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Promote Yourself

By Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR  9/13/2013
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In today’s continuing competitive work environment, job seekers are understandably concerned about standing out from the competition. Yet many fail to adequately promote themselves and their talent to prospective employers.

Dan Schawbel, a Generation Y and workplace expert in the Boston area, is the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success (St. Martin’s Press, 2013), a book based on research conducted in partnership with American Express designed to answer this question: “What do I need to do in order to get ahead at work?” The question is equally pertinent to job seekers, he says, because “Companies are trying to hire those who can eventually progress to management roles.”

What he learned: “that soft skills were more important than hard skills, that managers would support entrepreneurial-minded employees, that social media isn’t embraced in the office, and that there is a clash between Millennials and their managers at work.”

One of the big surprises, Schwabel says, was the generational divide. “Managers feel like their employees have unrealistic salary expectations, a poor work ethic and are easily distracted, while employees appreciate their managers’ experience, wisdom and the fact that they’re willing to mentor them.”

For job seekers, he says, the big takeaways are related to what managers are thinking and the criteria they are using to hire and promote employees. In addition to soft skills, employers are also looking for subject matter experts, Schwabel says. “If you’re the go-to person for a specific topic, there will be more demand for your services,” he says. To help build subject matter expertise, he suggests that HR job seekers “start a blog where you talk about the subject and extensively research it. You can also do freelance work using sites like to find part-time gigs where you can take on projects and have measurable results (and endorsements) that can help prove your worth to employers.”

Finally, Schwabel says, “You shouldn’t submit your resume to a thousand job postings. Instead, focus on the jobs you are qualified for and on companies that you love. This way, you will be able to have a positive attitude, be persistent and you have a better chance of actually getting hired.”

Dan Schwabel will be hosting a SHRM webcast on Sept. 19.

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