Personal Branding — How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

January 16, 2012

If you’re looking for a job, you face fierce competition. How can you stand out from the rest of the pack? What can you do? I have three words of advice. You must be:

  1. Relevant. If you’re not relevant, you are obsolete.
  2. Different. If you are not differentiated, you are not marketable.
  3. Findable. If you are not findable, you do not exist.

That was the premise of two workshops on personal branding I led this month for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were mostly attended by university students who will soon be entering the turbulent job market. Hundreds of students, along with their faculty representatives, came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals.

Following is the structure of the workshop, and also the sequence of the upcoming blog posts where I will elaborate on my suggestions for personal branding.

1. How to Be Relevant in a Competitive Job Market

A. Know Your Brand

B. Convert Features into Benefits

C. Focus on Your Cover Letter

2. How to Differentiate Yourself in a Competitive Job Market

A. Know Your Competition

B. Create a Unique Elevator Speech

C. Blend Personal and Professional

3. How to Be Findable in a Competitive Job Market

A. Want to Be Found

B. Expand Your Digital Footprint

C. Share Your Content Online

I enjoy leading workshops and writing blog posts, not so much because of the wisdom I might impart, but rather because of the conversations that ensue. I learn from others.

Collectively we are all smarter than any of us individually, so I welcome your thoughts on any of these topics. Tell me what you think.

Day 26 – Career Benefits

November 6, 2010

Explain to a young person the benefits of pursuing a career in nonprofit marketing.

One of my most satisfying career ventures was teaching at Rockhurst, Kansas City’s well-respected Jesuit university. For several years I taught the class Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations.

Although I’ve earned my master’s degree in marketing, the classroom where I learned the most was the one where I stood at the front as the adjunct professor. I say that not to extol my talents as an educator, but rather to underscore the intrinsic value of explaining something to someone else. As Joseph Joubert said, “To teach is to learn twice.” I certainly understood marketing much better as I taught it to inquisitive college students.

Likewise, one of the best ways to appreciate my chosen career path has been to explain its benefits to a young person considering his or her career options.

Here are several things I would like for a young professional to know about a career in nonprofit marketing:

  1. Marketing is more than a job. It is a career path, a high professional calling.
  2. A marketing career can be a life-long pursuit and not necessarily a springboard to becoming the CEO or something else.
  3. Nonprofit marketing should be a stand-alone profession that is not subjugated to fundraising.
  4. Not everyone can do marketing, even though most people believe they are pretty good marketers.
  5. The best marketers combine their natural talents with formal training. There’s no substitute for a solid education.
  6. Don’t quit learning. Although marketing principles will remain unchanged, the tools and technology you’ll be using in10 years probably haven’t been invented yet.
  7. A good mentor can help you learn and grow. Find one.

By the way, later this month I have the privilege of returning to the university as a guest speaker. The invitation to speak came from the class instructor, whom I’m proud to say, was one of my star students in the very first class I taught.

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