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Stand Out in a Sea of Qualified Talent, You Have to Think Like a Marketer

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Drew McLellan | October 2018

A stellar resume isn’t enough to stand out in a pack of fellow applicants anymore. Whether you’re a recent graduate seeking your first real job or a professional hoping to make a career shift, competition is stiff. Sticking to traditional methods no longer works; applicants must prioritize new methods to differentiate themselves.

One key consideration for today’s job seekers is social media. Online activity can make or break a job search, so ensure your internet presence showcases your skill set. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 69 per cent of employers Google their applicants, mainly to locate information that supports a candidate’s listed credentials.

In today’s highly competitive, digitally focused job market, how can job applicants showcase their skill sets? The key is to think like a marketer and devise a personalized campaign for each company with which you’re hoping to land an interview. A well-crafted and relevant resume is table stakes for job applicants. What’s more important is to show possible employers that you are a genuine, relatable individual who’d make a great addition to their team.

Marketers deal with the question of differentiation every day. Their products might have similar features and price points to competitors’ products, so they must identify what about their company makes it a better fit for their target audience. Your task as a job seeker is to be your own marketing team. Show employers you’re the complete package. You come with the right skill set, but you’re also a great fit for the company culture.

Here’s how to launch your self-marketing mission:

1. Stay in Touch With Your Consumers

Just as marketers need to stay apprised of their ideal consumers’ wants and needs, job seekers need to keep up with the companies they’d like to join. Follow them on social platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Connect with employees on LinkedIn when you can, and stay up to date on their blogs.

Once you’ve established yourself as a follower, start leaving thoughtful comments on interesting LinkedIn posts or blog entries. Show companies you have a genuine interest in their missions and that you’re a good communicator.

Keeping future employers in mind while building out your online presence will help you limit any controversial posts, too. According to the previously cited CareerBuilder survey, 70 per cent of employers look at candidates’ social media profiles, and 54 reports having found content that made them decide not to hire a candidate. Crafting your profiles with target employers in mind allows you to present the kind of personality they’d like to add to their teams.

2. Preemptively Alleviate Any Concerns

As an applicant, you’re an unknown entity to future employers. No company wants to add risk to its workplace, so address any concerns an employer may have ahead of time. Identify your greatest weaknesses before you make it to the interview stage. Once you know which of your professional qualities needs work, get to it.

Are you lacking relevant experience for your new field? Consider a skill-sharing program or online course that can help fill the gaps. Try volunteering in a comparable role to gain expertise. Perhaps you have transferable skills that will help with this new role. Frame that experience in a new way to help recruiters see that, while you might not have direct experience, you have the right toolset.

3. Cater to Your Audience

While connecting on digital platforms can help companies notice you, it’s not the only way to get their attention. In addition to interacting with brands on social platforms and keeping an updated digital resume on hand, establish your personal brand online. Your profiles and online behaviour should immediately show HR professionals how your experience can help their companies grow.

Try starting a professional portfolio or a blog where you can express yourself — but in a professional context. Consider how employers will interpret your online presence and market yourself to them accordingly. Establishing yourself as a new voice in your field can help your name stand out in a pile of digital applications.

4. Craft Unique Marketing Collateral

If you’re marketing yourself effectively, your resume and cover letter should serve as the ultimate personal branding materials. Despite the advice you got from your high school guidance counsellor, these two documents should be some of the last components of your search, not the first.

If you’ve self-marketed properly, you’ve engaged with your target employer enough to know what the company is seeking in an employee. By the time you write a cover letter, you should know your audience well enough to make a bold statement. The cover letter is your real shot at landing an interview. Use your market research to demonstrate you have the right skills for the position at hand.

Job markets are growing increasingly competitive, and traditional application methods are no longer good enough. With digital presences playing a larger role in the recruiting world, candidates must adopt the mindsets of marketers. Cater to your target audience effectively, and you’re sure to land the interview.

Drew McLellan leads the Agency Management Institute.

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