MARKETING YOURSELF: Make yourself known and increase your odds of career advancement
By Joe Esocbar
Marketing is a powerful tool. No matter where you go, you are being subjected to marketing messages. On the radio, in print media, on the television, and even on the Internet, companies are marketing their products and services to you. Without marketing, it would be difficult to learn about those companies and make a purchasing decision. In fact, marketing is such a powerful tool that you should be using it to advance your career.
OK, some of you may be thinking, "Wait a minute, Joe, have you totally lost it? Do you expect me to buy an ad in order to move on up the career ladder?" Well, not exactly. But there are some effective marketing techniques that you can use to move up within your company or land a better job. This article will cover some of those techniques.
Keep your eyes open
Successful businesses keep their eyes open to what is going on around them. What is the competition doing? What trends are evolving that need to be addressed?
Likewise, it is a good idea to keep your eyes open to what is going on around you. If you didn't get that promotion you were looking for, what are the reasons? Are there areas that you can improve in to help you land that next promotion. Is your company acquiring a new aircraft or expanding its capabilities? If so, do you have the talents necessary to help them meet those needs?
Move up within your company
Two techniques that you can use to market yourself within your company are word of mouth and networking.
Many purchasing decisions are made through word of mouth. Word of mouth can either make or break a deal. Think about it. You need a new pair of safety wire pliers. You're considering either Brand A or Brand X. When you start talking to your co-workers, most rave about the great job that Brand A does, while others complain about how difficult Brand X pliers are to use and how cheap they are manufactured. Which pair of pliers are you likely to choose?
Likewise, your work reputation can launch you to new opportunities or keep you entrenched where you are. When it comes time for a promotion, your supervisors and even co-workers will probably be questioned during the job selection process. How do others in your company perceive you? Are you knowledgeable on the aircraft systems and eager to take on new and challenging tasks? Do you make it a point to stay informed on emerging technologies and obtain training whenever possible. Do you accept tough jobs without complaining? Are you a good team member? Actions speak louder than words, and proving yourself through professional work ethics can go a long way in getting promoted.
Another way that you can increase your exposure is through internal networking. No, I don't mean "brown-nosing" your way to the top. But you can go that extra mile to get more involved in your company. If volunteers are needed to evaluate a possible purchase, you could raise your hand. How about helping plan that next company function? Some mechanics even develop company training programs. Taking this to the next level, you can get approval from the FAA for IA renewal on your training program and present it at IA seminars in your area. Local FSDOs are always looking for experts to give presentations. This is good exposure for you and your company.
The job hunt
If you're looking for a job, your best bet is to be active rather than passive. A passive job seeker looks in the help wanted sections of the newspapers and trade magazines. He or she sends resumes out to those companies and hopes to get a call back. The active job seeker uses a proactive approach. This is more successful in landing the job you're looking for. These are tough times in the aviation community. And tough times call for tough strategies.
Active job hunting
The longer you work at marketing yourself, the easier it is to become an active job hunter should the need arise.
Networking is a crucial part of this strategy. It's all about building relationships. Just as networking within your company can help you move up, external networking can help land your next job more quickly.
There are numerous ways you can network. Trade shows are always a good way to get valuable networking time. Walking the trade show floor and attending technical seminars as well as after-hour events give you the opportunity to meet many different players in the industry.
Other opportunities exist for networking. Attending local FAA seminars, joining an industry association such as PAMA and attending chapter meetings and training sessions are other opportunities. If your job requires you to travel frequently to other maintenance facilities, take advantage and get to know some of the people there.
Job fairs are another good place to network. Even if you aren't actively seeking a job, job fairs offer the chance to learn more about different companies and gain more contacts. Who knows, that perfect career opportunity may present itself.
Assuming that you have done your networking homework over the last several years and saved all of your contact information, it's time to pull out that information should the need to find a job come up. Unlike your passive job seeking counterpart who only sends resumes to listed job openings, you will pull out your contact database and start calling. You will call the director of maintenance who you met at a trade show and inform him of your job loss and ask if he has any job openings. If he doesn't, ask if he's heard of any other companies that are hiring. Then you will go down your list and ask each one the same questions. So you're not only using your contacts, you're using theirs.
A strong resume will help you get your foot in the door to potential jobs. But tweaking it for each job application is much more effective than using the same generic resume for everyone. An effective resume writing tip is to highlight your special skills that are applicable to that particular job.
Some commercial products find an area to specialize in and market that specialty. Likewise, you can market any specialties you have. It may be that you are a Level III NDT inspector or your forte may be sheet metal work. Whatever it may be, highlighting that strength to companies that can utilize the skill can be beneficial.
So you now have a few ways to market yourself. Start using these skills today to ensure you don't get left in the prop wash when the opportunity to have your career take off to new heights comes along.