Times Review

Setting yourself apart

East Chicago native and management consultant hopes
new book will help people market themselves better

                                          
BY SHARON PORTA, The Times

     As a management consultant for the past 22 years, East Chicago native Michael Goodman, was used to people asking for help with their job search. But when he had an unusual number of requests over several months, all asking the same kinds of questions while he offered the same fundamental advice, it occurred to Goodman that most of what he was saying could be generalized and captured in a book.

     "I decided to write a book that offered a strategic overview, rather than a how-to book with information about such things as writing resumes,'' Goodman said.  "When people are searching for a job, they usually don't have a well thought-out strategy. That's the piece most people miss. People without a job are so anxious, they are so eager to take action, that they just begin sending out resumes and going on interviews. But you are more efficient at getting what you want when you take the time to plan first.''

     The result is, "The Potato Chip Difference: How to apply leading-edge marketing strategies to landing the job you want.''   The book focuses on how an application of the same strategic approach that management consultants use with their corporate clients can help a job seeker land the perfect job.

     The name of the book is a result of Goodman's former position at Frito-Lay. When joining the firm, he was amazed the company's senior management could tell so much about a potato chip just by looking at it. They could tell what part of the country it came from, often the specific manufacturer, the frying temperature, what kind of oil was used, the salt level and perhaps even the number of days since it was processed.

     "The point is, that there is no such thing as a commodity,'' Goodman said. "All potato chips are really just sliced potatoes, fried in oil and salted. The connection to career planning is that from an employer's perspective, every applicant may look like a commodity, just another resume crossing their desk. Applicants must distinguish themselves from the competition.''

     To do so, Goodman suggests finding out some background about the company to which a job seeker is applying, and then customizing their resume accordingly.

     "See what the company does, what it's all about,'' Goodman said. "You can find that information out on the Web. That's a good way to get their public face. But then talk to employees or former employees, vendors or anyone who deals with the company. Then tailor your resume to that specific company. It's important to know both yourself and your employer before beginning a customized search.''

     By taking time for some introspection, Goodman believes people will make a better career choice.

     "Rather than taking the first available job that pays enough, take some time with the search,'' Goodman said. "Then you won't change jobs so often and you'll get a better salary.''

     A 1960 graduate of East Chicago Washington High School, Goodman attended Purdue University. He worked for several local companies, including Frito Lay and IBM, before leaving the area. He founded Dialogue Marketing Group, a strategic planning, marketing and consulting firm, back in 1979. He has lived in Connecticut since that time but returns to the area frequently to visit his parents, who live in Munster.

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Last updated: Monday, November 03, 2008