The rules of the job search have changed considerably in recent years. It's not enough to be the most qualified candidate for the job. Successful job candidates understand that in addition to "having the goods," they need to know their "buyer" and how to sell to them. Think it sounds crass to compare a job candidate's skills and experience to consumer goods? It isn't. Rather, it accurately reflects the reality of the current job market.
Positioning Yourself to Get Noticed in a Crowded Job Market
The current job market is far more favorable for employers than it is for the average job hunter. An employer may receive hundreds of resumes in response to a single ad. The employer can then cherry-pick applicants with the experience, education, and skills they are seeking. So, how will you get noticed in a crowded job market? A strategic self-marketing plan will position you to get maximum exposure and boost your job search success, even in a highly-competitive job market.
Think about the last time that you walked into a grocery store. The top name brands with big budgets occupy the shelves at eye-level. The store brand sits right next to them with labels that proclaim that they are comparable to your favorite brand. On the lower levels you'll find the bargain brands. Which are you: The top brand that commands top dollar? The generic store brand that promises to do everything the top brand does, but for a lot less? Or, the unknown, discount brand that easily goes unnoticed?
Before you respond, consider the quality of your current marketing efforts in your job search and how you are presenting yourself to potential employers in your resume and during interviews. A well-constructed, well-executed plan will position you to get noticed by potential employers, much like those national brands which occupy an optimal position on the shelf at the grocery store. Your strategic self-marketing plan should take into account all aspects of your job search -- from the strategies used to the information included in your cover letter, resume, and other job search marketing documents. Taking a proactive approach to your job search can help you avoid many of the pitfalls that job seekers encounter, including a prolonged job search (now averaging more than four months), the frustration of pouring endless hours into minimally effective job search methods, time wasted pursuing jobs that aren't a good fit, and an aimless job search that yields minimal results.
Job hunters typically favor the path of least resistance. Countless hours surfing online job boards and replying to newspaper ads coupled with the occasional job fair is a common theme for many of the frustrated job hunters I encounter. Unfortunately, these preferred job search methods are not the way that employers prefer to hire. Employers prefer to find new employees much the same way that we, as consumers, would look for a plumber, dentist, real estate agent, or hair stylist -- through referrals.