Tag Archives: marketing

Are You Selling What They Want?

Are you selling a product that an employer will want to buy, and do you have enough of what that employer wants?

Allow me to switch gears here.

Have you ever been to a major-league baseball game? If you have, did you ever notice those people inside the ballpark who carry those trays in front of them with all sorts of food and snacks to sell? (We often refer to them as ballpark vendors.)

I’ll bet you’re wondering why I would be writing about ballpark vendors in a blog that is to be read by job-seekers, especially when it’s October and the regular major-league baseball season is over.

Here is my analogy. You, the job-seeker, are a ballpark vendor, and your target employers are the fans at the major-league baseball game.

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There are some differences here. First, ballpark vendors usually will have only one or two different items in their tray, while a job-seeker can have many skills that he is trying to “sell” to a potential employer. Second, on any given day, a vendor’s “target market”, can number well into the hundreds, or even the thousands. I doubt that most job-seekers have a list of “specific” target companies that is more than one or two hundred. Third, we job-seekers research companies before putting them on our list of target companies. The ballpark vendor does not have to do this; to him, you become part of his potential target market just by showing up at the ballpark. Fourth, when researching potential target companies, we job-seekers attend various networking meetings and use our networks to find out information about those companies. Ballpark vendors simply yell out what it is that they’re selling, and leave it up to you, the prospective buyer, to decide if you want to buy that item.

Finally, when a vendor runs out of an item, that person simply goes and gets more of that item. On the other hand, we job-seekers have to learn new skills that potential employers may be looking for.

Let’s go back to the items being sold. The ballpark vendor is simply trying to sell something which can be consumed. You, the job-seeker, are trying to sell your “skills”. If the potential employer does not need someone with your skills, you are not going to be able to sell anything to that employer, just like the vendor will not be able to sell a customer anything to drink if that customer is not thirsty.

If that same employer is looking for someone with a skill that you have, but wants someone who is “more experienced” with that skill than you are, or who has other skills that you don’t have, you also will not be able to “sell” to that employer. A ballpark vendor will not be able to sell one-half of a hotdog to someone who wants a whole hotdog.

So, if your skills stack up very well to those jobs that you are trying to get, then you have something to sell to your target companies. Go out and network to try to get into those companies. If not, you have two options. Add to your skill set, or change your career direction.

Now, do you have enough of the skills that your target employers want?

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

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Remembering Stone Soup

By Cynthia Simmons

Driving to work one morning, I heard someone on National Public Radio talk about Stone Soup — one of my favorite children’s books. She was a consultant for executives attending the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

That made total sense to me.  Because… Stone Soup is the story of three soldiers returning home from a war, trudging on foot across unfamiliar territory, and stopping to stay the night in a town where they are not welcome. They try to persuade someone to sell or give them food. Apparently there is no extra food in that town, not for those three soldiers.

The magic of the story is that the soldiers had carried a big empty kettle with them, and when there was no supper to be had, they fill the kettle with water from the river, light a fire, and then place stones in the boiling water to give it flavor.

Someone becomes curious at the sight of  the soldiers sitting around their fire with their kettle full of boiling water. Someone comes up and asks, “What are you cooking?” The answer is “Stone soup.”

Then the question, “Well, may I have some?”

The response, “Well, yes, of course you can have some. It’s not quite ready. But it would be even better if we could add a potato or two.”

And the response to the response, “I have some potatoes for the soup.”

The rest of the story continues predictably with the questions and the answers, as people from the town become curious and find themselves offering to contribute to the soup. With the individual contributions the soup becomes a feast.

The lessons are, “People who are not interested in helping you in your job search may decide to help when you share a common interest.” and “Think carefully about how you approach strangers for help.”

(The version of Stone Soup that I know was written and illustrated by Marcia Brown. I first read it many years ago.)

 

Cynthia Simmons has a background in publishing and publications.

© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

Cover Letter Tips

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

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Public Domain Image

What do you say in a cover letter?  I’ve typically identified where I found out about the open position.  Then I’d talk about how my experience matches what the company says they are seeking in the job description – some people even go so far as to list the requirements and matching experience in two columns.  Finally I conclude by asserting my confidence that I would make immediate contributions and that I will contact them soon about an interview.  This type of cover letter is probably familiar to many of you.

This approach has been adequate in the past, but cover letters can be more effective.  The key is to remember that you’re trying to communicate what’s in it for them.  If you’ve done your homework, you know the important tasks in the role you are seeking.  Find at least three SSAR story examples that reinforce your track record of success in these tasks – Situation you were in, Strengths you used to address it, Actions you took, and Results delivered.  Conclude by advising that you have additional stories when you meet.

For this position you are seeking someone who can get these things done.

  I have a record of success in such tasks.  In this situation from my work history I used this strength to take this action and achieve this result.  In a second situation I used this different strength to take this action and achieve this result.  In a third situation I used a third strength to take this action and achieve this result.

  When we meet I can discuss these examples and more in greater detail.  I will contact you soon to arrange an interview.

How much more powerful this is – I know how to do the job well, and will deliver immediate results for your company.  That is a more effective message for a cover letter.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – for Networking

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

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Public Domain Image

Holly, carols, cookies, Santa Claus & elves, mistletoe, Bethlehem stable figurines, fruitcakes, decorations, lights, presents, and…  job search networking?

Obviously, networking is not among the traditional reminders of the holiday season.  However, most of us attend one, two, or more holiday parties and meet new people this time of year.  So don’t overlook the great opportunity to advance your job search.  In light of this, it’s worthwhile to review some networking “dos and don’ts”, especially in the holiday context.

1)      This is not the time to imbibe excessively or overeat.  If you hope to make new job search connections, remember to act professionally.

2)      Have some business cards with you as usual, and handing them out should be your standard MO.  However, keep a few resumes in your briefcase or car in case you meet someone who requests it.

3)      Remember what Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to them the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  Don’t tell yourself you’re no good at remembering names – you can get better at it, as I have.  Tips:  repeat the person’s name back to them when you are introduced, and try to use their name once (as naturally as possible) when the introduction leads to a conversation.

4)      Remember, effective networking is not about getting a job.  It’s about creating new connections, and is as much about giving as it is about taking.  What do you have to offer your new colleagues?

5)      Follow up with those who’ve given you their business card or other contact info.  Probably the best time to do so is after the holidays are completely over, they’re getting back to their regular routine, and have more time to respond.

Have fun, but stay professional and give your job search another boost!

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Network for Life

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

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Public Domain Image

I sometimes think about what advice I’d give my younger self.  Perhaps that’s because I don’t have any children, although there have been a few times I’ve been able to give advice to my nieces and nephew.  I don’t live life with regrets, but I think most of us can’t help but consider when we could have benefited from counsel we did not get at key points in our lives.

I would tell my younger self to network for life.  An admonition I hear repeated most times I go to my Saturday morning job networking meeting is that your next job search starts when your current one ends.   Lately I’ve taken that more and more to heart, and networking is of course the best way to turn up new opportunities.

My sister’s husband runs a small hospital.  He has preached the importance of networking throughout his career, even though he hasn’t had to endure the disruptions that have impacted mine.  Certainly, networking is about more than just finding another job; it’s also about improving your career success.  However, my point is that it is essential for your “lifelong” job search.

I’ve been out of work more than once during tough hiring climates.  I think in recent times I’ve been too passive, too reliant on what has worked before (i.e., mostly recruiters), too dependent on letting the economy turn around, and not active enough networking and thinking about what comes next.  The active networkers are at the head of the line when the job market perks back up.  Passivity in networking has delayed me getting to the head of the line.

What are the three most important things in your job search and career at all times?  Network, network, network.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Go to Job Networking Group Meetings

By Tim Klepaczyk

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/timklepaczyk/

I traded a couple of e-mails with my niece last week.  She’s a baccalaureate graduate of a really good business school.  I was saddened to learn she was recently released from the first position of her career.  Until then she had worked for a major IT company.  She did not enjoy the job, but she appreciated that is was a good career start opportunity.

I told K about this blog, and advised her to start going to job networking group meetings in her area.  She appreciated my concern and advice, but said “I just need to figure out my plan of attack first.”  K is certainly correct to prioritize the development of her personal marketing plan.  What she wasn’t hearing is that job networking meetings will help her do that, and so much more.  Job networking meetings are available at local churches and other venues throughout the country.  Networking, of course, is your most productive approach to turning up interviews and new jobs.  Many of these groups do not charge a fee, and you may even get a donut.  🙂

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public domain image

The amount of expertise in attendance at most job networking group meetings is impressive.  Note, not everyone there is out of work.  A mantra at the group I attend most often is “Your next job search starts when your current job search ends.”  Lifetime jobs are the exception.

I have found job networking group meetings to be a continuously-renewed source of valuable ideas.  A few examples are getting tips on survival jobs, learning how to improve my LinkedIn profile, and finding out about a very reasonably-priced outplacement firm.  Many also have regular presentations on topics relevant to your efforts.

Do not delay.  Start going to Job Networking Group meetings today.

Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation.  He also loves writing.

© 2013 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Business Cards and Pockets

Many things about the job search are difficult and challenging. On some days, they can be intimidating and make you want to take the day off. So for a day when you don’t want to take on the whole ball of wax, here is something small. Something that, yes, you can do today. To get yourself ready to move forward.

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By Cynthia Simmons

I heard a good tip: When you are going to a business meeting, have one pocket where you store your business cards, and another pocket to store the cards you receive. And maybe even practice removing your business card from your pocket and handing it to someone.  (Like a gunslinger, I wonder? Practicing a quick draw? But at any rate, you will be prepared to deliver your business card wherever it may be effective!)

Women may need to give pockets some extra thought, because we often have fewer of them.  Pockets can interrupt the smooth lines of a nice business dress. They can create bulges and wrinkles and because of that pockets are often sewn shut, for fashion’s sake.

But consider, ladies, pockets are essential in your job search. Whether employed or not, selectively or actively seeking your next employer, an immaculate cut and tight tailoring may leave you with no place to store the business cards you hope to be giving out and receiving back.

So, ladies, where will you keep your business cards? In a case inside of your purse? Could you find yourself suddenly excavating a myriad of embarrassing grooming and personal items. Perhaps you’ll find yourself living the song “Shit” by folksinger Kat Eggleston, where she lists the many lost and forgotten things now residing in her purse. (Hopefully, she exaggerates!)

Gentlemen too need to consider their pockets. Hopefully for them, it will be less cumbersome. But it is equally important.

Circuitous and frivolous language aside, consider your pockets and your business cards. This is important. Much of the process of seeking a new job is serious and difficult. Make this one thing that is easy. Be prepared and always have your business cards with you, wherever you go.

Cynthia Simmons is a writing professional with a background in publishing, non-profit marketing communications, and public relations. She received a Copyediting Certificate from the University of California (online), December 2012 and an Editing Certificate from the University of Chicago Graham School, June 2011.

Business Cards and Calling Cards

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By Cynthia Simmons

(My thought is that some people don’t pay enough attention to their business cards and confuse them with calling cards. They don’t put keywords, indicate value-added, or use self-branding on their business cards.)

From when I was a child, I remember the three years my family lived in South Carolina and there was a silver calling card tray on a table by the front door. The tray was elegantly oval and embellished, flat with a raised serpentine lip, engraved at the center with a large formal S in script font. My mother kept calling cards from visitors in it.

So, I’ve always known about calling cards.

Later, when I grew up and went to work, one of my goals was to have a business card. I did accomplish that goal, as have most of us.

But now, when people hand me their cards as part of a business introduction, I feel sad if I am given a calling card. Because a calling card only has someone’s name and contact information. It doesn’t indicate profession, affiliation, service, or any of the details that make a brand. It’s as if someone were saying—Hire me!—but they won’t tell me what they do.

The world has gotten much bigger, with much more of everything. Now just your name is not enough.

A business card that is well-conceived, designed, and written can have your resume’s essence, “You” distilled into what is most salient about you professionally.

To get down to business, a business card should be deliberate, include keywords, and say what you can do for the world in direct, succinct language. And you may want to include a tagline to market yourself. A business card is perhaps your smallest marketing tool and surely the one most easily shared.