Laid off in America

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I'm actually doing a mid week blog. And non job search related. But I wanted to thank Roberta, a fellow unemployed who is working on her own blog (I'll add a link as soon as she goes public). She sent me the link for a pretty good, and free, comments site: I popped it right in and already have 2 comments (yay!). Roberta also sent me to another unemployment blog that I laughed all the way through. I think a good laugh is so important while unemployed in a bad market, during a war, blah, blah, blah. The link is OddTodd and is on the right.
posted by Valerie 1:05 PM

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Monday, March 31, 2003

Thanks to Meika who suggested that I add a comments section to each topic I write about (anyone have suggestions on how to do this, I'd love to incorporate a separate comments section into each blog update!). Thanks to Paula who let me know that my "slick statement" is not anal!

Although I thought I already knew a lot about how to look for a job, I had never thought in terms of a "brand". I learned at my outplacement firm that I am presenting "Brand Me" to the public. I learned that it helps to think of yourself as a brand and package everything you present to the public as marketing that brand (see for example an old Fast company article: ). Everything you present: your resume/CV, your business card, your stationary, your cover letters and thank you letters, what you say to others, and I'd like to add, even how you dress. Interestingly, you are allowed to have more than one brand. I found I needed a corporate brand, a nonprofit brand, and an academic brand during my job search (I always felt like a fake when I was in my corporate brand mode, but it was one I spent most of my time in).

I updated my resume with brand me in mind. I always keep my combination CV/resume up to date and ready to use at a moments notice. But I relearned and added to what I already knew in preparation for my job search. I have a slightly out-of-date copy on my website: This one is pretty comprehensive. But I learned that for each job, I needed to be prepared to change my resume around a lot. In general, my resume has my positioning statement on it as a sort of summary statement. Then I have the usual reverse chronology of jobs. This part is probably the hardest to write. I wrote a general summary of the job (how do you do that when you've been in the same, but shifting, position for many years?) and then listed results based accomplishments as bullets...only some of my bullets aren't too results based. I found that really hard to do. These could be changed around for each job I applied for. Then I added my education and some skills at the end. I learned that 2 pages is a great length. Except when it isn't. I learned that adding PhD to my name attracted some people and scared others away. I learned that adding my publications and presentations was a big interest to some folks, others thought it made me sound too academic, and it scared others off completely (I was paid to publish and present, I originally thought it showed results, silly me). I learned that some liked to see my awards and community achievements, while others thought it was too much. Basically it was all a crapshoot who I would impress and who I wouldn't. In terms of brand though, I liked my resume better when it had the extra stuff on--it felt more like the me I wanted people to see.

Thank god for the fact that most of us have ready access to high quality personal printers. When I graduated from college, I remember buddies of mine agonizing for hours/days over a resume, then having a couple hundred run off on bond paper for a huge some of money. Now we just do it ourselves. I ran my resumes off one or two at a time (which can get confusing if you don't remember exactly which resume you sent to which company). I ran my business cards off a page or two at a time unless I was going to a big networking event (I stayed pretty plain here, no color or anything). I never really created stationary, but I did try to make my letters look just a little bit more original than a plain business memo.

And my dress? Again, I chose the conservative route, I wanted my qualifications to stand out more than my appearance. A fitted black dress with a jacket, black sheer hose, and black leather pumps. Sometimes I would button the jacket all the way up and flip the collar up (looked asian that way). And sometimes I wore it with pearls.
That's about all I did for brand me. I guess the brand I was trying to get across was qualified, expert, professional, conservative but a bit original. Has anyone done anything more out there in terms of branding yourself? How is it working?

posted by Valerie 10:32 AM

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The experience of the new rite of passage among today's professionals: Being Unemployed

Contact me
You can contact me by sending me email at

This blog's mention in the July 2003 issue of Fast Company
Web of Despair.

Other unemployment blogs I have found
Ask your ass.
All about Jen.
Homee's job search.
Get that job.

Some blogs I like but haven't been updated in a while
Where The Hell Did My Job Go.
Invisible Matrix.

Credit problems?

What's keeping me occupied while I'm unemployed?
My husband and my travel photography blog.


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