It’s been a bit ironic that, for the past couple Talent Zoo columns, I’ve been out of a job since mid August. While I continue to seek full-time employment and develop freelance work, I have learned many lessons about relationships and communication – lessons that can be applied whether you are talking about marketing or trying to find a job.
Let’s look at five lessons, and with each one, I’ll show how you can apply it to your job search or your marketing communication efforts.
1. It’s what you know AND who you know.
In a job search, you definitely need certain qualifications for every job. Your schooling, experience and skills are the cost of entry. However, rarely is anyone hired just by his or her resume. The hiring process is subjective. You are judged by how you look and present yourself, how you sound, how you answer questions, even the small talk before and after interviews. Often enough, people hire those they know and/or feel comfortable with. So, don’t sweat interviews. It’s good to be nervous, but as long as you’ve prepared as best you think you can, just be yourself.
Also, you can’t know about every job opportunity – but with a solid, sincere network of friends and acquaintances, you can know about a lot more than you can yourself. Your success depends upon others nearly as much as it depends on you.
In marketing, aspects like price and perceived value, style and design, and other factors influence the purchasing decision. Those items are the “what you know.” In many ways, especially the more price sensitive items, personal relationships don’t play a key role. For example, do you really buy that brand of spaghetti because you like the check out cashier? No. But, when you are buying other items like a car, insurance, or a new injection molding machine for your plant, how you feel about the sales person and the company behind him or her affects your decision.
2. Typing is a poor substitute for real communication.
When you are typing a letter, email or IM, you’re communicating in black and white. Rarely is true communication like that. It’s easy for points to be misconstrued and wrong assumptions to be made. If an assumption is made in a verbal, face-to-face conversation, a wrong assumption can quickly be corrected. In an email, not so much.
In your job search, be certain you type what you mean, and that you are clear, concise – whether you’re typing a cover letter or an interview follow up. It’s why the personal interview is so important. It’s also why you need to find other and more ways to communicate. Do more than the simple post-interview follow up. While you are being considered, share industry and other pertinent information to the recruiter or hiring manager. Show your interest in the company – act almost like you’re already hired.
Traditional marketing calls for one-way communication. A company advertisement, direct mail, coupon or even a news release in a newspaper – it’s communication to the consumer. True sales are done through personal interaction – by the salesperson – and now more and more via social media. Yes, blogging, Twittering, board participation, etc., is still done via typing. However, you can add a personal touch to a company, association or other group by reaching out and connecting with the marketplace.
3. Look outward
When you are job searching, it is so easy to be caught up in what you offer, your experience, your skills, your salary requirements, your professional goals, etc. And, they are important. However, as noted above, the job hiring process is a lot about connecting. Look at how you can add value to the prospective employer by sharing pertinent information. You also can know your network and keep your eyes and ears open to job opportunities that don’t apply to you. Help others find a new career.
Ultimately, marketing is about connecting wants and needs to products and services. Yes, features and benefits are important, but make sure they are communicated with the viewpoint of your audience in mind. Don’t blanket your audience with the same product benefits. As much as you can, segment your audience and tout the benefits specific to them.
4. Timing is everything
You may be ready for that next job – but no one in your region is hiring. Just keep looking; you probably haven’t reached out to every employer prospect yet. Keep plugging along (I surely am!). Despite the economic downturn you read about every day, companies are hiring. Most of the job interviews I’ve had have been for new positions. That means growth. Keep your resume current to prospective employers and stay in contact. Make sure you are top of mind when they are ready to hire.
Just as you have to stay top of mind to prospective employers, you have to stay top of mind to prospective customers. For commodity items, price is a big determining factor. For larger-ticket items, timing plays an important role. Just because you may be offering price incentives doesn’t mean your prospects want what you have. That’s why you need to keep up the marketing communications and the sales contact. Establish and build upon a connection, a relationship. When the time comes and if you’ve stayed in touch, that prospect will think of you.
5. Have faith
Whether you are job hunting or in marketing, if you are confident in your abilities, honest and ethical in your approach, and persistent – have faith that what you are doing will bear fruit. You may not always know the timing nor like the timing, but have faith and keeping building those connections, and helping others. Ultimately, it really is as simple as that.