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Several clients of mine have recently filled search marketing, social media marketing and community management positions. I’ve been reviewing stacks of resumes from scores of candidates representing the full spectrum of skills and experience. But, even in the current labor market, finding the right candidate is hard. If you’re one of those candidates — or will be when you graduate next month— there’s one thing you should know before you send out your next resume. What is it?

The first product you must market is you.

What do I mean by you’ve got to market yourself first?

Well, for starters, you’ve got to walk the talk. If you’re a search marketer, can I find you when I search your name? If you’re a social media guru, where can I connect with you? Do you have a website or a Twitter account or a LinkedIn profile? In one recent case, I went through a dozen resumes of “social experts” and only found 3 candidates who had Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. Only one had a Google+ profile (though, to be fair, I can’t blame them for that). Only one had their company website listed on their LinkedIn profile.

Now, it’s hard to keep up with all the change in social media and online marketing. No one expects you to be expert in everything. As my Biznology colleague Frank Reed pointed out a little while back,

“If you are not a jack of all trades or a master of one area of the online space, then don’t say you are. Don’t give up, either.” [Emphasis very much mine.]

Frank’s right. You don’t have to do it all. But just having an email address doesn’t qualify you as an internet marketer, either. If you live your life in the social sphere, show me. If you’re a private person who uses your skills to benefit your business, show me that instead. But if I can’t find you anywhere on the social or search scene, I suspect you’re not as “expert” as you claim.

What about the classic catch-22, “You can’t get the experience without the job and you can’t get the job without the experience”?

It’s a fair question.

Happily, these days, it’s also not as big a problem as it used to be.

Obviously, your first option is to do what I’d mentioned above: Show what you can do by promoting yourself.

But, if you’re more the private type or want to hone your skills in a broader way, consider donating your time and budding expertise to a local charity or community service initiative.

I recently interviewed a fantastic candidate fresh out of college who’d built a complete search and social marketing campaign for her sorority’s community service program. It included a simple blog on Tumblr, a Facebook page, and a Twitter stream. She’d even wrangled a couple hundred dollars in budget from one of their local business sponsors to do some paid search marketing for the program (and so impressed the business owner, he gave her a couple hundred more to run a campaign for him). The result: Greater participation from the student community, record high funds raised and some extremely satisfied local sponsors.

Getting your foot in the door in days gone by was challenging. Unless you had access to someone else’s money, building a portfolio was next to impossible.

But the gatekeepers so common in the old days—big publishers, broadcast networks, giant advertisers—now want to find guerrilla marketers, folks who can do a lot with a little, to do a lot for them.

So the question is, what are you doing to make sure you’re easy to find?

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Tim Peter

About Tim Peter

Tim Peter helps companies put the web to work to grow their business. Since 1995, he has developed innovative e-commerce and digital marketing programs that have delivered billions of dollars in revenues. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results.

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