Hidden Job Market Secrets

Use the six Ps of marketing to land that job successfully.

November 1, 2007
by Debra Feldman, the JobWhiz

Job hunting has striking similarities to a marketing project. The operative “P” words for a successful campaign are positioning, process and persistence, followed closely by performance, personality and pricing. The product is the candidate. In order for a candidate to have the opportunity to sell their value to the targeted buyer/employer, the strategy driving the search has to be effective, which means choosing the correct focus and developing the right approach. Your job search project may be one of the most demanding — and rewarding — campaigns you will ever experience.

Key Marketing Tactics

Let’s look at ways you can stack the deck in your favor by increasing your knowledge and job search implementation skills.

  1. Positioning: The first step to launching a successful campaign and propelling it forward is to identify what makes you a unique candidate. With such stiff competition, it is imperative that candidates distinguish themselves (see related article, Certifying Your Soft Skills, in this issue). This means creating a message or an identity that is remarkable and memorable, one that will separate you from the pack of resumes hitting recruiters’ desks. Is there something in your background that others easily remember? This bit of specialized, personal data is your tagline. If you get the positioning targeted correctly, your campaign will be focused on the right employer market with a message that the buyer will value netting you employer interest. Once you have captured an employer’s attention, then you have created a chance to demonstrate your abilities that eventually can produce a job offer, the goal of your job search campaign project.
  1. Process: The swiftest route to a new opportunity is to identify your target employers and then specify their needs in terms of how you can address them better than anyone else. Seek out a company where you are confident you can make a positive impact, and ensure that your positioning is consistent with your most outstanding ability or characteristic that an employer will instantly value. In other words, the better the match, the greater the likelihood capturing the employer’s interest immediately to actually satisfy their needs and exceed their expectations. If you understand the dynamic between meeting employers’ needs first and then promoting your skills against these requirements, your chances of making a connection are much greater. Cite ways you can save money, save time, retain customers, reduce costs increase sales or profits, etc. This will offset the employer’s cost of adding you to headcount.
  1. Persistence and perseverance: The early bird, the first candidate to impress the decision maker has a competitive advantage. So be the one to create a new job just for you by introducing yourself to employers you want to work for. This also means staying in contact with individuals with whom you “clicked” but didn’t work out an employment agreement for whatever reason. That positive interpersonal chemistry can make or break a situation in your favor so don’t let a good relationship slip away because the timing was off for hiring you. Sticking with your job search goals also means doing a whole lot more than simply submitting a resume or an online application — go and find out who is the hiring manager and speak with them directly. This will get you name recognition and allow you to pitch them on the phone or in-person with your credentials better than any written marketing document/resume can accomplish. A word about focus and establishing priorities: Concentrate your resources on activities with the largest potential return on your investment. While all search methods have their place, over 85 percent of executive jobs are filled through one avenue: Personal referrals. Keep track of your contacts and refresh them periodically. Use different methods to stay in touch, varying phone, e-mail, snail-mail, an article or clipping, invitations, face to face, etc. according to the recipient preferences. Maintaining contact is key to getting results (see related article in this issue on Networking Online). Persistence in personal interactions is guaranteed to be the very best way to identify a new opportunity. Recommendations carry tremendous weight over cold calls and unsolicited inquiries.
  1. Performance and Presentation: Make sure your resume speaks to your strengths, talents and skills, but nothing beats actual performance to prove to an employer that you can deliver for them. If you can provide proof of your competency through a customized presentation developed especially for a prospect (Think: Impact), you have demonstrated initiative and creativity as well as your wealth of knowledge. Show the prospective employer what you are made of!! Do a report just for the informational interview occasion demonstrating your grasp of the concepts and your ability to use the material effectively. This gives you a huge advantage over others who simply submit a resume and wait passively for a reply. You are already past the gatekeeper wowing the decision-makers. Put yourself out and you’ll reap a competitive advantage.
  1. Personality: The greatest credentials in the world are not enough. Interpersonal chemistry — that essential feeling of trust — plays a critical role in hiring decisions. If you are fortunate enough to make direct contact with a prospective employer, concentrate on letting them get to know you and begin to cultivate their trust. Listen rather than talk so you can hear what is important to them and then address their needs and calm their concerns. This is critical to encouraging the employer to be comfortable in choosing you to join their business. Gaining credibility can be even more important to your selection than whether your skills and background are desirable. Your personality will facilitate networking and this is how you are going to eventually find your next challenge.
  1. Pricing: Compensation package or salary provides a guideline to where you fit into an organization’s hierarchy, how much responsibility/authority you merit and an indicator of the additional value you represent to the employer. Until a prospective employer is sufficiently intrigued to bring up money, don’t raise this issue. Assure them that if you both agree that this is a good fit, you are confident that the financial details can be worked out agreeably. All the more time to invest developing interest in you that the employer would not want to abandon. When you do start talking dollars, be sure to frame this in terms of a range, not a single figure. Skirt this issue, assuring the employer that you are certain that this is a negotiable item that won’t be a problem. Rather than get into the language of closing a deal, let me suggest that you be prepared to show the employer that you can recoup the expense of bringing you on board through creating new income, saving this amount, retaining business, capturing new clients, increasing client loyalty, etc.

The goal of a job hunt is to find a great new career opportunity — great from both the employer’s perspective and the candidate’s viewpoint. To attract a targeted prospective employer’s attention requires correct marketing strategy implemented accurately. To accomplish this, a candidate must create the right positioning. Putting together a unique value proposition that distinguishes you from others competing for a new career opportunity and selecting prospective employers who will appreciate what you bring to their organization is essential. If this is done right, you will generate dialogues leading to exciting new challenges. Like anything else, this requires substantial effort and persistence over time.

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Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally-recognized expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic, and customized senior level executive job search campaigns, banishing barriers that prevent immediate success. Her gift for cold calling, executed with high energy and savvy panache, connects candidates directly to decision makers, not HR. Network Purposefully™ with the JobWhiz, and compress your job search into mere weeks, using groundbreaking techniques profiled in Forbes magazine(2/28/05) and featured in an upcoming syndicated television series. In addition to writing columns and conducting workshops for several revered professional associations, Debra provides career guidance to alumni of top-tier business schools. Contact Debra at www.jobwhiz.com to expedite your executive ascent.