A job search boils down to four words: Marketing yourself to employers.
As a job seeker you’re marketing to employers your skills, experience, and track record (measurable results you’ve achieved for previous employers). In essence, you’re looking for a client. Therefore, when searching for an employer (client), to hire you it’s a good idea to use marketing principles.
I think the most legendary marketer of all time was the founder of Ogilvy & Mather, British advertising giant David Ogilvy (1911-1999). According to Ogilvy advertising’s primary purpose is to sell, and successful advertising requires consumer knowledge. Similarly, successful job searching is selling yourself, and requires knowledge of the employer.
I’d like to note that Ogilvy believed that the best way to get new clients was to do notable work for his existing clients. The results you achieve for your current employer will propel you forward to the next employer and so on. Employers are a sucker for candidates with a strong, undeniable track record!
Your job search should take advantage of some of Ogilvy’s marketing tips:
- Nail the headline.
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”
Your email subject line, resume header, LinkedIn headline, and the first sentence of your cover letter are all headlines. Keep your headlines short and crisp, ensuring you communicate your value proposition.
“Coke: We make soda.” “Air Canada: We fly airplanes.” “Nike: We make sports stuff.” As headlines, they’d be forgettable. Don’t write forgettable headlines!
For example, your LinkedIn headline. (You have 120 characters.)
Forgettable headline: “Security Advisor.”
Great headline: “I can explain high-tech to my mom. Technical Writer for humans.”
- Give plenty of facts. The more, the better.
“The more facts you tell, the more you sell. An advertisement’s chance for success invariably increases as the number of pertinent merchandise facts included in the advertisement increases.“
The majority of resumes and LinkedIn profiles are just lists of opinions. “I’m a team player.” “I’m great with Excel.” “I can sell.” Where’s the proof (facts) that you’re a team player, great with Excel, or can sell?
As much as possible, provide relevant numbers.
- “For seven years, I worked in Teldar’s accounting department with 18 accountants.”
- “Every week, I compiled the sales statistics of all 22 Debbie’s Boutique stores into a master Excel file, which I forwarded to the President and five VPs.”
- “During my six years working for Ajax Inc., selling medical equipment, I consistently met and exceeded my annual sales target of $1.85 million.”
- Do your research.
“Advertisers who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore the signs of the enemy.“
Having in-depth knowledge of the employer and the person interviewing you will help you sell your skills and experience as solutions to the pain points the position exists to solve.
Most candidates lack a basic knowledge of the employer they’re seeking employment with. It’s impressive when a candidate shows they have a thorough understanding of what the employer does, what market space they occupy, and how they can contribute to the employer’s success. You want to be impressive.
- Sales are the key metric, not your creativity.
“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”
All businesses exist for one reason; to make a profit. You may believe you’re “creative” and an “out of the box” thinker. However, if you can’t show how your creativity impacts an employer’s bottom line, your creativity has no value.
Throughout your job search, speak to employers about how you’ve added value to your previous employers. So much the better if you added value with your creativity! Put together a concise story that shows how your creativity increased revenue for your employer, and you’ll have a story employers want to hear.
- Refrain from using technical jargon.
“Write your copy in the colloquial language which your customers use in everyday conversation.”
In most cases, especially at the beginning of the hiring process, the person interviewing you is a recruiter or HR manager. Chances are they have no idea what the day-to-day job of, for example, a chemical engineer looks like, much less the language they use. You’ll lose your interviewer if they can’t understand you, or worse, you’ll come across as trying to appear superior.
Save the usage of jargon for the interview with the person you’ll be reporting to, giving you credibility, and showing you belong.
Your job search and career maintenance can benefit from applying marketing techniques. I recommend you read David Ogilvy’s book Confessions of an Advertising Man. Even though the book was written in 1963, the marketing principles and how to write advertising copy that sells mentioned throughout the book, if applied, will greatly increase your job search success.
______________________________________________________________ Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at [email protected]