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Career Advice

Seeking A Job Requires A Marketing Mindset

When you respond to a job opportunity, don't try to sell yourself. Now you're probably thinking: "What? Are you nuts? Of course I have to sell myself!"


But think about it. Your goal as a job seeker is not to present yourself in the best light as you see it but, rather, to show the potential employer how you can meet his or her needs. That's marketing, not sales.


When a company creates a new job or someone leaves and an opening occurs, the hiring supervisor (consciously or unconsciously) creates an image or template of the ideal candidate in her or his mind. Your need is to try and figure out what that idea is and help the employer recognize that you fit the image more closely than anyone else.

How can you do this? Carefully read the job posting or classified ad. Most people drafting a job description tend to think of desirable history or skills in an unconscious order of priority. If you hear about the opening in some other way, ask for a job description before you upload your resume.

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Do some research (again, a marketing function) on the organization with an emphasis on the areas of its core businesses. And take a look at how the organization historically has positioned itself in the industry. Check out their Web site. Ask for a copy of their sales brochure, an annual report, and/or copies of their customer and employee publications. Ask your friends. Ask friends of friends who are working there. Work your network. This researching phase not only helps you to build your "positioning," but equally important, it enables you to discover if this is a company with a culture you'd want to work in.

Once you have the information, craft your cover letter to demonstrate how your experience and talents can help the organization meet its goals, achieve its mission. The letter should point out and expand upon specifically relevant points on your resume. It is also where you can refer to other information that does not appear in a standard resume but that may be significant because of its particular relevance to the specific job. Given the convenience of word processing with today's PCs, shape the resume itself around the needs of the job.

Almost everyone has an opinion on how a resume should be structured. And almost all those opinions disagree with one another. Here are some more common tips:

  • Make sure your resume reflects how you can help the organization thrive. Focus on your achievements and on accomplishments that are related to needs of the potential employer. Quantify them to the highest extent possible. You get to take credit for anything which you or staff reporting to you achieved. If you could have been blamed for the failure, you get credit for the success.
  • Don't try to hide any gaps in chronology. Explain them. Having been out of work for a while is much more common these days. It's just part of life. (Some appreciate a more functional resume with a short chronology more than one that is pure chronology).
Since you are most likely to get a job where the fit is good, be careful if you have to adjust your presentation of yourself too much. If the fit isn't really good, but you get the job because you stretched and pulled yourself all out of shape to fit the needs of the job, you may not be happy in the work. That's no good for you or the employer.
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