Do you consider yourself a good salesperson? If yes, good for you—you will be putting your skills to work throughout the job search process. If not, get ready to become one—because in order to be effective in your job search, you have to become effective at marketing and selling.
Your "product" is you and your "market" is the segment of the employment marketplace that is a potential purchaser of your product.
Remember these two key points:
If you don't market you, who will? Successful entry level job search is not just a matter of taking a few on-campus interviews and waiting for the offers to roll in. You need to fully prepare yourself for a highly competitive entry level job market.
No matter what your major, no matter what field you intend to enter, you must be ready, willing, and able to market yourself. Just as it is difficult to market a product you do not truly believe in, it is difficult to market yourself if you do not believe in yourself. First and foremost, you have to believe in you. Don't expect anyone else to believe in you if you don't. How can an employer be expected to buy in to you if you don't buy in to yourself first?
Take a long hard look in the mirror. Don't look for the bad points—look for the good. Identify all the aspects about you and your background that differentiate you from others and make you an outstanding job candidate. Those are the attributes that employers want to see when they meet with you.
The reality is, it's easy to market a product you love. If you are enthusiastic about your work and your ability to complete the necessary tasks and activities, you will not even think of it as work. If you are doing it "just for the bucks," then you are just selling your services to the highest bidder. And eventually you will burn out.
In preparing to meet the needs of the marketplace, make sure you are comfortable selling your talents and skills to that market. The reaction from the other side of the desk to true passion and enthusiasm will almost always be positive.
Sit on the other side of the desk. Imagine interviewing yourself for the position you most desire. Would you hire you? If not, why would anyone else? Work on yourself, your appearance, your attitude, your passion, your enthusiasm, your professionalism, your product, your presentation skills, before you bring your final product to market.
You never get a second chance at making a great first impression. Make sure your first impression is on the mark.
You will need to learn to think like a salesperson in order to sell yourself in the job search marketplace. Your first lesson will be to learn to sell yourself to fulfill the needs of your customer. You need to meet customer needs in order to meet your personal needs. Become customer-driven instead of product-driven.
The first step in the customer-driven marketing process is to understand the market in general and what potential customer needs may be. It does no good to have a super product if there is no market for it. There has to be an established need in the job market that is satisfied by the product you are intending to sell.
Do you know your market?
Who are your potential customers?
What are the specific needs of customers in your market?
The next step in the customer-driven marketing process is to develop your product according to the specific needs of the marketplace. Have you developed your product to meet the specific market needs? Unfortunately, many students end up taking a major with little or no thought about their intended market.
While it is not the purpose of this guide to go into the entirety of career planning, I will forewarn you that if you are not able to: (1) identify your market, and (2) identify your product in relation to the market needs, you will fail either totally or partially in your job search. So consider yourself forewarned—you need to have an automobile, a road map, and a full tank of gas before you start on your trip. Most of us plan our vacations better than we plan our careers. The first step in your job search is to plan the direction you will take toward the type of career you will be seeking. If you have no plan for where you are going, any road will take you there. Don't start off your life blindly or in a random direction. Make sure you know where you are going before you start your journey of a lifetime.
Almost every major company has a mission statement. A mission statement is a short, descriptive statement of the common objective and focus of the organization. It is their purpose for existence.
In developing your personal career focus, take the time to prepare your personal career mission statement. It will help you in crystallizing your vision of who you are and where you want to go in your career. Keep your career mission statement limited to no more than two sentences and no more than thirty words. Begin your statement with the words, "My personal career mission is…" and finish with qualifying words and phrases to describe your mission. Following are some examples:
"My personal career mission is to become a world-class aeronautical engineer in the commercial aviation industry."
"My personal career mission is to gain experience in the public accounting field toward earning my CPA designation."
"My personal career mission is to master the leading Web development tools and become a best-in-class Web Developer."
Your personal mission statement should be tightly focused toward the first three to five developmental years of your career. You can give specifics about the job type and/or industry, as appropriate. This personal career mission statement will form the foundation of your career focus and will guide you toward successful completion of your internship and entry level job search. The material developed here will be utilized again in the development of your resume and cover letter, in interviewing, and in all future job search contacts.
A mental conception of your personal career mission statement is not enough. You must write it down on paper. Then tape it up on your wall—ideally, where you can see it every day. Better yet, on your bathroom mirror, so you see it and review it each morning. Make it the background on your laptop or phone. And if it needs to be changed or modified over time, continue to make changes. But keep your career mission statement in sharp focus in your mind. As you zero in on your larger goal, your short-term goals will also become clearer.