Applying for jobs is similar to how one would sell an offering. You, the candidate, should consider yourself as the product and the recruiter your target market. You should also think of cultural fit as the concept of product-market fit, which is how well the product matches the needs of the target market. Whether it’s your first time job-hunting or you’re in the midst of a career change, this bag of tricks will teach you how to use your marketing knowledge in powering through an interview.
#1 Social media as a powerful tool for hiring and job hunting.
With the advent of the internet, modern-day job hunting is not what it was a decade ago—the same way digital marketing has begun to overshadow traditional marketing.
LinkedIn showed in a 2015 Hiring Statistics report that 60% of job seekers in recent years use online job boards to look for a new job. Because of this, many online platforms have evolved to offer more features. LinkedIn, for example, now allows users to connect and network with potential employers and colleagues, while websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed let their users review and rate a company and post their salary for public viewing.
Social media has become a powerful tool for pre-interview screening as well and this goes both ways. Seven out of 10 recruiters check candidates using social networking sites. Oftentimes, recruiters reject candidates who post provocative or inappropriate photographs, content of them drinking or using drugs, and discriminatory comments, among others. On the other hand, 22% of job seekers confessed to “stalking” their interviewers on social media to prepare for an interview and find common interests with the person they’ll be talking to.
Perhaps, the lack of an online presence is for the better. However, it is also important to note that recruiters are less likely to invite you for an in-person interview if they can’t find you online. There are many ways to avoid possible issues by checking your account’s privacy settings, religiously screening and removing red flags, and even refraining from posting inappropriate content.
Keeping a professional profile online is a must as it is a good indicator of your character at work and in real life.
#2 Networking as a backdoor for a hidden job market
The truth is you are more likely to land a job through one single reference than by sending hundreds of cold emails every day. The reason is that at least 70% of open jobs are not even posted nor publicly advertised.
The key to unlocking this hidden job market is through networking. Build your network the same way you build your marketing list: the bigger it is, the better your prospects are in landing a job.
It might, however, be too straightforward to randomly befriend someone online with the sole purpose of asking for a job. A subtle approach is to reach out for an informational interview.
An informational interview allows you to learn about the actual work experience from the perspective of a current or even past employee. By doing so, you’ll get firsthand, relevant insights—both the good and the bad—about the company culture and the work itself and match it with your expectations. Not only are you showing initiative and interest to a potential work colleague, but if everything goes well, that may even be a source of referral when you eventually apply. In case this may not be effective, you may add someone new to your network. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.
#3 Building your personal brand.
The structure of an interview is akin to a treemap wherein you begin with the main idea and then you follow through with the supporting details.
An introduction about yourself is usually the first question that interviewers ask during an interview. This is when you should present your main idea—your unique value proposition, ergo, your personal brand.
Amongst other reasons, the common motivation behind a job interview is to evaluate a candidate’s cultural fit—how well a candidate’s values and behavior match that of the company’s.
Individuals in entry-level positions will typically learn many untapped skills while on the job. Career coach Peter Yang said, “Interviewers often care more about the likability of entry-level candidates than whether or not they’re actually qualified for the job.” However, for career changers aiming for mid-level to senior positions, having the technical skills relevant to the job will put you in a more advantageous position.
Beyond one’s “fit” for the job, recruiters prefer someone who they can see themselves working with. In a recent survey, nine out of 10 recruiters will reject candidates who they feel don’t align with the company culture.
One important thing to consider is to never repeat your resume verbatim. It is acceptable, however, to allude to a specific relevant experience. Chances are the interviewer would want you to elaborate on that, allowing you to showcase an important highlight in your career.
Lastly, if you want to go the extra mile, find ways to stand out. You can highlight a rare personal or professional experience (e.g. competing for a major sports event, volunteering for a humanitarian non-government organization, and more) or a passion project (e.g. founder of a small business). By sneaking in these extra bits, you are making yourself memorable—remember, the same interviewer is probably screening hundreds of candidates who have the same level of experience as you.
The key is to make the conversation as engaging as possible. By listening intently to your interviewer and asking them questions, you may catch some hints—a similar experience or a common interest maybe—which you could use to steer the conversation in your favor.
Nevertheless, your ultimate goal is to communicate your personal brand to the interviewer, and hopefully, convert this job interview (the lead) into a job offer (the sale).
Visual by Gabrielle Gunay