Learn to market yourself? That's a traditional piece of job search advice that students are apt to hear, but what exactly does it mean? And how do you go about doing that?
When you hear the words "market yourself" in regards to a job search, the words "self-promotion" or "selling" may initially come to mind, along with a feeling of dread about having to do it. But a better marketing approach can be found in the words of Peter Drucker, the legendary management consultant who said, "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself."
How do you apply this definition of marketing to a job search? By understanding your customer well - determining what skills and experience employers (your customers) want. Then, let those skills and desired experience "sell themselves" in the intentional writing of your resume and cover letter, and the thoughtful discussion of yourself in networking meetings and interviews.
How do you determine what skills and experience employers want in new hires? Fortunately, they like to tell you.
According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities LEAP study (Liberal Education and America's Promise) employers value candidates who can think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems, as well as demonstrate ethical judgement and intercultural skills. They also endorse student involvement in "active, effortful work" - practices including internships, senior projects and community engagement. In addition, NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) publishes an annual survey of 10 skills job seekers need, outlined in an earlier blog, that include such skills as the ability to work on a team, problem solving and organizational abilities.
Happily most students have had these experiences and developed these skills through their academics, extracurricular activities, internships, fieldwork, volunteering, jobs, sports and study abroad. However, just listing your degree, coursework, activities and job responsibilities on your resume will not market you. That approach will not give you the credit you need. You need a strategy to effectively present the skills you have acquired through your college experience in your resume and cover letters, and discuss them in interviews.
Want to learn how to translate your total college experience to effectively market yourself? Watch Back to Basics, Marketing Your Total College Experience to Today's Employers, a webinar taught by Don Asher, America's job search guru, and one of the many resources on the CEC's Career Toolkit.
Photo: Courtesy of The Motherhood.com