Market Me First - The Positive Career and Work Action Plan Market Yourself | Make Money | Be Happy

------------------ In Black and White -------------------------------

Since 2005. Market yourself. Find better work. Make a name. Survive Layoffs. Be successful.


Marketing Me! Questions

A random sample of inbound questions..

I hate my current job, what should I do?

Quit. Better yet, find a new job and then quit.

I just gave notice where I work. My company requires an exit interview, should I tell them the real reason why I am leaving (co-worker) or should I give the standard answers?

Unless there is the possibility of legal action on your behalf (harassment, wrongful termination, etc) I would keep my thoughts to myself or at the very least, present them as positive as possible. Remember to thank your old employer for the opportunity and the meeting.

As I am job hunting, I am considering a resume service. Which one do you recommend?

None of them unless you are really struggling with your resume. A resume service charges several hundreds of dollars to do something you could do yourself with a good resume guide.

College degree or technical certification?

Degree. A college degree in English Literature awarded in 1973 is more valuable than a Microsoft Certified Professional certification from 1999 any day.

I am thinking about starting my own consulting firm but my wife thinks I should stay with my secure 9-5 job. What do you think?

Too many things to consider here, but my first gut reaction is do both for six months if possible. If going alone is bringing in the change, make the jump. Support your family first!

Which part of the country has the best job opportunities?

It depends upon what you do. There are people working out of Bozeman, Montana almost exclusively online who are making six figures a year. Geography is quickly becoming irrelevant.

Should lawmakers prevent jobs from going overseas?

Not much they can do about it. More and more jobs are nearly virtual anyway.. think telephone customer service, insurance, IT.. so many jobs can be done with Skype and the Internet they can be done from anywhere. Rather think about how this can benefit you. You might be able to do your current job from somewhere far more fun than where you live now.

I am thinking about learning a new language to increase my job skills. What do you think?

Depends upon what language and what you do. Twenty years ago, everyone wanted to learn Japanese. I guess that would be fun now, but Chinese might be far more valuable today. Concentrate on what you are saying and the value it brings than in how you say it.

My company is shutting down operations in our city. Should I take the severance package or relocate with the company? (The package is quite a bit of money).

First and only question: Do you like your job? If so, move with it. If you are considering the money I bet you hate your job enough to take money to leave it. Take the money and do something you love.

How important is networking?

Let's put it this way, if you are down and out, you can always turn to your family. Think of your network as your professional family. They will be there when you are in need.

Is your name really Jack?

Nope - and that is not my picture either!


Marketing Me! The Ladders Tips for the Unemployed Job Seeker

The Ladders delivered a great list for job seekers. A quick synopsis..

No matter your timeline, get your name out - Let's say you have been given a 90-day notice your position will be going away. Get busy NOW putting the word out your availability. (Too many job seekers are in shock the first 30 days or procrastinate).

Stay up to date in your field - this truly matters for technical workers, insurance, workers comp, HR and other certification heavy fields. Don't get caught with a resume full of ten year old acronyms!

Keep tabs on the Job Market - You might be surprised how much your field has changed now that you are looking again.

Get expert assistance - the author recommends a professional resume service, coaching and recruiters. I have had mixed results... no dismal results with professional resume services. I know myself better than they do. But a good coach is mandatory.

Use your network - in a top ten list for job hunters, this would be numbers one, two, three and ten on my list. The best jobs are found in your network.

Set goals - No doubt. Have them for your career and make sure your job searches match your career plans!

Be aggressive - assert yourself with hiring managers. That is who they remember.

Don't act on fear - the author advises against taking the first job that pays money and requires a warm body. You most likely will be unhappy in short time.

Know when to compromise - Which is kind of funny because it refutes "Don't act on fear" above. However, put it in the perspective of a laid off auto worker in Detroit. Compromise means sell the house in Michigan and get outta Dodge to a part of the country with jobs.

Do what you love - Always. Remember, a hobby is something you do for a living but don't get paid for it. Find a way to get paid for your hobby!.

Marketing Me! What blogs can learn from garage sales

Garage sale, yard sale, tag sale, rummage sale.. all names for very similar events.

People pulling their unwanted things out of the house and putting them up for sale in the front yard or garage.

The idea is that with enough advertising and drive-by traffic (and coupled with good pricing and an understanding of what sells), one can make a few extra dollars on a Saturday morning.

This past weekend I got together with a few neighbors and held a garage sale. We started around 7:30 AM and knocked off at 2:00 PM that same day. All in all, it was pretty successful; I ended up netting a couple of hundred bucks!

But the process made me think about the similarity between blogs like Marketing Me! and holding a garage sale.

1) Garage sales fail unless someone knows you are holding one.

For our sale, we placed signs at both entrances to our neighborhood as well as two nearby busy intersections. We put the signs out Friday night and checked them again on Saturday AM just to be sure they were still there.

We placed large signs in front of the hosting home (facing both directions). We put out orange traffic cones in the driveway and directly in front of the house to keep the view unobstructed and to draw attention to the sale home.

The result was plenty of traffic on our street targeted for our garage sale (as opposed to house buyers for instance).

Although we did not place ads in the local newspaper, we could have greatly increased our targeted traffic by using this tried and true method.

Your blog is the same.

What sort of signs are you placing in your neighborhood to drive traffic to your blog?

And if you get traffic, is it targeted to your blog or just readers stopping by for a few seconds?

Do you Digg your blog entries? Stumble? Use Squidoo? Technorati?

How are you promoting your blog outside of your "neighborhood"?

Are you taking advantage of tried and true means to drive traffic to your site?
Like AdWords or MS Adcenter?

2) More than one garage sale in the same location can increase traffic.

Besides the garage sale we held, another neighbor held his own.. next door. We doubled our traffic due to walk up traffic coming to his garage sale which he heavily advertised. The idea of convincing several of your neighbors to hold sales on the same day increases your chance of receiving more traffic.

Your blog can receive more traffic it is associated with another well-trafficked site.

For instance, is your blog directly linked to your company website? Or your personal web site? Or perhaps your blog is directly related to another more popular blog by subject or author relationship? Are you taking advantage of this organic traffic?

3) Know what your buyer wants.

In garage sale Nirvana, finding a priceless antique or an under priced designer outfit is the measure by which garage sale buying success is judged.

Now I didn't put any of those sorts of things up for sale (if I had any!), but I have held garage sales in my neighborhood and I know what type of customer to expect and what they are looking for.

I knew that children's and women's clothing, bedding, electronics, and certain furniture sells well. Then again, I also knew that used children's toys, dishes and standard housewares typically did not move.

So I matched my products according to my market. Based upon my revenues, I must have planned right.

I began the day with three carloads of stuff. I ended the day with only enough leftovers to fill my backseat. Obviously I matched my product to what the market wanted.

Does your blog match your market? Or does your resume assistance blog regularly wander into political discussions? Or maybe what you did this weekend?

If you are driving traffic to your blog, "sell" what your readers want.

On a related note, what type of ads, if you run them, does your blog feature?

Are your ads and offers related to your topic or are they hit and miss?

4) Sell other products are your garage sale to increase overall revenue.

My son and daughter got into the act at the garage sale. They baked a few dozen chocolate chip cookies, made several quarts of lemonade and filled an ice chest with sodas, juice boxes and Gatorade.

The day was hot and the kids sold out of lemonade, cookies, Gatorade and most of the sodas ( the juice boxes did not move; I guess the lemonade matched the demographic better ).

At the end of the garage sale, selling cookies and lemonade at a quarter ($.25) each, my children pulled in over twenty dollars! That was revenue I had not expected nor planned for when putting out my items for sale.

At our next garage sale, we plan on having more beverages, a better point of sale fixture and more cookies. We think we can double our revenue that way.

If revenue from your blog is important, are you optimizing every possibility?

If you are in sales, are you optimizing the way your customers can buy product from you?

In addition to AdSense or other contextual ads, are you offering subscriptions, other affiliate products or even asking for donations to offset your hosting costs?

Blog revenue comes in many shapes and forms. Have you setup your lemonade stand yet?

5) Service matters in every business including garage sales.

Customers like good service.

For my garage sales, I made sure I had plenty of change. I offered to carry purchases to buyer's cars. I provided tie-down rope for large purchases. I thanked my buyers. I welcomed early shoppers and waited for the late comer. I made deals based upon the request of the customer. I "threw in" freebies in order to close bigger deals.

What service do you provide on your blog?

Do you respond to reader's comments? Or do you turn comments off altogether? Do you thank your readers with helpful links, free e-book downloads, link backs to their sites?

6) Measure success and expand upon what works.

When a product moved quickly at my garage sale (let's say baby items), I responded by moving similar items to the front of the sale area. Result? Customers wanting baby items quickly found them and purchased!

Furthermore, I worked up a list of some other steps I will take to improve my garage sale revenues.

a) My next sale will be in front of my house which will allow for better parking and some interesting traffic (and less hauling for me!).

b) I will put out more items which I know will sell and might even contact friends who may not necessarily want to participate in a garage sale, but might want to give me some merchandise to unload for them. (affiliate sales!).

c) I will let my neighbors know it might be a good time for them to hold a sale the same day.

d) I will place more signs in high traffic areas and will run a classified ad this time.

e) I might even use Craig's list to advertise the site (garage sales meet Web 2.0!).

f) And I definitely will have that lemonade stand out front. Goal: Forty dollars in refreshment sales!

What is your plan for your blog? Do you measure your traffic? Do you know what works and what doesn't?

Do you routinely rearrange your website based upon what your readership clicks?

Study your blogs stats and make appropriate changes. If possible, split test your site and take the better results.

A blog is only as good as the stats it generates and the changes which are based upon those findings.

If clutter in the home has you down, plan a garage (stoop, tag, rummage or yard) sale and shrink your material footprint and you might make some great spare change.

If your blog is going nowhere, think about revising, revamping and re-releasing using the garage sale plan and start building some great traffic and you might improve you page ranking a make some real money!


Marketing Me! Squarespace

I recommend that everyone trying to market their own personal brand setup 1) a blog and 2) a website.

Not having either these days is like looking for a job without a phone, resume or business clothes.

Although I am not currently a customer of Squarespace, I have to say, after looking at their site, they have some of the best looking templates and examples I have ever seen.

Although I have been planning on migrating Marketing Me to Wordpress and seriously looking at Dreamhost (because of the one-button Wordpress install and good reviews) for my hosting account, I am considering putting a personal page on Squarespace simply because they have such incredibly good form and function.

Also, I am a big advocate of *good* support documentation. Squarespace has excellent tutorials and tips online.

Finally, check out some of the examples online. These are not your typical cheesy websites. They are all high-quality, well designed sites.

If I sign up with Squarespace, I will let you know if the customer experience is as nice as their website appears to be. I sure hope so!


Marketing Me! When it is time to move on

Work is work. But when does going to work seem like more work and less fun?

Work should be part of your passion for life. You should wake up in the morning and feel the creative part of your brain come alive as you plan your daily strategy.

However, if going to work fills you with dread or doom, it is time to move on.

Here are some signs, you may be ready for a move.

If your customers, boss and co-workers are starting to annoy you at each turn, it may be a sign to start updating the resume and contacting the recruiter.

Tardiness, absences, leaving early
All indications that the stress of being at the office is getting to you.

Illness, lethargy, apathy
Your body and mind are fighting the office. Pay heed and analyze why.

How many times have you missed work because of a sick child, out of order automobile or emergency recently? And how many of those excuses were fraudulent?

Does this sound like you?

Be honest with yourself and consider the problem. Perhaps you are in need of a vacation. Maybe there is something else going on in your personal life which is causing this stress?

Identify the problem and if it not something which can be corrected with a long weekend maybe it is time you started planning your exit?


Marketing Me! Business vs. Utopian Dreams

All businesses should:

Be environmentally friendly.
Encourage diversity in their hiring.
Provide excellent health care coverage and other benefits.
Encourage education through training and tuition reimbursement.
"Give back" the local community.
Provide a safe, clean and caring work environment.
Create regular philanthropic opportunities for the employees.
Insist the company be run based upon input from all employees.
Provide goods and services without obscene profits.
Make lead into gold.
Bring world peace, cheap gasoline and free beer.
And give it all away in the name of global harmony.
Blah blah blah...

All this and somehow not go bankrupt.

I had a friend who ran her small company along these lines.

Rather than make the core business the top priority, she put employees needs first. She ran her business like a democracy where every decision was the result of employee discussion and consensus. That included client relations, accounts payable and hiring/firing.

After a year and a half of missed deadlines, lackluster performance and lost sales, her business folded. Along the way to bankruptcy, her employees had plenty of meetings and gripe sessions all with catered lunches, chair massages and foosball breaks.

Is it impossible to have a caring business and still be successful?

Sure it is. There are many companies which provide wonderful work environments and have wonderful, happy employees and long work application lines.

Take the Container Store for instance.

Consistently rated as one of the best places to work, The Container Store is successful not because of tuition reimbursement or health care coverage, but because The Container Store sells neat profitable stuff that customers want to buy. To make the experience easy, The Container Store hires helpful people and places their store locations in easy to find, high trafficked areas. It works.

Also, my hunch is the employees of The Container Store love their work not only because of the benefits, but because of the vision and commitment of the business. It makes work fun, interesting, challenging and worth doing.

If you own or run a business, don't try to create a workers utopia - you will fail as you try and put the cart in front of the horse.

First, be identify and be successful at your core business.
Figure out how to delight and amaze your customers - be it with good value, innovation or excellent service.
If you succeed, your business will grow, you will make good money and can use that money to hire and retain talented motivated employees.

And if you have a true vision and are able to clearly share it, your employees will love working with you and serving your customers.

Focus on being a successful business and good employees will come willingly.


Marketing Me! Certifications - Waste of time!

A number of years ago, I worked in the IT field. At that time there were two races on; to get stock options and to get certified.

Certifications were all the rage. Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers, Sun, Cisco Network Associates, and even the oddball Novell certified technicians seemed to sprout like mushrooms everywhere.

Everyone wanted a list of funny acronyms and abbreviations after their name like MCSE, CCNA, PM, etc.

The problem was that many certifications were nothing more than awards for successfully taking and completing a test. Thus, many certified tech people had lots of letters after their name, but very little actual experience. Not good.

So how well do certifications stack up today? In the IT field, most of the survivors (and successful) people I know have few if any certifications. Usually, that CCNA or RedHat cert was something their boss or supervisor paid for in an effort to use up a training budget before year's end.

The best IT people I know are good not because of a certification class they completed but because they really care about what they are doing. These people want servers to serve, networks to deliver packets and firewalls to keep bad guys out.

Further, certifications cost a lot of money with little guarantee that the cost will result in a great job offer. Ask the glut of MCSE's a few years ago about what they went through back then.

Yes. In some fields certification are required and mandated for employment. My own opinion is this sort of mandatory certification requirement is not based upon capability but rather a punch list created by HR or some group trying to protect their own status within a company.

My advice is to skip certifications. In some fields, the piece of paper may be necessary, but otherwise, it is a waste of time and money.
We use third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.