The 4 P's of the Job Search
If you took marketing in college you may remember being taught the Four P's of Marketing — price, product, promotion and place. They are the fundamental elements of a marketing campaign. Well, a job search also has four P's to remember;
These are the building blocks of a proper job search. Focusing on them will yield greater results as your job hunt unfolds.
The first of our P's has to do with defining who you are.
- What are your skills and abilities?
- What are your career goals?
- Where do you want to work and whom do you want to work for?
Answering these questions is an essential step to beginning your marketing plan. The answers will shape how you promote yourself on your résumé, in the interview and beyond.
This classic marketing term is perhaps the single most important element of your marketing campaign. Positioning yourself means identifying how employers see you as a potential employee. The key questions to ask yourself are: What makes me different from the other job seekers? How will I improve the company? How will I increase its profits?
If you do not come up with your own answers to these questions, then the employer has no idea how hiring you will benefit them. This is perhaps the number one mistake I see in job seekers today. They have no idea how to position themselves in the marketplace. Their résumés are merely a listing of jobs rather than a list of accomplishments. In interviews, their responses are dull and convey no relationship to the job in question.
To Do Item:
Answer these questions. How will you differ? What value will you bring to the company?
Use your answers to create a two to three sentence positioning statement. This will help the recruiter to quickly understand how you can fill the company's needs. Your positioning statement will be needed later as you prepare the Profile section of your résumé.
Example Positioning Statement for a Technical Support Specialist
"My value to [ insert company name] is my five years of information technology experience. I am adept at technical support and troubleshooting computer problems. My technical knowledge will help reduce call waiting times and improve the image of your technical support center."
Example Positioning Statement for a Sales Manager
"I will increase your revenues by mentoring your sales staff in effective selling techniques and by forging relationships with key decision makers in your target market."
Promoting yourself in the job market involves a mix of online and offline opportunities. Your friends, family, professional contacts and the Internet will all play a role in this work.
Your résumé becomes your primary promotional tool through which you will advertise your availability. Therefore, it must be a professional looking document that is clear, concise and well-designed. Later, we will discuss your résumé preparation in more detail.
This is the one intangible aspect of any job search. How much effort you put in directly affects how many interviews and job offers you will get.
The one thing you cannot do in your job search is give up. A winning attitude and the ability to keep yourself motivated is paramount to finding and landing the job you want.
Persistence takes on many forms. These include sending your résumé via e-mail and as a hard copy, then following up with a phone call. It is checking back with target companies every few months to see if they are hiring again. It is dedicating yourself to finding a job not just for a few hours a week, but for at least twenty to thirty hours per week.
Consider the case of Gina Salwicki of Roxbury, Massachusetts. After being laid off, the 58-year-old woman targeted a new retirement community being built nearby as the place where she wanted to work next.
She applied for and was offered a role in customer service, but she declined the offer because she thought it didn't pay enough. A few days later she was invited back to interview for another position but did not get that one because she was too inexperienced. Some weeks later she applied for two other positions and was again rejected.
But she didn't give up. She applied yet again for a facilities coordinator position. The company was impressed by her attitude after she became a fixture in the firm's waiting room. She finally got a job. She has now been there for over three years and was recently promoted. Persistence does pay.
Give Your Résumé a Tweak
As today's hiring managers become more and more risk-averse, it's important that your résumé reflect specific and quantifiable achievements. It's not good enough to merely say you are a "team player"; you need to give real-life examples that illustrate that trait.
Take a look at your résumé and look for areas that can be refined. Think of "success stories" from your past positions and use them to convey your value. Don't worry about going to a two-page résumé; if you have the experience, put it there.
Discover Your USP
When companies are trying to determine how to market a product, they focus on the one thing (or combination of things) that makes their product different from any other product on the market. You need to take the same approach when going up against other job seekers and develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), the one reason you think an employer will hire you even though there may be others with the same skill set.
Your USP should be short but descriptive. Think of it as a tagline or slogan. The purpose of the USP is to motivate the employer and convey your uniqueness. You may find that your USP may be a single differentiating factor or a combination of several. Whatever the case, keep it simple and believable.
To Do Item:
Create your own USP. Define what makes you different from other job seekers and what that means for potential employers. Use your answers to come up with a short tagline about yourself.
Example USP for a Customer Service Rep
"Your customers will love my customer service!"
Example USP for a Webmaster/Web designer
"Cyberspace Cyber Ace seeks to catapult your Web site."
Example USP for an Administrative Assistant
"An Admin who anticipates your every need."
Applying the techniques of marketing throughout your job hunt will give you a more personalized and creative understanding of how to implement a successful job search strategy. The end result will be more interviews and job offers.