By Gerald Walsh ©
Those of you who work in marketing or studied it in school will recognize the 4Ps of marketing – product, promotion, place and price – otherwise known as the “marketing mix.”
What do the 4Ps have to do with job searching? Well, plenty.
When marketing, the seller provides a product needed by the customer. The customer then gives back something of value, usually money. In the end, both parties receive something of value. The same principle applies to job search. As the seller, you possess a unique set of qualifications, skills and experience that you are offering to an employer, the potential buyer. If that employer has a need for your services, they will “buy” what you are offering and pay for it – your salary!
Marketers like to say their job is to put the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. Think about how you can use this framework in your search.
The “product” is you: that unique blend of education, experience, interests, abilities, personal qualities, skills and capabilities that make you who you are. Like any good marketer, you need to know the product inside out. A thorough self-analysis may be required so you can answer questions like:
What are your accomplishments?
What strengths and skills do you bring to an employer?
What are your potential weaknesses?
What makes you different from other job seekers?
Why should an employer hire you?
How can you add value to the employer?
What are your interests and values?
What did you learn about yourself from previous jobs?
And no matter how attractive a product you think you are, employers may not recognize your value unless you can properly communicate it to them.
When job searching, “promotion” means anything that you can use to help you get to the job interview and ultimately get a job offer. This includes cover letters, resumes, social media presence, telephone calls, connecting with people, building relationships and interviewing. All these tools have to be sharp because no matter how good your product is, you will not get the job if potential employers do not know about you.
Good marketers will attempt to touch as many possible buyers of their goods as possible. Similarly, the goal for you in job searching is to be as broad as possible in your reach. One of the steps you should undertake is to determine how many contacts you want to make each week. It is not unreasonable for you to make five, ten, or even fifteen contacts per week while doing an active job search. While this number may seem high, especially if you are working now, you can easily generate a large list of contact names. This list includes not just companies that might hire you but also friends, referral sources, colleagues and past employers. One thing to bear in mind is that there is usually a direct correlation between the number of qualified contacts you make and the number of interviews granted.
In a marketing context, “place” refers to the channels of distribution, like retail outlets, online, catalogue, or sales force. In job searching, how you distribute product (you) to potential employers has to be considered carefully. Many people rely solely on responding to published openings on job boards and websites. While this is one of the channels you should explore, it only represents about 20% of job openings.
Instead, you have to rely on building your own personal connections – where the greatest number of job leads will be – plus contacting companies directly and building relationships with recruiters who might specialize in your field.
In doing this, you have to remember another important marketing concept called frequency of message. Good marketers know that people need to be told something several times before they will remember it. That’s why you see advertisements shown repeatedly on the same show. Most marketers will tell you that almost no one buys on the first call and that 80% of sales occur only after five calls or more. The same principles apply to job search. Be persistent and frequent in your messaging.
When companies consider how much to charge for their product, they think about the cost to produce it (labour, materials, and overhead), the prices competitors will charge, and the perceived value of the product to the buyer. You should apply this same thinking when it comes to setting your salary expectations and negotiating salary. I am a strong proponent of “total compensation.” That means focusing on all aspects of the package including cash compensation (salary, bonuses, pension contributions, benefit coverage, profit sharing, memberships, etc.) as well as non-cash compensation (vacation, personal days, sick leave, flex-days, working from home, etc.)
Question: How can you apply the 4Ps of marketing (product, promotion, place and price) to your job search?
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and writer. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.