Yesterday was the second time I’ve been a guest on the local university’s “What Employers Want” panel. The first time was about 6 years ago. As I was preparing for the questions the students had been prepped with in advance, it became apparent that even though their questions were going to be the same as always, there was no justice in giving them the same “canned” answers. Their world (and mine) is exponentially different today than it was even last year. How is it possible, then, to help students entering the work force in 1-3 years understand these changes? By applying consumer marketing strategies to the graduate recruiting process.
First, content matters, so be interesting and unique off the paper as well as on it. Like consumers, employers are faced with interruptions all day long. Their tolerance for average or traditional cover letters and resumes is fading fast. You’re going to need to stand out and not only get attention, but maintain it throughout the hiring process.
Second, you need to know yourself better than ever. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, be able to visualize yourself already in the organization with which you are applying. You must communicate precisely what benefit there is to that person for hiring you.
Third, you need to know the prospective organization better than you even know yourself. Sending out mass numbers of resumes (the marketing principle of “reach”) is going to become less effective, just as sending out mass mailings is becoming for products and services. Return on investment rates will continue declining as the volume of noise and interruption grows.
Finally, instead of “reach”, utilize the strategy of “frequency”. Identify three or four companies you would absolutely LOVE to work with because of what you learn about their corporate culture, their leadership, their benefits, their promotional opportunities, etc., then begin connecting with people inside the organization at any level you can. LinkedIn is a great resource for this. Subscribing to the idea that people do business with people they know, like, and trust, it becomes more likely that a referral from a person inside the organization to a hiring manager would be more enticing than a cold resume submission.
There’s a lot more to come on this subject. It’s too broad to cover in one post.