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What Do You Mean I Am A Product?! (career Marketing 101)
By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC, Mon Jan 2nd

Job search seems to have many hurdles to overcome - resume,interview technique, appearance, and networking are challengesthat job seekers face. These hurdles are surmountable with astrong job search plan and dedicated execution. Job seekers needto apply traditional advertising and marketing methods to theirjob search to achieve results. By thinking of themselves as the"product" and the employer as the "buyer" job seekers canapproach their career transitions from a sales aspect.

Market Analysis

Most job seekers have no clear concept of their target market,the conditions of the market, and the types of employers whomwould hire them. They need to conduct a market analysis similarto what most business owners have developed as part of abusiness plan. The business owner must conduct some sort ofmarket analysis to determine to whom they are going to beselling their products or services, to create a profile of theirtarget customer, to describe their competition, and to find outthe conditions of the current market. Job seekers should gothrough the same process.

Job seekers should educate themselves on the conditions of theemployment and economic markets in their targeted geographicarea. They must research companies in either the industry orarea to create a profile that includes financial conditions,past activities, names of executives, products, services,financial forecasts, etc. for each company. By doing this, jobseekers get a good picture of their target "buyer" - who theyare, what they do, how much money they can spend, and if theyare planning on being around for awhile.

Scoping out the competition is also important for job seekers.The market is flush with very qualified, highly experiencedprofessionals who are offering "buyers" (employers) skills andknowledge that are all very similar. Job seekers need to findout what kind of competition they face - what they are offeringemployers, what salaries they are seeking, what benefits theyare seeking, and what type of skills/experience combinationsthey are offering. One method is to contact target companies andask what skills/experience the employees they've hired in thepast six months possess. Job seekers can also talk withexecutive recruiters to find out what they see in the marketconditions and what they expect for the next six months.

Pricing is important in a market analysis. Salary levels can beresearched through the Bureau of Labor Statistics,,and from scanning most recent job advertisements. In a buyers'market, prices go down; therefore, salaries are going down.Salaries have fallen from a high in 2000 to levels last seen in1998 and are continuing to slide. Many job seekers pricethemselves out of the market because they do not know what theirskills are currently worth. Job seekers who find out whatsalaries they can expect and market their skills with thatsalary in mind will receive better job search results.

Target Market

Location, buying power, motivation, industry - all are aspectsof a target market. If Santa's chief elf gets downsized becausesuddenly Santa decides it's cheaper to outsource to Thailand,Mr. Elf has very few alternatives at the North Pole for work.Toy makers are overseas or in the US, not the North Pole. He cansearch for a job all he wishes at the North Pole but if the workisn't there, he will not have success. Location is a key factorin a job search.

Buying power is expressed through stock prices, growthforecasts, quarterly reports, annual reports, and spending. Acompany in stable growth mode has buying power - it can meetpayroll

and will be less likely to lay off. Determining thebuying power/financial status of the target market (employers)is vital to a successful job search. Many people have not donethis research, accepted a position, and found themselves laidoff again in a month and a half or so.

Career Branding

Career branding is a hot term in the employment industry thesedays. Technically, career branding is simply building a greatreputation in your career on purpose and then leveraging thatreputation to further build your career. In traditionalbusiness, branding is a promise of an experience. If you see anadvertisement for Coca-Cola, you automatically think of a cool,refreshing beverage. Coke has worked diligently over the yearsto establish their brand. To some degree, job seekers can do thesame thing with their careers by documenting their achievements,working hard on their skills, and building a good reputationwithin their industries.

Direct Marketing

Direct marketing in a job search is getting your messagedirectly to the buyer. In this case, that means getting yourresume directly to the decision-maker. Most job seekers havedifficulty with this task. How do you identify thedecision-maker? Many job seekers are turning to resume blastingservices that employ databases full of hiring managers,recruiters, and other people in hiring positions. Just astraditional business people purchase mailing lists, job seekerscan purchase resume blasts that send their resumes to members ofsimilar databases. Typical results for direct marketing isaround 1-2% response rate. Resume blasts tend to have similarresults but they are relatively inexpensive and may be worth theeffort.

Research companies can be hired to target specific industries,companies, or other sectors based on specified parameters. Thesecompanies can gather very specific information, often miningdown to the direct decision-maker, but their fees are higherthan resume blasting services. For the serious job seeker whodoes not have the time or the abilities to do serious datamining for contact information, this can be an investment incareer search that pays off.

Print Advertising

Career print advertising is the resume and accompanyingdocuments such as cover letters, project details, portfolios,and biographies. Most job seekers feel a self-written resume andsupporting documents are fine but it is interesting to note thatbig companies rarely do their own print advertising in-house.They concentrate on doing what they do best - providing goodsand services - and outsource advertising to experts in thefield. In recent years, more and more professionals, especiallythose who are intent on career success, seek the services ofprofessional resume writers and career coaches to assist them ineffectively marketing their careers.

Word of Mouth Advertising

Simply put, word of mouth advertising is networking. Someonetalking to another about the benefits of "buying" a "product".As any business owner can tell you, word of mouth advertising isthe least expensive, most effective, and longest-lasting of allforms of advertising. Unfortunately, most job seekers use thismethod least because it seems so difficult. A good career coachcan be invaluable in teaching job seekers networking and helpingthem overcome their fears of talking to others concerning theircareers.

About the author:Published in 25 career books, Alesia has been cited by JistPublications as one of the "best resume writers in NorthAmerica" and quoted as a Career Expert in the Wall StreetJournal. Serving as the Resume Expert for over 50+organizations, she has numerous media appearances to her creditand is a frequent keynote speaker.

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