Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Person vs. Paper

In this business, anyone will tell you how tedious it is to get your foot in the door. No matter how amazing your portfolio: teacher's pet, straight A's, pages and pages of high-profile references, and no one wants to speak to you.

Anyone in the business will also tell you how important it is to market yourself. Stand out, be unique, be creative, draw attention, be memorable.

Yesterday I met with a client to do a brief for a project I'm working on for a team of real estate agents. Like many agents, they take out ad space in the local paper to show their listings. As I took notes on their business objectives, goals, expectations and budget, I thought of all the things I could do to promote them.

Then he said something that made me stop.

"I don't want my picture in the paper. It's not about me."

Here we are, cold-calling agencies, emailing, knocking on doors, using as many connections as possible, trying to promote ourselves. Yes, it's difficult to get your foot in the door. Yes, you can stand out, and be unique, and have good references, and an amazing portfolio. But how does this benefit anyone else?

Maybe it's not about me.


  1. One of the issues advertisers and job-seekers alike face, and a reason why they decline to promote themselves further, is the lack of response they get. Place an ad in the newspaper with your face or not and it disappears the next day. Make a cold call and leave message and it's heard and gone the next day. You have to be consistent and frequent, whether your job hunting or advertising. Real estate agents need to adopt new methods to find buyers, for example, longer-shelf life medias like magazine or larger campaigns online. Spend $1,500 for a full page and be in magazine for 2 months or spend $500 and be in the paper for 1 day. You don't buy a house on whim, you take your time and discover what's best and what's feasible. People are just accustomed to checking the paper for listings, so it works for now.. that will change with the younger generation. (I'm all over the place with that rant)

    As for job hunting, be consistently frequent as well. If there's a business you'd like to work for, make it known to the right person at that business. I recall a story from years ago about a guy who wanted to work for a company like Google. He mailed/faxed a page with his contact information and his face to Google head office. He did this weekly (or daily, I can't remember), until they contacted him and he eventually got a job. It's sounds crazy, but you have to get their attention some how.

    Good luck out there. Rejection is difficult if you expect to fail.

  2. And you need personality. If you wouldn't hire yourself, why would anyone else. The next time you go into an interview or take a walk through a business that you're interested in, look around at who works there and the types of personalities that exist. If you don't have a similar personality-type or even better, dislike the ones you see, then why would they want to hire you, let alone you want to work there.

    Don't be fooled, it's all about you.

    Until you establish yourself as someone people know and remember, you can't take your face out of the market. Do what you can to be seen and do whatever it takes to be remembered... professionally.

  3. It IS all about you ... and what YOU can do for them. You have a very unique outlook, attitude and personality, different from others who may also be trying to promote themselves. Set yourself apart from the ones who are dated, stagnant, or repetitive. Your innovation, humour and persistence is what you will be remembered for. Be the black sheep ... it may get you in a door that you thought was closed!

  4. Forsooth! If it's not all about you, then whose life are you living? I eschew this philosophy and submit my own: Should you not possess a lug to thrust into the portal's maw, steal someone else's instead.

    The Phantom