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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

THE FIRST RULE OF MARKETING YOURSELF

In the first eight years of the new century, from 2000 until late 2008, the job market was very good for skilled, educated workers.  I started my recruiting business in January 2000, and every year for the next 8 years my business grew substantially from the previous year.  Companies were seeking new talent in all the areas I worked in, including sales, engineers, operations professionals, HR, and accounting/finance.  It was a good time to be a recruiter.

Things changed in a big way by the first quarter of 2009.  Most of us remember that the stock market took more than a 700 point nosedive in one day of October 2008 when the housing bubble burst. Within a very short time, the shock waves of the stock market downturn and the collapse of the housing market began to have a serious, negative affect on job creation in the US economy.  Not only did many companies stop hiring, layoffs and "downsizing" were common headlines.  In just a matter of months, the job market transformed from a strong seller's market where most candidates had multiple offers to a strong buyer's market where the hiring company had the upper-hand and there were dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people competing for the same job.

The most immediate impact of these market changes became very evident to me when my client companies stopped hiring.  Most of my business was in the manufacturing sector, and that sector was hit very hard by reductions in force, layoffs, downsizing, and many companies going out of business altogether.

Many workers who had been at the same company for decades found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed, and most of them had no clue about how to present themselves to other companies effectively in their searches for new jobs.  Many of these workers were skilled, experienced, and very capable in their fields, but they were woefully unprepared for marketing themselves in the "new" economy where employers had the upper hand.  In many ways it was like what someone goes through when they have been married or in a long-term relationship for many years, and then become widowed or divorced.  When they decide to get back into the dating game, they find that everything has changed, nothing is like is used to be, and the 'rules' of the game have changed dramatically.  If they were married before the turn of the century, chances are that they know nothing about online dating, which is how more than one third of married couples in America today found each other.  Online job search and marketing yourself through social media was a totally foreign concept to those who became unemployed in the economic downturn.

So here it is...the first rule of marketing yourself:  When demand conditions change, you must also change your promotional strategy.

I jokingly tell my friends that as a recruiter, I'm really just "Cupid" for industry, introducing two parties to each other and arranging dates (interviews).  If they kiss and get married (one hires the other), I get paid.   However, I am well aware that my corporate clients judge me by the quality of the candidates I present to them, and the only way they get an impression of what they think of a candidate is through that candidate's resume.  Unfortunately, most job seekers still use the same, tired, out-of-date resume style and content model that was common in the years prior to the economic downturn.  To make matters worse, most universities today are preaching to their students and graduates the same ineffective model for resumes that they have used for years.

What's the point here?  The point is simple...if you are looking for a job, and not just any job, but the job that you really want, you have exactly  one opportunity to make a good first impression.  That opportunity lasts about 6 seconds, the amount of time it takes for a recruiter or hiring manager to determine if your resume is one worth serious review or if it is thrown in the trash, literally or electronically.

That is why we are in the business or helping people with their resumes.  You can't get hired unless you get an interview, and you will not get an interview in today's market unless you have a great resume that gives the recruiter and/or the hiring manager what they want to see.

Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".

If that describes your marketing plan for your job search, maybe it's time for a change.

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