Your Personal Marketing Plan
The success of your Professional Job Search Program is dependent on how well you have prepared your marketing materials and how consistently you execute on your Personal Marketing Plan. If you treat it like the full-time job it really is, you will ultimately achieve success. If you treat it casually and pursue your plan on a haphazard or part-time basis, you are likely to get discouraged and ultimately settle for something less than you would normally expect.
This Is Your Track To Run On.
Having a thorough, well-designed marketing plan is helpful in keeping you focused and disciplined. But the real benefit of having a Personal Marketing Plan is to channel all your preparations and hard work into identifying your primary target market and systematically working to put yourself in front of the key decision makers for an executive job interview in organizations you have chosen.
By the time you get to the Job Interview stage, you will know more about the company, its markets (and hopefully its leadership)and competitors than many people who work there.
The All-Important Sales Sequence
As you build your personal marketing plan, don’t forget that there is a Sales Sequence that must be followed. People who just send their resume unannounced are bypassing a number of very important steps and are making it nearly impossible to make a real sale. It’s like playing the lottery. And, even if they do happen to “hit” they will probably be poorly positioned to be compensated or even get “titled” properly for their talents.
Your Personal Marketing Plan . . . a 15-Point Guide to Success:
- Accomplishments Library – This inventory of successes and achievements, quantified in time or monetary terms, is the "nuclear core" of your Personal Marketing Plan and will be useful in every phase of your Executive Job Search. You will call on appropriate stories in your Letters of Introduction, Cover Letters, Resumes and especially in Interviews.
These are the documented evidence of your value to the organizations you have worked for and with. They are the proof – the validation – that gives life to your job history.
- 30-Second Commercial – Sometimes referred to as your “elevator pitch,” this is your headline or lead-in to a conversation about what you do. While it is absolutely imperative for networking events, it’s also something of a “mantra” to keep you focused on your Core Competencies and Qualification Statements. You will also find yourself using versions of it in your mail, email and telephone communications.
- Personal Biography – Often used in lieu of a resume, the "bio" may take several forms, from short, one-paragraph versions to ¾ and full-page versions with different slants. You will find that it has several uses and can play a strategic role in your Personal Marketing Plan. One of them is to mitigate the problem of replying to a request for your Resume when you don’t want to send one too early in the contact sequence.
- Profile Resume – Sometimes referred to as a “functional” resume, this document highlights your experience and capabilities. It is especially useful if you feel that age or lack of education requirements (or even gaps in your employment) will hinder the “first impression.”
- Chronological Resume – It will be a rare case where a chronological resume won’t be ultimately required . . . but, hopefully not until after a prospective employer has a favorable impression of you and your capabilities. All too frequently, when resumes are requested, they become tools used primarily to disqualify people. When people request your “curriculum vitae” or CV, they probably will focus on your education credentials as well as the work history in chronological order.
- Combination Resume – A hybrid version of your resume that is a little of both the functional and chronological resumes may be best when you’ve gained most of your experience at one firm. One danger in using it is that it is more difficult for the reader to get through it in the manner they are accustomed to. Who your Resume is going to is all important in deciding the format and execution.
- Market Research – Learning as much as possible about a given industry, firms in that field and their products, officers and other information relative to their business will make the difference in your ability to “stand out” among candidates.
Once you know enough about the industry, the company and the management, you are in a position to tailor your approach and personalize your interview answers as well as your work history and expertise. Like the Accomplishments Library, thorough research provides a solid foundation for your all important Personal Marketing Plan.
- Cover Letters –Letters of introduction, follow-up, queries and other forms of personal, written communication are often more critical in gaining entry to an organization than a resume. Well-written letters can open doors that resumes alone can’t.
Letters requesting Informational Interviews, followed by a telephone call, can be very effective in opening doors, getting “practice interviews” and eventually leading to good job referrals. Good letters are key components to your Personal Marketing Plan.
- Personal Stationery – Letterhead, envelopes, note cards, business cards, email address and email signatures are all icons that represent you and your professional status.
Depending on the versions of your software, quality of your (color laser) printer and skill in using them, you may be able to get by without standard printing. You can, however, get excellent sets of stationery, business cards and matching note cards printed at Staples, Office Max or Office Depot and we recommend that you do this . . . nothing overly fancy, but business like.
One touch that is potentially helpful, but conservative, is to use thermographic (raised ink) printing. It adds a nice “touch” for people who are tactile in nature. There are other considerations you can explore. But, always keep your Personal Marketing Plan objectives and your "positioning" in mind when making these decisions.
- White Papers – Articles you’ve written, transcripts of speeches you’ve given (or plan to give) are “extra credits” that highlight your knowledge or Accomplishments. The more experienced you are the more likely it is that you have valuable knowledge to impart. As we get into the mechanics of the Personal Marketing Plan, you will find that theswe "editorial" components offer a variety of benefits.
Writing articles for submission to industry publications (whether or not they ultimately get published) provides you with credible documentation, copies of which can be included with (or attached to) correspondence to prospective references and potential employers.
If you aren’t a particularly good writer, hire a Free-Lance Writer to help you. This is a particularly important point for people who are concerned about their age or lack of educational credentials. Getting published in any form adds to the writer’s stature and, as a result, their “hireability.”
- Personal Website – For some, a personal website, podcasts, Facebook account and/or connections on LinkedIn or other professional electronic networking may be appropriate. However, caution is the byword here. As many young people are learning (the hard way!), prospective employers are particularly dubious about much of the silly and often questionable moral judgment displayed by pictures of raucous parties on sites such as MySpace, etc.
- Telephone Tools & Techniques – How and where your telephone is answered, the way you come across on the telephone, how efficiently you return calls, etc. says a lot about you. But so does the way you use the telephone in a pro-active mode. And, let’s be very clear here, making outgoing calls to potential contacts is a vital part of your Personal Marketing Plan.
If you aren’t comfortable with this activity, you had better either get over it or find someone to help you make new contacts in this way. We recommend that you get over your problems with the telephone ASAP because it is the doorway to your structured networking. Period!
- Organizational Connections – The organizations you belong to, positions you’ve held, panels served on and other professionally-recognized contributions add weight to your experience. If you have neglected this channel, it’s time to re-open it. There are two places to start. The public library probably has current copies of the National Trade & Professional Associations Directory and the State and Regional version of it.
The other is, of course, the Worldwide Web. We have devoted a special Referral Network section to using this information to build your network connections. Make sure your Personal Marketing Plan includes taking full advantage of any appropriate professional accreditations offered by organizations you connect with.
- Networking Skills & Connections – Personal references are among the most powerful and important factors in finding and securing executive positions. Networking skills are absolutely indispensible to the executive in transition!
It is probably safe to say that your skill at networking (not merely collecting business cards!) and following through to make meaningful connections with people you meet -- and to whom you are introduced as a result – will have more impact on your ultimate success than any other single pursuit. Building and maintaining valuable contacts is an important part of your Personal Marketing Plan requiring organizational as well as networking skills.
- Contact Management Process – Whether you use a contact management program like Microsoft Outlook (including its Business Contact Manager), Act, Goldmine or simply a manual appointment book, keeping track of your activities, progress and needs for follow-up contacts will become increasingly complex as your weekly marketing activities add up.
With all this information and all these tools at your disposal, you can quickly become overwhelmed with daily tasks and multiple activities. You absolutely need a Personal Marketing Plan to work from. (See Sample Personal Marketing Plan.) Initially, you will be spending more time writing letters and making telephone inquiries than actually interviewing.
But, by your second week, you should begin to line up at least one Informational Interview per day, allow a couple of hours for research and begin to level off to a comfortable number of telephone calls and letters on your daily routine.
You can see that, as your activity picks up and you begin to make more connections, it’s critically important for you to be super organized and systematic in planning and executing your marketing efforts.
Using scheduling tools such as Microsoft Outlook that includes a way of keeping track of your contacts, calendar, meetings, etc. will be especially helpful as your schedule fills up. Learning how to use your library and its remote log-in access to research materials can pay big dividends.
And don’t overlook the advantages of joining or forming a Support Group. Other executives in transition who are out there meeting people, interviewing and doing research will run across leads that could be valuable to you. In fact, this could well be the single most productive thing you do . . . even as you are building your Accomplishments Library, Executive Resumes and Marketing Strategy.
And, at the risk of being repetitive, something always worth keeping in mind is the old adage . . . “when the going gets tough, the tough get going!”
For more on resumes, return to Building a Resume.
For more on marketing tools, return to Your Marketing Tool Kit.
Return from Your Personal Marketing Plan to Job Search home page.