Zuzana Hradilová has moved to Finland over 3 years ago to study a master’s degree in Education, Learning, and Technology at the University of Oulu. Back then, her plan was to get a highly desirable degree from a Finnish university and move back to her home country to work in education. But in 2020, life happened - she found herself “stuck” in Finland and jobless. With no desire to move to her home country anymore, she decided to broaden her job search away from education into the second field she enjoys - digital marketing. Her job search story has a lot of ups and downs, but luckily after almost 2 years of trying various tactics, she found the one that works!
Zuzana enjoys that now she can build her digital marketing career path with a unique background in psychology, education, learning and technology. Digital marketing might sound boring to some people, but Zuzana appreciates the fact that she can combine her various knowledge and experiences in a single field.
Zuzana's personal experience of job searching in Finland and her professional expertise in various fields helped her to develop an effective strategy that will help anyone to create the right approach and find your dream job wherever you are.
Enjoy the article and find many bonuses that Zuzana shared with you!
It’s every job seeker’s wish to hack their job search and get that dream role in their dream company. In this blog, I’ll walk you through the top tips on how to improve your job search inspired by marketing tactics.
Where do the tips come from?
I took inspiration from my own background in digital marketing. I saw clear synergies between my previous marketing work and my current job search. So, I tested applying the marketing principles I know to my job search. And guess what - it worked!
Here are a few insights from my own job search. Since I’ve changed my job-seeking approach, I’ve seen a 100% increase in the number of replies I get to my job applications. I got invited to 2x more interviews than before. I landed a paid internship. Not a job, but still a valuable learning experience and a great addition to my CV. (Here I'm comparing two periods of roughly 2 months each, during which I’ve sent out roughly the same number of applications.)
Curious to learn how to improve your job search using marketing principles? Read the seven tips below (+ an extra one in the end!).
Tip 1: Analyze & set your goal
“That one’s easy! I want to get a job. That’s my goal.” This is something that might run through your head. And yes, your ultimate goal is to get a job. But do you want to get any kind of job? Or are you looking for a more specific position in a specific industry?
Before jumping into setting a goal, you should think about what the basis for your goal is. Almost every marketing activity starts with an analysis or audit, and so should you.
Start by looking into your past experiences, current situation, and future aspirations. Think about concrete jobs you’d like to do. Make a list! (I know, lists are boring. But writing it all down will help you organize your thoughts.)
Once you have the details on a paper, it’s time to set your goal. At the same time, try to also think about the “why” behind it. Your aims can be very specific, e. g. I want to get a job as a copywriter in the EdTech industry (because I studied educational science and I enjoy writing about education and technology). Or they can be broader, e. g. I want to get a job as a front-end developer (because I have the necessary skills and knowledge).
Don’t forget to be ambitious, but also be realistic. Some jobs are in line with your prior career and skills. Some jobs require extra training or education. Consider that, as it can make the path towards your goal longer or shorter.
Tip 2: Know your market
Market research is one of the first steps every company takes. It helps to determine whether a product or service is viable and needed. You as a job seeker can take the idea of market research and apply it to your job search on two levels: industry-level and company-level. The idea here is to get as much “behind-the-scenes” information as possible.
If you’re interested in working in a specific industry, research the industry’s current state. Is it on the rise, or was it seriously hit by the Covid pandemic? Is it a niche industry with only a few companies in it, or is there a big variety of businesses involved?
Follow the latest news from the industry. For techies, it might mean reading TechCrunch. For growth hackers, the resource might be Sean Ellis’s LinkedIn profile. Find the best way for you to find and consume the information.
As with the industry-level research - if you’re interested in working for a concrete company, check them out. Their website and social media are a good start to see whether they’re actively hiring. But don’t stop there. Google them and look for mentions in the news, blogs, or press releases. This might provide you with a pretty good picture of how the company is doing.
Tip 3: Know your competition
Competitive analysis is another marketing tool that you can take inspiration from. It provides insights into a company’s competitors, and what their weaknesses and strengths are.
So, you roughly know what job, industry, and/or company you’re going for. Now, it’s time to look into your competition - who are the people interested in the same jobs as you?
Here, a LinkedIn Premium profile is an absolute treasure. It gives you the option to see how you compare to the rest of the applicants for the same job. But you don’t need to spend money to get an idea of how you’re doing compared to others.
Think about it. If you’re interested in the same jobs and industries as your competitors, you’re probably part of the same communities too. You attend the same events, and you follow the same companies and experts in the field.
Try to find your competitors, network, and connect with them. Check out their LinkedIn profiles. What skills do they have that you lack? What skills do you have which don’t? What courses did they take? What blogs, articles, information do they share?
Even though other applicants are your “competitors”, it doesn’t mean you cannot help each other out. Have a chat and give each other tips on resources. Like this, you can both learn something new and improve your chances to get jobs.
Tip 4: Know your product & product-market fit
A company’s product or service is its crown jewel - it’s the one thing that the company stands (and falls) on. So, knowing the product through and through is crucial for a successful sale. Do the same with your “product”.
Your product is you. Your skills, knowledge, education, experience, and all that proves them. These are essential especially when putting together your CV. When listing all your relevant skills, licenses, certificates, and courses make sure you have all the documents and proofs ready (and that none of your certificates are expired!).
When searching for a job, another concept to consider is product-market fit. It means exactly what it sounds like. Product-market fit describes a situation when your product matches your target market. Meaning your skills and knowledge match the industry or company you're interested in.
How to know if you’re a fit? This is connected to your industry- or company-level research.
The easiest way to find out is to look at various companies’ job openings (current as well as past ones). How many of the openings match your target job? Do you have the skills and knowledge they ask for? This will give you an idea of how many potential openings are in the industry/company, and whether you fit the openings (whether you have the skills necessary).
Another way to go about it is to check companies’ employees on LinkedIn. How many of them are in the same or similar role as you’d like to have? What are these people’s skills? Do you have the same or even more skills?
For example, you find out that a company you’re interested in has no openings for your target job. But the employee who did this job left a week ago. It might be exactly the right time for you to reach out to them. You might catch them right in the middle of planning the recruitment process.
Or, you find out that the company hired someone for your target role a few months ago. You know that your chances for the same job in that company are much lower.
All this information provides great pointers for you to determine whether you’re a good fit for the industry or company. Whether it’s the right time to send an application to the company, and what the chances of getting hired are.
Tip 5: Show your value & get your messaging right
Have you ever heard about value proposition and strategic messaging? If not, do not worry, you’re about to learn about them now. Because these two concepts are going to help you boost your cover letter writing process.
Value proposition refers to the value a company promises to deliver to customers if they buy the company’s product. Strategic messaging is the way a company communicates that value.
So, what can you learn from these concepts?
Think about your own value proposition when writing a cover letter for a specific job. What can you bring in with your skills, knowledge, experience, etc.? Why are you the best for the job? What is the number one reason why they should hire you? Again, make a list to organize your thoughts!
Now, think about the best way to communicate your value to the company you’re applying for. That is your strategic messaging, and the company is your target audience. Consider the industry, the job, and the recruiters who will go through your letter.
For example, when applying for a job at a big corporate like Nokia, you might want to send your CV and cover letter in a traditional format. But when applying for a job at a young tech startup, you might want to try a more creative and “casual” approach.
A little note here.
Never ever send a generic cover letter when applying for various positions. Every job is different and you’ll do much better if you invest the time into writing a tailored cover letter for each position.
Tip 6: Show a social proof
You know your value and you nailed the messaging. How can you take your communication to the next level? Include social proof!
Social proof in marketing is the evidence showing that customers found the promised value in the company's products or services. You can do the same.
Besides your value proposition, include some kind of evidence to prove your value. This could be a recommendation from your ex-boss, a quote from your team lead, or the results of one of your projects.
Show that the values you described are not just plain words, but there are actual results behind them.
Tip 7: Measure your results
Lastly, don’t forget to measure the results of your efforts.
In marketing, it’s crucial to be able to tell whether an activity led to success or not. You should also try measuring your success.
The best way to do that is to track all your job-seeking activities (for example, in a spreadsheet). You can track many things, it’s up to you.
Here are a few examples of what you can document: How many jobs are available in your desired industry? How many of these jobs have you applied for? How many responses did you get? How many interviews (first round, second round, etc.) have you been invited to?
Additionally, if you change your approach, you can compare the results of your previous job search with the results of your improved job search.
Not sure where to start? I’ve put together a spreadsheet template. Simply access the free template and download or copy it to your own GDrive.
Extra Tip: Match your keywords
When applying for a specific job, go thoroughly through the job offer. Look for descriptions of skills, experiences, tasks, and responsibilities. Do they match your skills, experiences, past tasks and responsibilities?
Sometimes a certain skill is called by various names. Don’t lie on your CV or in your cover letter! But make sure that if you have a certain skill, you use the same terminology as the company’s recruiters.
Hopefully, by now, you can see that marketing and job search have a lot in common. Applying marketing principles to your job search can improve your chances of getting a reply. Or landing an interview, and in the end also a job.
A company’s product stands and falls on marketing efforts. Marketing needs to ensure that the company communicates the value of the product, to the right audience, at the right time. The same applies to your job search. You want to communicate your value clearly, to the right company/industry, at the right time. Ideally when they’re hiring or ready to start hiring.
Good luck with your job search!
Author: Zuzana Hradilová.
Graphics: Zuzana Hradilová.
Photographer: Arina Lykova.