Marketing Yourself

The Insider's Guide To Job Search

Marketing Yourself: Changing The Graduate's Perspective       Bookmark and Share
By Kevin T. Buckley, CPC

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The business world and the student world are two different realities. As a student, you acquire knowledge, research facts, prepare reports, discuss your findings and are tested on what you have learned. While there is a degree of cooperation with others required in the academic world, you are working to advance your personal interests for the most part.

It is different in the business world where you learn to apply this knowledge and coordinate information from various sources in order to define customer needs and solve other people’s problems on a daily basis. Of equal importance in business is your ability to work with other people of different backgrounds, take direction, use initiative, extend yourself for your employer and be viewed as a positive person who makes a valuable contribution to the department that you are hired into.

Changing how you see yourself is important to market yourself effectively. There are certain basic expectations that employers have when they are looking at new graduates and you need to convince them to buy the product that you selling: You. The question to ask yourself is: How can I create buyer interest? This may mean dressing and speaking differently and keeping foremost in mind that you are marketing  who you are and what you can contribute.

Think about your skills, your strengths and your experiences

You need to express how you have applied yourself in your studies, put in the extra efforts required to learn the subjects you have studied and give examples of how you took the initiative to excel academically.

If you have had the opportunity to work in an industry related co-op placement, then there is some assessment that the employer will have, based on your employment reference. Be sure to obtain one when leaving from a co-op placement.

As an entry-level employee with no co-op history, the employer doesn’t have a track record to measure your performance. Instead, they will look at grades, honours awarded, scholarships received, Dean’s list citations and related projects completed.

They will also look at the part-time jobs that you have held, and will be interested to hear about how you progressed in them. The skills you used in these jobs may be transferable to their company.. They will look for evidence of the ability to learn quickly, deal with customer issues, get along with co-workers and work in an organized, self-motivated manner.

Your extra-curricular activities are also taken into account. If you showed a tendency to organize, be involved, lead, assist or contribute towards a goal, this is a good indicator of how you may behave in the future in their firm.

Employers hire people who have demonstrated that they care about their careers

The fact of graduating is the first indication to a potential employer that you will care about the work that you do. Many employers have said to us that in the absence of an established track record, they will tend to hire someone on the basis of what attitudes, energy and personality strengths they see that can be a foundation for training and future growth.

Confidence :self-assured in the ability to learn quickly; certain about one's interpersonal skills; self-motivated in seeking out new challenges to test abilities; a deeply held belief in yourself, your values, your standards and your worth.

Attitudes: the willingness to put in the efforts, to stay the extra hours, to cooperate with enthusiasm, to be eager to learn, to be realistic in terms of expectations, to be patient with the time required to advance, to be open to new challenges.

Responsibility: to be accountable and conscientious, to “own” the tasks and duties assigned, to act with integrity, honesty and with the team’s goals in mind, to be someone that the employer can rely on to be available and committed to doing a good job.

Energy: to work hard and seek additional work when a project is finished; diligent and effective in using time, determined to complete work in a dynamic and proactive manner.

In the employer’s mind there are several factors they will consider when deciding to hire

You may ask: Well, what if I haven’t got any work experience, how do I convince them to hire me? You first need to put yourself in the employer’s shoes. You need to understand the employer's point of view and concerns and address them:

Will this person be easy to train and how long will it take them to learn their job?

Will this person be staying long enough for us to benefit from having trained them?

Do they have a good attitude - a willingness to cooperate and be a good team player?

Will this person show initiative and eagerness to learn?

Will this person be someone who can take on additional responsibilities in the future?

Does this person have realistic salary expectations?

Is this person patient enough to work towards future promotions?

What influences a manager in making an entry-level hiring decision

As recruiters, we often see that favorable hiring decisions are often based on a person’s attitudes and approach in entry-level situations. Hiring managers, being human will tend to hire people that they can identify with on a personal level. If you show confidence, willingness to learn and work hard and flexibility in an interview, you are making a positive impression. If instead you are perceived as demanding, timid, negative or unrealistic, the opposite impression will be made. Managers like to hire people that they like. If you show a positive attitude in all your discussions, you will likely experience positive attitudes from others. Each and every interview is an important opportunity to practice one of the key skills you will draw from throughout your career – the ability to network with other people. In the end, a decision to hire you will be influenced not only by what you have done and how you have expressed yourself, but also by who you are as a person and whether or not you have convinced the employer that you are a person that will fit the department and be someone that they want to work with in the future.

You have made the first positive step forward in your career through your education. It is up to you to tell the potential employer how you can make your best contribution.


* Don't send your resume as an attachment, paste it in your e-mail message
* Create a Skill Summary section in your resume that contains keywords directly related to your job search .
* Ensure that your email and telephone contact info is in your resume text
* Don't send a cover letter as a separate attachment - paste the text in your message

Gathering Qualified Target Names

* Focus on hiring managers who would logically be involved in hiring at your level
* Look for Contact Us/Staff Directory or similar pages on a company's site for names
* Call the company's switchboard to ask who is responsible for (X) area
* Always send to a real person with an actual title, not a general dept. name
* Check Associations active in your industry for member lists and directories
* Check the Scott's Industrial Directories at your local Reference Library for more names
* Use your search engine (like Google) to query with specific keywords 
Creating Job Search Agents

* Register your career-alerts with as many relevant  job boards as you can
* You can usually create agents for more than one position title on the major boards
* Job search agents will advise you 24 hours a day by email of new jobs posted

If you utilize all of the resources that are available, you will generate a momentum based on your actions that will lead you from one contact to another. Stay alert to hints of job leads in discussing your resume with a contact. Seek the person's opinion about any companies that may be hiring. To make the best lasting impression, send a thank you note  or email message afterwards acknowledging the person's time and guidance.

Being well-prepared for your job-search through knowing what you are going to say about yourself, understanding what the employer’s risks are and organizing your information gathering allows you to focus on your goal which is to join a good company where you can learn and grow.

Having come this far, you owe it to yourself to continue your successful progress. You have acquired knowledge and learned useful skills. With a positive attitude and a systematic job-search program, you will achieve your objective.