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September 30, 2009
5 Ways to Commit Job Search Suicide

Advertising and marketing have been devastated and decimated in the continuing recession. Nielsen reports ad spending is down 15.4% the first half of 2009 compared to last year. Everyone has a bunch of friends out, looking and anxious. Every agency and marketing organization has shed jobs and many will continue to pare down staff and freelance slots.

Jerry Bernhart, ace DM recruiter, surveyed 418 unemployed executives during the first week of September and found that searches are taking longer than before and that marketers' were out of work almost twice as long as the national average 28 weeks versus 15.5 weeks.

More than half of unemployed ad folks reported looking for a new gig for 7 to more than 10 months. And as you might imagine, the higher the rank and the salary sought; the longer the search. A third of those seeking $200K plus salaries reported being "on the beach" for 10 months or more. There is plenty of reason to worry.

But, says my friend Kimberly Bishop, one of Businessweek's top 100 recruiters, don’t panic and don't do crazy, desperate things that can sabotage your search. She cautions candidates to “differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd but not by being obnoxious or by being a jerk.”

Kim’s Top 5 search killers are:

1. Don’t force yourself on someone’s calendar. Don’t invite yourself using Outlook. Don’t pressure an assistant. Don’t show up unannounced. Don’t make threats or demands. Don’t send gifts, novelties or packages. Don’t beg.

2. Don’t pretend you have a relationship with a recruiter. Don’t drop executive names. Don’t say you are a distant cousin. Don’t masquerade as someone else to get through the phone screener. Don’t pretend someone the recruiter knows referred you. Don’t pretend to be a survey-taker or a customer service representative.

3. Don’t spin or spill a sob story. Don’t discuss your conditions, your medications, your mortgage, and the state of your relationships, your immigration status or your creditors. Don’t suggest that there will be dire consequences if you don’t get an interview. Don’t whine.

4. Don’t go over the top. Don’t send over-the-top letters, videos or creative presentations comparing your career to famous actors, professional athletes, national political figures or Nobel Prize winners. Don’t exaggerate or claim credit for others’ work. Don’t brag. Don’t use profanity. Don’t sing, recite, rap or whistle. Don’t make up heroic or mythical stories. Don’t denigrate co-workers or former employers. Don’t share information or materials that are proprietary to former employers.

5. Don’t ignore the basics. Craft a perfect resume. Prepare for the interview. Anticipate the questions. Have your elevator pitch ready. Cite examples of how your experience matches the job description.

There are lots of good reasons to freak out. But it's a waste of time and energy. It's not productive. Marketing continues. Firms need entry-level, mid-career and senior experts to help them. The smart players know they can gain share by advertising and marketing when competitors hesitate.

There is an enormous pool of good will, advice and potential contacts in your network. Don't be bashful. Use what's available to you and never let them see you sweat. Good luck.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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