In the last couple of weeks, I've challenged myself to create more structure around my search process by developing tools to increase the odds of a positive response from prospective employers or anyone I'm networking with. It's been helpful to think about myself as if I was a marketing manager responsible for a consumer good. My tool kit resembles the "marketing mix" - or the four Ps of marketing: my product, my place or physical location (distribution), my promotion, and my price.
I like the creativity that's necessary to be successful as a marketing manager, and feel it's an important ingredient to a job search, as well.
Last week I talked about how important my physical location has been as my career unfolded. As far as the second "P" - promotion - goes, I can improve how to promote myself. So far, I've been using two vehicles: testimonials and marketing materials. The testimonials come from people I've worked with in the past, who know me very well and can speak on my behalf. They've proven to be a very effective promotional tool. However, it's a fine balance to ask for their time for this purpose, and so far I've used this option with only two prospective employers.
The other way that I promote myself has been to develop marketing material on my background and on what I can do for a prospective employer. I've developed these documents both on my own and on specific requests from prospective employers. As a result I now have a full-length pitch book, as well as a short version; a marketing plan; two versions of my resume, three fully developed investment ideas; and multiple sample letters.
With this arsenal at my disposal, my task has become to deliver the material to each circumstance. I've noticed the most effective approach has been to wait for material to be requested by the prospective employer (or, as it's known, "pull marketing"). For example, I'll share my marketing plan at an informal meeting when my counterparty asks what type of companies I'm interested in.
When I share these documents, prospective employers are both surprised and more interested in my work. At times, I think, my approach has succeeded in setting me apart from other candidates. Some employers have asked for a copy of my promotional material. It's always a difficult question for me to answer, because it's not easy to strike the right balance between sharing information and protecting my own recipe for managing a hedge fund.
Still, promoting myself by sharing in-depth information on my investment strategy and background is working. It's allowing me to foster strong and long-lasting relationships that I know will be an asset throughout my career.
James Weldon (a pseudonym) is a portfolio manager. This is the second installment of a weekly column detailing his strategy and tactics in searching for a new job after he was let go by the hedge fund group at a bulge bracket investment bank in New York.