This month, Steve and Greg offer their thoughts on resumes, experience and the art of marketing yourself.
- By Greg Neilson
- December 01, 2001
This month, I thought I’d share some tips on selling yourself. I recently
came across an interesting article from Tom Peters (a prominent management
guru who co-wrote the seminal ’80s book, In Search Of Excellence). Peters
promotes the concept of using the principles of product marketing for
your career. This isn’t as weird as it sounds, as the essence of marketing
is about understanding what your customer needs; your competitive advantage
(that is, what’s special about you); and targeting your marketing message
on how your product—in this case, you—can best fill those needs. Peters
has subsequently published a book on this topic and has many ideas on
how you can better market yourself. Some of the book is a little over
the top—and I can’t see myself doing everything—but there are a few things
I found particularly interesting.
He starts with the common view that work, as we know it, has changed
drastically. No more can we rely upon working for a company that’ll look
after us for life. Rather than lament the passing of the old days, he
feels we need to be positive about the changes and ensure that, as individuals,
we’re well placed to survive the future. Job security may no longer exist,
but employment security is a different thing altogether. Our careers will
be more project-based, and we need to have lots of “braggable” project
achievements so we can better sell ourselves to prospective employers.
In order to get the reader thinking, he presents a checklist that includes
- I’m known for (two to four things). By this time next year, I plan
also to be known for (one or two more things).
- New stuff I’ve learned in the last 90 days includes (one to three
- My principal “resume enhancement activity” for the next 90 days is
These are about understanding where you stand now and ensuring you keep
growing in your skills and abilities. He also has the powerful suggestion
that—as an exercise—you design your own Yellow Pages ad in order to better
understand your strengths and what makes you special. Constant renewal
is also important, as there are so many new things to learn. This is as
true in IT as it is for any white-collar job.
Guide for Taking Control
|You can read Peters’ original article, “The
Brand Called You,” at www.fastcompany.com/
online/10/brandyou.html. The full details are in his
book, The Brand You 50: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself
from an “Employee” into a Brand that Shouts Distinction,
Commitment, and Passion! His Web site is at www.tompeters.com.
Being the “Brand You” means there’s no room to be a shrinking violet
(this is one area about which many technical people feel uneasy). Once
you have a great story to tell, you need to market yourself mercilessly
to the world: customers; colleagues; and, more important, your personal
network of associates (“You are your Rolodex,” as Peters puts it).
Peters suggests that a resume is old news—that what you need is a marketing
brochure. Rather than merely listing titles and positions, he suggests
emphasizing the skills you’ve mastered, the projects delivered and accomplishments
achieved. (I’ve been undertaking quite a lot of recruiting lately; many
resumes leave me cold and make me feel that the person appears to be nothing
special—just another technical drone. You need to make sure your resume
jumps off the page and ensures that a hiring manager can’t wait to interview
I was also particularly interested in his comment that a management role
is synonymous with a dead-end job. He feels that it’s far better to have
a progression of more interesting, challenging and provocative projects.
This is probably true; in my own case, I’ll probably move to a technical
leadership role, but my time as a manager has been a great development
opportunity and taught me a great deal about working with people.
Greg Neilson, MCSE+Internet, MCNE, PCLP, is a Contributing Editor for MCP Magazine and a Professional Development Manager for a large IT services firm in Australia. He’s the author of Lotus Domino Administration in a Nutshell (O’Reilly and Associates, ISBN 1565927176).