The secrets of personal marketing for women

Korn/Ferry International, the recruitment firm, has just published a book for job seekers billed as an “exclusive opportunity to get behind-the-scenes insight from top consultants” on how to manage your career.  

A beach-ready page-turner it is not, but the tome – titled Career Playbook: Practical Tips for Professional Success – contains some decent tips on personal marketing and how to network most effectively. (These are two areas where research suggests women are not as strong as men.)

I recently asked Jane Stevenson, vice-chairman, board and CEO services, at Korn/Ferry, to share some of the advice she gives her female clients. Stevenson, who has been a recruiter for 26 years and has been named one of the 100 most influential search consultants in the world by Businessweek magazine, told me that while many men are comfortable, deserving and at ease with power, women often seem more anxious about it. Some women have what she describes as a “crippling need to please”.

“Generally speaking, there’s a level of entitlement that men seem to be born with … Women, on the other hand, need to create a rationale in their heads to explain how they’ve achieved what they’ve achieved,” she says. “[To overcome this] I recommend women create a small network of people whom they can be vulnerable with, whom they can share notes with, and who will remind them of what they bring to the table. Think of it as borrowing someone else’s self-confidence from time to time.”

However, one area where women shine, she says, is their intuition and emotional intelligence. “These are innate skills that women bring that are enormously beneficial to top management jobs.”

Personal marketing does not come as easily for women as it does for men, according to Stevenson. But because the business world requires job seekers to be able to convey what they have accomplished, and what they are capable of, women need to become more comfortable with it.

She says: “Many women see personal marketing as self-serving. My advice to them is to separate the personal piece out of the equation. She should look at herself as a product, and ask, ‘What can I contribute to the world?’ She needs to shift the context to what she wants to achieve and contribute, versus the job title she wants.”

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