Marketing yourself into the job marketplace

McGill University

McGill University

(Article disponible en Français)

On March 20th, students from the PR program at the university of McGill were invited to attend a Career Workshop organized by the McGill Public Relations Student & Alumni Network. During the workshop, PR professionals shared tips about finding a work in the industry.

While the workshop was designed for PR professionals, advices found in this post can be applied to other industries. No matter what field you target, landing the job of your dream is about executing a marketing plan. It is the branding of yourself. There, I said it. You are, we are, a brand. Companies are clients and you are the product they need to keep flourishing.

Below, you will find a summary of tips shared by the first speaker during the workshop, Marie-Josée Cardin. Mrs Cardin is a Recruiting Consultant for Lock Search Group. All the ideas and tips come from her but I must admit that I added my own twist to it! You can spot my inputs next to the .
1st step, be confident that companies need YOU.

Be confident, they need you

Companies really need YOU! Think about it.

Think of yourself as a solution for an employer. Generally, employers look for new hires through their contacts or internally. When a company advertises a position, you can conclude that they have a problem that they couldn’t solve internally. When a company goes the extra mile by paying a hiring firm to recruit a candidate, it shows that they have a BIG problem.
By applying, YOU are selling the solution. You are marketing yourself.

Marketing is the process by which companies determine what products or services may be of interest to customers. In our context, marketing is the process by which job seekers determine what skills and experiences may be of interest to employers.

Marketing Plan for job seekers

The draft of marketing plan for job seekers should be made of four columns:

1st column: The kind of skills the company is requesting.
You have probably read the tasks description, but do you really really know what the company is looking for? Do your homework! Most companies list the skills and tasks that are required in order to do the job. However, corporations don’t always tell recruiters what particular missions should be fulfilled to fix internal flaws.
Job descriptions are very generic. You can only personalize your approach by being familiar with the company itself. You should try to know as much as possible about the company in order to know what are their weaknesses. What are the areas in which they need your expertise?
Annual reports are a mine of information but you should also read articles on the industry in which the company operates.

2nd column: The experience needed.
You are young, still going to school or you just graduated from college and you think the only experience you have is doing your homework. In your cover letter, you want to highlight the fact that even though you have no experience, you are smart enough to hold the position. WRONG!
Companies sometimes need young people with poor experience because they have a virgin field that can be easily cultivated.
If you have little, to no experience in the position you are applying for, do NOT mention it. Focus on your skills, what you can do to help the company solve its problem. Expand on experiences you have in other related activities (work, volunteering…) and how it can be transferred to the position you are applying for.
It could also be that you are older and you fear that a younger candidate will steal the limelight. Sometimes a CV can reveal your age and you don’t necessarily want the company to think that you have too much experience to bring a fresh breeze to their business.
In this case, remember that a CV should list your most recent experience. No need to dig back in 1987 when you started your career. You may feel that your earlier experiences are relevant to the job of your interest. But be careful with the dates.

3rd column: recap what you have in terms of the skills required.This part involves a good strategy. A mistake often made by job applicants is to put the focus on the previous company they have worked for as if they were waving a trophy. You should be talking about yourself, not about your previous employer. Insisting on the company or industry for which you worked before can cost you your interview. How so?

Don't hide behind your last company. It should be all about your skills!

Remember that you don’t know the person in front of you (the recruiter). He or she may have hired people in the past that have worked for your ex-employer and maybe she doesn’t think too highly of that company. By reinforcing your passage at this particular company, you can be reawakening negative feelings the recruiter has towards the company.
You will probably argue that all positions and company names are listed on your CV. And you just made a point. However, the way you are selling your skills can make you shine regardless of the reputation of your ex-employer.

4th column: Find your first, second and third achievements in your life. The skills you have acquired in previous jobs or different industries can be transferable to the position/field you are applying for.

Be careful with these friendly interviewers

He looks friendly but don't talk too much. You'll be out of topic.

A job interview is a bit like an interview with journalists. The more you talk, the more you’re in trouble. Of course, if you look shy, aloof or talk very little, you may project the image of an unconfident person. Nonetheless, you should be very careful when a recruiter gets too friendly and tries to put you at ease. They know know that you have prepared for the interview and rehearsed your speech so they want you to let your guards down for a minute and see behind the « professional » mask.

When do you know that you are taking too much or too little? This is where the marketing plan becomes practical. As long as you stay within the four columns, you know that you have covered the core of the message. Note that your core message is already a selection and not the integrality of the many skills you possess. This brings us to our next point.

Close the deal and the catalogue

You are salesperson and your product is represented by your skills. A salesperson will also try to find out as much as they can about a potential buyer before choosing a product that can meet your need. Salesperson focus on the strengths of their products and they minimizes its weaknesses. After everything is said and done, salesperson need to close the deal. You can use all kind of artifacts before and during the interview but at the end, you need to close the deal.

Because it’s a sale, you should leave your « catalog » at home. We mentioned previously that staying within the four columns will help you stay focus. While closing the deal, make sure that you have covered key messages. Going over all the skills you possess is like opening a catalog and asking the recruiter to choose from it. Sales persons don’t risk confusing their potential buyer by listing all the products on their catalog. They study the personality of their clients in order to find the products that are more likely to meet their needs. At the end of the interview, don’t leave the interviewer wondering where are your real strengths.
Close the deal, close the catalog!

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6 réflexions sur “Marketing yourself into the job marketplace

  1. (Thought I’d leave you a comment!)

    I have a deepest loathing of self-marketing. Consequently, my career in media is going nowhere and my designs are mostly only seen by family and friends.

    The old-fashioned way of being promoted at work because you are known by your bosses to be doing a good job has gone. Because of equality laws, if you want promotion YOU have to apply for a vacancy and YOU have to sell yourself at the interview*. It sucks! I’ve seen total assholes get promoted while great people have been left behind.

    (*of course this doesn’t apply to the really top jobs – then it’s all about political negotiations and the ‘old-boy’ network.)

    But this is how it is. Therefore the more marketing skills you learn – and the thicker skin you can develop – will only work in your favour. Good luck!

  2. hibiscusjaune dit :

    Like you, I have long relinquished the idea of selling myself. I had to realize that selling means putting forth your skills and qualities. We all have to sell something at one point in our life (to get a loan from the bank, convince our parents to buy something….).

    The reason why you career doesn’t pick up in a record time is because you are not willing to sell things you don’t possess. I know a lot of people who got a job by lying and cheating, which is selling skills and qualities they don’t have. Then they brag about lying and not being caught and they don’t lose a wink of sleep over this.

    Yes, it sucks, because I only sell what I have and sometimes people don’t buy it. Recruiters are looking for people who can make them dream without lying. I know how to tell the truth, I have yet to learn how to tell faitytales without losing my integrity. When I’ll figure out to do that, I’ll be very happy. You too.

    • pienbiscuits dit :

      I’m glad you made the point about lying to get a job. I don’t understand it and I don’t see the point of it.

      I have lost jobs recently, because I was honest in declaring my lack of experience in certain areas. It’s difficult, but I’d rather be honest and trust that the right things will come my way, than burn my bridges by costing the company money, the recruitment agent their reputation (if applicable) and my integrity. Good luck to those people who brag about their ability to lie and not get caught out, but that’s not how I roll.

  3. I’m english so am genetically predisposed not to be able to market the skills I do have, let alone those I don’t. Guess I need reprogramming!

  4. hibiscusjaune dit :

    I’m not English but we’re on the same page. Yes, major reprogramming and a tad of optimism and luck I guess.

  5. webmistress dit :

    Great new layout Hibiscusjaune

    this poist has some great info for all job seekers and employers alike, I just started a new job a two weeks ago and confindence will get you though the door…now there is a thin line between confidence and cockiness so we all must tread lightly with that. We have to keep those resumes updated as well alot of people tend to leave out many talents and skills from their resume because some of the work experiences may have been volunteer or a form of other non compensated work.

    Your so righ about to not hind behind your last company, thats a great tip and many people do use their last job as the main marketing tool, but depending on the jon your seeking as well if its with a rival or not, the previous company can even prevent a person from getting hired on…I know a few people that were not hired because of that exact fact. Mos def MUST have the skills that the company is seeking if not all of them at least the major ones.

    its great when you get the interview and about a day later they call you back, makes you feel good inside because you know you did something right. Now once you get the job your in the rat race to keep it lol

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