Marketing is a rapidly changing field, highly technology reliant and regularly evolving into new concepts with a plethora of keywords. However, the principles and justifications for marketing generally stay the same. We as marketing professionals want to do one thing well, communicate. The common misconception is that sales, brand awareness and all the other marketing benefits are the only consideration. They are not, they are just the end result of communicating in a way which demonstrates understanding of the environment and the understanding of those who you want to hear and understand your messages. What that ‘something’ is can be pretty much whatever you want it to be; a new product or service, a brand message, a customer service campaign, a job advert. Or a job application?
When a hiring manager or recruitment professional decides on recruitment activity (the advertising and positioning of the advert, selling the company and package etc) they do so using a number of highly specific marketing principles, whether they know they do this or not is another question but I suspect some do not. They will have been briefed about what personality is required for any given role, what sort of skill set is required, what qualifications that person is likely to have and what level of prior experience is needed. The result of this is that they already have their perfect candidate in their head and the job spec and advert is written based on this image. Their job is to communicate the requirement in the best way possible to ensure the return on investment is as close to ‘the perfect candidate’ as possible.
So how does an applicant market themselves?
Your personal marketing plan is something which you might not have given much thought to but with every application, you as the candidate wittingly or unwittingly engage in the very same marketing principles. At least half of all failing applications do so based on the poor understanding of how to market yourself as a candidate to the specifics of the role and organisation as opposed to overall unsuitability.
When you decide to apply for a role, you and the recruiter enter a unique marketing relationship where you both need to communicate the correct messages in order to achieve what you both want, a successful hire. As the candidate your primary focus should begin with the job specification, you must research and identify the industries, companies, cultures and roles that you will be suitable for and will enjoy, these are your targets. Discipline here often pays off, if you can ensure you spend more time writing applications to organisations you are interested in and for roles that you will enjoy then your applications will be natural and honest and more transparent.
Marketers target their communication; they design content for specific demographics of their customer base that is designed to elicit a response. Ensuring you re-write your CV and cover letter to address the specific qualifications and experiences (make use of keywords) established in the job advert is important. However, highlighting individual achievements within specific tasks and experiences that will prove your performance levels were higher than the average is how you ensure the recruiter selects your CV to read in more detail. You do not need to list your all-time greatest achievements just emphasise the ones relevant to this role. Ensuring any online presence matches your written application is important for consistency; if you received marketing communications that presented a different message in one medium than they did in another, you would be disappointed.
Make the most of your network, using job boards is a great way to make a professional public profile however if you don’t regularly update the information and engage with people via these platforms, they stagnate and will have to be hastily fixed when the time comes to make applications. Making the most of your network can be a great inroad to a position that you would not normally have been able to identify. Furthermore you need to measure what is working and what is not. If you get the chance to ask for feedback then do so, but make sure you take it on board and address it for future efforts.
So finding a job is marketing then?
Communication is the key to you achieving success in your job search. You must present yourself as the best solution to the problem for that organisation (the problem being the open vacancy). If you are guilty of applications with a ‘one size fits all’ CV and cover letter clichés such as the ‘determined individual’ or surprise surprise; ‘I am a good communicator’, then you should reconsider your tactics.
My challenge to you is to change your job hunting habits, to prove yourself with communication and marketing principles that focus on quality not quantity. If you limit the number of applications you make but spend the same amount of time making the few as you would making the many, you will allow yourself to find the right opportunity. Read more into the role, research the company culture, identify the areas of responsibility you can excel at and credibly highlight and present a relevant application that is harder to ignore. Alternatively, you can run the risk of becoming the ‘spam marketing’ of applications, the unsolicited and unjustified attempt that only goes down as poorly targeted and poorly communicated. Ultimately, forgotten.
Matt Thomas is Marketing Associate for Quarsh, a leading RPO and Talent Warehousing organisation. He regularly contributes to the Quarsh Blog on matters such as social media and employer branding.