On our LinkedIn group, HigherEdJobs, there has been a great amount of discussion on a thread regarding an article, “New Rules of the Game.” In short, this article, also by Peter Weddle, brings up the issue of how we go about marketing ourselves to potential employers, and what are some ways we can go about making ourselves stand out amongst the competition. Peter suggests in the article, like in Work Strong, that people need to do some tough introspection. Where the discussion has gone on LinkedIn is about what it means to market one’s self.
One of the things we are learning how to do better by following along Peter’s path in Work Strong is to market ourselves better and to prepare for our next position months, if not years, before finding it. Many people on the thread believe that marketing=lying or in some way deceiving others into buying into a product that they don’t really need or want. In this case the product is you.
Marketing is not lying or deceiving, it is presentation and preparation. The next chapters in the book are going to help us prepare ourselves for market. The definition of marketing is the promotion, distribution, and selling of goods or services. We are all promoting and distributing our services as professionals in higher education either as administrators, staff, or faculty. Finding a niche or method of self-promotion that is creative to help stand out of the crowd is not dishonest, but rather good marketing.
Those in academia may have traditionally thought they were above having to promote themselves. Perhaps at one time that was true — that merely having a couple of great references, a published work, and the doctorate in hand were enough. I think of another group of people who are not traditionally thought of as self-promoters or marketing mavens, the Amish.
The Amish people have done a great job of marketing their way of life, their goods and services, in a way that is competitive and honest. My grandparents were in need of a new garage at their home in eastern Ohio. After shopping around, they found that an outfit of Amish builders were the best combination of price, craftsmanship, and customer service they could find. This is not the traditional picture I had of the Amish people, yet seems perfectly fitting that they would be great builders. That group found a niche to market their strengths while still maintaining their way of life. Those of us in higher education can do the same.
Why shouldn’t people in all fields of work seek to find a special way to market themselves? Why not take honest stock of your abilities and achievements and find positions that are better suited to those skills? You can then use those new positions to angle toward your future career goals. There is nothing wrong withbeing strategic.