Job seeker: market thyself

Whether or not you've been looking for work in 2020, I think you'll agree that it's been a hard time to find a job.

Unemployment is up, businesses are closing down and the competition is fiercer than ever. Yet it's nice to see some companies are start to hire again. Whether they are thriving or just realizing that after a year they need to start looking ahead, postings are starting to crop up more and more. We are hiring too and I am fortunate enough to be on the reviewer side so I get to see a lot of do's and don'ts when it comes to applying for jobs.

What struck me lately is how we, as marketers, put in so much thought and strategy into marketing brands but completely ignore marketing ourselves when applying for work. 

So hold onto your socks, here are 4 ways to bring marketing back into job seeking. 

1. Find your unique selling proposition

Just like every brand has to discover what makes them better than their competition,  you need to find out what makes you the best candidate. Why should someone choose you for the role over the other 100 applicants?

If you can't answer that it's likely that the employer can't either. 

Thinking about your competition is a good way to start crafting your responses to the criteria that's put into a job description. Everyone is going to say they can do the job but what makes you better at it than they are? 

Here's a quick example that I see all the time: 

"I have over 4 years of retail experience and dealing with customers"

This checks the box but sure doesn't tell you much. What if it were something like this:

"I have 4 years of retail experience where I discovered how to create real connections with customers and understand the sales process from start to finish."

It's a similar thought but gives more insight into what skills they offer and the experience they gained. 

Time to do some serious navel gazing and ask yourself if you are the best candidate for the job. If so, how are you going to convince the reader? 

2. Target your audience

When you get those annoying ads that pop up on your browser with some offer that has nothing to do with you, how do you feel? Annoyed? Frustrated? Bewildered? Does it even register? Spammy ads are proven to have a less than a 1% click-through-rate (CTR) and a fraction of that actually convert. 

Probably the biggest mistake I see is spamming resumes across job postings. Just like ads, these are just as annoying, just as irrelevant and just as useless. With tools like the one-button apply like on LinkedIn, it's too easy to do this and hit multiple jobs at once with one resume. 

The more we can personalize our content, the more effective it is.

It's true with ads and true with applications. Who are you talking to? What did they ask for? Are you using the same terms they are using? That's one of the most basic starting points but often missed completely leaving the employer asking if the applicant even read the description.

Do you have a cover letter? Are you missing your biggest opportunity to talk directly to the employer? If there isn't a form to put one in, bake it into your document. 

The more you understand your target audience, the more timely and relevant you can be. Do your research, identify your targets and personalize your content. Stop spamming and get targeted. 


We put in so much thought into marketing brands but completely ignore marketing ourselves.

3. Think about the user experience

After looking through 50 resumes done in Microsoft Word where every inch of whitespace is covered in Times New Roman text, it can be hard to stay objective. I'd like to say every resume is given an equal opportunity for review but we are all human. We get tired, distracted, lazy, agitated just like anyone else. Put yourself in the shoes of the reviewer. What is the best experience you can make for them? 

A little bit of design can go a long way. Give your resume some breathing room. Make it easier to ready by relaxing the line spacing, using modern fonts, creating content hierarchy, hyperlink your links, save as a PDF instead of a doc. etc. etc. Again, simple, easy ways to stand out from the competition. 

Also, think about the small touch points around the resume and interview process. A thank-you email can go a long way especially if you are one of the few that did it. What other touch-points can you think of?

4. Leverage your network

We've talked a lot about resumes. Honestly, submitting a resume is one of the hardest ways to get a job. No matter what you do you are competing with sometimes hundreds of applicants. Looking to cheat the system? Easy, get on the inside track.

Yes, I'm talking about networking. 

Networking comes with a lot of baggage but is one of the most natural things we do as humans. Obviously, harder to do now while we are remote. However, still doable - it just takes more effort. Whatever industry you are applying for, there are usually meetups, socials, virtual drinks etc. Making any sort of connection with the players that are hiring will absolutely give you an edge if they can put a face to the name.

Asking for help can be hard but that's what friends and family are for. It's time to dig into your network and ask for introductions, referrals, advice etc. You never know what may lead to an opportunity. Even just spreading the word that you are looking for work can lead to someone knowing someone who knows someone.

Put it out into the universe as best as you are able through whatever channel you have available. 

Keep on keeping on

It's cold out there. Keep your chin up. Try not to take the rejection personally which is easier said than done I know. Keep at it and think about applying more marketing strategy to your hunt. Hopefully some of these tips will help you have some success.

Good luck out there!


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