You can thrive in, not just survive, an economic slogging!

JobActionDay2009LogoAs co-coordinator with my colleague Miriam Salpeter, I am pleased to participate in our second round of posts from our community of expert career advisors and resume writing professionals called the Career Collective.

This month’s articles are in response to Quintessential Careers Job Action Day. I encourage you to visit other members’ responses, which will be linked at the end of my article on November 2nd. Please follow our hashtag on Twitter: #careercollective.


The economy is in a slump. Cost cutting and lay offs persist. We all know this. It’s not news.

The question: How do job seekers boost their visibility and generate more interviews during these trying times? Moreso than ever before, it is about being crystal clear on your value proposition – what not only makes you unique (yes, your uniqueness is nice to know and often will perk up the hiring manager’s or recruiter’s ears), but it also is about why you matter to that hiring decision-maker. What’s in it for them, specifically?

Although refining and communicating one’s unique market value was advice I ‘would’ have given a year ago, I believe this year’s message is greatly amplified. Your likelihood of being edited out from a hiring manager’s radar screen is multiplied because of the shear masses of resumes circulating for each open job.

More than ever before, being crisp, smart and quick in illuminating your resume and career communication message to the reader or listener is critical to being cutting-edge in your job search initiatives.

How do you do this?

1. Begin by doing career brain dump, an exercise that you should anticipate taking 6-8 hours over the course of several days to accomplish. Do not short-change this step!

a. Be somewhat orderly about it. In other words, start with the overarching initiatives that you faced this past year and the year before that, and the year before that, then flesh out the actions you took, describe the hurdles you leapt over and brag about the special problem solving skills you tapped to make things better (i.e., improved processes, negotiated buy-in to an idea, grew revenue or profit, shortened lead times for product development, appeased disgruntled customers, expanded the marketplace footprint … and much more).

b. Of course, punctuate these stories with the end result in a measurable way: percentages, numbers and dollars work. Remember, even if you didn’t directly impact a measurable outcome, you always are indirectly impacting something bigger and better that a department, division or the entire company is accomplishing. (If you weren’t impacting the bottom line, you wouldn’t be earning your salary!) Map to that – find the path to the numbers.

c. Then, flesh out your soft skills and traits, and how your actions map to those: i.e., Approachability, Having Composure, Inspiring Teams, Listening, Conflict Management, Ethics and Values … etc.

2. Research, research, research. Investigate companies  and types of jobs that interest you and those which loop back to your particular experiences and results. What is realistic? Earmark those! Where (at what jobs) might you take a chance and try to bridge gaps where your experience and /or education fall short? Earmark those, too! Who would be willing to listen to you if the best, most value-laden message were at-the-ready? Note their names, titles, emails and phone numbers. When researching, use these online tools:

a. Company research: ZoomInfo, Hoovers, RileyGuide, Bizjournals, Manta, corporate websites… and many others.

b. Jobs research: LinkUp, CareerBuilder,, Monster, corporate web sites, etc.

3. Start writing, or better yet, partner with a professional resume writer to flesh out your career story. This isn’t the time to be mechanical or rules-focused [i.e., list of subjective resume writing rules that you check-mark; i.e., a. Font size (check!); b. Page length correct (check!); c. # of buzzwords sprinkled throughout (check!); d. Summary broadly written so I don’t miss any opportunities (i.e., “I would take any job mentality) (check!)].

a. Meaningful writing is critical; during this phase you must drill down to the right words and story points that will best resonate with the target reader!

b. Moving a dozen or 2 dozen pages of career brain dump into a 2-3 page sales piece that proves value in a snap through your career camera lens is vital.

Once the resume is complete, begin connecting …

5. Know your audience and reach out to them. Join LinkedIn, then join and interact in groups, post links and updates and invite others. Expand your network, learn about individuals in other companies and become known by them.

6. Start a blog. is free and easy to get started with. Sign up today for an account, choose a backdrop, write an article focused on articulating your value and expertise. Tell your friends and colleagues. Post your blog URL to your LinkedIn account.

7. Join Twitter. Create a profile with a picture and be known for the industry or job-specific expert you are. Tweet meaningful thoughts that will add value to your followers. Retweet value-add information from others. Comment on others’ tweets; engage; smile; be uplifting. Offer genuine opinions but don’t openly criticize.

Final thoughts: Your career message in this new economy should certainly weave in your abilities in containing costs, shoring up resources and boosting productivity. However, equally important is a focus on advancing growth, turning around distressed companies, netting multifold returns on capital and generating revenue and profit. It’s not just about surviving, it’s about thriving.

Show (don’t tell) the reader that you are capable of helping them lift themselves from the slog of this downtrend and into a robust, revenue-multiplying and profit expanding new place. Be someone who proves s/he can both execute and deliver the goods for a better future!

Meg Montford:  Job Action Day: Finding Your “MOJO” After Layoff

Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn’t work out?

Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them,

Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint

Grace Kutney: Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change

Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa– Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Differen

Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker

Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging

Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts

Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?

Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth

Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today’s economy

GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?

Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes

Martin Buckland: Job Search–The Key to Securing Your Future Career

Chandlee Bryan: Where the Green Jobs Are:

Heather R. Huhman, Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job,

Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are 2009 and Beyond:

J.T. O’Donnell: Actions that got people jobs in this recession

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25 Comments on “You can thrive in, not just survive, an economic slogging!”

  1. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging […]

  2. Rosa Vargas Says:

    Jacqui, this is a brilliant post! Yes, now more than before, job seekers have to deliver their value proposition in a transparent and laser-like message, incorporating the economy-based needs of the employer. This is not the time to prepare just an effective job search campaign–It is time to “step it up,” launch an outdistancing, and market-proof campaign that foretells a company’s successful future.

    The steps you provided will help professionals prepare, deploy, and annihilate the competition.

  3. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging […]

  4. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging […]

  5. Gayle Howard Says:

    Your post is inspiring Jacqui and well written! Being crystal clear about your value proposition helps jobseekers in so many ways: in the resume, in articulating their value during interviews and through networking. Successfully communicating an on-brand, consistent message is what will distinguish one jobseeker from others with exactly the same skills. If that message is reinforced through Linkedin, Twitter, blogs and more the on brand message is magnified and enriched. Great work!

  6. glhoffman Says:

    One can see why you are one of the recognized resume experts anywhere. You really dig deep into the candidate’s experiences and skills to figure out or to help the candidate make their message work better.
    Every resume writer should re print this and give to their prospects…it is that good.

  7. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging […]

  8. Jacqui,

    This is an excellent prep tool for anyone getting ready to start a job search. I think I smell an ebook? Nice post!

  9. Bella Martha Says:

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog.It will greatly help me in my activities.
    Thanks though, i’m glad some people share good stuff like this! It will greatly help me in my activities
    Great job ! 🙂
    Cari Uang Di Internet

  10. This is more than just thought provoking — which it is because it makes a person think clearly about her value. You also offer a series of steps that can be used and within which a person can dance.Great job on an important topic.

  11. dawnbugni Says:

    Jacqui –

    Unique selling propositions (USPs) sell products. In a job search, the products happen to be the job seeker’s most important commodities — their time and their talents. An ability to articulate individual USPs helps move the well-informed job seeker ahead of the pack. Not only do you point out the importance of uncovering and defining USPs, you give a great guide in how to do it and what to do with the information after definition. Excellent guide. Excellent.

  12. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging […]

  13. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts […]

  14. […] Blog Home You can thrive in, not just survive, an economic slogging! […]

  15. Jacqui –
    What can I say? YES! YES! YES! Show, don’t tell…Know what you offer. All such important points. But, even more importantly – know what to DO once you have a direction. Job seekers are actually lucky today to have so many options to showcase their value.

    I’m so thrilled to be partnering with you to bring so many terrific colleagues together for the Career Collective!

  16. Thanks Jacqui for this great list of resources. I only just learned of Manta – your research tools for job seekers is fabulous!


  17. Meg Montford Says:

    Your post is so rich in content and directive in action! When job seekers read this, they’ll have what they need to start their own career plans. You are right on, Jacqui, regarding the importance of knowing your value proposition. I tell all my clients (resume writing and career coaching) that they need to know their highest value to solve the employer’s biggest problem – and the best way to promote it. Thanks for sharing action steps so specificaly. You are a role model for job seekers and career pros alike.

  18. Jacqui,

    As always, you hit the nail on the head–and then some! What a well-thought out plan of action– from start to finish. Who WOULDN’T land a job after following your steps?! 🙂

    Great post!


  19. Very smart to advise job seekers to not short-change the ‘career brain dump’ – it is the critical first step to the entire process. Great article, Jacqui!

  20. morren Says:

    Thanks Jacqui!

    You provided very useful tips here.This is very good post and tool for Job seekers to step in great career.

  21. […] through investment. It sounds crazy, the market has gained nearly 4,000 points in the last year. 59. Thrive and Not Just Survive in This Economy – Workers don’t have to just survive the work environment, so “Career […]

  22. Thanks Jacqui for this great article! I just learned about Manta

  23. […] Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging […]

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