Job Search, Advertising, & Personal Branding

Do you record live TV so you can fast-forward through commercials? Or, if you are watching live TV, do you hit the mute button or head to the refrigerator during commercials? 

Conversely, do you seek out blog posts, articles, magazines, web sites, and even products that appeal to your personal / professional interests? 

The former is advertising and it can be intrusive, interruptive, and even annoying. The latter is inbound marketing and it gives the consumer the freedom to choose.

This analogy applies to managing your career. As an active job seeker, you may be intruding, interrupting, and perhaps even annoying prospects. You are, in effect, advertising your wares to potential buyers, who may or may not be buying.

On the other hand, personal branding is about inbound marketing. Pulling the right people to you in their time and on their terms and when they are ready to buy.

“While advertising may be the flashy cog that looks good in media forms, what does it all mean? Your company [or you as a candidate] is much more than a singing fish, talking baby or another gimmick. Sure you can name what companies are associated with the previously mentioned gimmicks. The question is, do you know what these brands really stand for? Advertising can’t answer that question—only good brand building can ….” (Source: PRBreakfastClub)

I spoke with a wannabe CFO recently. There is no question that he is extremely talented. However, he isn’t a sitting Chief Financial Officer nor does he have the coveted CFO title in his background. He can definitely get in the game, but it has proved difficult for him to compete when it comes down to securing one of the top 3 slots and winning the position. 

This is where personal branding can actually give him the edge … even against candidates who are or have been CFOs. Why? Because hiring for culture fit is the most challenging thing for companies. Finance skill sets and perhaps credentials get candidates to the interview. All those being equal, likability and culture fit then become the defining points. A strong personal brand, “what you are known for,” already precedes you to the interview and can make the difference between blending in or getting lost in the competition … or standing far in front of the competition.

Inbound vs. Outbound for Marketing YOU

Doug Haslam wrote a great blog post about inbound marketing, and he’s right, it has everything to do with your career. Here’s an excerpt …

Inbound Marketers flip outbound marketing on its head.

Instead of interrupting people with television ads, they create videos that potential customers want to see. Instead of buying display ads in print publications, they create their own blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. Instead of cold calling, they create useful content and tools so that people call them looking for more information.

This definition concentrates on content creation, but the real meat is the phrase “people call them.”

It’s the old push / pull marketing terms with new names. The result, though, is the same. You can either push your message to people who don’t care, won’t listen, and are happy to round file your resume … I call this the spaghetti strategy … or you can pull your target market to you with a clear, compelling, and visible brand. Which would you rather do?

Inbound marketing has everything to do with proactively managing your career and the very best time to begin is when you are happy, satisfied, and doing well in your current position. If you are a CFO or finance executive who has been missing the social media boat, it is not too late to jump on board. You have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose. 

In CNN’s Executive Education article, "How not to ruin your next career move,” Matt Knight says this …

Executives at the top, as well as people lower down the career ladder are sometimes so desperate to leave their job that they don't plan their career moves and lurch from job to job instead of waiting for the right position.

Desperation can often become the breeding ground for bad decision-making and/or result in a very long job search. I was talking with an executive recruiter who places CFOs earlier this week and he told me one of the most aggravating parts of his job was when prospective candidates, who clearly did not meet his client’s specs, tried to talk him into believing they could do the job anyway. Desperation can also cause otherwise great networking contacts to sour very quickly.

Think of your career as Business You and begin strategizing your inbound marketing plan today.