advice for job seekers

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job.--Harry S Truman

Window Seems like there's lots of advice for job seekers lately. Everybody has a webinar or article about what to do. Whether you have just been laid off or just want to be prepared, here are some tips for managing your career.

The book Die Broke by Stephen Pollan argues that you should quit your job today--mentally. You are a free agent, currently employed by a company (or not). Since they can change the contract at any time, you should be prepared to do so also. Be ready to take another gig or start your own business.

You are free.

Remember, God never closes a door without opening a window

Rethink your job objectives. Do you really want to continue in this job or even in this industry? Just because this is what you've done, doesn't mean it's what you have to do. Maybe you should look at a job in customer support or quality assurance or sales.

One friend got tired of watching sales people make the big money so he went into sales and soared to the top of the sales charts. Because he actually knows the product and the industry (and so few of his sales peers do), he is now the trusted advisor to his customers that so many sales people want to be. Your expertise is truly valued by your market.

Another friend took a temporary job in customer support and has been in the job now for almost a decade. She loves it! But it's not what she majored in in college. For that matter, who is doing now what they thought they'd be doing a decade ago?

Who do you want to be? Only you can decide.

Position (or re-position) yourself. Your resume is a spec sheet; it's a list of your features. But it's not really a very good brochure, is it? What problems can you solve for a potential employer? What is your unique selling proposition? What do you know that no one else does?

Write down all the problems you can solve, group them into some logical organization, and build your resume around it. Are you good with research? Great at interviewing customers? Able to define clear and simple process where none exists? Are you an expert in security? Education? Expert in security in education?

What is your brand? What is your story? What is your "magic"?

Position yourself, just as you would a product, and then create a marketing campaign to sell your solution.

A friend of mine wrote her resume around the Pragmatic Institute Framework, using the various activities and artifacts as the bullets in her skills definition. (By the way, did you remember to put your Pragmatic Institute Certification on your resume? It matters.)

Here's a technique: use the new rules of marketing. You're an expert in something; start a blog at and also write an ebook on the top 5 issues that people need to understand about your specialty. Be specific. Give detailed explanations. Include a self-assessment tool. Blog about it. Post the ebook at and send the link to any blogger who might be interested in your topic area. Bloggers and magazine editors are always looking for good content. If it's related to product management, send it to me and I'll post a note about it too.

One friend wrote an ebook that went viral. He turned the ebook into a seminar and a top-selling print book and is now doing extremely well on the speaking circuit.

Another friend created a blog about the issues facing managers in her industry. When she posted that she was looking for a new job, she received a dozen offers from managers who were subscribers.

Leverage your network. The book Build The Well Before You're Thirsty by Harvey Mackay reminds us that you need to be building a network constantly, not just when you need a job. If you haven't already done so, sign up for LinkedIn and start building a network. Go ahead: spam all your friends with your LinkedIn info so you can extend your network with their networks.

Be a good friend too. Post recommendations for your friends before you ask them to write a recommendation about you. And don't be afraid to help your friends with the writing. It never hurts to say, "here are a couple of paragraphs to get you started." Most managers find it easier to edit than to create. Make it easy for your friends and colleagues to help you out.

Yes, being unemployed is traumatic. Grieve... and then get to work on your next gig. Think like a marketer. Your next employer is deficient in your area of strength. If only they knew that you were available!

More on this from David Meerman Scott in Downsized? Fired? Here are the new rules of finding a job.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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