Just as many other areas of your professional life have been affected by technology,job search and marketing activities also are in the midst of radical change. The Internet is changing the way job opportunities are posted, resumes are submitted, candidates are hired, and clients are found. But some basic guidelines for these activities really have not changed; they've only been modified to reflect current practices in terms of language, presentation style, and methods. Prior to planning your marketing campaign, familiarize yourself with the following rules of the game.

Know Your Product - Yourself

What skills, competencies, knowledge, education, and achievements do you want to sell presently? We're talking not only about your field-focused expertise but also about your transferable and adaptable expertise. Use your PDP as a guide for keeping on target about your career mission and professional objectives and about what in your background you choose to highlight in a marketing document. Without truly being in touch with yourself - your strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments - you can't project the desired professional image. Set a job objective that meets your needs, makes use of your background, takes into account work you're enthusiastic about, and helps to bring you

closer to achieving your career vision.

Know Your Professional Niche

Have you reviewed where you want to be in the training, HRD, and workplace learning and performance field? Compare that position or place to the present description of your professional niche. Be aware of any new trends or issues to which your background is applicable. You may need to rebundle or reprioritize your skills, competencies, and knowledge so that it is evident that you have the qualifications. This can lead to rewriting the specifications of your professional niche to reflect how you currently want to promote yourself - the professional image to be projected. You want to create a demand for your expertise, so you must describe that expertise in a brief marketing paragraph that will be the basis for introducing yourself to new contacts or for renewing old relationships.

Know Your Action Plan

Do you have an organized campaign in place? If you're serious about making a change in your professional work, you need to go about it in a structured way. Critical to the success of the campaign is that your plan of action be practical and realistic in terms of what you can add to your everyday schedule. Take into account your present job (if working), any professional development activities you're involved in, and your personal and family responsibilities. Don't be overly ambitious about the tasks and activities you can accomplish in a given period of time. Make sure you have outlined steps to take, budgeted for campaign costs, set priorities, developed to-do lists, and established timelines for your marketing strategy. Don't forget to develop activity tracking forms for networking follow-up meetings, organization contacts, referral sources, and resume/marketing document submissions.

As with your PDP, regularly review and revise your marketing plan of action. Compare your activity tracking data with your plans. Don't be discouraged if you don't meet your benchmark for starting the next phase of your professional life. Making a job change or starting a consulting practice often takes more time than originally anticipated.

Know Your Market

Have you identified the organizations or clients who would be interested in your background and expertise, and for whom you want to work? Be knowledgeable about how local and regional economic, demographic, and business trends influence training, HRD, and workplace learning and performance practices in your geographic location. Read the business section of your local newspapers to keep abreast of growing community organizations, new start-up companies, and businesses moving into your area. You also can conduct an Internet search specific to your area and the type of organizations that interest you. Information gathered there will help you target organizations or clients needing your capabilities and experience.

Determining your potential market allows you to tailor your resume or some other marketing document to showcase data and information that demonstrate how effectively you can meet a potential employer's or contractor's specific requirements.

Know the Marketing Tools to Use

Is your resume up-to-date and are you using other types of marketing materials? The resume is your most important tool for job search activities. Think of it as a marketing document that presents your capabilities in a focused and targeted way. It projects a professional image, introducing you in a unique way that is concise, directed, and clear. As a promotional piece, its main purpose is to highlight your qualifications and stimulate the right person to contact you. Given that job opportunities are being advertised increasingly on the Web, your resume also should be formatted for electronic posting. Become familiar with the guidelines and procedures for electronic resumes. Other marketing tools to have on hand are fact sheets, capability summary cards, and business cards.

If you're starting a business or consulting practice, a professional profile or company fact sheet summarizes your services, qualifications, and types of clients or contracts you're seeking. It gives you the opportunity to present your expertise in a clear and businesslike manner. A professional profile fact sheet is used in the transitional stage of going from internal employee to external consultant, before you're ready to invest in a marketing brochure.

If you're seeking a new job, a capability or professional summary card is useful to highlight core information from your resume. A summary card offers the opportunity to position your qualifications succinctly for potential employers. People you meet at a networking function or professional meeting and who may want to contact you at a later date by phone or e-mail can use it easily. The standard business card presents your contact information, including your e-mail address. It's a short-hand version of your longer marketing documents and describes your professional identity in just a few targeted words or phrases.

Know Your Networking and Opportunities Resources

Have you kept up with your professional business and networking organizations and the latest methods for locating sources for job and contract leads? If you haven't attended any meetings in the last four to six months, do so soon. If your professional objectives and niche have been modified, find out what other organizations may be more relevant to your present interests. (Remember to rewrite your promotional introduction script when your career direction shifts so you'll be prepared to introduce yourself accurately.) Think about the professional image you want to project and the information you want to gather when networking with old and new contacts.

If you're not familiar with Internet search engines and websites that will be most helpful to you, do your homework as soon as possible. Set up informational interviews with outplacement specialists, career coaches, or other people who are Internet-savvy and can advise you on how to identify relevant websites. You need to be organized and specific when exploring the Web to locate options. The Internet can be used for an array of purposes - locating organizations, finding job listings, posting resumes, and obtaining career advice. You can find data on industries, international opportunities, specialties, corporate staffing, and career management.

You can participate in career chat room sessions and network electronically. For efficiency and effectiveness in exploring career, professional, and work options on the web, obtain recommendations and tips on procedures and strategies from people who know how to navigate the Net. Remember also to take advantage of more traditional resources, such as your local and national professional organizations' job and consulting hotlines, classified ads, trade and professional journals, corporate headhunters, and government

proposal solicitations.

Do you have everything in place and on hand to begin the campaign for your next professional move? Before meeting with anyone to discuss your future and before using any marketing document for networking or contact purposes, prepare a checklist of tasks to ensure that all preparations have been completed.

This is an excerpt from Career Moves, an ASTD Press publication. To order the book, go here.

Annabelle Reitman is a career and life management consultant with more than 30 years of experience in career counseling and higher education career center management. She works with a diverse clientele, from young professionals to early retirees, either in workshops or individual consultations, and is a past president and co-president of the ASTD Metropolitan Washington, D.C,, Chapter.

Caitlin Williams is president of Successful Working Women, Inc. and Work Matters in Westlake, Ohio, and she has been in the field of career development for more than 20 years. Williams designs and delivers career and professional development programs for business, industry, and education groups. She also coaches individuals on career and personal growth.