The Reality of Successful Job Search
The reality of successful job search is straightforward and simple: to be successful, you need to sit on the other side of the hiring desk. The simple key to success is to market your product (yourself) according to the needs of your intended market (potential employers in your field). Yet very few graduates actually do this. Most job searches are conducted from the "this is what I want" perspective. However, the reality is that most companies don't really care about what you want until you are able to demonstrate that you can provide what they want. They care about what you can do for them. So the best approach to follow is a customer-driven marketing approach.
You will be hearing a great deal about marketing in this column. Why? Because successful marketing is the reality of a successful job search. Even though you're still sheltered in the cocoon of academic life while you're immersed in classes at the campus, the minute you step out into your job search you step into the real world. The real world requires that you learn how to market yourself--and you will need to learn how to do it effectively if you want to be successful in your job search.
Customer-driven marketing is one of the many new "buzzwords" in corporate marketing. Basically stated, it means being customer-driven in terms of product development, product market positioning, product pricing, and customer support. I realize that sounds rather basic and elementary to most college students. In fact, you are likely asking the question, "Why wouldn't a company want to be customer-driven?" And rightly so. But until very recently, many companies tended to use product-driven marketing, which involved developing a product through research and development that was considered to be the furthest advance within that particular field. But the product was typically developed independent of specific market needs. "We'll develop the best and everyone will want to buy it!" or "If we build it, they will come." Sound crazy? IBM used the product-driven approach successfully for more than 50 years, until smaller, more agile competitors used customer-driven marketing to unseat the giant. Other things being equal, customer-driven marketing will always conquer.
What has this got to do with entry level jobs? Because as much as you may realize that customer-driven is better than product-driven, think about your own job search marketing strategy. Did you really develop your product (your product is you, which is the end product of years of research and development in schools of "higher learning") with your customer (the eventual employer) in mind? Probably not. More than 95% (maybe even 98%) of college students seek to develop a product (albeit what they may consider to be an "outstanding" product) independent of the actual market that will eventually "purchase" the product.
Your "product" is you and your "market" is the segment of the employment marketplace that is the potential purchaser of your product.
Remember these two key points:
- No one knows your product better than you.
- No one else can make the sale other than you.
If you don't market you, who will? No matter what your major, no matter what field you intend to enter, you must be ready, willing, and able to market yourself. Just as it's difficult to market a product you don't truly believe in, it's difficult to market yourself in the job market if you don't believe in yourself. First and foremost, you have to believe in you. Don't expect me to buy into you if you have no confidence in you. How can I be expected to "buy in" if you don't buy in first? Take a long hard look in the mirror. But don't look for the bad--look for the good. Look for all the good points. Look for all the aspects about you and your background that make you an outstanding job candidate. Those are the attributes that I want to see when I meet with you.
Reality is, it's easy to "market yourself" into a job or company that you love. If you're enthusiastic about yourself, your work and your ability to complete the necessary tasks, you won't even think of it as marketing. But if you are doing it "just for the bucks" you're really not much different from a prostitute. You're just marketing a different product.
So in meeting the reality of the marketplace, make sure you are comfortable selling your talents and skills to that market. The reaction from the other side of the desk to true enthusiasm will almost always be positive.
Sit on the other side of the desk. Imagine interviewing yourself for the position you most desire. Would you hire you? If not, why would anyone else? Work on yourself, your attitude, your enthusiasm, your product, before you present that product to your potential market.
You probably won't get a second shot. Make sure your first shot is right on the mark.