I have long advocated the marketing approach to CV writing. It seems sensible to me that the techniques that have been developed for the marketing of products, services, companies and brands can also be relied upon to market people and develop your own ‘personal brand’.
These techniques work because they have been refined over a long period of time as the best means to create value, determine the target audience and then communicate with them in the right way, about the right things and with credibility.
Well, first of all, it’s not about ‘selling’. A lot is written about ‘selling yourself’, and while this ‘sale’ is the ultimate aim of what we are doing (organisations pay you for your work, one would hope); we can apply more sophisticated approach. Think about your job search as more of a marketing strategy than a sales campaign.
Positioning is a key theme of marketing strategy and this is important in job seeking because we should position ourselves as the expert that the employer is looking for whilst also differentiating ourselves from other applicants (our competitors). This gives us a clue as to where our job application activities should begin: We should find out about what the organisation we are applying to wants and values. If you have a pilot’s licence, then this is great for demonstrating commitment, skill and all kinds of other attributes, but it may not be the first thing you communicate when applying for an accounting position.
Why not take this further and really question the importance of every line of your CV? If it doesn’t communicate something positive, valuable and relevant about you then you should consider being ruthless and cut it out. Do this carefully however, as you need to understand the difference between something that isn’t relevant and something that is relevant if you communicate it in a different way. Excellence in sport for example may demonstrate the commitment and self-discipline that is highly transferable to a sales position. It would not be the first thing that you told the employer however.
So, if a person specification is provided we should communicate our abilities that are relevant to this and make sure we cover all of the things that they are looking for in a credible way.
Having considered the above, you should then be in a position to communicate your value to the employer rather than telling your story. Don’t fall into the trap of describing how you ‘recently left this college after studying such and such course for 3 years, which you really liked and you also worked part time at ....’. Take these details and find ways of presenting them in a more compelling way - based on what the employer is really looking for.
More information on why I recommend the marketing approach can be seen here: http://www.graemejordan.co.uk/marketingapproach.html
More suggestions on how to apply the marketing approach to your job applications can be seen here:
There is no doubt for me that if you apply these techniques effectively you will be successful. Give it a go and let me know how you get on!
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