10 Marketing Tools For Job Seekers (Other Than The Resume)

This career advice piece on marketing tools for job seekers originally appears in my career column for Money and Time. This is the unedited version:

The start of the new year is traditionally a good time for hiring. Yes, this means that job seekers should refine their resume. But a resume is just one of multiple ways job seekers should market themselves. Do not spend all of your efforts just perfecting your resume.

Here are 10 marketing tools for job seekers:

Social media profile

More companies are using social media to find candidates. When you update your resume, update your online profiles as well.

Social media activity

Don’t just change the details on your profile. Update your status, post an interesting article related to your line of work, make a comment that showcases your professional expertise. If you are looking for a job that requires social media savvy (e.g., marketing) having a static profile, however, updated, will not be enough without regular and relevant activity.

Headshot

You don’t need a professional to take your photo, but you do need a professional-looking photo. A photo on your social profile makes it more personable. From a practical standpoint, photos help your networking – some people won’t remember your name after having met you once or a while ago, but they might remember your face.

Cover letter

A cover letter is not a rehash of your resume. It enables you to highlight your most relevant and compelling facts. It helps you smooth over a story that includes employment gaps and/ or career changes. It is a chance for you to make the case for why your dream employer should hire you.

Cover email

You can’t just copy and paste your cover letter into the text of an email. It will be too long and too formal. A cover email is like a cover letter in that it highlights the best, explains away any red flags and makes a compelling case, but it has to do this in a fraction of the space.

20-second pitch

When you meet someone, you need to introduce yourself. What you say is part of how you market yourself. Keep in mind that your new connection ideally can introduce you to others, including possible employers. So what you say needs to be memorable and repeatable.

2-minute pitch

You also need to be able to talk about yourself in more than a 20-second sound bite. You may book a networking meeting over coffee and have the chance to share more about your background. Aim for two minutes. This is enough time to give the arc of your career, as well as highlight key accomplishments.

Your pitch for someone else to use

Your friend offers to help and will forward your resume or make an introduction at an event. What do you want your friend to say? Using your cover email and 20-second pitch, be ready with a version in the third person that someone can use to introduce you.

Portfolio

Of course, a writer should have clips, and a designer should have samples. But a software developer can showcase programs, a marketer can share a campaign, a consultant can share a slide presentation that summarizes the business case developed. Every professional can showcase their work in some way. A visual, tangible example is so much more powerful than a wordy explanation.

Personal website

You can pull all of these items together – social profile, social updates, headshot, short introduction, portfolio, and resume – in a personal website branded with your name. You can list your URL on your business card and resume to point employers to additional information. A recent survey of over 15,000 job seekers by branded.me and The .ME Registry showed only 4% had personal websites, which implies just having a personal website would be one point of differentiation.

Listing 10 tools, in addition to a resume, suggests there is a lot for job seekers to pull together. However, many of these build on each other and support the answer to “Why should an employer hire you?” This is a question job seekers must answer confidently and convincingly, regardless of which marketing tools they use.

So You Didn’t Get A Promotion, So What

My recent Forbes column was titled You Didn’t Get Promoted, Now What and covered how to get a promotion when you didn’t: 5 strategies to get back on track for the next promotion cycle. I just as well could have written, “you didn’t get promoted, SO WHAT” because that so-what, shrug-it-off feeling is a critical next step regardless of whether your goal is a promotion, finding a new job, or growing your business. You didn’t get hit your goal? SO WHAT. You will diagnose the issue, fix what needs fixing, and try again.

The ability to persist in the face of setbacks is crucial for aspiring executives, job seekers, and entrepreneurs.

There will be setbacks through no fault of your own: your employer isn’t doing well; the timing isn’t right to bring you on; there isn’t enough budget for the service you provide. SO WHAT. If you interpret one setback as a failure across the board, you will give up too soon.

 

Feel free to grieve the loss of this opportunity

I get it — you may have wanted it very badly. I am still smarting from the job that got away. Call the friend who is a fantastic supporter. Give yourself a few hours off and take in a funny movie. Take a hard-driving exercise class and work out your hard feelings.

 

Then get curious again.

Don’t get defensive and find reasons to blame the other side. Brainstorm on at least 5 ways you could have done better. Look at the technical – your actual presentation or interview. Look at the soft skills – your overall communication style and polish. Look at the logistics – how much you practice, how well you timed your preparation. Embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes and dig for what might be the problem.

 

Then move from internal to external.

Yes, you should look into yourself. But at the same time, look outward. What other companies do what you want to do – is it time to look for a job elsewhere? If your dream employer is not letting you in, what are some other places that are similar, where your efforts can be easily transferred? What other prospective clients do you have in your sales pipeline? A so-what attitude requires that you don’t need any one opportunity because you have others in the works.

 

Successful leaders, job seekers, and entrepreneurs know that a setback isn’t forever. Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely, and the likely definite – Robert Half. Where can you be more persistent in your life?

The Networking Mistake Even Smart Professionals Make

As you ease into 2015 and catch up with people on their holidays, watch out for this networking mistake even smart professionals make. I detail several communication mistakes smart professionals make in a recent Forbes post (including how these played out in job interviews).

How do smart, accomplished people fall into these traps? They fall into habits and become unaware. They don’t practice, assuming “I have lots of experience. I got this!” They don’t have mentors or confidants who will pull them aside with feedback (and let’s face it not many people are able to give critical but helpful feedback).

So it is with networking. It’s hard to get feedback on whether you’re going about it the right way. It’s hard to practice, when you’re not sure what to say anyway. It’s easy to rely on the familiar and not network at all! So with the lack of networking support out there, it’s understandable how many smart, well-meaning professionals make a common networking mistake: overstepping the ask.

What’s an example of overstepping your ask? This true anecdote reveals three:

I hired a very accomplished, ambitious marketer who understandably left my client and went on to do several other interesting things. I routinely reach out to my network, and included this person in that, but with her, I had never gotten any response. Then several years after our last contact, she emailed with a bubbling interest in everything I was doing, a long account of what she had been up to, and ended with her ask: could we possibly meet on this, this, or that date? She was stuck on her next move and would love to pick my brain.

Overstep # 1: Not connecting for a while and reaching out with a request in that initial reconnection.

This is the most common as many people don’t prioritize networking till they need it. Don’t be that person who only calls when you need something! Take advantage of the natural networking the new year brings and consciously reach out to lost contacts.

Overstep # 2: Asking for a live meeting.

I have blogged before in defense of the live meeting. There is a lot of value to meeting people face-to-face. However, it’s a big scheduling commitment to the other person so the value has to be two-way. When it’s a clear imposition to the other person, you need to make it as easy as possible – a phone call, or at most, you offer to go to their office.

Overstep # 3: Not respecting the opportunity cost

When you ask someone to meet with you, there is an opportunity cost you impose because they can’t meet with someone else or do something else with the time. In this case, there was the additional opportunity cost on me as a service provider to give my time to her rather than to one of my paying clients. This is the most common overstep I get complaints about from my colleagues in the professional services – asking a doctor friend for a medical opinion, asking a realtor friend for a home estimate. When in doubt, ask for a referral to a third party. If your friend offers his two-cents, thank him profusely but don’t feel offended if he really does refer you to someone else.

These mistakes are highlighted not to discourage networking. In fact, if it’s a choice between overstepping and not networking at all, I’d rather that you overstep! But look back on your outreach from the last 30 days. Have you overstepped? What do you need to do in your day-to-day networking going forward to ensure this doesn’t repeat? What networking actions will you adopt to build long-term, genuine relationships?

 

Five More Limiting Beliefs That Hinder Success

In a recent Forbes post I covered five limiting beliefs that hinder success. I’ve been guilty of all of these – some I outgrew but some come and go depending on what new scary goal I go after or deep-seated behavior I try to change. For example, with limiting belief #1 around money and greed, I consider myself a solid negotiator but whether or not I go after the big dollars sometimes ebbs and flows if I’m going after a new kind of client or offering a new service. With limiting belief #2 around risk-taking, I think that I’ve improved greatly on my risk appetite but if I’m not consciously weighing all my options, I’ll lapse into doing nothing or too little for too long It’s always hard to adopt new habits!

Here are five more limiting beliefs that hinder success:

As soon as my work/ my resume/ my presentation is ready, I’ll put myself out there

I see this one from my clients all the time – the entrepreneur who wants to iron out all the unknowns in a business plan before approaching a customer; the job seeker who wants to rewrite the resume yet again; the career changer who wants to save more money or get over a busy time at work before starting on the transition. You will never feel 100% ready. Do it anyway. The trouble with the future is that it usually arrives before we’re ready for it – Arnold Glasow

I’m too old to start something new

I hear this limitation too as I tend to work with experienced professionals who years, decades invested in a career, lifestyle and oftentimes both. Yes, there will be upheaval. Yes, it’s more complicated when you have family obligations, financial obligations and multiple existing commitments. But you’re too old not to appreciate how quickly time moves and how precious each day is. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today – Chinese proverb

It takes money to make money

There are many ways to change your career without investing in an expensive degree – volunteering, getting active in a professional association, taking on extra work in a different area of your existing company. There are many free job search resources – check out the library, local university, Y or community center, career sites. Many of these options are relevant to aspiring entrepreneurs as well. If you’re stopped by money issues, it’s not the money but another fear you need to address. The first sign we don’t know what we are doing is an obsession with numbers. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I don’t have the right connections.

A big, supportive network definitely helps. But you already have exactly the network you need. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends. – Warren Buffett

I don’t have the time.

Like the lack of money excuse, the lack of time excuse is a front for some other fear or reason for your inertia. Sure, you can read productivity tips and hacks. It is always useful to know how to maximize your time. But the very first step is recognizing you already have the time. You have too much time to get your big dreams accomplished. What you need more of is the urgency. To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time – Leonard Bernstein

5 Powerful Career Reflections To Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet

This post on how to make 2015 your best year yet originally appeared in my career column for Money and Time. This is the unedited version:

The transition from one year to the next is a great time to reflect on your career to date and what you need to focus on going forward. Here are 5 questions to help steer your reflections in an insightful and productive way:

What was my biggest accomplishment?

Most job interviews include questions about your biggest accomplishment. You want to have something recent to say, ideally as recently as this year. What result did you achieve? What expertise did you gain? What area of the company did you improve? Remember not only those things you directly impacted but also where you contributed to a big accomplishment – for your department or an organization you support. Write down all of your wins, but select what you felt was the most significant. What makes it significant? This gives you a window into what you’re proud of, what you prioritize, what you’re passionate about.

Who was my biggest champion?

Collaboration and relationships are critical to a successful career. It’s important to recognize who is helpful and what makes them helpful so you can thank people. You also want to nurture these relationships. Don’t just focus on big or obvious gestures, like a job lead shared or a reference given. Remember the colleague who helps you out when you’re overwhelmed, the friend who is available after work to listen and encourage, the savvy one in your network who’s great for identifying that tricky piece of information or next action to take. Many of your supporters help you in an ongoing way. What makes someone your biggest champion for this year? This speaks to what you really needed and who really stepped up.

Whom did I help?

The strongest networks are built on give and take. What did you give this year? It might be pitching in for someone else who is overwhelmed, offering encouragement, or sharing advice. As you reflect on all the ways you helped, you might see that your focus was only in the office, or only outside of the office with volunteer commitments, and you may want to change or blend your focus over the next year. You may find that all of your helpful gestures were with your specific team, and you should reach out more to other areas of the company. You may find that all of your relationships revolve around people at one level –only junior or senior or peers – and you want to diversify. Or you may find that you’ve lost touch with everyone except in your current company, and you need to consciously reach out to former colleagues, classmates, personal connections.

What did I leave undone?

We all start the year intending to complete a number of projects or reach specific goals. Which projects are still outstanding? Which projects were attempted but not completed? Which goals dropped off your radar altogether? In the downtime that the holidays provide, you have the space to reprioritize and think about what needs to be completed, what can be discarded, and what might need to be refined to get excited again or to become feasible. For example, a business idea you were fleshing out may no longer be relevant and you can leave untouched. But a skill you were trying to develop might just need extra support or dedicated time on your schedule for you to make progress. Review your unfinished business and make a conscious decision to continue or not.

What is coming up that most excites me?

If this question brings up a lot of different commitments, pull out your schedule and plan for when you will pay attention to each of these. On the other hand, if you have trouble thinking about anything that excites you, now is the time to flex your passion muscle. Reviewing your past year might provide insight into areas to focus on. Reading business stories and biographies can encourage ideas for problems to solve – maybe some are relevant to your company and can be worked into your day-to-day. It could be that the most exciting thing coming up is personal in nature – a milestone in your family, a hobby you’re taking up. It’s important to acknowledge this and give space in your schedule for this, as you plan your upcoming professional commitments.

 

Eight Career Habits To Adopt For The New Year

Reading for professional development is definitely one of the good career habits to adopt for the new year. In my recent 2-part post for Forbes Leadership, I recommended 100 of my favorite coaching books on career advancement, job search, entrepreneurship, productivity, and more:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecenizalevine/2014/12/07/100-coaching-book-recommendations-part-1-entrepreneurship-job-search-career-change-leadership-and-real-life-examples/

Here are seven other good career habits to adopt for 2015:

1-Network more.

It can be as simple as sending an email. Here is a great post from Barking Up The Wrong Tree, one of my favorite productivity blogs, on 5 simple emails you can send to make your life better

2-Prioritize personal commitments.

This actually helps you do better professionally, as exhaustively covered by Stewart Friedman, Wharton professor and founder of Total Leadership

3-Get more sleep.

Good health is the foundation for a great career

4-Stay active on social media

Recruiters are increasing their spending on social media, according to the 2014 Jobvite survey.

5-Take your lunch break.

If you’re used to working through lunch, taking a lunch break will ensure you get some rest so you can be productive in the afternoon. It’s also a great way to add networking to your day, when you can dine with a colleague.

6-Check your credit report regularly

With all the security breaches, this is good financial practice. But employers sometimes run credit checks before hiring, so it’s good career practice to stay on top of your credit history as well.

7-Eat your frog first thing in the morning

Eat your frog as a productivity phrase is credited to Brian Tracy and refers to that important task you tend to procrastinate. If you determine your current most important frog and tackle it first thing in the day, you ensure a productive day, regardless of what else happens.

 

What career habits will you adopt in 2015?

Jobvite Confirms It: Social Media For Job Search Is Critical

This post on social media for job search originally appears in my career column for Money.com and Time.com. Here is the unedited version:

Jobvite is an online recruiting platform and surveys recruiters on their hiring strategies. Jobvite’s annual Social Recruiting Survey was conducted in August 2014 and surveyed 1,855 recruiters and HR professionals across industries. Here are 4 key findings and implications for job seekers:

69% of recruiters expect hiring to become more competitive in the next 12 months

This is not just for engineering or IT, but also for sales, marketing and operations. If you have put off your job search till the economy improves, this is another positive sign that you should jump in sooner than later. If employers are anticipating competition, they will be more attentive to candidates and more aggressive with offers. As a job seeker, you will have more leverage. You can gain even more leverage by always keeping multiple prospective employers in play – you want employers to move quickly and decisively to keep from losing you.

73% (the highest percentage) of employers plan to increase their spending on social media

Referrals ranked a close second in where employers would put their recruiting dollars. If employers are spending on social and referrals, then job seekers need to be where the employers are – i.e., networking online and offline. Employers did not cite job postings in the top 5 of where they will increase their budget so job seekers should not prioritize this avenue. Look at the time and attention you place on finding jobs. How much of it is spent updating your social profile, staying active with your status and comments, and networking offline in live meetings and informational interviews? This should be the vast majority of your time.

94% of recruiters use LinkedIn, followed by Facebook at 66%

79% have hired candidates found on LinkedIn v. 26% for second-place Facebook. If you are overwhelmed at the thought of staying active on social, take comfort in this statistic that shows you can put the lion’s share of your attention on LinkedIn and capture the lion’s share of employer’s efforts. Make sure your profile is complete – photo, headline, summary, skills, job history (with details), and any additional items to showcase your expertise (e.g., video, publications). Join Groups so you can stay abreast of trends and more easily network. Update your status so you can stay connected with your entire network on a regular basis. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is connected to an email you check regularly. As a recruiter, I use LinkedIn frequently and hear back from too many candidates several weeks after my initial message with an apologetic, “I never check my LinkedIn….” Job seekers, you can set your LinkedIn updates to forward to your email of choice so there is no excuse not to read your updates and messages!

93% of recruiters will review a candidate’s social profile before making a decision

55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on what they saw on social media. You absolutely need to stay on top of your digital footprint. Google yourself to see what employers see. Set a Google Alert on your name so you check what is on the internet about you on a regular basis. When you stay active on social media, you populate the internet with positive information about you and help improve your brand. A robust social profile is no longer optional.

The job market is improving. Recruiters are increasingly using social media, particularly LinkedIn. Jobseekers, are you ready for this?

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