It’s springtime. You’ve just graduated from college, and the Instagram photos of you wearing your cap, gown, and huge smile are still fresh. But your mind has quickly turned to other things, or rather, to one major thing: a job.
You have a newly minted degree and a new skill set you’re fired up to use (and possibly a few unpaid loans on your back). Now you just need to get an employer to notice you, pick you out of the crowd, and invite you onto the team. In other words, you need to market yourself.
What does that mean?
You Are the Product
What is the unique combination of skills and capabilities you provide to prospective employers? What can you offer that’s different and better than other candidates? It might be a language you speak, a depth of prior experience you bring, a course of training you completed, a familiarity with the industry, great communication skills, or some combination of characteristics that make you an attractive employee.
Who Is Your Customer?
Who do you want to work for? What type of work do you want to do? Prospective employers are the customers you want to appeal to. Get to know them by researching who they are, who’s hiring, what hiring process they use and what they look for, how they get information about job candidates, and what makes them take a closer look.
How Do You Reach These Customers?
How can you connect with employers? Reaching prospective employers usually involves packaging and promoting yourself through a common set of job-search tools and activities—like job fairs, résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, networking lunches, meet-ups and other ways to get an “in.” As you find pathways to an employer, how do you make a strong positive impression? Packaging and presentation are essential. You show you’re a good fit by dressing for success, sharing sample work products, showcasing your expertise, and demonstrating interpersonal skills.
What’s Your Price?
When it comes to salary and benefits, what is your negotiating strategy? When discussions get serious—when you get a job offer, say—you’ll want to get as much compensation as you can without pricing yourself out of the opportunity. After all, you’re probably not the only candidate they are considering.
Marketing: A Life Skill
Marketing happens virtually everywhere. Job candidates like yourself have to figure out how to market themselves to employers. Companies market their products and services to customers. Nonprofit organizations market their altruistic missions and impacts to donors. Government agencies market their policies and programs to the general public. Candidates market their ideas to voters. Parents market vegetables to their finicky youngsters.
As you gain a greater understanding of marketing and its primary activities, you will see it at work all around you. You will become more adept at knowing how marketing works, and why. You will learn about marketing tools and techniques you can apply to your advantage personally and professionally. You’ll appreciate the value of good marketing principles in helping you get ahead.
Of course you want to develop a skill that’s so important in modern life!