It’s called the “job market” for a reason. It’s a market, full of buyers and sellers – also known as employers and applicants/candidates.
Treat your job search like a marketing campaign. You are the “product” and employers are your potential market.
Smart marketers know their market well – they know what the market wants and needs. They also know that a successful product targets a specific market niche.
Similarly, you can’t be all things to all employers. You’ll need to target a specific part of the job market. It could be your existing industry or profession. It could be an industry you want to get into, as many people want to transition from the for-profit sector to non-profit sector.
Market research tells marketers what pain exists in their target market. Pain points are opportunities for someone who can stop the pain by providing a solution. Job descriptions provide excellent examples of “pain points” for they lay out the problem faced by an employer. If the employer didn’t have a problem in the particular area of work, there would be no need to hire someone.
Smart marketers then have to know what pain their specific product can end or solve. Similarly, you need to know how your skills and experience can solve an employer’s problems and ease their pain.
You solve an employer’s problem with your “core value proposition” – your combination of expertise, skills, experience, work style, and results.
Your core value proposition is the basis for a resume – your marketing document. Just as direct marketing letters and ads lay out the “features and benefits” of a product, so too does your resume. Search this blog for posts on how to create a resume that positions / markets you to get work you want.
Once you’ve got a resume, you can do what most marketers do: do some market research. This is important to see if what you are saying is in fact communicating what you mean. Just because I think I’m clear doesn’t mean I am. In a way, it doesn’t matter what I say – what matters is what you think I said, what you hear.
Part of networking is in fact “market research” – meaning you will get feedback from people regarding what kind of work they think you are suited for and should be doing. This is incredibly valuable information, because often other people see us more clearly than we see ourselves.
If you begin getting regular feedback that a specific field is where your future lies, then it’s time to shift gears into job search.
More “market intelligence” comes from applying for jobs. If you continually are not getting the jobs you want, the market is telling you they are “not the right fit for you.” So it’s not rejection per se, it’s rejection with a purpose, and the purpose is to say “this is not right for you, look for a better fit elsewhere.”
The more networking you do, asking for advice and guidance, and the more jobs you apply for, the more feedback you’ll get, and the better sense you’ll have of where your skills, talents and abilities are most marketable.