Self-Marketing Tools You’ll Need for a Successful Job Search

By Ellis Chase

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Let’s say you’ve started your job search by assessing your skills and experience. And you’ve researched the types of jobs and organizations you’d like to target. You’ve got a plan, or maybe two, for how you’re going to approach those jobs.

Now you’re at the point where you need to build marketing tools to support those plans. The two- minute pitch is the basis of effective self-marketing. It not only serves as a response to, “Tell me about yourself,” but also serves as the foundation of approach emails, follow-ups, introductions at professional events, responses to a phone screen question, and establishing connections and self-branding on a new job. What you want to avoid is simply reciting your resume. The two-minute pitch is a marketing statement, not your personal record. It should include the following five components:

The 5 Components of a 2-Minute Pitch

  • A label or positioning statement
  • Two or three skills or experiences that support the first item
  • A unique (or at least, unusual) selling proposition
  • A brief listing of current and past employment, either by brand or function, or both
  • A recap of all the above

You’ll need a good resume, obviously, but a resume is probably the most overhyped aspect of career transition. Yes, it’s important to showcase your credentials and work history, but it’s really not that hard. Way too much time is often spent on this.

Funny thing about resumes—everyone seems to have strong opinions on the subject, but often they contradict each other. Two pages. One page. Education on top. Education on bottom. Hobbies. No hobbies. Health status. (No!) And so on. Don’t take all the opinions too seriously. What’s most important about resumes is that they form the core of your self-marketing, along with the two-minute pitch, and provide a script for networking and interviewing. You need to find a style that’s comfortable. For you. Then, you run it by either a knowledgeable friend or professional to learn what to tweak, edit, and reformat. After that, you test it with professionals in your target market. A resume is a small part of a comprehensive career transition. Below are a few suggested guidelines:

Guidelines for an Effective Resume

  • Make the resume easy to read. Lots of white space on the page creates visual appeal. Use short bullets. Paragraphs should not be longer than four or five lines.
  • Do not include your objective. A resume should state what you are, not what you want.
  • Include a summary, if it’s appropriate for your field. Summaries are intended to be a distillation of what will be your two-minute pitch and will quickly explain, right on top of the resume, exactly what you are professionally, your skill sets, and how you’re positioning yourself for your next career move.
  • Leave out most hobbies/ interests in an “Additional Relevant Information” or “Other” section, unless they’re distinctive.
  • Don’t overdo revising. Sometimes I think that’s a way to avoid the real work of search, which is getting yourself out there and in front of decision makers.
  • Don’t automatically offer your resume. Sending out thousands of resumes, unsolicited, is not a job search. It’s deforestation and not an effective strategy. Here’s a good strategy: only give out your resume when it’s requested. Otherwise, you’re just another job seeker, and you want to separate yourself from the pack. The best way to do this is not to lean on the piece of paper but to lean on your own personal presentation, with the resume as a support or leave-behind.

I’ve seen too many clients and students start a job search hoping that confidence alone will carry them, only to find out it’s not enough. Neither is having excellent qualifications if no ever knows about them. But with a solid two-minute pitch and a well thought out resume, you’ve got the tools you need for successful networking and interviewing.

About The Author

Ellis Chase is one of Manhattan’s top career consultants and executive coaches. His varied consulting practice is based in Manhattan, but his workshops and presentations often have taken him around the United States and Europe. His corporate clients have included the following companies: Deloitte Touche, Estee Lauder, Goldman Sachs, The Gartner Group, Purdue Pharma, Swiss Re America, United Nations Development Programmes, Penguin Putnam, Citigroup, WR Wrigley, ING Capital, Group M, Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union, Hanger Orthopedics, and Time Warner.

He has been a consultant to Columbia Business School for the past 11-plus years where he develops curricula and delivers workshops for the Business School’s Executive MBA Career Management and Alumni Relations Career Services; he coaches in the Program for Social Intelligence at the business school and advises EMBA students, and is a frequent speaker at other Columbia University colleges and graduate programs. He was an instructor at New York University’s Center for Career, Education, and Life Planning for almost 20 years and was an original Five O’Clock Club counselor, consulting in this national job search advising organization for 21 years.

In addition to his private practice, Ellis has worked in some of the nation’s largest human resources and outplacement consulting firms; he also worked in manpower planning and staffing at one of the nation’s largest financial services institutions. He is a founding member of the New York Chapter of the Association for Career Management Professionals and holds a BA and MA from New York University.

His articles have appeared in the National Business Employment Weekly/Wall Street Journal, The Five O’Clock Club News, the Columbia Business School Alumni e-newsletter,,, and he has been interviewed extensively on CNBC and CNN, as well as major newspapers and radio stations.  His book, In Search of the Fun-Forever Job:  Career Strategies That Work, was published by Bacon Press in April.  

You can learn more from and about Ellis on his website, and via his blog.


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