Job Seekers – The Art of Self Marketing

· by Alicia Leary

Alicia is the Marketing Team Lead at HTI. She started her career with HTI in 2015 as a Sales Coordinator.
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I often tell job seekers to think of themselves as their own personal Sales and Marketing Director.  In the competitive world of employment, adopting this mindset and implementing an effective “self marketing campaign” can be the difference between landing a dream job and missing out on an opportunity.

What does the competition look like?  Depending on the type of position, location, and placement of postings, open jobs can garner as many as 250+ applications/resumes.  That’s pretty stiff competition.  Getting to the offer stage is often “survival of the fittest”, so let’s get your strategy in tip top shape.

The Game Plan

  • Target audience:  When I start on any marketing project, the first thing I ask is “Who is the target audience?”  As a job seeker, that audience should include the hiring manager or HR recruiter at your target companies, and any outside recruiters that are helping them source candidates.  Make a list of your target companies and target positions, and do some online research.  This will help you focus your search.
  • Your competition:  Is there something that other job seekers in your profession are doing that you’re not?  For example, when we submit a web developer resume to our client companies, the first thing they want to see is the person’s online portfolio.  If you aren’t doing something that’s pretty standard for your industry, do it.  Also, if there’s something that really sets you apart from your competition, be sure to highlight it on your resume.
  • Use keywords:  The online application process often includes a non-human “target audience” that most candidates don’t know about – applicant tracking systems or recruiting software.  In some cases, you have to get past them before your resume makes it to a (human) recruiter.  How do you make that happen?  Make sure your resume includes all of the keywords for which the system will scan (i.e. specific job requirements).  Does a job require intermediate skills in Microsoft Excel and you happen to be an Excel whiz?  Don’t just list “Microsoft Office” on your resume – type out the word “Excel”.


Use Your Network – Or Build One

  • Take advantage of your connections:  Many successful job seekers reach out to their network to get their resume “out there”.  Make sure your friends and contacts know you’re looking and get them a copy of your resume.  Does your area have a networking group for your profession?  Find out when and where the next meeting will take place.  Does your boyfriend’s sister’s best friend work for one of your target companies?  Use your connections to get her your resume.
  • Don’t underestimate the advantage of a good LinkedIn profile: is a resource now used by many recruiters and hiring managers to find employees.  Don’t have a profile?  You could be missing out.  Have a profile, but it’s private, not updated, or doesn’t include a nice professional looking headshot?  You could be missing out.  Your LinkedIn profile should have all of the same information included on your resume and then some.  Ask for recommendations from your previous co-workers and supervisors.  Include information on projects, specific classes you’ve attended, certifications, skills, etc.  Also, your photo matters.  Find a professional looking photo to use or have a friend take one for you.  No selfies or party photos.  And remember to smile!


  • Make connections:  Use LinkedIn to connect with local influencers, connectors, recruiters, and hiring managers.  Thank people for connecting with you and don’t hesitate to ask if there’s something you can do for them.  Don’t stalk anyone or be too pushy.  Make a connection, make a friend, then mention that you are currently looking for a new position and ask if you can send over your resume.


Minimize things that might make you a “no”

  • Your other online presence:  Even if you have a great LinkedIn profile, you need to be sure that any information a recruiter can find about you online is something that will HELP you and not HURT you.  Worried about your friends posting party photos from last weekend on your Facebook page?  Adjust your privacy settings accordingly.  While there is an ongoing debate in the industry about the practice of companies looking up job seekers on social media, the fact remains that anything that is posted publically can be found with a quick Google search.  So Google yourself and see what comes up.  Then edit away.  You don’t want to end up in the “no” resume pile for something that’s out there in cyberspace.


Get help… For Free!

  • Talk to a recruiter:  Depending on your profession, there are probably a handful of experienced recruiting or staffing firms in your area that can assist with your job search.  It’s like having your own personal agent who doesn’t cost you a penny, so be sure to take advantage of them as a resource.  You may have to meet with them, fill out some paperwork, or do some quick assessments, but in exchange for the time you invest you get someone who can help market your resume.  Recruiters can also give you job search and resume tips as they know the local job market AND they talk to your competition all day long.  Building a strong relationship with a recruiting firm (like HTI… *wink*) can be extremely valuable.


Stay Positive

  • Attitude matters:  Staying positive through the job search process can be difficult.  You may spend time sending out resumes and not get a response.  You may not hear back from a company after a phone call or first interview for a while.  Keep in mind that the people on the other end are sorting through potentially hundreds of resumes and candidates.  It can be hard to come across as positive on the phone with a recruiter after dealing with rejection, but no one wants to hire a “Debbie Downer”.  Positive, happy people get interviews.  Staying positive and remembering that the right job is out there will help you make it through the process with minimal stress.


Your official “Self Marketing To Do List”:

  • Formulate your game plan and make a list of target companies and positions
  • Look at how you stack up to your competition
  • Update your resume and online profiles to include keywords
  • Reach out to your network
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and don’t forget a great photo (Smile!)
  • Google yourself, check your social media profiles, and make sure your online presence is professional
  • Talk to local recruiters who specialize in your profession
  • Stay positive!