the product is you tips for putting you best foot forward in a job search

The Product is You!

Are you new to the job search process or been out of practice because you have not changed jobs in a while? Sometimes people are referred by friends, family, college professors and former colleagues to opportunities that may not have required the same level of search as it would have, if you had not had an insider’s connection.  Regardless of how you gain the opportunity to interview for a position, always keep in mind to put your best foot forward! No shortcuts and cutting corners. Just because you were referred, doesn’t mean you should give less effort and expect to be waved in. ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS remember that “the product is you”!

It’s natural not to think of ourselves as a “commodity”.  Yet, the reality is when we are searching for employment, we are in essence the “product/commodity” that we are trying to sell to a prospective employer based on our credentials, our enthusiasm, our winning track record or our eagerness to get started in our first job after college.

Regardless of the starting point, we all want to end up at the same destination. That destination is “gainful employment”, and ideally employment that is going to be fulfilling and meaningful. It may be the next step on the ladder of our career. Or it could be the beginning steps as when we learned to ride a bike and took the training wheels off. That first real job after college where you felt like someone had removed the training wheels and you were peddling at full speed is an exhilarating feeling.

To get where you want to you go, you need to focus on the details of  “YOU”, your social media profile, and how you represent yourself by phone, e-mail, resume, and in person.  

There was a time when you could have a great resume and land a winning interview and live happily ever after. Nowadays you need to be worried if your Facebook rant or the revealing photos of you after too many drinks will impact your ability to land employment. As a rule, it’s always best to lock down your social profiles on Facebook, Twitter and any others so that only friends can see your content. I recently read that approximately 80% of employers check Facebook profiles. Many do a quick Google search too. You would be amazed at how much content on the web is attached to anything you have placed in the public domain. Do you have an uncommon last name or a first name with a unique spelling? There’s very little confusion what they are viewing isn’t from you. Do you have some rants that might paint you in an unfavorable light? Maybe you weren’t ahem… eloquent in your reply back to someone. When in doubt, go back into your account and do some housekeeping. Delete posts that could be accessed given the frequency in which privacy notices change on social media sites. It’s easier to keep a tidy house than it is to have a messy one and always fear someone dropping in on you when the place is a mess.

The street runs both ways however. Once you know who you are interviewing with, you too can search for their LinkedIn profile (which I always strongly advise doing anyway) and look on other social platforms to see if you can locate them. You may find you have some common connections with similar people but you just happen to run in different social circles or you may learn about their hobbies or other interests that gives you a chance to have a better feel for the person you’re going to be talking to. Instead of a cold introduction, you can walk in a little “warmer” although you should never reveal you scoped them out much the same as they probably did you! 

Remember, “the product is you”! Keep saying this over and over and never forget it. Sometimes those most junior to the world of job searching have not been exposed to the social graces associated with reaching out and inquiring about opportunities. Perhaps it’s the way we have shortened everything to fit a text message or to send a tweet. Whatever the excuse, the following message that I received is a prime example of what not to do:  

To: Recruiting
Subject: Job positions

Are there any Entry-Level IT positions available?

Sent from my iPhone 

Notice there were no greetings, no follow up phone number or even a name to ask for had there been a phone number. Not to mention entry level IT positions could be a thousand different roles. Not here at least but none the less, this person had not given thought to what “type” of entry level IT position. All entry level IT positions are not created equal. Surely the person has some preference. They were on our website. The effort to name something entry level that coincides with what we do would have been a great question to ask. At least it would have shown more energy and effort was given before hitting send.

You are a reflection of the personalized greeting on your phone or the voice message you leave for others to hear.

Equally you are a reflection of the e-mail address you create and use for employment purposes. I used to keep a running list of e-mail addresses that were unbelievable and oh-so-revealing. Talk about a window into someone’s world! Use a professional address for your job search and if you feel compelled to keep the street handle of “slimshady”, do so for your personal e-mail. Don’t give a recruiter a reason to exclude you because you use an address that reads like a romance novel or gang initiation. Hopefully by now you can hear that little inner voice saying, “the product is you”!

Even the more experienced job seeker needs a boost from time to time. Especially when it comes to resumes. When in doubt of a good resume format to use and you want to stand out in a good way, it’s perfectly O.K. to use a resume template. Creating your own original resume is good too!

Depending on where you are in your career will help you to determine the style of resume. Also, if you are in pursuit of a creative job such as a Web Designer or Marketing position you may want to use a resume template that showcases just enough of your uniqueness that leaves them wanting to meet you in person.  Be careful that you don’t go overboard with flashy colors and funky fonts that detract from the actual content of your credentials.  After all, “the product is you”.  Here’s a link to site that has some great samples: 

Nothing pains me more than to see a resume with a glaring typo. I’m not talking about a small one….I’m talking about a whopper! We read our own material to the point that our brain auto-corrects what our eyes are viewing. We don’t always see that glaring typo because our mind knew what the word really should have been. It’s always wise to have more than one person read your resume.  A recent example of what I’m referring to is the following:

I have retrieved my Associates of Science in Computer and Information Science
Concentration in Computer Engineering

I have retrieved my Bachelors of Science in Computer and Information Science
Concentration in Software Development.

Aside from the first person format, the incorrect use of “retrieved” not once but twice is painful to see. Although this person was not qualified for the position they applied for, I wished I were able to reach out just to say I would like to give you a helpful heads-up about the way you have listed your educational credentials. Unfortunately there are a myriad of reasons why that kind advice cannot be offered in an unsolicited manner. Until this candidate discovers this or someone else points it out, most likely it will haunt them.

Our resume, our social profile, and the way we communicate with others both written and spoken, are all forms of a calling card we present to everyone that meets us. We are our own best ambassador or our worst enemy depending on how we manage the way we are seen, and most importantly want to be seen.  “The product is you” is a small four word saying that has so much impact.  If we view our professional careers through this lens, we can accomplish what we have put our minds on achieving. Let’s be mindful to stand out in the crowd for a good reason!


As a followup, we ARE hiring! Please reach out to us at We'd love to hear from you!

Katie Keene
Senior Recruiter

Katie Keene joined Marathon Consulting in 2011 as a Senior Recruiter to help the company grow to the next level. 

During this time, Marathon has grown from 18 employees to 90+ employees and won multiple awards for Best Places to Work in Hampton Roads and Virginia. 

Katie takes pride in knowing her efforts help to shape the culture and success of Marathon one person at a time. 

Prior to her current position, Katie worked independently as a Recruiting & Human Resources Consultant. She also has 9 years of experience managing the Career Advising Department for a large regional technical college and was the Director of Human Resources and Recruiting for a 110 person IT firm in Hampton Roads and Director of Staffing for a multi-state hospitality and development firm with a 32 property portfolio and 1,100+ employees.

 She has 20+ years of experience in Recruiting and Human Resources with a degree in Human Services Counseling from Old Dominion University.

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