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Are you telling potential employers the right things about yourself?

Hierarchy of information you can market with.
Hierarchy of information you can market with.
Scott Birkhead

After 727 hires – smack dab in the middle between hiring managers and the tens of thousands of people vying to be their next employee – I can tell you that the vast majority of marketing doesn’t hit the mark.

By ‘marketing’ I don’t mean just ‘resume,’ although that’s certainly a central marketing tool for job seekers. Marketing (in the words of one of my favorite marketers) is anything you do that gets people to know, like and trust you. For job seekers that means cover letters, emails, elevator pitches, phone messages, follow-up notes, interview answers…all those things are marketing. Very little of it hits ‘the mark.'

The problem is that most marketing is about you. The job seeker.

And good marketing is NEVER about the product, it’s about the buyer.

That’s where they pyramid comes in. Here’s the Pyramid:

The info you can use to market and sell yourself

Most people’s marketing is smack dab on the first two levels. Skills and experience. Rarely does it move below the dotted line. Look at your resume – it’s probably dominated by skills and experience.

But while most managers think about those things, they don’t “buy” them. They write them down on job ads and descriptions, and give them to HR people to screen you out with, but that’s not what they’re thinking about when it comes to decision time about why they’ll hire one person and not another.

In fact, the vast majority of the time managers have more than one candidate with skills and experiences that meet the qualifications of the job. That’s not AT ALL why they pick one or the other, or what will convince them to give you a realistic, honest, open chance to win the job.

How do I know this?

Well, first because I’ve seen it, time and time again. And second because after five years studying marketing and sales I know that buyers have predictable patterns of behavior. And hiring managers are simply buyers of talent.

So just like buyers for any other product or service, hiring managers are going to make their decision emotionally based on the best potential output for one person: themselves. Decades of business experience in marketing and advertising have confirmed this basic human trait – people make emotional buying decisions based on what’s best for them.

No, they aren’t selfish…they’re just people. That’s how people make buying decisions. They imagine themselves in the future after making the decision to buy the product or service (or hire the person), and emotionally measure the risks and benefits of making that decision - based on THEIR perceptions of the issues, situation and most desirable future.

So at decision time it’s not about you. It is, quite literally about them.

If they can’t ‘feel’ it being right with you in the picture, they ain’t buying. Skills and experiences don’t get you to the emotional level.

You can blabber on all day about your degrees, certifications, tools and technologies, but those things generally have NOTHING to do with the end results they need. Skills and experiences are commodities. The ability to deliver is what they want.

When you talk only skills and experience, you become just like the last person who blabbered on to you about some cool gizmo that had lots of neat features, but you couldn’t really understand how it was going to help you get what you wanted.

As one marketing guru put it – people don’t want a ¼ inch drill. They want a hole.

Does that mean you have to get cozy, schmooze them, fall in love or cry…emotional things? NO – those will get you thrown out on your ear and you’ll feel really silly doing it.

Marketing emotionally means is that you have to figure out what problems your potential boss is trying to solve (the 3rd level of the Pyramid) and what’s going on in their heads and hearts as they think about that problem.

The good news:

You very likely know what’s in there. Yep. You just haven’t thought about it that way or spend enough time really getting in their heads or figuring out how to get it on paper. But you know them - what organizations demand of them, what bad things happen if they fail, and what good things can happen for them if they succeed.

And somewhere is a pain, a fear or a desire that you can help them with. Because you have before.

You know what you’ve done in the past that’s similar. After all, you don’t go to work just to hang out and exercise skills and do tasks…you’re there for a reason. Figure out that reason and market at that level, and you’ll get in more doors.

Tap them on the emotional shoulder as you market.

That’s the area right below the line on the pyramid – the place many people think they’re marketing, but in practice aren’t touching at all!

What’s at the bottom of the pyramid?

The rest of the pyramid is where you spend the majority of the time at the end of the interview cycle. The skill/experience screening and the ‘have you solved these problems before’ parts will get you in more doors, but landing the offer is another step.

Final decisions happens at an even deeper level.

Eventually the manager wants to know whether you really are the solution to their problem because you CAN do it, or because you WILL do it. Just because you can doesn’t mean you will. Proving that takes solid examples, credible data, and the ability to show how the skills, experiences and problems you’ve solved are really based on a life-long pursuit of being that kind of person.

So let’s review:

1. Pyramid Levels 1 &2 - where most people market. But…skills and experience don’t get you hired. No manager sits all up night, staring at the ceiling, just wishing he had someone with the latest and greatest skill. He sits up all night wondering if he’ll have a paycheck if he doesn’t solve some ugly problem at work.

2. Pyramid Level 3 – where you can get the most attention fastest. If you can get inside his head and heart and push the buttons that make him think, “This person gets it – they know what I need and where I’m at with this ugly problem,” you’ll get in more doors.

3. Pyramid Levels 4 & 5 – where you prove you’re the one. If you can show them that you’ve been, done and are hard-wired to solve the kinds of problems your potential boss has, then you stand a good chance of winning. You may not get in there easily – and you need to be able to ‘sell over’ any objections, but ultimately people hire others who prove.

So how do you get there? Well, it’s a four step process (click here to see my group coaching program for this system)

First, you have to dig inside. There you’ll find gifts, habits and talents that are UNIQUE to you and give you the best chance at standing out and looking different.

Second, you have to pull out all the accomplishments, challenges and pain points from your past.

Third, you must blend those two together to develop a highly nuanced picture of your ideal client so you know WHO you’re talking to and what they care about the most.

Fourth, you must learn to tell them about yourself in a way that’s really all about them so they can understand you.

It’s a tough road…but the results are spectacular. When you find a manager who needs you (not your skills, but the person you really are at the core) you really have no competition any more. You have leverage, and you have more value to them.

Hope that helps – questions are welcome!


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