In our previous post “Millennials’ Employment Market: key drivers of change & future most needed work skills“, we have seen that graduates must understand the importance of Self-Education and adapting to the modern Job Search environment. What they also have to realize is that looking for an entry-level position, signing the contract, and starting to work is no less than a business-to-business process. Therefore, they should approach their Job Search as such and apply the best Marketing strategies to optimize the outcome of this business operation.
1) A company buying the service of a “business of one”
When it comes to Job Search and Recruitment, it is of critical importance to acknowledge that this is a true business-to-business process. The recruiter (representing the company) buys the service of a job applicant (being a “business of one”). Beals goes even further by saying that: “A Job Search is like a multi-media marketing campaign. You, a talented hard-working professional, are the product. You need to identify a target audience […] and you need a communication plan” (Beals, 2009). The Personal Branding expert also adds that Job Search is a long process like any b-to-b process and that it should be approached strategically: “You have to stick with a marketing plan, fine-tuning it as you go along, giving it time to set roots. A job search is just one type of campaign” (Beals, 2009).
Just like in any modern b-to-b process, job applicants should showcase some key differentiating factors and formulate a clear promise of value to optimize their chance of success in closing the deal, signing an entry-level contract. And in this competitive Job Search environment, the best way to stand-out of the crowd of applicants is Personal Branding. Indeed, exactly like corporate brands, their personal brand can help graduates to become the “chosen one” if it conveys the right promise of value and clearly communicates their story. In the words of Chritton: “Your personal brand becomes the promise you make about who you are and what you do […] it identifies what makes you unique and clearly communicates your individuality to the people who need to know about you” (Chritton, 2014). This is of course, of great benefit for job applicants because prospects (recruiters) simply want to know who the graduates are and what they do before considering hiring them. “Prospects and customers want to feel connected to your brand […] they want to know what your passions are, what your personality is like and how that impacts the product or service you sell” (Pearce, 2015).
Eventually, if graduates are doing things right after having been hired (by actually delivering the value they promised and beyond), they can count on an increase of their personal perceived service value. And they can benefit ultimately from brand capital, just like any branded service. This is perfectly summed up by Pearce: “By delivering a quality employee product, your word of mouth-driven reputation (third party credibility, social proof et al) is going to help you become a product in demand, both in your current role and for potential future roles” (Pearce, 2015).
2) First impression in a modern Recruitment process
Another important aspect to consider is that recruiters are going through different phases while hiring. And many touch points occur between companies and job applicants just like in every typical b-to-b processes. Like any individual making an important purchase for their household (buying a car, signing a new internet provider…), recruiters take a careful and well-thought approach to hiring. And beforehand, they try to collect as much information on the product (you) as possible. How do they do that? They do what every individual does before buying a new car: they go online and “Google” the product! So what typically happens after an individual “Google” a product? Here is how Coombs describes it: “If there’s nothing out there about the product (or even worse, there are only negative reviews from disgruntled users), you will probably become skeptical and lose confidence in its value – you might even decide not to buy it altogether” (Coombs, 2014). The key takeaway here is that employers do exactly the same when they’re looking to invest in a graduate.
Recruiters “Google” the candidates and check their Social Media profiles. They don’t do it with the intention to be intrusive or to break into the personal lives of others. They simply do it to collect complementary information about the candidates and find about eventual recommendations. Exactly in the way individuals seek for online customer reviews before buying a new product. This is confirmed by the words of Chris Cancialosi, working for “GothamCulture”: “We do an audit of all potential candidate’s online presence to better understand who they are and what they bring to the table (the good and bad)” (Young Entrepreneur Council, 2014). For this reason, managing their online presence is of first importance for any ambitious graduates willing to pass “the online test”, which is truly the marketing equivalent of the “zero moment of truth” experienced by online shoppers.
In a modern Recruiting process, that very much looks like Online Shopping, the quality of graduates’ digital presence seems to shape the recruiters’ first impression of a candidate. For this reason, job applicants must perfect their online presence in order to pass at least the test of the “zero moment of truth” and to be invited for an interview (“second moment of truth”). Only after, can they start to hope for landing a new job and working for a new company (“third moment of truth”)…For graduates, a great way to “polish” their first impression is to use for example the power of recommendations (exactly like brands do). This argument is sustained by Andy Karuza, working for “Brandbuddee”: “Typically awards or accolades show that their peers think they are good at their job. Instead of guessing what somebody is capable of, let their accomplishments speak for themselves. It’s like buying a 5-star product on Amazon – you kind of know what you’re getting in advance based on others’ reviews” (Young Entrepreneur Council, 2014).
3) Actors and stakeholders of the Recruitment process
A second characteristic that makes Recruitment and Job Search a typical b-to-b process is the fact that the job applicant has to convince not only the recruiter, but also the rest of the stakeholders being involved into the hiring process. Indeed, graduates have to realize that the Recruitment process usually involves various actors and deciders (like any b-to-b process). Some of them are known, such as the recruiter who plays (in this process) the role of the buyer. The future job applicant’s manager is another example of an eventually identified stakeholder and plays (most of the time) the role of initiator and user. Same for the secretary, who often plays the role of the gatekeeper. But other actors never interact with the job seeker and stay unidentified even though they play a role in the hiring process. Some good examples are: the CEO, who might be the final decider, or the company investors, who fix the salary scales and play the role of approvers.
These terms have been often quoted by Kotler to refer to the “buying center” that he personally defines as: “All individuals and groups that take part in the decision-making process relating to the negotiation of products or services” (Kotler, 2009, p. 274). The key takeaway is that this Marketing model also called “decision-making unit” applies to the Recruitment process. Therefore, graduates must inquire to determine who the stakeholders are and what their selection criteria are. Only this way they can have a comprehensive customer approach and tailor their offer not only to the recruiter (and job ad), but also to the complete buying center and its numerous members.
Thank you so much for reading!
Please share your experience on this topic in the comments section. More insights from both recruiters and job seekers would be highly appreciated.
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Best regards from the team.
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Beals, J. (ed) 2009, Self Marketing Power: Branding Yourself as a Business of One., Kindle Edition edn, Keynote Publishing, LLC.
Chritton, S. 2014, Personal Branding & You, LinkedIn Pulse, Available from: http://linkd.in/1JwlxJa. (Last accessed 02/2016).
Keller, L. & Kotler, P. (eds) 2009, Marketing Management, 13th edn, Pearson Education Inc, England.
Pearce, C. 2015, The missing link in personal branding for employees, marketingmag.com.au, Available from: http://bit.ly/1KixeCw. (Last accessed 02/2016).