In the Pragmatic Marketing framework (and other approaches) there is the concept of a “persona.” It boils down to modeling the person or people you are trying to address with a message or product. In some approaches, this is a literal paper model – with photos, descriptions of the person’s life, what they read, how they learn, what they do for fun, what motivates, them, etc. This activity can be extraordinarily useful when done well. Steve Johnson, who taught me some of what I know about personas just posted a good summary about them today in the context of Product Management.
Strangely enough, as I swim harder upstream than I ever have in my career in trying to get placed, much of the feedback I have gotten is “what exactly is it that you *do*?” Am I a Product Marketing Manager, a Product Manager, a Marketing Writer, or a general writer? Do I focus on videoconferencing, elearning, or general technology? And are you an author too? I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on some interviews these past few months, and I am trying to learn from it and respond. In addition to thinking about Pragmatic Marketing’s model of personas, I have also been reflecting on Liz Ryan and her Human Workplace team’s materials and coaching that helped form these ideas.
Here’s where I am so far, and I hope these ideas help you. Or that you tell me I am wrong and I can modify and learn…
1. Don’t Be Afraid of Multiple Summaries and Resumes
Liz Ryan calls them prongs. If you are a seasoned professional that has been through a number of “careers”, don’t be afraid to (1) Not tell everyone everything and (2) Have multiple versions of your resume / CV that reflect your different work personalities.
Personally, I am not there yet (I am trying!) What I’ve learned and done so far in this direction is…
2. Create a web portfolio to supplement a resume
Portfolios aren’t only for artists, architects, and technical writers.
In my case, I created a WordPress site with a landing page (my blog is a sub-page, not the main page, of this site.) On the site, I have separate menu items that reflect Product Management accomplishments and my Content Marketing/Product Marketing portfolio. I need to refine this further but the structure is there. I think this “self selection” may help those that want to know more about me find their area of interest faster.
3. Create multiple ‘prongs’ of resumes
In my ideal world, I will be able to land a position that combines the parts of formal Product Management and Product Marketing that I love – the exciting “multiple hat” position. However, I may not be able to do that as some companies really separate those roles. I’ve been on too many interviews for Product Management where they say “you look like a product marketing person” and too many interviews for Product Marketing where they say “you look like a product management person.”
I am going to create two separate prongs and use them for specific positions. I’ll have two approaches and not be afraid to leave out stuff from one that belongs on the other. And when (and if) I find that perfect “they want it all” role, I’ll just share both.
4. Understand that LinkedIn is not exactly a resume (in my opinion)
This one is controversial, as some gurus say to treat LinkedIn as a resume or even a replacement for your resume. However, in my perspective, as a multiple-persona seasoned professional, LinkedIn is causing me no end of nightmares. It really only lets you show a kind of linear, “formal resume” style of timeline. What if I am working on a book while looking for my dream marketing position? I can indeed a “project” but it kind of gets pushed aside in focus. What if in the past I have done two things at once? How can I show the “more important one” as having more importance? What if I want to leave out a position (something I wouldn’t do in a more formal “legal” resume)? To me, LinkedIn works as a “resume replacement” if you have a relatively linear trajectory.
I think I have an answer to the LinkedIn problem (and I know many consultants have many perspectives on this issue), and my implementation of my answer is a work in progress. I am going to seriously cut down the content on my LinkedIn page, leave some good, authentic keywords, and tell a few relevant success stories from each position and offer my resume to viewers through direct request to my email. We’ll see how it goes.
What do you think? Is using a marketing “persona” model a good approach to selling yourself in this job market? Should a person with a “deep” playbook just toss a lot of it aside and just focus like a laser on one goal instead of trying to cast a wider net?
Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts!