How to Suck Less at Your Personal Pitch

The number one thing people want to talk about is themselves. When you facilitate this, you’ll be remembered because they enjoyed the conversation. Just remember: A good question prompts people to tell a story about themselves, in turn creating a deeper connection.

i am uniqueWhen you meet someone for the first time, the question “What do you do?” inevitably makes its way to the conversation. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of this question. It is not a great question to ask, nor is it fun to answer.

Let’s explore some reasons for why this question is not so great. “What do you do?” implies you are asking what someone does for a living. This makes people define themselves by how they earn a paycheck. What if they are in transition? What if they hate their job?

So you can see how this simple and common question can quickly make someone uncomfortable. Plus, you are not really getting to know that person.

Here are some alternative questions to ask instead:

  1. If you won the lottery what would you do?
  2. What are you passionate about?
  3. What do you like to do?
  4. What is your favorite thing that you own?
  5. How do you spend your days?
  6. What are you most excited about right now?
  7. What are you working on?
  8. What are you most proud of?
  9. What’s the number one item on your bucket list?
  10. What gets you up in the morning?

The number one thing people want to talk about is themselves. When you facilitate this, you’ll be remembered because they enjoyed the conversation. Just remember: A good question prompts people to tell a story about themselves, in turn creating a deeper connection.

Now let’s examine some ways to answer “What do you do?” because you will undoubtedly get that question. Do you say, “I’m a marketing manager” or “I work for ACME Corporation”? My guess is 95 percent of you answer with something along those lines.

Don’t let your work define you. How would you answer that question if you are currently between jobs? You might feel a little deflated when someone asks you that, especially if you haven’t given much thought into what you should answer.

What if you designed a different way of answering that question? What if you told a story? For example, I might answer that question with, “Right now I am really excited to be launching a new product that will help marketers manage their personal brand in only two minutes a day.”

It’s not true, but if that sounded interesting to you, let me know, and I may just start working on that.

To start to tell your story, think about these three things:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. How do you serve them or provide value?
  3. What results are achieved?

5 Strategies to Become the Marketing MVP

It’s a great time to be in marketing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts a 9 percent growth in employment for marketers through 2024, 2 percent above the average growth rate of other industries. With this type of growth comes tremendous competition, which means it’s getting harder for A-players to stand out. In order to rise to the top and become a Marketing MVP, you need to proactively manage your career.

It’s a great time to be in marketing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts a 9 percent growth in employment for marketers through 2024, 2 percent above the average growth rate of other industries.

With this type of growth comes tremendous competition, which means it’s getting harder for A-players to stand out. In order to rise to the top and become a Marketing MVP, you need to proactively manage your career. Here are some strategies you can start applying today.

1. Keep a Career Journal

As a marketer, you know the importance of data. Well, keeping data about your career can assist you in getting the raise or promotion you want and provide guidance when going after new opportunities.

There should be two parts to your career journal — one focused on your overall career goals and another documenting details of projects as you complete them.

For your overall career goals, ask yourself questions like these and review your answers on a quarterly basis.

  • Where do I see myself in the next step of my career? Be as specific as you can.
  • What skills do I need to develop to get there?
  • What do I need to improve or create in order to reach my goal?
  • What is my No. 1 priority for the next 12 months?
  • What do I want to be doing more of in my career?
  • Am I spending time on the things that will take me where I want to go in my career?
  • What do I want to be known for?

Then as you complete projects in your current role, jot down what the challenge or situation was, the actions you completed and the results you got. This is what is commonly known as a CAR story (Challenge, Action, Result) or STAR story (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Be sure to include all quantifiable data you can in the results.

2. Always Be in Contact With Your Network

This doesn’t mean you have to contact your network daily, but checking in every few months to say hello, ask how they’re doing, wish them a happy birthday, etc. is a best practice. It helps keep you top of mind.

It’s also important to maintain your network even when you are happy in your current position. Be of service to others so when you find yourself in need of help, you’ll have people to reach out to.

3. Keep Your Resume and LinkedIn Profile Updated

It’s nice to be at the ready when a recruiter unexpectedly comes calling.

If you review your resume and LinkedIn profile every quarter, you won’t have to spend hours and hours updating your resume trying to remember everything you’ve done in the last few years. Plus when you are still employed, you have access to the quantifiable data!

Keep in mind you should not just dump your resume in your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile should complement your resume. Get rid of all the resume speak and incorporate keywords into your headline. For more details on how to craft a great LinkedIn profile, check out my previous blog post “LinkedIn for Stealth Job Seekers.”

In case it’s been several years since you last updated your resume, you’ll want to give it a format overhaul so it looks like it belongs in this century. Think of your resume like a newspaper article — incorporate a headline (your target job title) and subhead (your personal branding statement) and follow those up with proof points (your summary). For more tips on resume writing check out my previous blog post “How to Write a Killer Marketing Resume.”

4. Volunteer for Opportunities Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you want to get ahead in your career, ask your boss what you can take off their plate. When you can show you’ve done it, you’ll be more likely to get that promotion. Volunteering for projects shows you take initiative and may also get you exposure to more decision makers in your company.

Volunteering outside of your company has lots of benefits too. It can help expand your skillset and your network. Not only that, but studies have shown it makes you a better employee. A UnitedHealth Group study found that “Employees who volunteer also bring more refined job skills to the workplace which provides a significant benefit to their employer.”

5. Pursue Professional Development 

Regardless if your employer pays for it or not, you should be taking courses to enhance your skills and keep them current. When you seek out opportunities to expand your skillset it makes you a more valuable asset to your current company and more marketable in general.

It’s not always an MBA you need to pursue either. Certifications like Google AdWords, Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer or HubSpot Inbound Marketing can be valuable if you current or potential employer uses these tools.

Although professional marketers don’t have agents like professional athletes, you can still be the MVP of your marketing team when you take charge of your career.

Powerful Lessons From a Passive Job Seeker

Do you ever wonder how some people just seem to attract all the “plum” opportunities? Well today, I am going to pull back the curtain on just how these people attract the right opportunities.

Howie Schnuer, CMO and Vice President/General Manager, Small & Medium Enterprises at TSI
Howie Schnuer, CMO and Vice President/General Manager, Small & Medium Enterprises at TSI

Do you ever wonder how some people just seem to attract all the “plum” opportunities? Well today, I am going to pull back the curtain on just how these people attract the right opportunities.

I sat down with my colleague, Howie Schnuer, CMO and Vice President/General Manager, Small & Medium Enterprises at TSI, to talk about how he landed his most recent position.

In Howie’s words, he says he’s just been lucky in combination with making the right choices. I say he’s been lucky by design. Let me know what you think after you read an edited version of our conversation:

Michelle Robin: How did you find out about this opportunity?

Howie Schnuer: Prior to this role, I was at Infogroup heading up the marketing for the small and medium business division. And I was happy, content, and comfortable. Then I got an email from a recruiter about this position, which did look interesting. But as I said, I was really happy so I hit the delete button. Next, I got another email from the recruiter, and another and another. So by the fourth or fifth email I said, okay, let’s talk.

Robin: So what do you think made the recruiter keep pursuing you?

Schnuer: I suppose he liked how my career progressed. I had kept moving up and also had a lot of variety in my experience. I wasn’t just doing one type of marketing or one type of sales. I had worked in big corporations like W.W. Grainger and small startups like Restaurant.com.

Robin: Since you weren’t actively looking for a job at the time, did you even have an updated resume?

Schnuer: Funny you ask. It wasn’t updated for presentation, but that is actually one of the things I always do. I keep bullet points of what I have recently accomplished so I have the notes right there when it comes time to update it. I would love to have had the time to have it professionally done, but this wasn’t one of those times.

Robin: And then how did you decide this was going to be the right move for you?

Schnuer: That was the hard part because I was at a job I truly enjoyed. In the end, it came down to being a really good match of my experience and what they were looking for. It was an opportunity for me to just focus on building a sales channel and enhancing the sales operations division, initially, and that was exciting. Plus, it didn’t hurt that it was going to be a 15-minute commute versus working from home and traveling a lot.

Robin: Once you started, what did you do to ensure you made an immediate impact on the business?

Schnuer: You know, I had never done a true 90-day plan before this role, but when I got here that is exactly what I did. I just dug in and saw a lot of low-hanging fruit. After 30 days I started digging deeper, created new objectives and focused on getting results. My team is really great and today we are continuing to do the same thing, digging in and making things happen.

Robin: Your original role expanded to include CMO duties after only six months. How did that happen?

Schnuer: Like I just mentioned my team and I started seeing some initial results pretty fast. The positive movement was something they had not seen in quite some time in the SME division. The CEO who I interviewed with and continued to have regular interactions with approached me and said this opportunity is available, would you be interested? Of course, I said yes. And because they were seeing such great results they wanted me to continue in my current role and also take on the CMO role.

Robin: Okay, so what advice do you have for marketing professionals embarking on an executive-level search? Do you think it differs from looking for any other role?

Schnuer: That’s a tough question to answer for me, because I didn’t embark. It just kind of happened.

But, I think one thing that is really important is to always have a great network. A network that you can pick up the phone and call with a question or ask for support. It’s important because a lot of jobs will come out of this – ones that are not even posted, the hidden job market.

Who Is the CEO of Your Career?

According to a recent study by Randstad U.S., “The Workplace 2025,” found that, as early as 2019, as much as 50 percent of the workforce will be made up of agile workers (i.e. contractors, freelancers, consultants or temporary workers). This means we’re moving into a gig economy, and, if you neglect your personal brand, you’re going to be left behind.

According to a recent study by Randstad U.S., The Workplace 2025, found that as early as 2019 as much as 50 percent of the workforce will be made up of agile workers (i.e. contractors, freelancers, consultants or temporary workers).

This means we’re moving into a gig economy. You no longer will have a “job.” Instead, you’ll go into the business of one and be proactively managing your career. And, if you neglect your personal brand, you’re going to be left behind.

"What would you say you do here?" Office Space and Your CareerI know it’s the classic case of the shoemaker’s children who don’t have new shoes. Marketers know it’s important to be present in social media, have your own website and proactively sell yourself. However, it’s always a low priority because you don’t have time, find it too difficult or convince yourself you’re not actively searching for work so there is no need.

Stop Drifting Through Your Career

Time and time again, I run into experienced professionals who suddenly find themselves in transition. They are scared, slightly panicked, and usually say something like:

  • “I worked for the same company for 10-plus years and didn’t see this coming. My self-confidence really took a hit.”
  • “I had always been recruited for roles and never had to really look for a job before. Now, I’m not sure where to start.”
  • “This layoff could be a blessing in disguise because I really hadn’t been happy in my job for years. I want to change industries or pursue another role, but I don’t want to start from zero. How do I make the shift and show my value?”

In order to get past these thoughts, or better yet, never have to have them, you need to get the right mindset and start taking control of your career.

A study done by University of Phoenix and EdAssist on perceptions of employers and employees about career development had some interesting findings. The average worker only spends 1.5 hours a year on career planning. That seems grossly out of proportion considering you spend 2000+ hours a year at work.

The other point shown in the study is there is a discrepancy between managers’ and employees’ beliefs on who is responsible for career development. Most employees believe it’s their employers’ responsibility to teach career development where most managers believe it should be the employees’.

Frankly, arguments could be made for either position, but I am not here to debate that. The one thing you always have control of in your career is your actions. You can choose to pursue a side business, write a blog, enhance your skills and keep up with your network. Or you can choose to keep you head down, just do the work and collect your paycheck. The latter may be easier but it’s not what will keep you gainfully employed.

Whether you’re an employee or freelancer, you’re paid to provide a service for your company. How well you perform that service and make an impact to the business becomes what you’re known for. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be aware of your contributions, even your direct manager, unless you start talking about it.

And, no, this doesn’t mean I think you should be bragging about your results to anyone within earshot. It means sending out status updates on the projects you’re working on, sharing results of successful campaigns, speaking up in meetings or volunteering to take on special projects.

“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.” – David Brier

If this doesn’t come natural to you, or you’re not sure how to do this without being a braggart, it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes we can’t even recognize what it is that people associate with our personal brand. This is when it pays to invest in yourself and do some self-discovery.

The Ultimate Job Security — Differentiation

Differentiation is what can truly make you become in demand. No two humans are alike. Your experience, personality, knowledge, culture, etc. all play into your personal brand, and help formulate your personal selling proposition.

How an E.P.I.C. Cover Letter Lands You More Interviews

Do cover letters even get read any more? When you write an E.P.I.C. cover letter — Employer-focused, Promotional, Interesting and includes a Call to Action — your phone will be ringing with calls for interviews. Let’s do a deep dive into each of these components.

Cover LetterDoes your cover letter even get read any more? Is that what you’re thinking? If so, you’re not alone. I’m happy to tell you that yes, they do get read and they matter. According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, 37 percent of recruiters say cover letters matter.

In a survey by my colleague Thomas Powner at Career Thinker Inc. 49 percent of recruiters stated they read the cover letter after the resume and 53 percent said it did impact their decision on requesting a phone interview. Best of all, 59 percent said a great cover letter can boost a marginal resume.

When you write an E.P.I.C. cover letterEmployer-focused, Promotional, Interesting and includes a Call to Action — your phone will be ringing with calls for interviews. Let’s do a deep dive into each of these components.

Employer-Focused

In job search it’s not what the employer can do for you, but what you can do for the employer. The first step in writing an E.P.I.C. cover letter is to capture the reader’s attention by focusing on them.

One way to do this is to write an introduction that focuses on the employer’s needs.

Take the reader to their ideal world

Imagine if you could have a Director of Marketing on your team who brings integrated marketing campaigns to life and knows how to leverage various media platforms to obtain the best results. What if that person also understands how to use data to make strategic decisions and create actionable marketing plans? Now take a look at the enclosed resume to see that person is applying for the Director of Marketing position at Acme Technology.

Show your shared vision or mission

Like Acme’s unrelenting focus on client service, I take a tenacious approach in leading companies through turnaround and growth strategies during periods of both declining revenues and rapid growth. Now, I would like to play a critical role in ensuring Acme’s values and culture are maintained during your next period of growth as Wealth Management Chief Administrative Officer.

You’ve probably heard advice like this before, but it’s really important to customize your letter for each organization you apply to. I am not just talking about swapping out a name of an organization. If the job posting asks certain questions, be sure you answer them in your letter. If there are specific attributes listed, demonstrate how you have those attributes.

Look at this snippet from a job description at Aha! for a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager: Has a “get it done” attitude and a background of delivering superb work again and again.

Here is how a letter could be customized for this description: When I was a Digital Marketing Manager at Acme, I was constantly assigned special projects. This was because my director knew she could count on me to problem solve and get things done.

Another avenue for customizing your letter is to state why you want to work for the company. Don’t be afraid to say how you’ve been a customer and your experience inspired you to apply. Think about companies with strong brands like Trader Joes or Apple. You better make sure your letter talks about how you look good in Hawaiian shirts or crave innovation if you’re applying to either of these companies.

Depending how badly you want to work for a certain organization, the more effort you put into your whole application, the better. Take a look at what Nina Mufleh did to land an interview at Airbnb.

Promotional

Besides being focused on your potential employer, it’s important to show why you’re a great fit for the position. This is where being promotional comes in.

6 Strategies to Land a New Job By January 

With Halloween gone and Thanksgiving just around the corner, you can easily get distracted by all the festivities and put your job hunt on hold. It’s actually a common misconception that hiring doesn’t happen over the holidays. In reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Find a New Job by JanuaryWith Halloween gone and Thanksgiving just around the corner, you can easily get distracted by all the festivities and put your hunt for a new job on hold. It’s actually a common misconception that hiring doesn’t happen over the holidays. In reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Last year I delivered documents for a client on November 23 and by early January, he started a new 6-figure job. The year prior, I bumped into a client in November who had been in transition for several months. I told her to not slow down her search over the holidays. She emailed me in early January to say she was starting a new position.

Hiring does happen over the holidays. Here are six ways to make the most out of the holiday season for your job hunt.

1. Ramp up Your Job Search During the Holidays

Most of your peers slow down their search because they think that “people are busy”, or “no one is in the office.” So that means there is less competition out there for you. The last quarter of the year is actually pretty active. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hire rate for December 2015 was more than 5 percent higher than in January 2016. Oftentimes, companies have head counts that they will loose if they don’t fill it by year-end. Or they know they are getting approval to hire in January so they start searching now in order to have the new person starting in early January.

2. Re-engage Your Network With Holiday Greetings

The holidays are a perfect time to reconnect with your network — recruiters, colleagues and previous employers — and provide a reminder that you exist. It’s as easy as dropping them a note on LinkedIn, or arranging a time to meet and catch up.

3. Work the Room at Holiday Parties

Social events are pretty synonymous with the holidays. Not just family events, but events at work and any associations you may be a part of. No one is expecting you to be fishing for job leads at one of these events, so it’s easier to keep things more casual. But people feel more giving around the holidays and want to help.

If parties usually make you feel like running the opposite direction, seek out the other person standing alone and engage in some small talk. Ask some questions about their holiday traditions or their favorite thing to do over the holidays. Eventually the conversation naturally leads to, “So what do you do?” This is when you can mention your career goals or that you are looking for a new challenge.

4. Reach Out to ThirdParty Recruiters 

Lack of open positions is not the challenge for recruiters during this time of year — in fact, the challenge is in the pool of candidates drying up. Recruiters are motivated to fill any open positions by year-end so they can earn their commission. So make third-party recruiters be your secret weapon to snag an offer and have a great reason to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.

5. Be Flexible

Those involved in the hiring process may be trying to take some vacation time themselves. So if you can make yourself available you’ll likely have an advantage over your competition. This may mean you need to be willing to come back early from vacation or shift holiday plans. There is no reason to go extreme and cancel without an interview secured, though. That will just disappoint you and your family.

6. Update Your Personal Marketing Materials

Finding time to job search while you’re employed is not always easy. Make the most out of your time off and get your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter up-to-date. Gather your reviews and make notes about the projects you’ve completed over the last 12 months. Ask your colleagues for recommendations on LinkedIn. Better yet, gift your colleagues and former managers by writing a recommendation for them, first.

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year to be in job search! Companies don’t stop hiring just because it’s the holidays. Happy job hunting!

What’s Next for Marketing Careers in Digital and Multichannel? 

It’s not too early to start thinking about what is ahead for your career with 2017 quickly approaching. What skills should you improve? How can you make yourself more appealing to potential employers, or position yourself for a promotion? To provide you with some direction, I recently spoke to executive digital and multichannel recruiting expert, Jerry Bernhart.

Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC
Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC

It’s not too early to start thinking about what is ahead for your marketing career with 2017 quickly approaching. What skills should you improve? How can you make yourself more appealing to potential employers, or position yourself for a promotion?

To provide you with some direction, I recently spoke to executive digital and multichannel recruiting expert, Jerry Bernhart. As principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, Jerry has conducted searches as well as recruited and placed top digital and multichannel marketers, with clients ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, for more than 20 years.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Michelle Robin: How different is searching for a job today than say just two years ago?

Jerry Bernhart: Two years isn’t a lot of time. There hasn’t been a dramatic amount of difference, particularly since the recession. But I can give you some examples of what is going on in the industry today.

Right now, I am wrapping up a recent search for a manager of e-commerce — a really hot segment. When this search started two months ago, I surfaced eight to ten candidates, and I lost half of them in the first four weeks because my client couldn’t move quickly enough. This shows an enormous demand for this type of person.

With another search for a CRM (customer relationship management) manager, I had candidate who ended up with four external offers plus a counter offer. For best-of-breed talent, this is what I am seeing happen often.

Robin: What is your number one tip for job seekers looking to get ahead in their marketing career?

Bernhart: Keep learning. The beauty of digital is it makes it so easy to learn online. There is so much out there and things are moving so quickly, it’s essential to stay on top of things. The day you quit learning is the day you need to quit marketing.

If I could add another thing, I would say to be open regarding location. If you’re not living in a top metro area, look at other places. There are a lot of opportunities out there and you may not find them in your own hometown because you are in a smaller market. It’s kind of like broadcasting. The top news anchors didn’t start in New York City. So for young professionals especially, go to where the opportunities are and expand your scope of knowledge and responsibilities. Do it in small steps though, so you don’t take a big hit on the cost of living.

Robin: How important is your online brand for digital marketing professionals? Do employers actually look at your personal website, social media profiles, etc.?

Bernhart: It’s critical! You should think about your personal and online brand as often as you get your haircut. Think about it, you don’t know how long you’re going to be working at your current employer. You can’t afford to ignore your brand. If you don’t know how to brand yourself, how can you brand an organization?

The first thing human resources people do, even more than hiring managers, is Google you and look you up on LinkedIn. They may have your résumés, but the problem with résumés is you can’t always believe what is on there. So, put your personal URL on your résumé.

I have lots of candidates who have side projects. You can use that as the perfect opportunity to show a potential employer what is going on. I’ve never seen it have a negative impact on someone’s candidacy. In fact, I prefer they are upfront and transparent about it. 

The Key to Getting Paid What You Deserve – It’s Not What You Think

You need to remember two key things in order to get paid what you deserve: Your current, or most recent salary is irrelevant to the job you’re seeking, so don’t reveal it. And once an offer has been made, always try to negotiate.

moneyLast month, Massachusetts made history by making it illegal for employers to ask job applicants for their salary history. And soon, a bill will be introduced by Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jerold Nadler (D-NY) to prohibit employers from asking job applicants for their salary history before making a job or salary offer. This is great news for job seekers, and it helps to make great strides in pay equality.

Now, since the Massachusetts law doesn’t go into effect until 2018 and the bill is sitting on Capitol Hill (cue the School House Rock song), that means employers are still going to be asking for your salary history in the near future.

Without a law behind you, you need to remember two key things in order to get paid what you deserve:

  1. Your current, or most recent salary is irrelevant to the job you’re seeking, so don’t reveal it.
  2. Once an offer has been made, always try to negotiate.

I’ll go into the details behind each of these, and by the end of this article you’ll know how to figure out your true value in the marketplace and hopefully overcome some of your fear and hesitation about salary negotiation.

Why Negotiate?

The most obvious reason is to get more money. In reality, a new job offer is really your greatest opportunity to significantly increase your salary. When you negotiate a higher salary to begin with, it impacts your income over the entire time you’re at that company because your future raises will be based on that number. It’s a little like compounded interest. For example, let’s say two recent grads are offered a starting salary of $50,000. Sue negotiates a $5,000 increase on her starting salary and a raise of 4 percent every three years. Sam accepts the offer and only sees a standard 1 percent raise every year. After a 45-year career Sue’s total earnings will be $1,137,097 more than Sam’s.

Effects of Starting Salary Negotiation
A little starting salary negotiation goes a long way over the course of a career.

Besides just getting more money, when you negotiate it shows your potential employer you have good business acumen and you are assertive. In fact, according to a survey done by Salary.com, 80 percent of employers surveyed said they are not upset or offended when job seekers negotiate during the interview process. And, 57 percent of HR personnel expect people to ask for more when presented with a job offer. Finally, the most surprising statistic was that 48 percent expect their employees to ask for a raise at least once a year. So keep this in mind if you’re currently employed. And if you’re currently in transition, remember this for when you do land.

What Prevents You From Negotiating?

Fear and lack of skills. In another survey from Salary.com, 32 percent of respondents claimed they didn’t negotiate because they were afraid of losing the job offer. Then 22 percent said they lacked the proper skills to negotiate. Others said they find the whole negotiation process unpleasant (18 percent) while the other significant reason was lacking self-confidence (9 percent).

The Key to Salary Negotiation

Because your current or most recent salary isn’t relevant to the new position you’re pursuing, the essential step you need to take is to know your market value. Before you even have that first interview, you need to create an accurate salary range that includes three numbers – your delighted number, your desired number and your don’t take it number. Think of this as your three Ds.

  • Delighted – what will make you really happy, thrilled, or ecstatic. It could be a package you think you’re not likely to get, but there is a possibility.
  • Don’t take it – as low as you’ll go. If the offer is below this number, don’t walk away immediately, but definitely declare you’re too far apart and ask for time to consider it.
  • Desired – between these two. It’s where you realistically think you’ll end up.

In order to figure out these numbers for yourself, you need to do your research. First, discover what other people with the same title are earning. You can get this information from websites like GlassDoor.com, PayScale.com or JobStar.org. Salary.com lists the median salary for a marketing manager at $93,459. You can look at industry surveys too. Sometimes the larger recruitment firms, like The Creative Group do their own salary surveys. Or, even a niche recruiter like Bernhart Associates Executive Search offers salary ranges for digital and direct marketers. This can give you a basic salary range.

Next, know how well you can do the job versus other candidates’ abilities. Are you above average? Are you well known in your industry? Do you have a special expertise? These things factor in to your special value. In other words, what do you bring to the table to raise that basic salary range?

How Successful Marketers Advance Their Career Networks

I think you’ll agree with me when I say: It’s REALLY tough to break into the hidden job market if you don’t have a large network. Well, I bet you have a larger network than you think, and it’s easy to grow your network quickly if you take this approach. In today’s article, I am going to show you just how to build your network, and start nurturing it so you can uncover the hidden job market.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say: It’s REALLY tough to break into the hidden job market if you don’t have a large network.

Well, I bet you have a larger network than you think, and it’s easy to grow your network quickly if you take this approach. In today’s article, I am going to show you just how to build your network, and start nurturing it so you can uncover the hidden job market.

How Successful Marketers Build Their Networks

Just like there is the ABC of sales, Always Be Closing, there is the ABC of career management, Always Be Connecting. Notice I say career management and not job search. This is because building your network needs to be a constant activity in your life, not just when you need a new job. The “net” from your network can catch you when you unexpectedly find yourself downsized or otherwise in need. It will take a bit of “work” to get it established.

So, I’d like to give you the key to your first 100 connections. Below is a list of 10 areas to group people you know. I am going to challenge you to fill each area with at least 10 names, and then, boom, you have your first 100 contacts.

  1. Friends
  2. Family
  3. Trade or professional organizations
  4. Service providers – i.e., doctors, hairdresser, dentists, accountants
  5. Managers, past and present
  6. Colleagues
  7. Clubs, organizations, hobbies
  8. Alumni, classes, parents of kids’ friends
  9. Religious affiliations
  10. Customers or clients

Is your network suddenly larger than you originally thought? Good! The truth is you never know who may be that lead to your next opportunity, whether you are actively looking for it or not.

Your Network Funnel

Now that you have a list, you need to segment them as it pertains to ways they can help you land your next opportunity. Here is that breakdown:

  1. Champions – People you know in “real life” who also know, like and trust you. Typically the people you just wrote down in the exercise above.
  2. Prospects – Second or third-degree connections to whom you’ve been introduced by a champion. They are just getting to know you and learning about your career goals.
  3. Sponsors – These are people openly promoting you or advocating the benefit of networking with you to others. Ideally, they are in your target companies and would recommend you.
  4. Activators – These are the people who call you in for an interview. They open a position for you because they have gotten to know you and have a real opportunity.

You can think of these segments as your job search funnel. Obviously, most people will be at the top of your funnel in the Champions area. You can measure the success of your search by seeing how many people you can move from Champions to Prospects to Sponsors to Activators.

Work Your Network

There are two critical ways to effectively work your network. One is to send a networking letter your Champions – people who know, like and trust you. You can send this via email or snail mail; the goal is to simply inform your contacts you’re actively searching and would like their help. It’s not a letter asking for a job. Here is an example (all content has been fictionalized):

An example networking letter.
An example networking letter.

Instead of attaching your resume, I would attach an executive summary. This serves two purposes: First, it is not as formal as a resume, so it reinforces you are not asking for a job. Second, it gives them your best achievements so they can get an idea faster of who might be a good connection for you.

Example Networking Career Summary
An example networking career summary.

Once your Champion says, “Of course, I know just the person you should talk to at your target company.” you can make their job easier if you provide them with an introduction blurb. This is a short note explaining who you are and why they are making the introduction. Then your Champion doesn’t have to do anything except copy and paste your note to their connection. This idea comes from my marketing coach, David Newman. He calls it a referral blurb and teaches it to solopreneurs as a way to get more referrals. With job searches, you’re not looking for referrals, but for more introductions.

What It Takes to Get Ahead in Your Marketing Career

Today’s marketing industry is growing and changing at lightning speed. Marketing leaders are looking for key skills, attributes and characteristics when building their dream teams. So whether you’re searching for a new job at a different company or trying to accelerate your career at your current one, it’s time to get real about what it takes to achieve your career goals.

TM0310_businessclimberToday’s marketing industry is growing and changing at lightning speed, so if you’re looking to land a great marketing career opportunity, you’ve got to be savvy and strategic in your thinking and execution. Marketing leaders are looking for key skills, attributes and characteristics when building their dream teams, so whether you’re searching for a new job at a different company or trying to accelerate your career at your current one, it’s time to get real about what it takes to achieve your career goals.

I recently spoke with Laura Patterson, President and Founder of VisionEdge Marketing. Ms. Patterson is one of the leading authorities on marketing and performance management, marketing operations, and marketing data and analytics – and has helped more than 100 companies in a variety of industries fulfill their marketing potential and achieve a competitive advantage.

I wanted to get her perspective on how she hires for VisonEdge, as well as what it takes to maximize your success in your own organization.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Michelle Robin: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?

Laura Patterson, President and Founder of VisionEdge Marketing
Laura Patterson, President and Founder of VisionEdge Marketing

Laura Patterson: The role has a lot to do with it, but generally speaking, we look for people who have common traits, the first being passion for service and learning. We’re a service organization in a space around data and analytics, process, transformation. And, it’s a space that evolves, so you can’t just assume that what was working, say 20 years ago, will work today, so marketing professionals must have a passion for learning. We have a motto in our company: Teach our customers how to fish, and you’ll feed them for a lifetime, rather than simply giving them the fish, so they’re not beholding. You have to be thinking that way all the time.

I’m also looking for someone with really excellent communication skills. We work with companies all over the world, so you’ve got to be able to communicate online, over the phone, as well as in person. Good, solid presentation skills and facilitation skills are also crucial.

It’s also mandatory to have people on our team who are responsible and reliable. Customers are counting on us for deliverables, and there’s often a time crunch. They have a problem, and they’re trying to solve it as quickly as they can in order to be successful.

Our team members also have to be resourceful and have the ability to evaluate. Part of being a creative problem solver is being able to evaluate. Finally, the last thing is initiative. You need to solve the problem, get the job done and move it forward.

Robin: Those are all great soft skills. How do you evaluate candidates for some of these soft skills?

Patterson: We prefer to hire people that we’ve worked with or come from referrals. It helps that I’ve been in the industry a long time, and most of our team has engaged in customer work for a long time as well. Often times, our candidates are people that our team members have known, so we have a sense of their caliber of work.

We look at their Linked in profiles and their Twitter account, too. They are the face of our company, so they’ve got to be professional in their impression. You don’t have a second chance to make a first impression, and my people are definitely checking them out.

Robin: Of all the qualities you’ve mentioned, what is the most important thing you consider in assessing a candidate?

Patterson: Integrity. Ethics and integrity are very critical. There’s a lot of autonomy in what our senior level people do, and there’s even a level of autonomy in what some of our junior level people do, so if you’re not coming from a place of integrity with a really strong value system, you’re going to struggle. Trust in our industry is also very important.

Robin: When you’re hiring people, how important is a person’s resume? Also, how about a cover letter?

Patterson: I find that it’s most important with our folks that are at an earlier stage in their career, instead of the folks that are at a later stage in their career. That might sound strange, but odds are that if they’re later in their career, I have many other ways to vet them. I know people they know, companies they’ve worked at.

So when we receive their resume and cover letter, we are able to easily determine whether or not the candidate is appropriately representing himself/herself. It’s very unlikely that someone in a senior position is someone we don’t know. But in the junior ranks, the resume and cover letter are very important because we don’t know them. We want to be able to ask intelligent questions when we interview them, and many of those questions will come from what they’ve put on their resume or in their cover letter that we’ll ask them to expound on or clarify.

I still am a believer in cover letters. I think that spelling and grammar matters. If someone can’t put their best foot forward in a cover letter when applying for a job, then how can I trust that they’ll be able to put together an articulate email to a customer?

We also check out the recommendations on LinkedIn. I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn, so sooner or later there’s a connection on LinkedIn that is in common with someone applying for a job.

Robin: Since your clients are also marketers, what do you suggest they measure to illustrate their value to their team and their company?

Patterson: Unfortunately, many marketers are not very good at setting performance targets for their work that are meaningful to the business. I don’t want to know that you got the webinar done or that you sent out “x” number of invites. I want to know that we’ve got the right people coming and how many of the right people. How do they match up to the kinds of people we like doing business with?