Marketing Pro Remakes His Image

Marketing executive details his job search and offers tips to other marketers looking for work.

scheckel_williamWilliam Scheckel is a marketing executive skilled in marketing financial and technical services. He had never thought much about marketing himself, though, until one day last May, a couple of weeks after he had been laid off from a management consultancy in New York.

“A colleague, who is the chief marketing officer at a company I respect, pitched me back to me,” Scheckel said. “It was an eye-opener. I realized that I needed to put together this pitch, to get the word out about me. It was very helpful to get that kind of support.”

For Scheckel — who was still upset about being laid off and the way his former employer had handled the situation — it was the right thing to hear at the right time. “I could continue to be angry, shocked and concerned about the layoff,” the Montclair, N.J., resident said. “But I pushed myself to take that fear and anger and turn it toward making the effort to market myself.”

The MktgLadder member had many reasons to regroup as quickly as possible. “A few weeks before I was laid off, I had told my wife, who is a teacher and was miserable in her job, to go ahead and take some time off, rethink some things and then find a new job,” he said. “And my son had just turned 1. So, talk about putting everything in perspective! I knew what I needed to do.”

A video introduction

One of the first things he did was redo his Web site, adding a video introduction that would make that all-important pitch. “I put it to together with a friend of mine who is a film editor, who offered to do it for free,” he said. “We created this introduction that says, ‘Here’s what it’s like to talk to me, here’s what we will be talking about. If you like what you hear, let’s continue this conversation in person.’ ”

That exercise led Scheckel to rewrite his resume, using much the same language he had used for his Web site. On both his Web site and in his resume, he is doing the same thing, he said: marketing his brand.

“If I were a marketing consultant to myself, I would be hammering out the different aspects of my brand,” he said. “I know what I am good for: small- and medium-sized businesses. I wanted to make sure my messaging says this. If I do it right, I will display my value properly.”

While Scheckel is looking for a full-time position, consulting work is keeping him busy, in between job interviews, networking and taking care of his toddler son. His sense of humor keeps him going. “There are extra hours in the day when other people sleep,” he joked. “I stay up late, I get up early. I’m home with my son a couple of days a week, and on those days, if I can tire him out by 1 p.m., I can get a good three hours of work in. There’s not a lot of time to watch Battlestar Galactica re-runs.”

Scheckel has structured his week to fit in job hunting with consulting and refreshing his Web site. “Wednesdays and Fridays are job hunt days,” he said. “Mondays I have a regular gig with a company doing marketing work. I do like to have one day that’s flexible. But getting into a routine, where my day is structured like a job, is important.”

Beware of pigeonholes

While he is looking to broaden his search to other industries, “no matter what I try to do, I get tagged as someone who does marketing for financial and tech companies,” he said. “Marketing is marketing, and it can be applied across the board. In the 1990s, I worked in Germany, and my clients came from a lot of different businesses. But the places that are most likely to talk to me are financial companies, and no one is hiring there right now. With tech, I prefer small to mid-sized companies, and finding something viable can be difficult.”

But if he could choose any industry to market? “If Carnegie Hall or Jazz at Lincoln Center came knocking on my door, I would bend over backwards to work there,” he said. “I’m a musician; I would love to work in the arts.” But he is being realistic right now. Scheckel said he has been told by people in other industries that “no one is taking a chance right now. They want you to come in and be up to speed. They expect you to know the landscape, know the people. There is no time for ramping up.”

Some days are tougher than others, he said. “My outlook varies from moment to moment,” he said. “It can go from staring into the abyss to feeling like something has got to give.” One big relief: His wife did go back to work, as a part-time teacher and part-time administrator at a local college.

And he keeps marketing himself, even to himself. “I’m good at what I do, and somebody is going to see the value,” he said. “I never let a contact rest. I never know where an idle conversation is going to lead. I’m in marketing, I’m not a salesman, but I’ve become a good salesman. I pull on whatever thread I can find.”