Sam was a brilliant marketer — someone who knew how to integrate his efforts with the public relations department to create effective marketing programs. He always seemed to be verbally appreciated by his superiors but was not getting the financial or title recognition he felt he deserved. He started to look around but didn't have much hope that anything out there was different from what he was doing.
Sam never considered the possibility of channeling his knowledge of direct marketing and public relations toward finding a job that utilized the talents he enjoyed. He had compartmentalized his skills in his mind and hadn't realized he had everything he needed to retool his career if he just looked at it in a different way.
In developing a marketing and public relations campaign, Sam and the PR director first looked at three important foundation stones — identity, reputation and image. Identity would answer the question “Who are we?” Reputation would determine “What do others think of us?” And image might provide the key to the question “What do we want others to think about us?” Without doing this pre-campaign strategy work, he knew they would have created a superficial, disjointed and random marketing/PR effort. What he didn't recognize was that he needed to go through the same process to keep his career moving in the direction of his dreams.
Unless you know what you want from life, how do you know where you're going? Unfortunately, many people have been too busy pursuing cash and prizes that they haven't figured out what their life's “mission” is.
There are three core questions we each need to ask:
What do I want to contribute to the world before I die?
Who can I contribute this effort to?
What skills do I have that I enjoy using?
This process can be surprisingly quick. The answers usually emerge immediately. Whenever you're considering a new direction just ask: Does it fit my personal mission?
Sam's desire was to be of service to others — to make a difference in other people's lives. Was his present position helping him to reach this objective?
The next foundation block is to evaluate the past by assessing your reputation. Write a list of everything you've done that you enjoyed and for which you are proud. Look at how others evaluated the same things. Are there any opinions of significant others that have kept you from pursuing those buried areas? Get the support you need to overcome this obstacle.
This reputation information tells you the direction in which your interests lie. This is not just for the recent college graduate. There are many points in our career when we ask, “Is this where I really want to be?” Or even more poignantly, “How did I get here?”
Sam wasn't quite sure how to fulfill his mission. He was very tied to his lifestyle and couldn't see any other way but to find the same kind of job that he had. So he created a direct mail campaign. While he received responses that led to a series of interviews, the one surprise was a call from a professor at a nearby university who told him it was obvious that he knew direct marketing and they were looking for someone to teach a course. Sam took the position and it actually helped him to see his own job in a different light. He had more of a voice in what he was doing. Between the two positions he was pleased with his “new” work life.
This is where fun and creativity come into play — using tactical public relations and direct marketing skills. This is where abilities in list selection, copywriting, creating the right offer, contact strategy and creativity pay off.
Here are some fun ways that people have used their skills to land a job that fit their dreams:
Peter loved exploring possibilities and was known as a go-getter. After being laid off, and finding the traditional route to job hunting frustrating, he went to Kinko's and made two 4-foot-by-3-foot copies of his resume. The next morning he got up at 5, put on a suit and stood on the corner of 51st St. and Park Avenue in New York. He then proceeded to hand out over 1,000 copies of his resume to anyone who would take it.
Response rate? He got more than 200 calls, 45 interviews and 20 offers.
So…taking risks and using the tactics of the marketing/PR profession can actually work.
Dan wanted to move to a different city and was interested in really putting his creative skills to the test. He identified 50 companies and their hiring managers (usually the firm's president) and devised a three-stage dimensional mail campaign on his own behalf.
The first mailing was a box lined with sky-blue paper, cotton balls and a balsa wood airplane. The message read, “He's got his head in the clouds.” The second package was a box with a small sandwich bag of potting soil and some flower seeds. This time the message read, “And he has his feet on the ground.”
The third package was a box with a photo of himself with a briefcase in hand. The message read, “And he's ready to make an impact on [name of company].” This package also contained a cover letter, his resume and a postage-paid reply card with check-box answers.
Result: A 30% response rate, including six interviews and two job offers. Direct mail at its best!
Is it time to redirect your marketing and PR skills? What do you have to gain?
Perhaps a whole new life.
VICTORIA JAMES is president of Victoria James Executive Search Inc., Stamford, CT.
CONNIE LaMOTTA is president of LaMotta Strategic Communications Inc., Upper Nyack, NY.