What's Your Problem?
Problem: A 55-year-old sales exec from Chicago has worked for the same company for 32 years and has reluctantly agreed to early retirement. He feels it’s too early to quit working, but the last time he looked for a job, Reagan was in the White House. His resume is hopelessly out-of-date. Mention branding, and he jokes about cattle.
Expert: David Topus, founder of HelpMeSellMe and general manager of ExecuNet’s Personal Marketing Services Group, is a nationally recognized sales-messaging consultant and trainer who’s worked with hundreds of companies around the world.
Solution: “The key is to accentuate the positive and minimize the negative,” says Topus. “Our candidate should craft his job-search strategy around a technique used by consultants – the SWOT analysis: What are my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?”
A SWOT analysis of the exec’s experience might look like this:
Strengths. 1) Track record of consistently hitting or beating quota, 2) increases in territory and/or account assignment, 3) used internally as mentor and trainer for new salespeople, 4) flexibility in taking on new assignments, 5) exposure to and familiarity with a wide range of customers, 6) long-standing personal relationships with key decision makers in the industry.
Weaknesses. 1) Only one employer over entire career, 2) only one industry over entire career (which may or may not be a weakness, depending on whether he stays in the same field), 3) age, 4) overqualified for many positions.
Opportunities. 1) Remain in his current industry, where he knows a lot of people, 2) work on his own as a sales/marketing consultant or trainer, 3) work at a start-up company.
Threats. 1) Younger candidates competing for same positions, 2) not up to speed with technology, 3) limited opportunities.
“While his opportunities and threats might zero out, it’s clear he has more strengths than weaknesses,” says Topus. “Strengths become positioning points, weaknesses are objections to overcome, opportunities drive go-to-market strategy, and threats are things to watch out for and keep at bay.
“Once the SWOT assessment is complete, he needs to create a resume that emphasizes his strengths and preemptively overcomes his potential weaknesses. Also essential in today’s job market is to have a consistent and compelling presence on the Web, as most employers look there for candidates.
“Personal marketing materials and Web profiles should be employer-centric, focused on how the person delivers value more than on a long, dry history of past jobs,” says Topus. “Someone once said most resumes are ‘a historical graveyard of job descriptions,’ so instead, use yours to demonstrate expertise and leadership. Graphs, tables, and charts should highlight key attributes and achievements. They should also ‘brand’ the person, creating an identity that captures unique traits and skills, perhaps in a phrase or tagline.
“Finally, with a clear understanding of his positioning points, competitive differentiators, brand attributes, and value proposition, he’s ready to ‘go to market,’ simply emulating what he’s done throughout his career: targeting the most likely buyers, using his contacts and resources to gain access, getting in front of decision makers, using interpersonal skills to build and strengthen relationships, and presenting his product – in this case himself – in engaging, compelling ways.”
– Kim Wright Wiley
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