Monthly Archives: May 2013

From Persona to Placement: Personas for Job Seekers


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!


You can be silly and still be powerful


I’ve found in my product management and product marketing career that being silly is a double edged sword.  On the positive side, it reflects creativity, intelligence, and keeps people awake and paying attention when other, less colorful approaches, may have lost an audience – or a deal. (Of course, there is a always a time when you must be serious in content or approach. Push the limits but use professional discretion!)

I was reminded of this point when a marketing guru started to follow my twitter feed. I had a look at his blog and was hooked.  (I need to delve in and read more entries.)  His name is Bradley H. Smith and his blog is on my blogroll now.


I’ll close this post telling you about the photo above from a sales event I presented at in 2010.

In this presentation, I was made up as an 85 year old man and Shannon F. (whom I have learned much from when I got the privilege to work with her!) dressed up as my grandaughter in footy pajamas.  (The makeup artist that did George Clooney for “Up in the Air” made me up.) The concept of the presentation was that I was coming back from 40 years in the future to tell the sales team why the stuff from the 2010 sales meeting was so important to pay attention to.  And how those who paid attention were successful in the future and those who didn’t, weren’t.

I believe it received about an 90% approval with 10% of “huh? this is supposed to be sales training?”  However, I believe it met the needs of the session: training a bunch of hung over sales folks and getting them to walk away with at least three key points of our new product.  And it was WAY better than DBP (death by PowerPoint).

Let me know what silly ideas (presentations, web pages, outreached, adverts) you tried as a Product Marketer that worked, or even some that didn’t.

Ed. update: June 6, 2013 – CEO of AthenaHealth  See his Youtube video and this article about needing more humor in healthcare.


Have a great day,


Gated White Papers, Redux


I wrote a white paper about gated white papers a while back.  I had an epiphany about how to describe this situation in another way.

As you may recall, a “gated” white paper is when a vendor sets up a web page whereby the visitor can only gain access to the free content if they fill out a form.  One one side of the fence are those that say – hey, we are trying to get leads!  On the other side of the fence (where I live 75% of the time) folks say:

  • A lot of hot prospects probably abandon the process because they don’t want to be called by a salesperson yet.
  • If you just give the content out to those that sought it out, no questions asked, one of two things will happen:  They will be so interested they will contact YOU (and the lead is that much more qualified).  Or, they won’t contact you because they have no interest, and both you and they have saved time.

I know there are a lot of opinions (and additional data) around this topic, but I just thought of a new analogy to support the “ungated” perspective.  It isn’t a perfect analogy, but bear with me.  I thought of it as I blast through this job search process.

I have something to sell (me) with my content (my resume and portfolio web site).  Why would I want to prevent anyone who visits with at least a passing interest to “self serve” themselves to a fair portion of my portfolio and background?  Can you imagine if my LinkedIn profile or an email outreach to a hiring manager said “Thanks for your interest in Gary!  If you fill out this form, I’ll send you the links to download my resume and portfolio!”  Kind of ridiculous, huh?

So then why must I fill out those damn forms as I research products and services I may be buying for myself and my employer?  An imperfect analogy (there are some holes in it) but something to think about nonetheless.

Warm regards,