Personal Marketing Strategy

How to Approach Your Job Search

Businessman putting together a strategy.
Martin Barraud / Caiaimage / Getty Images
Before you begin your job search campaign you need to develop a personal marketing strategy. A what? A personal marketing strategy is a game plan for your job search campaign much like one a corporation would use to sell a product. Instead of trying to get people to buy widgets, you are trying to sell the product you believe in more than any other—you! Every product, even the best ones, won't succeed without a strong marketing strategy that is comprehensive, yet flexible enough to accommodate any changes that you have to make along the way.

1. Identify Your Audience

The first thing you have to do is figure out who you want to market yourself to.

Identify the types of employers who would be looking for an employee with your qualifications. For example, you must figure out if they are all within a certain industry or if a variety of industries hire workers with your background. Do you want to work for a particular type of organization, for example a nonprofit versus a corporation, or a small company as opposed to a large one? Decide if you are going to conduct a national (or even international) search or look for work in the same city in which you currently live.

2. Figure Out How You Will Locate Job Leads

Next, you must decide what sources you will use to find potential employers. Everyone you speak to will have a different opinion on how you should do this. Some people feel that published job announcements, for example those you will find on a website like Indeed or Monster, are a waste of time because of the number of people applying for the same position.
They feel that networking is the only way to go. Others believe that executive recruiters will get them the job they want. To use a couple of old cliches, leave no stone unturned and cast a wide net. If you utilize all possible methods of tracking down potential employers, you will have a better chance of finding something.
Just remember to stay focused on the jobs for which you are best suited and don't apply for everything you see.

3. Decide on a Method for Contacting Prospective Employers

After you identify employers for whom you would like to work, you will have to figure you how you will contact them. If you are responding to a published job announcement, follow the instructions given there. Generally they will ask you to submit a resume, most likely online. It should be accompanied by a cover letter. If you are working with an executive recruiter, he or she will probably forward your resume to the employer and then will set up an interview. If you find out about a job lead through someone in your network, you must decide whether to telephone or email that person. Often your contact can advise you. Remember, if you want to use email, send a introductory message first and ask if it is okay to send your resume as an attachment before you go ahead and do so. Most people won't open an unexpected attachment.

4. Set Up a System to Organize Your Job Search

Regardless of whether you are responding to job announcements, using an executive recruiter or getting in touch with employers your network associates have connected you with, one of the most important things you can do to help your job search is stay organized.

If you don't, there is a good chance you will misplace important names and contact information and lose track of email messages. When you have to follow up, you will end up wasting valuable time trying to find everything. You can set up a simple spreadsheet with a program like Microsoft Excel or you can use a notetaking program like Evernote to keep track of your job search. If you prefer, you can even keep a paper file as long as you keep your notes in one place.

Once you've established a strategy for your job search campaign, you can begin to move forward with it. Your next step is to put together a great resume, and to start preparing for your job interviews.

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