Ask James Caan – Issue 92
I’m often asked what job seekers need to do to effectively market their skills in such a tough climate. And this question isn’t from job hunters from one or two particular industries. I’ve had finance professionals, IT managers, sales people, marketers and customer service staff all approach me, asking me what they need to do to stand out from the crowd.
I believe it’s all about identifying what opportunities a period of economic turmoil can present, and balancing this with being realistic with your expectations. I don’t need to tell you how tough it is out there at the moment, but the key to standing out – or indeed getting an interviewer’s attention – is down to understanding the company, identifying a need and filling it.
This week I’d like to remain on the theme of how to enhance your skill set, thanks to a letter from Sarah.
‘Do you have any advice for a 51 year old mum wanting to return to full-time? I’ve been looking in London and Kent for 6 months but have only had three, unsuccessful, interviews to date even though I have made plenty of applications at all levels!
‘I would like to return to a Marketing or Office Management role, but the fact that I don’t have up-to-date working experience of digital marketing appears to be holding me back!’
Sarah, the current climate has made many mothers wanting to return to work feel it is unachievable. With competition for jobs getting tougher, it is a huge challenge for people – not just mothers – wanting to enter the workplace again.
In Issue 72 I advised Jyoti on factors affecting mothers who have been away from the working environment. I suggested that the challenge is not only to find your confidence again, but also to make your skill set relevant for today.
The good news, Sarah, is that you are securing interviews – this means your CV is working. You’re using the right terminology to get a hiring manager’s attention. You’re half way there.
Your next step is to take the feedback you have received and use it to your advantage. Use it to refine the skills you have to make yourself an outstanding candidate. For example, you are told you don’t have up-to-date digital marketing experience – what can you do to demonstrate you are aware of current trends?
Digital marketing encompasses a wide range of activity, from email marketing to social media networking. With this, and the feedback you have received, in mind, have you considered taking part in projects to gain these up-to-date skills?
For example, is there scope to become involved in digital marketing activity with the magazine you are currently working for on a voluntary basis? Could you run a newsletter programme or social media group?
Social media, in particular, is an area companies are investing a lot of time and resources in. So why not ask to get involved in setting up an online social media community? The magazine would receive further brand awareness, more followers or advertising requests (depending on its objectives) and you would have a platform to gain hands-on experience. Putting this extra work in whilst job searching would demonstrate a great level of commitment and determination.
Another route worth considering is pursuing work on a freelance basis. You have held multiple, high-level roles, such as Head of Marketing and Business Development Manager, and acquired many sought-after skills such as management, negotiation and sales training – all qualities that would make a successful consultant.
As a marketer, I imagine your networking skills are second-to-none. You could network within your area, and ask local companies who don’t have the resources to take on a full time marketer, if they would benefit from your expertise on a contract basis.