How to Stay Positive During the Job Search

The events of the last year have put thousands of experienced promotional products professionals out of work. They face a tough job market and are unsure what the future holds. We don’t have a crystal ball, but here are ten steps that you can take to stay positive and productive during your job search.

Settle Into a Daily Routine

We all find comfort in our daily routines. When on the job search, create daily habits built around consistency. Get up at the same time every day, get dressed for work, and designate a daily job search schedule.

Set Measurable Goals

When searching for a new job, you’re going to encounter many more losses than wins. Rejection is a part of the process, and you need to be ready for it. Set yourself up for success by setting small, measurable goals for your daily activity. These goals will help to keep you motivated and productive.

Make a List of Your Achievements

Confidence is a huge part of your job search. It’s a tremendous asset but one that will be tested often. To bolster your confidence, make a list of your career and personal achievements. Awards, problems solved, and major projects should make your list into a positive reinforcement tool when the going gets tough.

It’s a Full-Time Job

When you’re unemployed, you still have a job. Your job is to work as hard as possible to get employed. You need to consistently work toward your goal and treat your efforts like a full-time job.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Around 55 million Americans have filed for unemployment due to COVID-19. Realize that you are not alone in this. Millions of experienced, valuable professionals like you are in the same boat. Don’t let stress or frustration get to you. Simply focus on productive activity and take it one day at a time. The job search is a marathon, not a sprint.

It’s Not Personal

You are valuable and important. You’re in this lousy situation due to bad luck, not bad performance. Work on your mental toughness. The obstacles and setbacks that you encounter are just a part of the process. It’s nothing personal.

Keep Busy

A big key to being productive is to stay busy. You don’t need to be in job search mode 24/7 but try to keep your days full. Exercise, enjoy hobbies, volunteer, and spend time with your family. Stay active and don’t let the ups and downs of the job search drag you down.

Practice Interviewing Skills

Do your due diligence. Opportunities will present themselves and you need to be ready to capitalize on them. Research potential employers, improve your interviewing skills and sell yourself every chance you get.

Engage With People 

There’s a heavy stigma around being unemployed. Because of this, your natural reaction may be to withdraw. This is the exact opposite of what you need to do. When you’re facing career challenges, you need to engage fully with your friends and contacts. You need to let others know what’s happening; they may have some answers for you or leads on new opportunities. Making new connections and revisiting old ones is a great way to generate some forward momentum for your job search.

Focus on What You Can Control

Many variables will have an impact on your job search. Sometimes it comes down to something as arbitrary as the mood of a hiring manager. Most of these variables can’t be controlled. Recognize these and let them go. Job market trends, the state of the economy, and your geographic location are completely out of your hands. Spend your time improving your resume, enhancing your LinkedIn presence, and learning new skills. Control everything that you can and hope for the best.

Taking these ten steps will put you in a positive mindset and ensure success in your job search.

What tips or advice would you share with promotional products job seekers?


10 Things to Know About Recruiters | Candidate Edition

Every recruiting firm works a little bit differently. Each company has varying areas of specialization, unique candidate databases, and different services that they provide for their clients. However, one thing that all recruiting firms have in common is their commitment to finding great opportunities for great people and great people for great opportunities. There are plenty of challenges along the way, but we, at PromoPlacement, have spent years perfecting our process and getting terrific results.

Below are ten things to keep in mind when working with a recruiter:


We’re a recruiting firm, not a placement or employment agency. Our business is client-driven, rather than candidate-driven. That being said, we pride ourselves on doing everything we possibly can to assist job seekers.


Our days are pretty jammed-packed. We’re busy but will make as much time as possible to connect with you and to get to know you and your career goals. Even if this means working nights and weekends. Our candidates and clients are our number one priority. We’re on the phone most of the day, so email is often the best way to get a quick response.


When we connect, be sure to highlight your strengths. It is achievements, successful projects, and accomplishments that help us sum up your background to the hiring managers that we work with.


Don’t hesitate to share your career goals with us. What position do you aspire to hold one day? Do you have a plan about how to get there?


Double-check your resume. Then, send it to two close friends and have them review it as well. Hiring managers hate resume mistakes.


If we present an opportunity that isn’t quite up your alley, don’t hesitate to say so. You won’t hurt anyone’s feelings, and you’ll help us to better target opportunities for you in the future.


If you suddenly can’t make an interview, please let all parties know as soon as possible.


If we’re unable to identify the right opportunity for you at the moment, be patient. There are several ways that we can create the right opportunity for you. It just takes time and patience. Be sure to stay in touch and keep us posted on your job search so that we can best assist you.


If we’re able to help you find the right opportunity, the best way to say “thank you” is with referrals.


The way to build the best possible relationship with your recruiter is to be completely honest and transparent. The more candid you are about your career goals and your hopes for the future, the more likely it is that our relationship with bring you the career success you deserve.

To read more about how recruiters work read our client edition on this topic.

What has your experience been with recruiters? How can we improve to better serve you?


References 101 | Part 1

Nowadays, most employers ask for you to provide them with at least three references. Most of us ask the same question, “Do they actually call and check those?” The answer is almost always YES, yes they do.  Picking the right references and asking those people to be a reference can be a task in and of itself.  On the employer side of things, checking those references can be daunting and time-consuming, but as we lay out below, neither has to be true.

How to Ask Someone to be Your Reference

Choose wisely 

Choose people who will give you an exceptional reference, people you had positive experiences with. This does not mean they have to be former employers. It could be a client or vendor, a co-worker, or a professor. If you have limited business contacts, use a personal reference, someone who can speak strongly to your character, demeanor, and abilities.

Be careful how you ask

Don’t just ask “Will you be a reference for me?” Instead, ask something along the lines of “Do you feel comfortable providing me with a reference?” This gives the person the opportunity to decline if they feel they would not be able to give you an outstanding reference.

Give them all pertinent information

Make sure they know what kind of jobs you are applying for and what companies could be calling them. This gives them the opportunity to prepare their thoughts and speak to what the company will be most interested in.

Put your request in writing

Be sure to send an email with all of the information in it when you ask for them to be your reference. This gives them something in black and white to reference and allows them to answer truthfully. Be sure to include your name in the subject line so that the email gets opened and read.

Be Professional

When sending your email to ask for the request, be sure to sound professional.  Check the email for spelling and grammatical errors, and if need be ask someone to edit for you. Remember you are asking for a professional reference, you need to be professional in the request.

Say Thank You

Be sure you say thank you in your email as well. You are asking them to take time out of their busy schedule to do you a favor and help you get a job. Be sure to thank them for everything!


Dear Steve,

I hope everything is well on your end and that you’re enjoying a busy 3rd quarter.  I wanted to touch base with you to ask for help in my job search. I am in the process of looking for a new position as my current position is being eliminated.

I would like to ask your permission to use you as a reference who can speak to my skills, qualifications, and abilities. I would always advise you when your name and contact information is given out this way you know who to expect a phone call from. I would also share what type of position it is, and what they are looking for.

I really appreciate your time and efforts in this and look forward to hearing from you soon.  Also, if you know of any openings that I may be qualified for I would appreciate the help.

Thank you,


For information on how to check references read this blog post.


How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Most people dread the in-person job interview. Even the thought of an interview is enough to throw some into a tailspin of anxiety. What do you wear? What do you bring? How do you answer those tough questions? We at PromoPlacement completely understand and are here to help. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to prepare yourself for the interview.

Research The Organization

The very first thing you want to do in preparation is to research the company you will be interviewing with. Check out the company’s website. Read the “About Us” section and get a feel for who they are, what they are about, and when they were founded. Find something that speaks to you that you can slip into conversation.

Talk to someone who already works there or find someone on LinkedIn who is currently working in the position you will be interviewing for. See how they describe the position and find something you like about it. This will help you speak more to what the hiring manager may be looking for.

Package Your Positives

Go into the interview with a game plan. Select 2-4 key points about your experience and background that you want to make very clear to the interviewer. Reiterate these often. These points should tie into both the business goals of the company and the hiring goals of the manager. They should be specific and spell out exactly why you are the right person for the job.

Package Your Negatives

Many candidates have some shortcomings or weaknesses within their career history. Maybe you have had a 3-month gap in employment or maybe your formal management experience is lacking. Whatever the issue is, be prepared to address it. Plan out in advance how you are going to explain it should it come up in the interview. It’s best to keep it brief. Explain it and move on to the next topic.

What To Wear

Keep it neutral and conservative. If you are wearing a dress, be conscious of the length, color, and cut. Be sure you stay professional top to bottom. If you are wearing a suit, be sure the jacket and pants match as well as the shoes. If you are instructed that the office is “business casual” be mindful. Keep your look professional, this may mean not wearing a full suit, but rather wearing a button-down with dress pants. Remember you are trying to impress.

Remember to dress for the job you want not the job you have. Even if you are interviewing for a customer service job behind a desk and a phone, you still want upward mobility, and the best way to ensure that you have it is to show them right off the bat that you’re a professional.

What To Bring

Bring extra copies of your resume in some type of folder to keep them clean and neat. Bring a notepad or professional binder and a pen. Keep everything neat and professional. Read our “11 Essential Things to Take to Your Interview” blog post for more details.

First Impressions

Sit up straight. Carefully control how you react to the interviewer and do your best to keep positive facial expressions. Remember that your first impression starts when you pull into the parking lot, so be friendly to everyone you see and meet. Make it clear that you’re actively listening to your interviewer by keeping good eye contact.

Keep Responses Simple

Be sure not to over-share. No one needs to hear your life story in an interview and no one wants to hear you ramble on about unrelated areas of interest. Keep your answers short and concise. Speak clearly and with meaning. You don’t need to use big words in your interview. Just speak to what you know and be yourself.

Always Ask Questions

Every interview ends with “Do you have any questions?” Always have questions. The number one question we recommend to our candidates is “Do you have any doubts about me taking this job?” This is where you can get an idea of where they feel you may fall short and take the opportunity to ease their doubts.  Other questions you can ask are “What do you expect of someone within the first 90 days of taking this position?” or “What are the next steps?”. Never ask about compensation, benefits, or PTO in the first interview. Those details will clarify themselves later in the process.

Send A “Thank You”

Send a “thank you” note or email to the person you interviewed with. Be sure to include why you want the position and why you feel you would be an asset to their company. This can make you stand out from all other candidates because this is the one step most people forget. I’ve seen it make the difference between getting the job or not.

The in-person job interview doesn’t have to be stressful or nerve-wracking.  Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Believe in yourself, prepare diligently, and you’ll stand out from the pack.

For more information on interview preparation read our article on the “11 Essential Things to Take to Your Interview”.


A Guide to PPAI Career Resources

PromoPlacement was recently invited to spend the day at PPAI headquarters.  PPAI is a terrific organization and it was a great day. It was wonderful to meet all of the men and women who are directing our industry’s future.

“Happy to spend time with Patrick McHargue, Director of Talent at PromoPlacement. Always looking for ways to bring new talent to industry companies and help promotional professionals find the right opportunities. Thanks for making the trip from St. Louis for the visit!”

-Paul Bellantone | Chief Executive Officer of PPAI

After meeting with the professional development team at PPAI, we were very impressed with the education and career tools available through PPAI. We were so impressed that we want to remind you of all of the great PPAI career resources at your fingertips.

Resume Posting

If you’re actively seeking a new opportunity in our industry, the resume posting service provided by PPAI is a great place to start. To make the most of this resource, you simply upload your resume and complete a short form. This platform allows you to get your background onto a platform that’s well-traveled by industry hiring managers looking to add to their team.

Job Board

The PPAI job board is quite popular with industry hiring managers. Essentially, it’s the inverse of the resume posting platform. Hiring managers who are looking to fill opportunities fill out a short form and upload a job description. You can even see the date the job opening was posted so you can be sure that the opportunity is still active.

Online PPAI Education

The online education portal on is really the hidden gem of career resources. To access it, you’ll need to know your PPAI username and password. Once signed in, you’ll get access to a myriad of live and on-demand educational seminars. These seminars aren’t exclusively focused on career advancement but are an invaluable asset when looking to round out your industry know-how and expertise.

Topics covered in PPAI’s online education platform include SAGE, client development, decorating methods, supply chain, social compliance, social media best practices, and industry-specific sales practices.

If you’re looking to advance your career or searching for a new opportunity in our industry, these PPAI resources are excellent places to start your journey!


Networking for Your Next Job

Networking for Your Next Job

Networking for Your Next Job

Effective networking is the most direct method to find your next job. The problem is that most networking is done incorrectly or is considered too intimidating to attempt altogether. Networking is the catch-all term for making new connections, selling yourself to existing contacts, and asking for favors.

If you can’t ask someone for a favor they aren’t really a contact and aren’t in your network. This is one of the main ways in which doing favors for others pays off. One good turn deserves another and in most cases, you can expect favors to be returned at some point in the future. When the time comes for your job search, it’s time to call in as many of those favors as you can.

Perfect Your Pitch

A critical part of effective networking is being clear about your goals. Know your goals and be able to succinctly communicate your message. Be compelling and make people want to know more. Also, be sure not to make it all about you. Your pitch needs to focus on what you plan to accomplish in the next phase of your career and the value you can provide to your next employer.

Track Your Conversations

Keep records of all your networking activity. Who? What? Where? When? What’s the next step? Concentrate on strong follow-up and the next steps you need to take.

Give as Much as You Get

In many cases, you’ll be asking your network for leads, referrals, or job search advice. However, always remember that successful networking is a two-way street. You are utilizing your network to find a new job, but you need to care for it and provide your contacts with value as well.

Sending a thank-you note, asking about the family, or emailing an article you think they might be interested in, are all free ways to add some value for the people in your network. By nurturing these relationships through your job search and beyond, you’ll establish a strong network of people you can count on for ideas, advice, and support.

Don’t Forget About Social Media

Companies and leaders who thrive on social media do so because they give access to their followers. You can get in touch with people on Twitter or Facebook who would never return an email from you. Leverage this fact. Follow people who can help your job search. Listen to them on social media and share things they might find interesting. From there, it’s an easy conversation about opportunities within their organization.

The Secret Advantage of Networking

Many jobs are not published on company websites or job boards. These positions are known to only a handful and HR managers and recruiters. Networking is the only way to get your name in the running for these unpublished positions. Let your contacts know that you are on the job hunt and let your network do the work.


Determine Cultural Fit

The 3 Questions That Determine Cultural Fit

Matthew Mueller

Clothier, Knot Standard, realized early in their development that finding talented employees who fit their culture would make the difference between success or failure. The stakes were high. Finding people who fit the culture was the only thing that mattered for them.

This focus on fit lead to the realization that three simple questions could tell them more about a candidate’s culture fit than anything else.

What do you do better than anyone else you know?

Hiring managers want to know what candidates are the best at. What areas are you exceptional in? An honest and direct answer shows strong confidence.

What are you poor at? What do you try to avoid whenever possible?

This question is highly related to the first. Managers already know what you excel at, but what are you bad at? Most positions are best suited for specialists. Knowing both what you’re great at and poor at gives the managers all the information they need to build a role around the candidate’s abilities.

Why would make you choose our company over another?

What drew you to our company in the first place? Do you have a passion for what we do? Can you identify with our corporate mission? This question is an indicator of a candidate’s long-term passion for and investment in the goals of the company.

These three questions will give you an excellent overview of the potential culture fit of any given candidate. Never skip these questions because culture fit is the best indicator of employee performance and longevity.

For more information on corporate culture read our articles on “How To Maintain Your Company Culture While Hiring” and “What’s Your Corporate Culture Made Of?


How to Write a Resume That Will Land You Any Job

How to Write a Resume That Will Land You Any Job

A resume is an ink and paper representation of your career. During the job search, it can be the key to your next job. Like most things in the business world, it’s a good idea to stick with proven best practices. Below are several time-tested rules of resume writing.

Keep it simple and clean. Your resume should be built on your experience and accomplishments. It doesn’t need graphics, artwork, or “personality”. The structure and font that you choose matter. Keep it orderly and easy to read. Nothing should distract from the content.

Include all pertinent contact information. This includes your cell phone number, personal email address, and home address. Some younger candidates include social media handles. That can be helpful but isn’t necessary for the promotional products industry.

Tell the reader what you want. This is your objective. Your objective needs to be a strong, bold statement about 1-2 sentences long. Follow this with your summary. This should be 4-5 sentences and tell the reader what they can expect to get from you.

Focus on your accomplishments, not your duties. Don’t tell the reader what you did, tell them what you got done.

If you can’t quantify it, it doesn’t exist. In the world of resumes, numbers are king. Did you grow your sales? Great. How much? You managed a team of sales reps. Cool. How many? Put a number to everything!

Many employers and recruiters will load your resume into a database immediately. They’ll use this database to search for job candidates just like you and I use Google. Take advantage of this and make sure that your resume contains keywords that make sense for the positions you want to be considered for.

Your resume is not one size fits all. You need to customize, customize, customize! Customize it for each job and each company that you are applying for.

No matter what job you are applying for you have to highlight your qualifications for that specific position. Make it very obvious to the reader that you have everything they could want in an employee.

Resumes can quickly become stale and out of date. Set a recurring reminder to update your resume every 3 months.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, looks worse than grammatical or spelling errors in a resume. It shouts “Unprofessional!” Please proofread and have two others proofread it as well.

Promote yourself! Resumes are not for being humble or giving credit to others. Own your accomplishments and SELL THE READER! Provide all the evidence needed to convince even the most skeptical reader that you will be an immediate difference-maker for their business!


7 Tips For Making Your Job Change A Breeze

For many people changing jobs can be a nightmare.

Workdays that were once filled with confidence and routine, became full of anxiety and questions. Am I the low person on the totem pole? What was my password for this CRM program I have no idea how to use? What’s that guy’s name again? How does this stupid coffee machine work?!?!?!

If you’re going to take one thing away from this post make it this: A job (or even a career!) change is nothing to be nervous about.

Use these seven tips to hit the ground running at your new job!

Act like you are still being interviewed. Don’t get too comfortable too early. You are still being evaluated. You need to continue to impress and prove yourself.

Get to know some of the team before your start date. Happy hours and company events are great for this. Spending time with soon-to-be co-workers outside of the office is less formal and you can get up to date on current projects. It’s also a great way to get some insight into the company culture.

Take notes. This one seems really obvious, but lots of people ignore it. During your onboarding, you’ll be hit with a ton of new information. Some of this will be fluff, but we advise taking notes on everything so you don’t miss the useful parts.

Volunteer for everything that you can. Community Service Committee? You need to be on it. Party Planning Committee? Yes, please. Get involved early and often. This shows that you’re in it for the long haul and increases your exposure to your co-workers, your bosses, and their bosses.

Be proactive! Don’t wait to be given an assignment or told what to do. No employer wants a drone for an employee. Stay 30 minutes late each day to work on a project that you came up with. The project may not get off the ground, but your boss will love the effort.

Be yourself. You’ve got the job already! It’s not time to slack off, but don’t act like a perfect employee robot either. Enjoy your work and have fun getting to know your co-workers.

Work your butt off!