Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Marketing Yourself During Uncertain Times

There's this radio advertisement I look forward to listening to every morning. It's a moral lesson given by a pastor at the St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. Unlike most faith-sponsored messages, the lessons cover small, meaningful impacts noted figures had accomplished. They are moving and thought provoking. What this pastor has apparently learned is that when competition is tough, you need to set yourself apart from the competition.

Oklahoma is dead smack in the Bible Belt region. The state has more churches per square mile than most states in the region. If it's not ranked number one in church saturation, then it's pretty darn close to the top five. And a lot of Oklahomans go church shopping, attending services at different locations every week is common. It's not odd to find members have switched denominations either. And churches are aware of this and they market heavily to attract new members.

The radio message I hear every morning is alluring. A moral lesson is taught by using challenges public figures overcame to accomplish their dreams. There are noted writers, entrepreneurs, retail founders, artists. You get the picture. Now what captures my attention is that no religious scripture is used or even alluded to, just simple life examples that help inspire listeners. And I must admit, as a Muslim woman, the narrative has me intrigued enough to consider visiting this church. And if that message can perk me up and get me to listen, it's a very successful marketing pitch.

What does this have to do with business? Well, jobs are stagnating, the economy sucks and companies are cutting their payrolls. We've heard several times last year of large businesses announcing layoffs. A few months down the line, they're hiring again. What they're searching for, however, is talent that sticks out from the crowd.

So, if applicants have earned their degrees and have sufficient experience, how can they market themselves to recruiters? As the pastor I mentioned did, you change the message. Focus on what you have to offer. Merely listing off your credentials just doesn't fly anymore.

Most professionals wait until an interview to market their wares. Set yourself apart by finding new ways to sell yourself. This is even more important for women who are re-entering the workforce. Just because you've been home for sometime does not mean you have nothing to
offer. Keep a list of all your accomplishments, open a LinkedIn page, follow businesses on social media- just be mindful of what you post. The labor force has moved beyond impressive resumes and top universities. They want to know what you - the partner, coworker, team member - has to offer. Take this cue and create an awesome message.

Back to that radio advertisement, the message I'm receiving from this pastor is that everyone is welcome. We're all fighting our own battles and we can overcome them together, as human beings. Now that's a team I'd love to belong to.

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