Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Notes from 4/23/2010 OCA Meeting, Job News!

Last week Bill Munroe, veteran high-tech marketing strategist (and active OCA member), gave a presentation to the group that was informative, insightful, entertaining, and inspiring. He talked about himself, his experience with the job search, and what he has learned along the way.

We all know Bill - he's the one who, with a sense of humility and a touch of humor, asks the pointed questions, looking for straightforward answers to get to the bottom of things. Sure, we know him, but we didn't really know him, so he started out with his credentials: more than 20 years experience in senior leadership positions, specializing in the development of innovative technology-based product solutions. Chances are you've interacted, at some point, with a product he's marketed.

I've read your resume. So, what is it that you do?
During an interview, where someone actually looked up from his resume and asked this of him, Bill realized that he needed a way to sum up his experience and easily explain what unique qualities he had to offer. He needed his own Value Proposition Statement. So he worked on one.

Then he was told he needed a portfolio and a web site. Check. And check. When he stepped back to assess his progress, he realized he was focused solely on B2B. The problem? The market in the Puget Sound area had clearly shifted to B2C.

All of this lead to a reexamination of how he was approaching the job search and a realization that he must show companies how he could Add Value. He needed to be able to answer the following questions for any organization in which he was interested:
- Can you make us money?
- Can you save us money?
- Can you solve our problems?

Getting to the Questions
To even get to that point where he'd have a chance to answer questions, Bill would first need to be invited to interview. And that means 1st, making sure his resume could legibly navigate the various automated scanners employed by today's HR. [Bill's advice: Pay special attention to how your resume is formatted, making sure it's not garbled by the time it makes it to a hiring manager's desk.] And 2nd, simply "getting noticed" - rising above the hundreds of resumes that are submitted for each job opening.

Bill says, "Hireability = Experience + Affordability + Enthusiasm + Pedigree"
Experience is obvious. You need to have the qualifications to do the job, and companies these days can be quite picky. Affordability. If a company deems you as 'too expensive,' you're a flight risk for when the economy picks up. Again, they can look for candidates that meet their criteria and aren't quite so seasoned. Enthusiasm. Because companies are skeptical and a bit wary of bringing full-time employees on board, hiring managers need to know (or feel) that you're excited about the company and it's mission / values and what it's selling. Lastly, pedigree doesn't just mean where you went to school, but where you've gathered your experience.

Bill's take on Coaches.
Along the way, Bill has worked with several of the top career coaches in the Seattle area. All of them he'd recommend, but all of them also come with different perspectives and, therefore, different opinions on how to approach the search.

I'm In Control

Lastly, Bill suggests that job seekers need to ditch the thought of, "It's not me, it's the economy." This passive view makes us victims and needs to be replaced with the attitude that, "I'm in control." Get back to that list of questions, define those answers which show how you can add value. Get noticed, and get hired.

Job News!
Last year, my uncle introduced me to Carl Dahl. Carl had lost his job with a boat manufacturing company that closed its doors. He decided on the career path he wanted to take, and while networking and interviewing, signed up for an extensive Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification course. I'm very pleased to announce that Carl just accepted an offer to start May 10th as a full-time Lean Six Sigma Facilitator with Aviation Technical Services in Everett.
Congrats, Carl!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Advertising is Dead"

So began the talk tonight by Seattle's own Larry Asher (Workerbees, School of Visual Concepts, and a supporter of OCA) about "20 things you need to know to get a job in advertising".

My abbreviated take:

The traditional model of advertising is fast on its way out, so it's important to immerse oneself in understanding and participating in the change that is occurring. What's coming? Digital, mobile, social. And who knows what else. What do you need to succeed? Ideas, strategies, and the soft and hard skills necessary to present and implement them. And to get a job? Figure out your value (everyone has value). Get to know people. And be prepared to be useful.

Here's the deck:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Notes from 4/16/2010 OCA Meeting

In-depth and very engaging discussion at last week's OCA meeting.
Below are three different subjects that we covered:

All-in-One Job Descriptions
- We've all seen them... job descriptions that encompass everything plus the kitchen sink. Below is a shortened list of duties from
an actual job posting on Craigslist:
  • Write, design, and produce materials, including proposals, presentations, corporate collateral materials, and more.

  • Write press releases, seek opportunities for press coverage, track press activity/presence.

  • Advertising concept/writing/design for newspapers, sponsorships, and other publications.

  • Website design and maintenance for corporate site, intranet, extranet, and property sites.

  • Develop and maintain corporate mailing list/company database for use by sales force.

  • Research new technology, resources, and marketing tools.
And this is for a Marketing ASSISTANT position, looking for 5 years of related experience.

Someone in the group had an interesting point and analogy. Would an engineering firm post a job position that required a candidate to have mechanical, electrical, structural, and civil engineering experience? We understand the need for marketing generalists. And, of course, smaller companies can't afford to hire specialists, but rather need employees who can wear several hats.

Regardless, there's an overwhelming sense that recruiters and hiring managers are expecting the recession's talent pool to produce all-in-one candidates - at bargain prices. In addition, all too often job seekers are interviewing for positions that are mislabeled. PR/Communications roles, for instance, that are titled "Marketing Director," etc. and the kitchen sink mentality could indicate a lack of real knowledge of how the many functional areas of marketing actually work within a business.

Social Media
Another interesting position requirement we're starting to see everywhere is a need for "Social Media experience." Not only are companies looking for this, they're searching for job candidates who can lead them in this area. Postings for Director of Social Media and Social Media Strategist are popping up across the job boards.

Is it a fad or a viable marketing tool companies can utilize? Our group definitely skews toward the latter view. SM is a way to build relationships with customers, opening a two-way conversation. This added avenue of communication can then lead to product improvements, address customer satisfaction complaints, and help launch new products or services.

While Social Media may not result in a direct correlation to bottom-line sales,
monitoring tools, such as Brandwatch and Radian6, are helping marketing organizations realize their return on investment.

While most of us are exceptional at dissecting positional statements and recommending communications strategies, it's an interesting conundrum when we need to look inward and market ourselves.

One obvious way to do so is by networking.
Two weeks ago, we touched on the need to build tactical relationships with companies and hiring managers. What's often lost, however, is the crucial aspect of casting a wider net.
- Let everyone in your professional and personal network know that you're looking for work. You never know who may hear of an opening.
- Stay top-of-mind by doing so more than once. If time has passed, people may assume you've already landed something and not think to pass you the lead.
- Be specific, and ask for help. Let people know what you're looking for and ask if they know of anyone with whom you should connect.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Inspiration to Get Out and Play

The following promotional video was put together by TBWA Vancouver and is one of the best :30 ads I've seen in a while. It hit home for me, because it's a topic I feel passionate about. Thought-provoking and well-executed, the video provides statistics that argue that we need to get outside and play more (and eat less) - and asks the question, "What happened to community?"

Do you remember when kids used to disappear after school? No,
Nancy Grace, not because they'd been kidnapped. Because they used to play outside. They'd jump on their bikes and head to the local parks to play with friends. Getting together with classmates back then didn't mean coordinating parent's schedules to arrange structured, supervised playdates. "I'm heading to Billy's house." "OK..." our parents would reply. "Just be back in time for dinner."

According to Nielson, last year
kids aged 2-11 spent an average of more than 30 hours per week in front of a TV, the most in close to a decade. Add time spent on computers and now cell phones, and the fact that only 8% of elementary schools provide daily physical education, and it's no wonder kids' waistlines are expanding as fast as the pace of technology.

In his new show, Food Revolution, chef Jamie Oliver, says "The children in America of today, of 2010, are going to live a shorter life than their parents." Scary thought. Jamie's not just looking to promote his latest endeavor, this is something he's been doing for seven years, promoting a sustainable movement that "will inspire people to change the way they eat." Earlier this year, Jamie was a recipient of the prestigious TED Prize, given annually to a "world-changer" in Technology, Entertainment or Design. (Previous recipients include President Bill Clinton and Bono.)

Luckily, folks like Jamie and organizations like the
NFL's PLAY 60 Movement are not just recognizing what's happening - they're doing something about it.

And yes, as I sit here, in front of my computer, typing away and sharing my thoughts and YouTube clips, I realize the irony. Time to take the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Notes from 4/9/2010 OCA Meeting, Job News

ONE NEW MEMBER joined us Friday:
Dianne Stiefel has more than 20 years of sales experience, most recently in the mortgage banking industry.

THIS PAST WEEK, we broke into smaller groups to further network on a more intimate basis. We also discussed issues that we're encountering during our job searches with the idea of looking to address them through OCA and possible guest speakers.

Items we talked about:
Social Media - The advent of this area has been exponential, and there are many jobs in the market looking for experience at various levels. Razorfish, for example, currently has an opening for a
Director of Social Media. Curator PR is interviewing candidates for a Social Media Strategist. A quick survey of Craigslist shows 64 positions posted in the past 30 days looking for some form of Social Media experience.

Action Item:
- Identify and contact a Social Media expert (or group) to come in and provide a primer and to discuss where this area is going with relation to marketing. Last July,
Spring Creek Group did a guest appearance with OCA. I'll see if we can get them back in. Another resource might be Ben Straley, CEO of Meteor Solutions.

Building Tactical Relationships - It's one thing to work a room at a networking event, gathering cards and asking how you can help other people. But it's another with taking those 5 to 10-minute relationships to the next level, and really getting to know people. How can we build tactical relationships that we can leverage during the job search?

Action Item:
- Reach out to
Sandy Jones-Kaminski, networking guru, to see if she can visit us and impart her wisdom.

Age Discrimination / Being Overqualified - Call it what you will, it's something many of us have encountered. We've got years of experience, but maybe more experience than the job description calls for. Or, we're pursuing a new area of interest, something we do not have as much actual experience with. And despite being very willing to take a lower- or entry-level job, we're still deemed as 'too expensive' or labeled a 'flight risk.'

Changing Directions - For several OCA members, the job search has taken us down a new career path. Graphic Designers are pursuing the web. Marketing professionals are exploring Social Media. How can we best position ourselves to employers (and to those with whom we are networking) to demonstrate the new direction we're taking?

Action Item:
- Contact trusted recruiters and HR reps at the companies we're targeting, to see if we can get a panel discussion lined up to tackle the two points above.

Job Search Tips - What has worked for others, for those who have been successful at landing full-time or contract positions? What did they learn from the career coaches, the job consultants? Did they spend time concentrating on networking or honing multiple copies of their resume to fit the job description?

Action Item:
- Contact OCA alums to see about setting up a "Reunion Show" to discuss what they've done to land their current positions.

Donna Sellers is now Director, Brand Marketing at Parallels.
Congrats, Donna!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Social Media Inspiration

AgencyTwoFifteen has just launched a campaign for Microsoft's KIN, a new Windows phone "designed to handle busy social lives - online and off."

The campaign, initially consisting of videos posted on, is already being talked about and shared on AgencySpy, YouTube, Creativity, etc. The fact that the launch of the ads coincides with the launch of a rebranded agency doesn't hurt. (AgencyTwoFifteen has just parted ways from McCann, where they were known as T.A.G., and now operates under the bigger umbrella of holding company Interpublic.)

Given the product, it's a smart (and interesting) way to create buzz and to generate a following of targeted consumers who will want to keep track of Rosa, the campaign's hero and anointed "socialogist." Rosa will use the phone to validate her friends, making visits in a documented journey around the country.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Notes from 4/2/2010 OCA Meeting; Job News!

Four new people joined us at the 4/2 OCA meeting:
- Karen Holum, most recently the creative director for One World 2011, has over 20 years of creative services and design experience.
- Jill Schultz, a graphic design and marketing specialist, actually just took a role as Proposal Coordinator in the Energy, Environment, and Transportation group of ICF International, a global consulting firm.
- Zrinka Sliskovic was most recently a print/web designer with United Reprographics and has done freelance work for the Linden Tree Retreat Center.
- Doug Sutherland, a graphic designer, was most recently with the Hacker Group.

Kirsten Thompson and Sara Westerlund, recruiters from Creative Circle, were our guest speakers this past Friday. They introduced the staffing agency and provided tips on how to best work with them.

With 7 offices around the country, Creative Circle focuses on (obviously) the creative side of things. They primarily work with agencies and marketing groups, staffing candidates into 1 of 3 types of placements: 1) freelance, 2) freelance to full-time, or 3) full-time. Typical roles include: account management, art/design/creative, marketing, and media buying / planning.

Recent trends. They've had a significant uptick in placements, which they refer to as "starts." The number of starts per month has nearly doubled since last summer. And they are also seeing more full-time placements, as clients are beginning to feel a bit more secure in their hiring.

What is the best way to work with them? Make it easy. When applying for a particular job opportunity, highlight in your cover letter the skills that are applicable, so the recruiter can more easily match your experience with the job requirements. This will also let them respond quicker to their client. "Speed counts." They are paid for quickly gathering and positioning the best candidates for a position, and for a recent posting, they had over 400 responses within 2 hours. And speaking of cover letters, don't attach a separate Word doc. Bullet list out your key qualifications in the body of your e-mail.

Keep in touch. Creative Circle makes a point to meet with every candidate, to get the best sense for what candidates are looking for and what they have to offer. Considering you're part of a large talent pool, make sure you touch base with them on a regular basis, so that you're top of mind. They recommend at least once a month. Another rule of thumb could also be to reach out every time you update your resume, letting them know of the change and that you're still available.

Be mindful that recruiters are an extension of the hiring company. How you work with a recruiter is also a good indication of how you may work at a client site. Seems obvious, but key components to consider: "preparation, reliability, and flexibility."

Another interesting point that Sara and Kirsten made was to "Have a visual component that you can use to help sell yourself," regardless of position. Have a portfolio that you can point to and show off your work. If you're just starting out or changing directions, as many people are in the digital spectrum, put together comp work to demonstrate what you can do.

Contact info:
Kirsten Thompson -
Sara Westerlund -

Job News!
Jenna Swalin has accepted a contract position as a Communications Assistant with the
Initiative for Global Development.