Essential job skills training on marketing yourself
Acquire the job skills training you need to stand out
You don’t need me to tell you that we are in an era of too many graduates chasing too few jobs. The graduate job market has become increasingly competitive, but instead of just trusting luck or happenstance, there is something you can do about it: coach yourself with the interview skills training you need.
One of the skills you should try to develop is self-marketing, which means, in modern terms, to become your own brand.
Career advice on marketing yourself
Brands started because manufacturers needed ways to differentiate their seemingly similar products from their competitors. Similarly, you need to market yourself to stand out from other applicants who may have very similar skills to your own.
The first two examples in Britain were Bass stamping the distinctive red triangle on all of their beer barrels and Josiah Wedgwood putting his Wedgwood brand underneath all his crockery.
Wedgwood was a master of branding. He started the product placement industry by giving complete dinner sets (worth in today’s money over £50,000 a set) to the Royal Family and aristocracy so that the newly emerging middle class would buy his crockery rather than that of his myriad of competitors.
It’s no different nowadays. You need to really differentiate yourself from your competitors in order for you to become a compelling proposition to a potential employer.
So how do you go about becoming a compelling differentiated proposition? In other words, how do you become your own brand?
Here are four career help tips to help you develop your interview skills:
- First of all, start thinking like your own brand manager; the first task of any brand manager is to audit their brand’s strengths and weaknesses compared to competitors. Have you audited yourself? It’s not difficult if it’s done honestly! You need to think about what it is about you that will make someone sit up and take notice of you in an interview. In an overcrowded market you need to stand out.
- Your packaging and presentation need to be perfect. Can you imagine any Apple product having spelling mistakes? (Over 40% of student job applications have spelling or grammatical errors.) Or looking less than just right? (Over 50% of graduate recruiters complain about the slovenly or inappropriate appearance of students at job interviews.)
- Every brand manager is taught to think like a consumer. Companies spend literally millions of pounds trying to understand how consumers think; there is a whole industry (market research) devoted to it. How much time do you spend thinking about how recruiters behave? It’s of fundamental importance to really understand and then empathise with your interviewer. How would you like to differentiate between huge numbers of seemingly similar candidates?
- If you’re a marketing student you will know that brands are made up of tangible features, and intangible benefits, i.e. BMW cars are engineered and designed such that you really feel connected to them as a driver, but it’s what it says about you that makes them sell in such large numbers. Nike trainers are well made but it’s the inherent symbolism of the little whoosh that makes you buy them.
What might make an employer choose you over other interviewees? How do you figure in terms of features and benefits? Have you ever tried to think like this? It’s a very instructive process, especially once you realise that you can be functionally perfect, but people decide on people for emotional reasons, not functional ones (thank God!).
Developing your graduate interview skills
After I graduated, I managed to get my first job in advertising with the incredibly prestigious J. Walter Thompson (JWT) agency even though I had a terrible degree from a naff Polytechnic. I did it because in all of my interviews (six in total often with 2 or 3 people at a time), I convinced them that I really really wanted the job. As part of my persuasion process I had read everything that had been published about JWT in both the trade and national press for the previous two years. I read everything they had published, including two books by one of their directors. I was developing my interview skills and coaching myself to succeed. I studied for a Biology degree so I started off knowing nothing. I read over 40 books on advertising and marketing and did my own analysis of over 10 of their most famous advertising campaigns. I was better equipped to answer the interview questions. In “ad-speak”, my key differentiator or end benefit to them was that I surely would try harder than the other candidates.
After being employed, I certainly realised that. I was a very broad-speaking Geordie in a company awash with David Cameron sound-and-look alikes, who left the office at 4pm most days and at lunchtime on Fridays. I didn’t.
So to summarise, brands came into prominence as a way of helping people to differentiate between seemingly similar products. Today’s graduates needs to think of themselves as a brand and differentiate themselves accordingly in order to develop the right interview skills.
After all Katie Price became the brand Jordan and made a fortune – surely with a bit of thought and application you can convince a graduate recruiter that you are the brand for them?