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November 19, 2007
Brand Discipline for Job Seekers

Although we often think of resumes, networking and job interviews as part of the human resources discipline, they are, in fact, all marketing. Lucky for you, unlike an accountant or teacher, as a marketing professional you know how to do this.

But you know what they say: The cobbler’s children have no shoes. Or, translated into more contemporary terms: the doctor’s kids are always sick; the preacher’s kids are always wild. The marketing professional can’t sell himself.

If you give a fraction of the effort to marketing yourself that you do to marketing your clients or your company, you’ll have a much better shot at getting the job you want. Here’s how you can use your skills to apply some brand discipline to your own career.

Step One: Focus Your Brand on Your Target Audience

You can’t create a brand or effectively implement any subsequent marketing campaign unless you get inside the head of your target audience. What matters to them? What do they want to hear? You wouldn’t consider creating an ad or writing a brochure without significant consideration for your audience. But people do this all the time with resumes – the core marketing tool for job seekers. Consider the standard objective. It says: I am seeking a job that suits my needs, that fits my life. I want a job doing wonderful things for me. This is how I want to further my career goals.

Well good for you. But what about your target audience? Tell the hiring manager what you can do for them instead of what they can do for you. And do it in a way that is meaningful to them.

What’s meaningful? Success. Whether you're striving for a promotion or seeking a new job, you need to demonstrate to your target audience that you can make them successful.

Step Two: Craft Your Brand Message

What you can contribute to the success of an organization is the equivalent of a brand promise. Communicate this in a positioning statement that says: I’m a winner, I’ve helped former clients and employers succeed and I can do that for your company too. Following are two ways the same candidate could start her resume. Which one would you want to interview?

Candidate #1

Objective: Seeking senior executive position in a creative, dynamic environment where I can use my 20 years of leadership and client management skills.

Candidate #2

Profile: Dynamic, entrepreneurial leader with proven track record in winning and retaining Fortune 100 clients to increase agency profitability and enhance the agency’s brand image.

A strong profile entices the reader to continue far more than a stale objective does. In the same way, a list of achievements is much more compelling than a list of tasks or skills. Think of achievements as your brand attributes expressed in key messages. To be most effective, achievements should be quantifiable or give some indication of how success is measured. Following are a couple of resume make-over examples.

Candidate # 1

Before: Experienced at pitching national and regional print, online and broadcast media.

After: Played key role in generating sales of 10,000 new widgets for ABC company solely through strategic media placements in print, online and broadcast media.

Candidate #2

Before: Wrote copy for print and radio direct-response ads.

After: Lead copywriter for print and radio campaign that achieved a 10 percent response rate.

Step Three: Repeat Your Brand Messages

Once you’ve created your own branding with a strong profile and list of achievements, use this information over and over again in cover letters, in social networking sites like LinkedIn, and in traditional networking locations like industry meetings.

Craft these into verbal key messages just like you’d take concepts from a print ad and change them for radio. Or in the same way you’d take copy from a pitch letter and use it in a follow-up call.

Don’t re-invent the wheel every time you have the opportunity to make a potential career-advancing contact. Write down your messages, memorize them and repeat them whenever you get the chance.

While you may be more skilled than the average person at coming up with pithy remarks off the top of your head, think about how long it takes to develop a unique selling proposition or key messages. Sure, sometimes you get lucky and something just rolls off the keyboard, but more often it takes hours, if not months.

As a marketing professional, you might think you can just wing your job search. And to some extent you probably can. But applying some brand discipline to your own career can be the difference between getting any old job and getting the job you really want.

Do you really deserve less than your clients? Take charge of your career by making yourself the client for a change.

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Public relations and communications veteran Lilli Cloud is the founder of Blue Feet, which offers executive career changers and entrepreneurs sophisticated marketing tools to create a foundation to launch their next act.  Blue Feet does the same for executive career changers, job seekers and entrepreneurs -- particularly those entering their second or even third careers. Cloud helps them uncover their most extraordinary features and trains them how to articulate their value in a powerful but authentic way to attract the attention of their target audiences.

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