Oh, the places I’ll go… if I could just get that interview!
“So, do you think I’m marketable?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’m asked this question. Whether it be by recent grads entering the workforce, by working professionals with exceptional credentials and solid experience, by unemployed folks actively seeking their next role, and by entrepreneurs trying to get their businesses off the ground – everyone wants to make sure that they have what it takes to get noticed in this competitive market.
The answer is: Yes, of course you are marketable. You have educational, work and life experiences that set you apart from any of your peers, exceptional accomplishments under your belt that any hiring manager would want on his/her team, and the skills and talents (not to mention that “glowing personality”) that would make you an invaluable asset to any company.
So, why aren’t you getting instant responses from resume submissions? Or why aren’t your LinkedIn contacts jumping to help you when you randomly email them about that opening at their company? Or why aren’t recruiters reaching out to you about the jobs that they are working so hard to fill? If someone would just notice you, you would prove yourself in no time, right?
The truth is, even though you are marketable, you still need to market yourself.
Sitting behind your computer, sending out mass emails/resumes and praying for a response, or going to a networking event, grabbing a drink and hoping someone approaches you to ask you what you do, and then wants to hire you on the spot for your dream job…is not what I mean by “marketing” yourself.
Time and again, I talk to job seekers about the things they are doing to promote themselves – or even to get a foot in the door at their favorite companies. You wouldn’t believe how often the basics are overlooked. I can’t reiterate it enough: if you want something, go out there and make it happen! Some of these tips below may seem basic or intuitive to you, but to some they are out of their comfort zones, or are often forgotten or replaced with new technologies.
- Meet People: In-person. Yes, the old-fashioned way. Reach out to your LinkedIn/social media contacts and invite them to have coffee with you. Be brave: go to a networking event and introduce yourself to five new people, find out what they do and exchange contact information. Suggest informational interviews with company hiring managers or industry recruiters. Dedicating time to meeting and talking with people live leads to real, genuine connections – often opening up unimaginable doors– both professionally and personally.
- Perfect Your Pitch: You’re finally out there meeting people,…but what do you say to them? Make sure, first, you know what you’re looking for! It’s important to be open-minded, but not too vague at the same time. So, take your time to find your clarity about your direction and goals. Then, create an elevator speech (just a couple of sentences) that explains what you’re doing/your expertise and what you are looking to do. For example: “ I just graduated from Indiana University’s Journalism school and moved to Chicago last month. Now, I’m here actively looking for a PR/Communications role with a PR agency or local company.” This quickly gives some insight into you, opens up conversation, and allows for the other person to ask questions, provide suggestions, and exchange contact information.
- Share Your Collateral: All of your resumes, cover letters, job search emails, and blog posts/social media efforts are all free of errors, formatted nicely, easy to read, and are an extension of you – your brand – right? You don’t want any of your marketing collateral to cause you collateral damage. Once a door is open for you to have an information meeting, apply for a job, or have an interview, you don’t want it to take a turn for the worse with sloppy writing or inappropriate social media presences. Proofread all of your materials to ensure that they are consistent with your experiences, your accomplishments, your goals, and your brand, overall.
Frankly Speaking, making the time to market yourself may feel like a lot of work, or even a little scary, but it will pay off in the end. There are boundless roads ahead for you to travel. Look inwards, be clear about what you want, connect with new people, learn about others’ experiences, showcase your uniqueness, talk about your goals, and be open to opportunities in the least expected places.