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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The 'Women at the Top' blog is part of a series of online and print publications that focuses on women's achievements in business. With up-to-date news and incisive analysis, the blog will provoke discussion on the role of the world's most prominent businesswomen. www.ft.com/womenblog

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Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.