Marketing Yourself in a Recession

You’re Hired!

I guess you all can’t wait to hear those words and you are all probably nervous and wondering if that will be possible in today’s sluggish economy. I’m not going to lie, it’s tough out there, but you have to stay motivated, focused and confident. Differentiating and standing out is key during these trying times. I would like to give you some pointers on how to prepare for your future potential job opportunities.

Firstly, remember your resume is not an autobiography, use it as a tool to market yourself, see yourself as a product and your resume as being the ad for this product. Tailor your resume to the specific position you are applying for, employers use keywords of the characteristics the position entails to filter out resumes they obtain. Sharing from my own experience – I was being considered internally for a position in a fortune 50 corporation and was asked to submit my resume officially via the corporate website.  I did so and waited for a response, after three days, I followed up with the hiring manager and was shocked when he told me he had not received my resume yet. Long story short, the job description for the particular position I was applying for required strong MS-Access knowledge which I had left out on my resume. My resume was filtered out and did not make it to the hiring manager. This is why I cannot stress enough for all, to use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques so as to incorporate the correct keywords for the particular job you are applying for within your resume.

Secondly, be candid. As you would all like for a corporation to be transparent externally and internally, the same logic should apply when it comes to your resume and interview. Don’t pad your resume and stretch the truth during your interview. HR specialists in most companies do check your background information and if you noted that you were for example, an expert at macro building or balance sheet analysis and you’re not, well 99% of the time the hiring manager was asking because you will probably be needing that skill to carry out normal business as usual and your first 90 days on the job will be tough, especially when you have to explain that you’re not quite the expert. Moreover, be prepared during the interview to elaborate on your strengths and weaknesses and to explain how you got through or managed challenging situations. Research about the company before you go for the interview and always ask questions when given the opportunity to do so, this shows interest.

Lastly, during economic downturn, companies tend to increase the hiring of temporary and contract employees.  So don’t shy away from these opportunities. This will help you get your foot in the door and usually temp positions turn into permanent ones. Also, consider interning, this too builds on your experience and exposure for permanent hire. When you do get an offer on the table, do remember (maybe not your first job, but your second), that in most companies you can negotiate your salary and your vacation time. Do your research about average national salaries and benefits for that particular job position and level and always read up on the benefits (health, education/tuition reimbursement and 401K) a company has to offer and assess if those benefits fulfill your long-term needs.

Summing up, see yourself and your career as a product, don’t leave it on the shelf to collect dust, you need to continually redefine yourself and develop your skills through training, further education and keeping current with the times. Don’t wait for solutions, create them and be candid, speak up and remember success happens when preparedness meets opportunity.

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4 Responses to Marketing Yourself in a Recession

  1. Sarah Ward says:

    In this type of economy, there is obviously a lot of pressure on new college graduates. “Padding” your resume could seem very tempting, regardless of how wrong it is or the type of repercussions one can face. Have you ever seen someone that you worked with in the past get caught for lying on their resume? If so, what happened to them?

  2. SMBA 715 says:

    I was actually witness to a situation like this in the past, where an employee was hired and let go within the first 90 days of employment due to “padding” of the resume. The employee had falsely stated that they had attained a Bachelor’s degree (the employee had attended university but not quite completed it), along with giving a false length of employment in a prior company. This for one, to any individual could pose very embarrassing and what is more, one definitely does not want to burn any bridges. The world is small and you never know when you will be seeing that hiring manager again, maybe in another company you would be applying to work for. Be wise, think long-term, you want to build a good name, have strong professional relationships that you could potentially get a reference or referral letter from so as to grow & further your career.

  3. JacquelineB says:

    Great tip on the “search engine optimization techniques”, I’ve never really thought about that but it makes a lot of sense. Companies know exactly what they are looking for and if you don’t have it in your resume then they don’t have time to read it. It would be easy to just make one generic resume and send it along to a bunch of companies but surely that’s not a very effective way to get a good position especially when you are applying to a large company that receives tons of resumes every week.

    Being candid in a resume is definitely important. As an applicant you have a moral obligation to the employer to be truthful on your resume. If a company hired you with expectations in mind based on your advertised qualifications and you couldn’t live up to that you’d be wasting their time and money. Not to mention you could earn yourself a tainted reputation. As far as transparency goes on the side of the company, how transparent should they be about the position for which someone is applying? I find that sometimes people are vague about a position. Do you think the interviewer is obligated to share all the details about a position including aspects that are not so favorable or just to answer the questions asked by the interviewee?

    On a side note, when you are being interviewed for a position and the interviewer does not bring up the salary how do you go about asking them what it is without seeming like you are only focused on the money?

  4. COM 436 says:

    As a student of Advertising, it was interesting to hear your description of the resume acting as an advertisement or branding device of the resume holder. Another point that I have found to be worthwhile is that you should never really have ONE resume. One friend of mine this past year was looking for two positions; one was a part-time summer job just to pay the bills and the other was an internship in a local ad agency or public relations firm. I have no idea why, but he submitted the same resume for both positions!

    Although as young adults, we don’t yet have as much information to put on our resumes as adults well established in their careers, we do have enough to position ourselves more specifically for different positions. Dipping back to the analogy of a resume acting as advertisement or selling point, this “one resume for all” strategy would be like trying to sell Monster energy drinks to teenagers AND senior citizens!

    Have you ever experienced anyone overgeneralizing their resume?

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