Attention all techies! You’re all salespeople and you’re the product

I consider myself to be a highly skilled and experienced programmer, but no matter what I do I can’t seem to get a job. Is there something I’m missing?

When it comes to finding a job, you must do your own sales and marketing. Like all marketing campaigns, the process begins by having some great marketing materials. These materials should describe the product features, provide value, be easy to find, have a consistent story, and include the following types of materials:

• Resume that can be customized for each specific job opportunity • One page factsheet, best described as a one page resume • Personal website containing interesting information and your weekly technically oriented blog • Personal business cards • Up to date LinkedIn page

The next step in your marketing plan is to get your product and marketing materials in front of potential buyers and people who can recommend you to buyers by participating in the following types of online destinations:

• Industry and technology specific online discussion boards • LinkedIn groups • Blog sites of industry thought leaders • Twitter using carefully selected hash tags • Online job sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, and Craigslist

With your online marketing plan underway, your next step is participation in the following face-to-face type activities:

• Local professional meetings and special interest groups • Job fairs and government-sponsored career centers • The Human Resources department of companies you have targeted as part of our job search

The key to taking advantage of both these online and face-to-face networking opportunities is participation. Reading posts written by others in online discussion boards may provide you with some great information, but won’t get you noticed. Going to a face-to-face event and not talking to as many people as possible may get you out of the house for the evening to hear a good speaker, but it won’t get you noticed.

The way I like to describe the difference between sales and marketing is that marketing contains activities that help people find you and sales are activities where you are contacting and reaching out to other people.

Your sales activities should include both internet-based and face-to-face based activities, including the following:

• Post your resume on the websites of companies you have specifically targeted. • Search online job boards daily for new postings and, if appropriate, apply immediately and follow up with a phone call. • Search your LinkedIn connections for contacts within your target companies, connect them, and ask for informational interviews. • When reading discussion boards and LinkedIn group posts, comment using well thought out content on the postings of people you would like to meet (for example, someone working at a company you have targeted for employment). Then send them a LinkedIn invite. • Send a hard written note attached with your resume to prospective employers. This can help you get noticed because virtually no one sends hand written notes or the mail anymore.

Lastly, don’t forget the importance of product development, which in this case, is you. Do a careful and honest assessment of your current skills, abilities, and technical knowledge and develop a plan of things you could learn or do that would enhance your professional marketability. It could be learning a new methodology (ex. scrum), learning a new technology (ex. MySQL), get a professional certification and/or other professional endeavor.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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