Monday, October 26, 2009

Take Control of Your Own Brand Communications

To summarise a little on what I have included in several bloggs....

You have the power to take control of what a potential employer thinks of you to a far higher degree than you may expect. Take control- don't let them itnerpret, read between lines or skim over things or misunderstand the relevance and specific abilities you offer for the job.

Let's consider it from the two usual approaches - open application ('on spec') and usual advertised job.

In both instances you have to make sure the employer knows what you have to offer and why you are motivated for this job. Either situation means that an employer is trying hard to get rid of time wasters (many in marketing applications) and get down to someone who really has enough to offer the company. It is really easy to leave too much to 'between the lines' from your CV or to write to succinct an accompanying letter such that you lose the opportunity there.

Advertised Job Applications

The employer ( or the hateful recruitment consultant) has a list of qualities and skills they consider important in the job- of the advertised list only maybe half are DEMANDED skills, another quarter are DESIRABLE while the last quarter of the job list is just paff- padding, HR speak, crap. So you have to phone up to find out which are DEMANDS, which are also important -maybe mostly in personality terms or track record - ad which skills can be learnt!

For example, the job ad' may specify a years experience but is that really necessary over the greta knowledge of marketing and tool-set you have from the MSC Marketing at Strathclyde Uni? The hard skills may be in use of data, formulating market research, breifing agencies and writing strategies....The soft skills may include ability to churn through data, or a bubbly 'can do' personality . So Call!

The purpose of your call is NOT to sell yourself- it is enough you call and leave your name as a selling exercise, or e-mail even is ok these days to pose questions. The purpose is to find out which skills / experience / attitudes are absolutely desired and which are also-rans. It is to find out anything like say, which CRM they use, which you can offer a USP in reply to.

THEN in your application make sure you give answer to these key areas in the letter and cover as many of the other ALSO DESIRABLES you have on your CV. Make sure they are not open to interpretation or could be read over.

No one usually fulfills all the requirements- for example "MS PRoject and seibel v 7 an advantage' - you can write- Find it easy to use new datasystems for direct marketing, analysis and planning. In marketing there are often only a couple of really needed things to cover: mayeb statistical ability, maybe an idea of branding.....most often they won't get someone externally who is used to all their datasystems, their market, their marketing mix and of course their product.

Better yet for an advertised job which you can fulfill on several points, take those key DEMANDS and DESIRABLES and make a third sheet on your application - a tabel which lets you give direct, prose answers to their requirements.

This will improve your chances of getting interviews, along with checking the decision maker has your CV and it hasn't been lost, screened out early by a co-worker/gate keeper or skim read.

In interviews you want to continue uncovering what the job actually entails, and which skills are pre-requisite whilst which can be learnt (for that read ANY database, CRM, accounts package or ISO documentation and project control system!). Steer the interviewer to talk about the job itself NOT the comopany- butt the hell in when they begin ranting at the chance to say "and so you are in the happy position to have a new vacancy because of this investment?". Find out even if they have defined the tasks in the job or just have extra budget (OFTEN the case!)

Given you get a goodone2one interview, and not a recrutiment day, then you have the chance to start STEERING THE POSITION AROUND YOUR MOTIVATIONS AND AMBITIONS! Especially in marketing - discuss areas of responsibility, routine reporting, forthcoming projects and steer them around YOU when you see felxibility. Otherwise when you come on board they will STEER you. You will get various monkeys on your back and also some people will just want a piece of you! They will presume authority over you because you have 'new boy syndrome'.

In summary- cut to the qucik, understand the salient skills and the actual tasks in the job and then set your skills and personal brand against that- lead the discussion when you can and make it clear why you fulfill criteria in your letter & CV, your follow up call, the interview and then at the offer stage even! Steer the job around your motivation and take control!

Open Application ( on spec')

This is kind of the opposite from a closed-circuit application in answer to an advert with defined tasks. In an open application you want to avoid letting them exclude you because so much of your CV does not fit in with their little sphere.

You want to sell yourself more as a person and let them decide on the positivities of your 'personal branding' to take you further.

I recommend as in the last point, to have a mini-'teaser'-CV with a good photo of you. Send this by e-mail to a decided target person who would make decision to employ you or just give you work experience. So probably marketing manager, group brand manager or marketing director.

DO NOT send to any vague or old e-mail address. Send it by post.

BUT- wait! Before you lick the stamp- it has to be read by the decision maker if possible- hence you have every right to write "Private and Confidential, Addressee only" on the envelope. Thus you get roudn the jealous temp or the condescending menopausal secretary!

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