How NOT to sell your product or your services

After a disappointing conference call with someone promoting a new career web site, Toni Bowers has some pointers on how NOT to get a good reception.

When I talk about resumes, I repeat, to a ridiculous degree, the mantra that they must focus on what you have to offer a potential employer, rather than list a history of your life.

I recently had a conference call with a guy hawking a new job-finding site. The guy's PR agency contacted me because they know about my blog. After about five minutes into the call, I wanted to bite my phone in half out of frustration. But because I'm a silver-lining, make-lemonade-from-lemons kind of girl (I'm totally lying), I actually got a blog topic out of it.

So, here are my tips for being more successful at selling your product or presenting yourself in the best light for a potential partner or employer:

Choose your form of communication wisely.

I know we're all hip, multitasking people who are much too important to forsake our morning half-caff, double-tall, non-fat Blue Java Indonesian coffee and poppy seed rugelach at the local coffeehouse to sit down for an organized presentation, but let's make the effort, OK?

About 12 minutes of a 30-minute call with the guy was taken up by reception issues between me, him, and the PR person. Someone was always saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't get that." At one point, he said, "Let me walk over here and see if I can hear you better." Which was fine with me because I had nothing better to do on a busy day.

Know your audience.

I am the Head Blogs Editor for a tech site that has over 2 million members. So I was perplexed when the first five minutes of the spiel was about how they purposely made their site to be accessible to everyone -- like chefs or nurses. I tried to gently nudge him and ask how, specifically, an IT pro would benefit from the site, because if you want to offer an incentive for readers of a tech career blog, you might want to touch on that.

Know the benefits of your product.

His site is supposed to match employers up with job hunters based on the job hunter's online presence. He stressed that they didn't want to rely solely on a resume, which, at some point, starts looking like all the others in a hiring manager's mind. I can buy that. But then I asked how they recruit prospective employers for the site and how many they had so far. His response was that they're not really concentrating on that aspect at this time. So then my inner voice asked that age-old question "If a tree falls in a forest and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?" How do you sell the benefit of getting your profile out there if there's no one around to look at it?

So, anyway, please heed these points because more than likely someone as time-stressed as me will get ahold of your resume at some point. Make the effort a little easier.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.


This sounds like they managed to sell this to some banks and get some financing. It sounded good to everyone - - - except the people who might actually want to find a job. Of course, like many passionate people they got on with the job and got it finished. Then of course they meet with a problem. Nobody else thinks it is quite such a good idea. It is always best to start small and work big than the other way around.


I'm so with you on totally not being the lemonade making kind of guy. Is that a trait common with us tech's? But to the point, you are doing some great preaching on the "I can do this for your company" being in your resume. Also during the job interview, make sure you do some interviewing too. Just because you are looking for work and they are looking for help does not always make for a great relationship. Ask questions, ask hard questions. Do you want to be looking for another employer within 6 weeks of being hired because you did not ask them about something that is important to you?

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