It's never been tougher to find a job out there than it is right now. In the following article, legendary sales and marketing consultant Jeffrey J. Fox lays out a practical and encouraging plan to target and land your dream job.
This story is pure advertising industry lore. I'd like to call it "Be a fish out of water." It's how a fellow in the advertising business made it from the mailroom to become in charge of the company. It is said that one of the giants of advertising got his first job working in the mailroom of a Madison Avenue agency. He was a creative fellow and wanted desperately to become at least a copywriter.
He applied internally through the personnel department for a job in the creative department. But this ad agency was flooded with résumés from the best and the brightest. Why would they even consider a kid from the mailroom? And the agency didn't. Time after time, the mailroom boy's traditional, by-the-book, according-to-policy, follow-the-rules, do-it-the-company-way application was rejected, barely even considered.
He knew that the challenge facing art directors and copywriters was how to make their ads stand out, how to get noticed among all the ads and commercials competing for the fickle buyers' attention. He knew that getting favorable buyer attention was what clients paid his agency to do and led to the agency's financial success.
The kid from the mailroom reasoned he had the same problem as did the creative people: how to design an ad for his product — himself. His product was himself. And how to design an ad so different, so unexpected that it would grab attention despite that pile of competing ads, the other résumés, what would it take? What would it take to get the heads of the agency to notice his flair and to give him a chance to write ads that would keep clients and get new clients?
He had access to everyone's office. He delivered the mail! The mail boy targeted his customer, the creative director of the advertising agency. He learned that the creative director appreciated surprise, breakthrough thinking, and getting products noticed. One morning at the top of his mail pile, the creative director of the advertising agency found a package of something wrapped in newspaper. The creative director unwrapped the newspaper to find a big fish, fully five pounds from head to tail, spread on his fine desk, giving him an unflinching fisheye, lying there, a bass or snapper or snook!
The page that held the fish, a bit wrinkled and scaly, was a newspaper ad from his agency. Enclosed was a note, "I'm like a fish out of water down here in the mailroom. I can make ads that get noticed. Why don't you give me a try?" signed, the mailroom boy. Audacious? Perhaps. Funny? A bit. Clever? For sure. Risky? What's to lose? Attention getting? Aren't most fish stories?
The mailroom guy became a storied ad man ultimately founding a highly successful agency that bore his name. In a good company, there's always a job for a money maker, a revenue producer, a customer getter. Don't tell them; show them. And you need not be a Pisces to get noticed.
When you are seeking a job, either at a new company or a promotion within the organization where you now work, that job search is really a sales and marketing project. You are the product. Your résumé or how you describe yourself is your sales literature. And you are the salesperson of that product, i.e., that is, you have to sell yourself.
Here's a lesson: Think of yourself as a box of cereal. You are a stamping press, a gear box, a software package, a centrifuge, or an electric motor. You are a box of corn flakes competing with every other cereal to catch the eye of the customer, to get plucked off the shelf, to get purchased. You are a product.
When companies hire or promote, they make an investment. Hiring someone, paying compensation, is not different from buying a lathe, a copy machine, or a fork lift. Hiring someone is precisely like buying any productivity-improving product.
Just as the hiring company wants its investment in a new retail store design to increase sales, so, too, it wants its investment in people to increase sales. Just as the hiring company expects its investment in new software to reduce production costs, it wants its investment in new people to eliminate scrap and waste.
You are a product, and the employer is the customer, the buyer. You are a product the customer will buy if the customer feels good about you and if you solve a problem. As with the box of cereal, the customer will feel good about you if he or she likes your packaging. And your packaging, because you are you, is how you look, listen, learn, laugh. The customer will feel good about you if you fit the organization's culture, if you have chemistry, and if you ask thoughtful questions. The customer will feel good about you if you are genuine, if you have done your homework, and if you are enthusiastic about betting some of your life on the hiring company. More importantly, however, the customer, the hiring organization, the promoting organization, will hire or promote you only if they think you can solve their problem, if you fill their need.
You are a product the customer will buy if you are affordable. And, if in solving their problem, the customer will earn more from your work than the amount of money you will be paid for that work. You are not a robot, but you will be purchased as if you were a robotic assembly machine.
A blueprint to follow
Here is your job-getting blueprint. Target an organization. Research the organization. Write an impact letter to get an interview. Treat the interview as a sales call. Pre-call, plan the interview. Dollarize your potential value to the organization. Bring something helpful to the company to the interview. Conduct a needs analysis during the interview. Write an individual résumé for each target organization. Use the résumé as interview follow-up sales literature. Send a thank-you note to each interviewer within one day of the interview. Pre-call, plan each and every subsequent interview.
Here is what I like to call "the job seeker's marketing mix." Getting a job basically consists of marketing and selling yourself to a company. This is the same thing as a company's marketing and selling its products to its customers. The techniques used to market a product are collectively called the marketing mix.
The marketing mix is the marketer's tool box. Marketers use some or all of the tools in varying ways and in differing proportions. How marketers use the marketing mix is a function of selling goals, skills, targeting of customer needs, budgets, competition. The marketing mix includes advertising, publicity, packaging, pricing, market research, direct mail, and numerous other disciplines. You must consider all pieces of the marketing mix in marketing yourself. Your marketing plan for yourself will be a recipe of the ingredients in the marketing mix. Following here are 10 great tips or what you can call tools or ingredients for your own personal marketing mix:
First, advertising. When someone who knows you or knows of you recommends you to a potential employer, that is word-of-mouth advertising. Ask influential people you know to spread the word.
Second, database marketing. Build your people file with letters, press and magazine clippings of interest, emails, and phone calls, and use it.
Third, direct marketing. Sending a letter to a hiring manager in a target company with a message tailored to the company is effective direct mail.
Fourth, lead generation. Identifying a hiring company, getting an introduction, or getting a referral are sales leads. Networking, want ads, and industry publications are good sources.
Fifth, market research. Use the Internet, the library, publications, the street, and the phone to learn all you can about the target company, its industry, and its people.
Sixth, media plan. Use the Internet to contact companies and respond to companies. Put up a personalized website.
Seventh, pricing. The marketplace usually sets the price, the compensation for your job. But showing your economic value and dollarizing your impact is crucial to the hiring manager.
Eighth, publicity. Write articles. Contact organizers for associations and give speeches on what you know. Put writers, reporters, editors in your database. Let them know you are available for a quote.
Ninth, segmentation. The world of organizations can be segmented by geography, industry, size, customers, culture, age, whether they are private or public, profit or not for profit, and countless variations. Your first segmentation is to decide where you would like to live and draw a 40-mile radius around where you'd like to live.
Tenth, trade shows. Visit job fairs or trade shows for hiring employers. Industry trade shows are where companies selling to common customers present themselves. Visit your target companies at trade shows.
See yourself as $$$$
In seeking a job or in seeking a promotion, you must always dollarize yourself. Dollarization is calculating in dollars and cents the worth of something. In seeking a job or getting a promotion, dollarizing is calculating in dollars and cents what you are worth to your customer, the hiring organization.
To help the hiring people choose you, you must dollarize yourself. You must quantify for the organization the economic value you can potentially deliver. Because the purpose of every job is to create value, you must do your interview homework and determine how the job in question creates value for your target organization. For example, a salesperson creates value by generating sales revenue. A purchasing agent creates value by acquiring quality components at true net-lower costs. A construction project manager creates value by ensuring that the building is finished on time, avoiding cost overruns. A maintenance person creates value by keeping the machinery running and eliminating costly down time. The hotel housekeeper creates value by making the hotel room so comfortable that the customer returns.
In these examples, the sales candidates' value is some function of the $2 million in revenues she claims she will deliver. The prospective purchasing agent will show how he can save the company $1 million by buying gaskets that reduce warrantee claims. The project manager will demonstrate to his future employer that his computer-based scheduling skills will save $5 million in possible penalties. The maintenance person will show that every hour of downtime avoided is worth $87,000 to the hiring company. And the hotel housekeeper will show that superbly cleaned hotel rooms create a loyal customer who will return three more nights at $150 a night.
Every job can be dollarized. Every job has value. You must consider how the job you want creates value. In your interviews, ask questions and answer questions in such a way that your dollarized value becomes evident.
Use these tools, tips, and techniques I've given you, and you'll stand out like a "fish out of water"!