Keeping Your Image Marketable

Stay on the cutting edge to land the best position and earn top dollar

By Donald J. Strankowski
Ascend Career and Life Strategies

Companies today are looking for people who are self-starters, motivated, and don’t require a lot of handholding.  They want people who can come in, hit the ground running, and make an immediate impact.  The opening will usually go to the candidate who displays the greatest amount of assertiveness (not to be confused with being overly aggressive), creativity, and passion for the position.

Anybody can come to work and punch the clock for 8 hours a day and perform at an average level.  In today’s workplace, the top employees are the one’s who continually go up and above the ordinary call of duty, whether their compensation plan is directly tied to their over-performance or not.  The people who will be hired or promoted in new positions are the ones who can best demonstrate they are above-average performers with proven records of success to validate their claims.

In the coming years, companies will continue to downsize and do more with less.  Therefore, companies are looking for people who are highly efficient, productive, quick-thinking, and offer a valuable specialty or expertise.

A major workplace change of the last decade is that each person today is now fully responsible for his or her own career.  In other words, you are the playwright and only you are in charge of writing and then acting out the story of your own success—you can no longer rely on a corporation to take care of you.  You must maintain a free agent mindset; to think and act for yourself, always keeping your best interests in mind. You are the President of YOU, Inc.  You are always self-employed no matter which company issues your paycheck.  It is a mistake to think that you work for anyone but yourself.

Keeping Your Image Marketable

One of the biggest competitive advantages a person can employ to help land a better job or gain a promotion is to keep their image marketable—you need to know what you’re up against in relation to your occupation and industry.  Here are five key steps to help you stay marketable regardless of the state of the current job market:

  1.  Determine the outlook for your present position or occupation.  
  2. Is there is a strong possibility that your present occupation could be a candidate for offshoring or elimination?  Conduct some research regarding employment and occupational trends.  One of the best sites for researching employments is the U.S. Department of Labor web site (

  3. What types of positions could you perform if your job were eliminated tomorrow?
  4. There are occupations, perhaps related to your current one, that you may be able to take on should your position be eliminated.  By taking some time to detail your skill set, experience and company or industry needs, you can better position yourself to take advantage of industry trends.  For example, if you’re currently a software developer and perceive or have been informed of impending layoffs or outsourcing plans from your present employer, you may be able to “reinvent” yourself.  A Sales Engineer, Product Specialist, or Product Trainer position may be viable options within or outside your present company.

  5. Embark on a self-development plan.
  6. What are you doing to keep your skills sharp?  The people who are paid more and promoted faster are the generally the people who are learning at a more rapid rate than everyone else.  Invest a small percentage of your salary back into yourself.  Attend seminars, conferences, read relevant books and material, and listen to audio programs.  Keep your skills sharp and resolve to become one of the top people in your company and profession as to eliminate becoming expendable.

  7. Expand and keep current your breadth of network contacts.
  8. More people are hired via networking than any other job search strategy.  Many employees also learn of potential openings within their own organization by word of mouth.  Keep a list or database of key people that can assist you in reaching your career goals.  Keep in touch with these people regularly.  A quick phone call, friendly email, or invitation to lunch or coffee can work wonders.  Remember the key ingredient to forming a successful network contact: always give more than you get.

  9. Develop your own personal A-Team.
  10. Learning from others is one of the best ways to move you towards your career goals at a rapid rate.  Learning from their successes and failures can chop a significant amount of time off of what you are trying to accomplish both personally and professionally.  One strategy to consider is to develop your own personal A-Team.  An A-Team is made of people whom who can trust—a “team” of mentors—who can offer advice in different areas of your professional career.  Developing an A-Team can be an effective way to garner solid career advice about the future without having to consistently skin your knees.

A New Job Market Means Implementing New Strategies

If the economy has changed and the job market has changed, you must change your thinking, strategies, and job search tactics in order to be successful.

Most conventional job search strategies are simply not effective anymore.  If you’re still perusing the newspapers and faxing resumes to every opening that looks somewhat appealing, you’re going to be in for a long search.  There are some resolute rules of job searching that will never change.  I have founded my career coaching practice under the premise that to gain employment in today’s competitive job market, one must implement new tactics and strategies while also weaving in certain steadfast rules.

In today’s job market, more than anything else, you need to distinguish yourself from the masses.  Many published job openings in newspapers and on the Internet can receive hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of responses.  Similar to marketing a new consumer product, you need to package, bundle, and market yourself as the ideal fit for the position you’re applying for.  You need to be become a specialist at what you do.  You need to pay special attention to details and show the prospective employer that you are not simply your average run-of-the-mill employee.  There is simply too much competition right now to rely on antiquated job search methods and hope for the best.

Yes, a detailed, strategic approach takes more time and demands that you work harder and smarter.  The job search mentality used to be one of carpet-bombing employers with your resume.  Not anymore.  The philosophy behind a winning approach is high quality, not high volume.

Donald J. Strankowski Jr. is founder and president of Ascend Career and Life Strategies, a career training and management firm for businesses, professionals and executives.  He works out of Boulder, Colorado and can be contacted at 303-245-7049, via email at [email protected], or on the web at
Just Published!  Get Hired!  10 Simple Steps for Winning the Job You Desire—in Any Economy by Donald J. Strankowski
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