk about it. You never know where and when an opportunity might pop up -- on an elevator, on an airplane or in a coffee shop. Pretend you have been given a 30-second commercial spot on television to sell yourself -- what would you say?
"You need to have a strong sense of what you've done in the past that you are proud of, and then you need to be able to articulate that in a short compelling way," says Oliver Howey, executive director of EARN (Executive Advancement Resource Network), a not-for-profit job search network organization for experienced business professionals (www.earnworks.org).
Develop a network and/or a list of contacts. "The hidden job market is where most of the jobs are and to find out about these jobs, since they aren't publicly advertised, you need a contact on the inside," Franco says.
To develop your network, consider joining professional associations and business groups, the chamber of commerce or the board of trade.
Be positive and self-confident. "People need to remember that just because they lost their job doesn't mean they're a bad person, especially in today's corporate climate. However, if they wear their anger and lack of self-confidence on their sleeve, they are not employable -- companies don't hire angry, problem-focused people," Howey says.
Books that can help include Canadian Directory of Search Firms and Who's Hiring 2003 (Media Corp. Canada Inc.).
In a nutshell, give yourself permission to brag. You know yourself better than anyone else, and who better than you to let others know how good you are and what you have to offer. Besides, if you don't market yourself, who will?
(Ellen Goldhar is manager, people development at Sun Media Corporation, Canada's second largest newspaper publishing company. Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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