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Daily Job Search Advice from the CEO of Attorney Resume
Marketing Yourself-Who, What, and How
By Harrison Barnes  Follow Me on Twitter

marketing-yourself-who-what-and-how

In your career and life you need to be aware of (1) whom you are marketing yourself to, (2) what you are marketing, and (3) how you are marketing yourself. Each of these three things can make a major difference in the success of your job search. People who understand these three components can

  • make tens of millions of dollars in a short time;
  • get a job at a company that is not hiring;
  • easily find positions in any economic environment.
Market to the Right People. When I first started working as a legal recruiter, it was early 2000 and the market for corporate attorneys in Silicon Valley was out of control. At the time, attorneys were leaving law firms to take jobs inside of Internet companies and were getting stock options in many cases. Some young attorneys made millions of dollars in less than a few years, and because attorneys perceived there was so much opportunity inside of young tech companies, they were “jumping ship,” leaving law firms as fast as they could. In response, law firms started ratcheting up salaries and hiring new corporate attorneys as fast as they could.

I used to be a legal recruiter in Los Angeles and for the first six months or so that I was recruiting I did not place a single corporate attorney in Los Angeles. However, during this six-month period I placed probably 20 corporate attorneys in Silicon Valley. I placed corporate attorneys from small towns as well as firms in New Jersey within giant Silicon Valley firms. In many cases these were people who had been out of work for months. If a corporate attorney could make it to the interview and act with a modicum of professionalism in the interview, he or she would get the job. To say the market in Silicon Valley was incredible would be an understatement.

At the same time, though, corporate attorneys were not in high demand in Los Angeles. Many of the corporate attorneys I was working with in Los Angeles waited weeks to get interviews, despite having stellar qualifications. The corporate attorneys simply were not having luck tracking down jobs in Los Angeles. It was the same thing in a few other cities around the United States. If you were a corporate attorney working in Los Angeles at the time, you might have become quite discouraged by the market and thought there was something wrong with you. In reality, there was nothing wrong with the corporate attorneys–it was all about the market trends at the time.

The way the market works is among the most important things you can understand about your life and particularly your job search. You need to bring your product or service to the right market in order to succeed. If you put yourself in the right market, you will do exceptionally well.

I met a guy my age not too long ago who attended the University of Michigan Law School. When he graduated from there, he had a difficult time finding a good job with a law firm in Detroit. He took a low-paying job with a company that was not that prestigious, because it was the only job he could get. Then, I think, he got fired and moved to the Bay Area. He was one of the first people hired at a major technology company and he got all sorts of stock options and made millions of dollars. After that he was one of the first few employees at another technology company and in less than a year, he made more than $50 million, when the company went public. He now spends his time traveling between multiple homes and investing in other technology companies. Do you think any of this would have happened if this person had stayed in Detroit, working his first lousy job? Of course not; he had to go to the right market, one that would make full use of his abilities and talents.

It is all about where and to whom you market yourself.

This morning I got a spam e-mail about a Russian bride dating site. I went to the site and then spent around 15 minutes poking around, looking at all sorts of pictures of men on tours to meet women in various cities in Russia. Many of the women shown were extremely attractive, and the pictures were obviously not staged. Many of the men were surrounded by five or six girls, all of whom were apparently very eager to meet them and spend time with them. I highly doubt how many of these men in their late 50s are usually surrounded by beautiful 20-somethings back home in Cleveland, or wherever they are from. Clearly the market to which this type of service is most appealing is composed of older, single males who are lonely or are looking for a certain kind of companionship.

It is all about where and to whom you market yourself.

In your job search you need to make sure you are marketing yourself in the right area. You need to be where the action is. If you are not succeeding in one area, you should look elsewhere. You need to go to markets in which you are wanted and needed, and should not concentrate on any other markets. You need to go wherever the demand is.

Many people spend decades believing they are not capable or do not have the right skills; they do not make the most of themselves because they are trying to market themselves in the wrong area or to the wrong people. You need to market yourself to people who are interested in what you have to offer, and often this may mean changing locations geographically or searching for a group that you know will appreciate what you have to offer.

This pertains not only to jobs but also to the people with whom you associate. You need to associate with people who appreciate you. There is no sense in trying to fit in with people who do not appreciate you or whom you do not like.

Market Using the Right Bait. A couple of weeks ago, my wife brought back from the fish store all sorts of exotic fish food for our saltwater fish. She got frozen shrimp, bloodworms, clams, and many other delicacies to feed the fish. Prior to this, we had fed our fish mainly dry food and frozen brine shrimp. Last night my wife asked me to feed the fish and I went into the freezer and broke off a piece of the frozen shrimp, and since it was quite large, I decided that it was all I was going to feed the fish that evening.

I dropped the shrimp into the tank and all of the fish, except for one, quickly rushed toward the shrimp and started pecking at it aggressively, eating small parts of it as the water quickly thawed it out. However, one of our fish, a large black fish, which I have seen go crazy over bloodworms, brine shrimp, clams, and dried food, simply ignored the shrimp. He had absolutely no interest in it–even amidst the feeding frenzy that whirled around him. Somewhat concerned, I told my wife about this and she told me to put some dried flakes in the tank. Sure enough, the fish swam right toward the flakes and ate them all up.

The fish simply did not like shrimp.

If I were a fisherman, the last thing I would want to do is try to catch that big black fish using shrimp. Obviously I would need to use another sort of bait in order to get the black fish to bite. In your job search and life, you always need to have the correct bait.

A short time ago, I received a call from a company that was doing a reference check on one of our former employees. The person had worked for us in an administrative capacity, answering phones and filing; however, when the company called us for a reference check, I learned that the applicant had apparently said that she had been “the Vice President of Product Development” or something along those lines. She was applying, of course, for a product development job. In our company we do not actually have vice presidents, and we certainly do not have a product development division–nor do we have any products other than websites.

Instead of crushing the person’s chances of getting the job in this tough economy, and showing astonishment about the false title she had given herself, after a short pause I collected my thoughts and simply stated that our policy was only to confirm dates of employment, nothing more or less. I found out later that the person got the job.

I am not suggesting that you do what this person did; what I am suggesting is that you need to have the right “bait” for each job for which you are applying. If the person had put down that she had been an administrator with us, she likely would not have gotten a job in which she would be in charge of a “product development division” at another company. The person had lied on her résumé in order to manufacture a “bait” that would increase her chances of getting the job.

When you are applying for a job, the content of your résumé is the bait that you are offering. You need to tailor your bait to each type of employer and each type of job out there (without lying, of course). The better your bait, the better your odds of getting the right job.

Market Using More Than One Medium. Several times throughout my career I have received multiple messages from someone I do not know on my voice mail at work. Since I have no idea who the person is or what the call is about, I will generally not return the first few calls, because I figure it is a salesperson or something along those lines. Eventually, however, if the person is persistent enough I will return the call.

The calls are usually about the person wanting to come in for an interview to talk about working for me in some capacity (jobs for which there are no openings). Because I am often curious after having been called so many times, I will occasionally bring the person in for an interview (in one instance I even flew the person over to our offices internationally and then sponsored him for a US visa). Throughout the years I have actually hired several people who simply called me out of the blue seeking jobs. Many of these people are thriving in various careers to this day, doing all sorts of things that they learned in our company.

These people succeeded because they were smart enough and determined enough to pick up the phone and make personal contact with me. They did not simply e-mail me a résumé and hope this would get them a job. They called and then they called again and again.

  • Other job seekers have sent multiple faxes.
  • Other job seekers have sent letters seeking jobs and then followed up.
  • Other job seekers I have met at networking events.
  • Other job seekers have figured out my personal e-mail address and sent me personal messages.
  • Other job seekers have contacted a recruiter.
  • Other job seekers have gone door to door with their résumés.
  • Other job seekers have mailed letters to every employer in a certain ZIP code.
The more methods you use to communicate with employers, the more likely you are to stand out and get the job. You need to use multiple methods in your attempts to track down a job, because if you do not, you will not stand out and be seen.

When the major Hollywood studios release a new movie, they do everything within their power to make sure people know it is available:

  • They take out giant billboards.
  • They take out television ads.
  • They take out huge newspaper and magazine ads.
  • They put ads on the Internet and build huge websites about the movie.
  • They do radio ads.
  • The put banners on buses.
  • They put signs on bus stops.
  • They hire public relations firms to get stories about their brand in the media.
  • They hold screening parties.
  • They run trailers for the movie inside movie theaters.
  • They fly banners for the movie behind airplanes.
  • They sponsor sporting events.
In essence, they do everything within their power to let as many people know about the movie as they possibly can, using as many communication media as possible. This is what you need to do when you are searching for a job as well. What would happen to most of these movies if the studios only did one of these things, for example? Not much. That is why movies like The Blair Witch Project, which managed to catch on without all the hype of a massive, multitiered marketing campaign, are so notable. It hardly ever happens.

You need to market yourself in every possible medium.

To succeed in your job search (and in your life), you need to market yourself to the correct people in the correct places. You need to know how to package yourself to have the right bait, and you also need to use as many media as you can, in order to spread your message.

THE LESSON

You must always keep three factors in mind in your job search: first, know who you are marketing yourself to; second, understand what it is you are marketing; third, understand how you are marketing yourself. In short, you must package yourself towards the correct people in the correct places in order to succeed in your job search, and understand how your specific market works. Putting yourself in the right market will bring you success.



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