As you approach the job market, it’s worth thinking about this quote “In marketing, if you’re trying to talk to everybody, you’re not reaching anybody.”
Because what you’re embarking on is, in effect, a marketing exercise – with you as the ‘product’ – and so many of the disciplines involved in marketing should also apply here and so help to put you in front of your target business(es). What you then say to them is crucial.
When looking for a new job – even a first job – many people make the same basic mistake: they fail to view themselves through the eyes of the potential employer, consequently it’s all about “me, me, me!” – which is the last thing the employer wants to know.
Both in applying for an advertised role or making a speculative approach, however, bear in mind that they do want to know what, specifically, you can do for them. If you’re able to persuade them straight away that you could, in fact, be a valuable employee for them, then they will almost certainly want to meet you anyway. Why? Because they are the ‘buyer’ and you must see yourself as the ‘product’ that’s going to make their day, and so one that they may well want to ‘buy’. So yes, it is a marketing exercise and should be treated as such.
The CV, then, becomes this product’s brochure. And, as with any brochure, it must be both attractive and instantly readable. Keep it simple but edit it so that it will appeal to the requirements of the reader. It should highlight the key skills and experience that will appeal to them, and so it must be tailored (edited – i.e. not re-written!) accordingly. You must first carry out research, which might include their website – esp their ‘News’ pages – press releases and the media and, finally, networking with existing employees, if you know them. Only then will you know how your experience could match their aspirations.
People (employers) are often attracted to ‘experts’ – people who can offer a certain skill or experience that fits well with their own operation. However, if your research has shown, or the job description specifically asks for, e.g. “..a need for leadership or management skills”, or “sales experience”, then simply highlighting your own strengths in these areas – as most people will do - is probably not enough. You need to set yourself apart from the crowd and yes, by specifying exactly where your experience matches their needs. What they need to see are the ‘features and benefits’ of the product that are likely to be most attractive and relevant to them.
On the other hand, if your approach is bland, offering the basic requirements whilst essentially saying how attractive you are to the world in general, it will undoubtedly fail; but never more so than when you meet them in person! What to say, and how to come across??
Your target businesses are probably targets for a reason: you like what they do and you’d like to work for them. So, you must be prepared to say that to the person you meet. Remember: people employ people and if you can impress upon them not only your enthusiasm, but also what you can do personally to help their cause, you will go upwards in their estimation of you. After that…..
In order to be able to speak to your target businesses, you must first establish why they might want to speak to you! Put yourself in their shoes: would you respond positively to a speculative approach from someone who just contacted you randomly – out of hope? Obviously not.
So, you must a) do your research, b) think like they think and c) show how your key knowledge, skills and experience will benefit them – rather than you.
- It’s not about you – it’s about them
- Carry out extensive research (a quick google is not enough)
- Check out websites, media and existing employees
- Identify your key (relevant and attractive) skills
- Edit your CV (the ‘brochure’) so that it appeals to specific, individual requirements