Preparing a Job Search Marketing Plan

 

Creating a marketing plan is an often overlooked step in the job search process. Taking the time to think through your options and capturing them on paper will help you understand what you want and how to get there. In this article, you will learn how to create a simple marketing plan.

IT IS SIMILAR TO A BUSINESS PLAN

Perhaps you are like many job seekers. You have completed your resume and started to send it out. While your resume is important, it looks backwards at education, experience and interests. This can be sort of like driving a car while looking in the rear view mirror. The marketing plan is a powerful tool because it looks forward and provides a road map for your search.

While you might not have heard of marketing plans as part of a job search, we have all heard stories about entrepreneurs, who create a business plan to attract financing partners. It tells the story of the plans for the company in which they are investing.

There are two reasons the business plan is so important. The first is that it serves as a communication tool to tell the investor what the objectives are for the investment. The second, and just as important, it forces the entrepreneur to describe the investment on paper. If the plan does not hang together on paper, there is no way it will in reality. This forces the entrepreneur to think through the plan before going out to raise money.

The same concept is at work in the job search. You need to think through (a) what type of job fits your interests and background, (b) whether you have the required skills to obtain your dream job and (c) if your plan makes sense given the current market conditions. For example, if you dream of being a surgeon, but flunked high school biology this may not be a viable plan. If you are a high school teacher and want to move into corporate training, you may have comparable skills to create an opportunity.

HOW TO PUT A PLAN TOGETHER

All you need is a simple, one page marketing plan. It is not only easy to construct, it will be a handy tool because it will be easy to grasp the message quickly.

The primary questions to answer are where do you want to work and what do you want to do? If you don’t know where you want to go, any road will take you there. The more focused the target, the easier it will be to describe it to yourself and others. Ask yourself the following:

• For what target position are you best suited?
• In what industry or industries do want to work?
• In what segment(s) do you want to work?
• For what companies do you want to work?

Consider what position(s) can use your skill set. Be creative in your thinking. You may be surprised to find opportunity where you never considered.

Look at potential industries to determine where your skills are the best fit. Think about the industry you are in, but most important, look at other industries to determine how your skills can be utilized.

Identify the segments of the industry that are best suited for you. Think about geography, company size, markets they serve, or whatever may be significant in your area.

Then, identify the companies that you think are the best mutual fit.

Of course, you have to be realistic. Your training, skill set, and experience have to support the direction you want to take. This is the time to explore what options you have based on your background. Broaden your thinking as much as possible to include areas that you may not have thought of previously. Or find and explore companies that you may not have been aware of.

Keep in mind that the information that you work from, or the assumptions you make, may not contain the complete story. Don’t worry, your plan can and should be revised as you go along.

The marketing plan provides an excellent tool for discussion when networking. Print out copies of your plan and bring them with you to networking meetings. Ask to be introduced to people that may be able to guide you, and ask those people if they would give you their opinion on your plan.

THE FORMAT

Here is an example of the content of marketing plan for a person looking for a position in the

John Smith
Address
222-555-1234 [email protected]

Competencies: Biology and business background, sales experience to physicians in varying specialties, hospital sales and contract negotiation, highly organized, supervisory skills, executive level presentations.

Objective: To work in the Pharmaceutical/Biotech/Health Care industry as a sales professional leading to a sales management position with a growing, established company.

Target position: Outside sales, direct to provider or business to business

Industry: Pharmaceuticals, Biotech

Segment: (1) Large Pharma companies NYC, northern NJ area; (2) Medium sized companies, NYC, northern NJ area

Companies in Segment One: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Meyers, Squibb, Bayer, Takeda

Companies in Segment Two: Watson, Mylan Labs, King Pharmaceuticals, Cephalon

CONCLUSION

The job seeker’s marketing plan is similar to the entrepreneur’s business plan. It is a communication tool that conveys to the reader the objectives for the product, namely, you. Therefore, you need to think through your options and your desires based upon the realities of your background and match them to potential opportunities. Capture your thoughts in a simple, one page table. Then, use it as a discussion piece when you are networking to find a job.

 
 

Seven Tips For Jump Starting a Stalled Job Search

 

A growing number of jobseekers find themselves in the midst of a long-term job search. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. jobless rate soared to a four-year high of 5.7% in July 2008 and the average job search took more than four months to net results. However, some critics would put this number and the number of the unemployed much higher.

Helen Kooiman, author of Suddenly Unemployed asserts, “[S]uch statistics are inaccurate indicators. They do not include those whose unemployment benefits have run out or those who don’t qualify for unemployment… Such statistics also do not count welfare recipients, temps (who cannot be counted as fully employed), or others who eke out a living on so-called self-employment.” Neither do such reports include what the Bureau of Labor Statistics terms “discouraged workers” or those who “were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them.” Their figures reached 461,000 in July.

A long-term job search can put a tremendous financial and emotional strain on a job hunter. “It’s been a demoralizing experience and it’s been very difficult budgetwise. I’m a single mother,” Kay Marie King says, a former non-profit executive with a wealth of experience that is currently involved in an ongoing job search.

So, what can you do when weeks of a fruitless job search quickly turns to months? Here are seven tips for jump starting a stalled job search:

Tip One: Don’t be so quick to blame everything on the economy (your region, your industry, etc.)

These issues certainly play a role in the current job market. However, it is easy to fixate on such factors and completely discount factors which we personally control. The next six tips cover areas that long-term jobseekers do well to revisit to jump start a stalled job search. Why is this so important? I am reminded of a woman I once interviewed that looked great on paper, but during the interview she had an incredibly offensive body odor. She remarked that she’d been on several interviews but she was “overqualified” for every position. It was a classic case of the problem (or her perception of what the problem was) not really being the problem. While most jobseekers don’t have such an obvious issue, each one would still do well to take a long look in the mirror.

Tip Two: Conduct a candid self-assessment.

Look at yourself from the perspective of the potential employer. Compare your experience and qualifications to those typically required of someone in your target position. How do your skills and experience match up? Think of creative ways to to fill skill gaps and gain experience.

Tip Three: Re-examine your target position or industry.

Are you searching for work in a waning industry or oversaturated field? Is your desired position readily available in your selected geographic area? Being open to relocation may improve your chances. Can you apply your knowledge and skills to an industry that is experiencing growth?

Tip Four: Rethink your current job search.

What job search strategies are you currently using? If you are concentrating your efforts on strategies that are typically the least effective (like online job boards and newspaper ads) your job search will take much longer to yield results. Consider incorporating job search strategies that yield higher results, like networking and direct targeted mailing campaigns.

Tip Five: Re-evaluate the way you are communicating your message verbally and in print.

Communicating your message to potential employers in a clear and compelling manner is critical to job search success. Re-examine your resume. Does it communicate your value to employers by addressing how your skills and experience will meet the employer’s specific needs? Practice communicating your value in response to typical interview questions, including, “Tell me about yourself.”

Tip Six: Maintain your intensity level and a positive outlook.

It is easy to become discouraged over the course of a lengthy job search. Keep a positive outlook and maintain a high-level of focus and intensity throughout your job search for quicker results. Taking a systematic approach to your job search will help you to stay organized and on track during your job search. Yet, it is important to pursue other interests during your job search. Enjoy spending time with friends and family. Renew your interest in a hobby. Tackle a project you wouldn’t have time to if you were working. Spending time in other pursuits provides a much-needed reprieve from the stress of a job search. You’ll be energized and ready for the next leg of your job search.

Tip Seven: Build a solid support system.

If a self-guided job search has netted limited results; consider working with a career or job search coach. Your coach will help you identify any problem areas and offer suggestions for improvement. Another option is to join a local or online job search club. If a coach or job search club isn’t available try building your own support network. Enlist the help of family and friends or connect with other job hunters. Taking a team approach to your job search provides an opportunity for constructive feedback, a fresh perspective, ongoing encouragement, and added accountability.

 
 

9 Keys to Job Search & Career Success

 

In recent months, the job market has become increasingly competitive. But even as the economy slows, and there are increasing numbers of job seekers in the job market, there are many professionals who have been incredibly successful in conducting fast, effective job searches. These former job seekers have achieved new jobs that are personally, professionally, and financially rewarding. What do they have in common? How are they doing it? Here are nine tips to speed your own job search and drive it to a fast, successful conclusion.

Know what you want and go after it. Starting a job search without knowing what you want will almost certainly end in frustration. Think about it: If you don’t know what you want and what your job target is, how will you know who to contact and how to conduct your search? If you are uncertain about your career goals, it is critical that you spend some time and energy now – before launching your search – on self-introspection and analysis. Knowing what YOU want, what YOU are passionate about, and what YOU bring to the table will provide you with a confidence that simply can’t and won’t be matched by many of your competitors in the job market. This is the crucial first step to any job search and is essential for long-term career success as well.

Know and sell your personal brand. When you think about your next career move, how would things be different for you if employers and recruiters actually sought you out? Personal branding (the process of clarifying and communicating what makes you and your unique value proposition different and special) allows you to make a name for yourself. It differentiates you from your peers and helps to position you as a leader in your field – as a specialist and an authority who knows how to do a job and fill a particular niche in the workplace better than anyone else. Once you are clear on your personal brand, you can use it to project a cohesive brand image and value proposition throughout all your job search activities, and do so in a way that addresses the specific concerns of your target audience. By knowing and promoting your brand, you achieve instant, precision-like focus that positions you as the ideal candidate for the specific type of opportunity that interests you. You gain immediate competitive advantage.

Be able to clearly articulate who you are and what you have to offer. While this may feel uncomfortable to you, the simple truth is that a job search is a sales and marketing campaign: a sales and marketing campaign in which YOU are the product. Through the process of personal branding (recommended above), you must identify what differentiates you and paint a compelling portrait of your unique value proposition. But, don’t stop with just promoting this in your resume and then become tongue-tied when someone asks about you and your candidacy. You will hear the “what do you do?” or “tell me about yourself?” questions over and over, both during your job search and throughout your entire career. Don’t wing it! Preparation is the key to confidence and the key to making a lasting, positive, and memorable first impression. Be ready with a 30-60 second pitch that immediately and confidently conveys to the listener who you are as a professional and what it is that you offer.

Make their first impression your best impression. Take a hard look at your resume. Like it or not, your resume is your first introduction to most employers, and your only chance to make a good first impression. Effective resumes are highly focused marketing pieces that are strategically written and designed to sell YOU as THE best solution to a potential employer’s needs and problems. Your resume should be written to convey and illustrate your unique value proposition, with succinct “stories” that differentiate you from your competitors in the job market. Does your resume accomplish these goals? Is it focused effectively? Does it accurately present you in the way that you wish to be presented? If not, it is time to rewrite.

Network, network, network…and then network some more. The statistics are very clear, and while they vary slightly from survey to survey, they are also remarkably consistent. It is safe to say that at least 80% of all the jobs are found through the “hidden” job market, also known as the “unpublished” job market. These are jobs typically landed through word of mouth and referrals as opposed to the hit-or-miss method of answering ads, posting your resume to internet databases, or other techniques meant to target the remaining 20% of all jobs in the published market. It stands to reason that if the vast majority of the jobs are to be found in this hidden market, that you should spend the majority of your job search time working to crack it. There is no more effective job search technique than networking. So, even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first, just get out there and do it. Make networking a part of your daily routine and plan to spend the majority of your job search time on networking activities (approximately three-fourths of your time is a good estimate). The more you network, the faster your current job search will come to a successful conclusion and the faster and more successful any future job searches will be.

Plan and execute a multi-pronged job search campaign. Yes, networking is essential, but other job search techniques are also important. An effective job search campaign is a multi-pronged one that includes the strategic, planned, methodical use of a variety of job search approaches. Answering ads alone is almost never enough. Neither is working with headhunters, using internet job search sources, or researching and targeting specific employers. But, when you combine all these approaches with networking, carefully evaluate and prioritize the approaches based on relative effectiveness, and then launch an integrated, multi-pronged job search campaign, you will always come out ahead. The best job search is one in which the job seeker approaches it as if it was a job itself.

Build a support team. While your preparation will certainly ease the whole process, job searching can be a grueling and very stressful experience. So, I want to remind you that you don’t have to go through it alone. You should build a support team around you of people who can help you stay motivated and on track while giving you honest feedback and helping you stay accountable to the goals you set for yourself. Family and friends, past and present managers, your peers and colleagues, financial advisors, and professionals in the careers industry such as career counselors, coaches, and resume writers all make excellent people to add to your team. By assembling a good mix of people to support you, from a diversity of backgrounds and professions, you will receive a variety of different perspectives, ideas, and insights that can be very helpful. You should consider joining a job search support club or group – a local one if one is available or an online one. If you have been provided with outplacement services by your former employer, by all means take advantage of the office space and resources offered. The point is that you don’t have to and shouldn’t conduct your search in isolation. Surround yourself with a team that will help and support you. Above all, recognize when you need support and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and guidance.

Always follow up. Following up on all of your contacts and your activities can do more to influence your success in achieving your job target than anything else. A hand-written thank you note or a more formal, typed thank you letter after speaking with a networking contact, attending an informational interview, or after attending an actual job interview can make a lasting positive impression that gives you a distinct competitive advantage. A follow-up phone call on every resume you send, whether it is a resume sent cold, in response to an ad, or based on a referral from one of your networking contacts can make all the difference in whether your resume is actually read and considered or not. A consistent method of follow up is key and you must make the time in your schedule to do so. Follow up will positively influence decision-makers, it will help key the process moving along, it will show your interest and your professionalism, and it will position you above the competition.

Adopt a “failure is not an option” attitude and make finding a job a job itself. Celebrate your accomplishments daily and weekly, but recognize that a successful job search requires persistence and consistent effort. The more “feelers” you put out, the more contacts you make, the more resumes you put into the hands of hiring authorities, and the more face-to-face interviews you go on, the faster you will achieve your job target. It can be difficult to remain motivated when you don’t immediately see results but remind yourself that job searching is a process and that it takes time. Reward yourself not just for the results, but for the effort.

 
 

Job Search Tax Deductions

 

Looking for a job in a tough economy is tough and can be expensive. Did you know that it can also be tax deductible? If you are looking for a new job in your same field of work the cost of looking may be tax deductible on your federal income tax return. This is especially important if you are out of work when you consider that things like severance and unemployment payments are taxable.

The IRS has strict rules that apply to this deduction and the first and most important is that you must be looking for work in your current occupation. That means if you are a surgical nurse and you look for a job as an Emergency Room Nurse you are still in nursing. But if you are a nurse and you are looking for work as a chef that is not the same occupation and therefore the expenses are not deductible.

Record keeping matters. Not everyone is detail oriented or used to keeping track of what they did and what they spend. That won’t satisfy the IRS if they question your return. We’re not talking about setting up a full blown accounting system but we talking about keeping and labeling receipts and maybe a spreadsheet to tie it all together. A spreadsheet will also make totaling up your deduction a lot easier than searching through receipts and scraps of paper.

The most important item in almost any job search is a great resume. A great resume is your first impression with a potential employer and not a place you want to cut corners. Fortunately the expenses related to your resume are deductible (same occupation rule applies). So if it’s been a while since you updated yours now is the time to do so.

Resume related expenses can include drafting, typing, printing, mailing and faxing. These costs are deductible whether you are doing it yourself of paying a service to help you. You can’t deduct for your time in preparing your resume but the hard costs like paper and printing can be deducted. The same rules apply to portfolios for those in the arts, drafting or architecture.

Head hunters, employment agencies and outplacement services vary in whether they charge you or the prospective employer for referring you. In the cases where you as the applicant pay all or part of the fees for service you can deduct that amount from your income. It is important to remember that if your new employer reimburses you for all or part of those fees down the road you will have to declare that as income and adjust your gross income accordingly.

Travel and transportation expenses related to your job search include things like airfare to distant cities for interviews and bus and train fares downtown knock on doors or deliver resumes in person. Gas and tolls out to the suburbs for career counseling meetings are all considered deductible by the IRS provided they meet the first requirement of being for your current occupation.

When it comes to traveling for a job search, you can take your husband or wife along for the trip and spend extra time relaxing but you can not include your companion’s expenses in your deduction even if they are there to lend moral support. The same is true for expenses related to the personal unrelated time spent traveling. Remember that accurate detailed record keeping in situations like this will save a lot of headaches later.

You may not deduct your job search expenses if you had a substantial break between the end of your last job and when you began looking for a new one. The IRS does not define a substantial break but a good rule of thumb is continuity. If you start looking for a new job right after you loose your old one then there is no room for question no matter how long it takes to find a new position.

Taking advantage of this deduction requires that you complete a Schedule A with your tax return and your job search related expenses combined with other expenses must meet IRS guidelines such as job search expenses may not exceed two percent of your adjusted gross income.

For more information and you can refer to IRS Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions which is available online at IRS.gov. As always if you are uncertain about how to proceed consult a CPA.