Your Job Search Is Like a Marketing Plan
A client recently came to me frustrated. He had been applying for jobs for about a month and was not getting any traction/response. In the past he had never had a problem, and he couldn’t figure out what might be going wrong. From my experience, I know he is not alone in his thinking.
The modern-day job search is not like it used to be. Long gone are the days of applying for jobs online and getting calls for interviews. Depending who you ask, there’s only a 2 to 4 percent response rate for posted positions. Yet, so many people start their job search this way because that is what they know. Essentially, what they are doing is marketing without a plan.
When I first got introduced to direct mail 15-plus years ago, I was told, “Direct mail is like the salesman that lands in your mailbox.” Well, this scared the heck out of me, because I was coming from a graphic design job and knew nothing about sales. Yet, those words always resonate with me whenever I plan marketing campaigns. In job search, it’s really no different. Your LinkedIn profile, resume and cover letter are your sales team. And they are going to help your ideal employer find you.
So, you really need to run your job search like a marketing campaign. Let’s walk through the critical components of a campaign. Then I’ll show you how it translates to job search.
1. The Target = Your Ideal Company and Position
You would never go to market without knowing who your target audience is. So why would you launch a job search without knowing where you want to end up? Everyday I see people launch their job searches by updating their resumes and then blasting them everywhere. In reality, it pays to take the time to figure out where you want to be.
Just like you have buyer personas for your company’s products, you need a company persona for your job search. With your company persona in mind, it will be easier to write your career marketing materials. Answer questions like these when creating your company persona:
- What industry?
- What size company (staff and revenue)?
- Agency or Corporate?
- B-to-B or B-to-C?
- What type of culture are you looking for?
Once you have your company persona, start researching companies that fit your description. Find out what their pains are and how you can solve those pains.
If you want to go a step further, write out your ideal job description. It can serve as a guide when you’re wondering if you should apply for a posted position.
- What title do you want?
- Who do you want to report to?
- What type of projects do you want to work on?
- Do you want to manage or be an individual contributor?
Now, you truly have your target defined. Then instead of searching for a job, you’ll search for companies with specific challenges you know you can solve!
2. The List = Your Network
In marketing, the list plays a big role in the success of your campaign. It’s all about sending the right message, at the right time, to the right people, correct? In job search, it’s all about your network.
You always hear that 80 percent of job opportunities are not posted — this is what is called the hidden job market. The key to tapping that is your network.
People you already know are much more likely to read and respond to your message. Now, you can take your list of target companies and figure out who in your network knows people there.
Are you thinking you have a small network? Think again! Make a list of everyone you know — family members to your accountant to former colleagues — and it will surprise you how fast your network can grow.
3. The Unique Value Proposition = Personal Brand
Differentiation is essential for any product to succeed in the marketplace. Why is your product better, faster, easier than the competition, right? The answer is your unique value proposition. Well, in job search it’s your personal brand.
Personal branding is an essential part of your professional life, no matter what stage your career is at. And everyone has a personal brand, whether they know or not. All it really is is your reputation.
My favorite definition of personal brand comes from Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com. He says, “Your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.”
So what are you known for in your industry, in your world? What makes you different? If you don’t know, ask. The quickest way to find out some things about your brand is to send a note to 10 people. Ask them to provide three adjectives that they think describe you. Compare their answers to adjectives you picked to describe yourself. Do they align? Why or why not?
If you want to do a deep dive on personal branding, the following books and assessments are helpful:
- 360Reach – The first and leading web-based personal brand survey developed by William Arruda
- Fascination Advantage from Sally Hogshead SPECIAL NOTE: Use the code JOY-Brand to take this assessment for free by February 15, 2016
- StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath – This assessment will tell you your top five natural strengths
- Me 2.0 by Dan Schwabel
- Personal Branding for Baby Boomers by Marc Miller
- Ditch, Dare, Do! by William Arruda and Deb Dib
Lastly, every good value prop needs support from benefits, not features. The same thing is true for your personal brand, especially when writing your resume. In this case, it’s your tasks that are the features, and your accomplishments are the benefits. Make sure you’re putting emphasis on your results (benefits) and quantify as much as you can.
4. The Offer (call to action) = Ask for the Interview
I bet you put a lot of thought into the offers you create for your campaigns. You want to motivate response or even a sale, right? Job search is no different. You want to motivate people to call you for an interview, so having a call to action is important.
The easiest way to do this is in your cover letter. Most cover letters end with something like, “Thank you for your consideration. Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to discuss potential career opportunities.” You never want to be “hopeful” at the end of your cover letter. That just hands the power right over to the hiring manager who will inevitably say no thank you.
Instead restate the value you bring to the employer and then ask for the interview. So now, you have something that sounds like, “I am confident I can apply my marketing skills to help your team get more qualified leads. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss more ways I can help Acme Technology reach its goals. You can reach me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thank you for your consideration.”
How many of you incorporate a call to action on your LinkedIn profile? I bet not too many. That is another ideal place for a CTA. Ask people to connect, visit your website, call, or email. You can put a CTA in your summary section or additional info section.
5. The Channel = The Delivery Method
Just like the Internet and social media have changed how you market, it has also changed the hiring process. Pushing out messages, like applying to jobs via online postings, no longer works the way it used to. Now, we’re pulling people in. You want to run a multi-channel campaign with your job search so you can attract your ideal employer.
Your resume is no longer the star of your job search. Nor is it the first thing people see. They are going to Google you and look you up on LinkedIn. Do you know what they will find when they do?
As a marketer in today’s world it’s essential to have your personal presence on the web polished and active. If you want to give yourself an even better edge create your own web portfolio and create a video bio. Some recruiters will automatically reject marketing candidates that have no social media presence.
6. Lead Management = The Follow-Up
All marketers have some type of lead funnel, whether it’s a sophisticated automation system or a rudimentary process. Your leads from your campaign are hopefully not just sitting somewhere in a database. It should be the same way with your job search.
You can use a tool like Jibber Jobber, a CRM system for job search, to track your applications, interviews, and connections. This will help you be much more prepared when you get calls and want to follow up on your status.
And, you may think this goes without saying, but always write a thank you note to anyone you interview with. Time is of the essence so email is acceptable. Many job seekers just don’t do this. So, it’s an easy way to gain an edge on your competition when you do.
A former manager of mine once told me direct response marketers survive with a 1 percent response rate. Hopefully, you’ll have a better response rate than that. The good thing about a job search campaign, though, is you only need a conversion rate of one.
Did I miss any key campaign components? What other marketing strategies would you apply to your job search? Tell me in the comments below.
The toughest marketing challenge of all is marketing you, and the purpose of this blog is to help marketing superstars, like you, conquer that challenge and excel in your career.
Passionate about direct marketing and helping people find jobs, Michelle Robin has translated her extensive B-to-B marketing background into a career focused on her true love: creating powerful career marketing documents that lead to interviews at her clients’ target organizations. As Chief Career Brand Officer at Brand Your Career, she works with executive-level sales and marketing professionals across the U.S., and helps them discover their personal brand and fast track their job search.
An award-winning and dual-certified resume writer (NCRW and PARW), Michelle’s work has been published in the book, Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed...Get Hired.
Need help discovering your personal brand? Download Michelle’s free Personal Branding Workbook. Just launching your job search? Get 26 action-packed tips to accelerate your marketing job search. You can also connect with Michelle on Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.