You’ve probably heard this comparison before: A job search is in essence a marketing campaign with you as the product. Your career communications tools are your marketing collateral, and your executive job search strategy equates to your marketing campaign. A smart campaign hones in on specific targets with specific marketing messages built around a specific career brand aligned with specific proof points.
In the world of marketing there are two ways to get your message out. One is to send or “push” your collateral directly to your target market through product samples, on-site demos (remember the Fuller Brush Salesman?), direct mail, and email. The other is to attract your target market organically through “pull” strategies that entice customers to in-store sales, online contests, and Facebook “like” campaigns. This is often accomplished via advertising, flyers, newsletters, Twitter streams, YouTube videos, and blog posts.
career_management_pull_self_marketing_strategyThe differentiation of push/pull marketing works for job searches, too.
If you’re like most job seekers, you’re quite familiar and even comfortable with push job search marketing, which is the act of propelling your personal marketing materials directly to your target market via recruiters, hiring professionals, and prospective employers:

  • Submitting resumes for open positions on job boards or at recruiter or company websites.
  • Applying for jobs on an employer website.
  • Sending emails about your candidacy to executive recruiters.
  • Inviting recruiters and hiring executives to connect on LinkedIn.
  • Approaching a target employer with custom-designed career communications tools without a specific opening.

Pull marketing works in the opposite direction to attract target markets to the marketer. In an executive job search, pull marketing means finding ways to meet your target market where they work and entice them to check out your social media profile, request a copy of your resume, or pick up the phone and call you. Instead of assuming interest in you, you cultivate that interest and provide pathways to learn more about your brand:

  • Sending your comments on an industry blog post to a recruiter in your target sector.
  • Building referral relationships with recruiters in which you promote other candidates for roles the search consultants are currently filling.
  • Authoring keyword-rich status updates on LinkedIn two to three times weekly.
  • Commenting on a relevant discussion in a LinkedIn Group.
  • Launching your own blog or writing guest posts on industry blogs.

While push marketing is more direct, it is also overdone to the point of saturation. Pull marketing is less direct and underutilized; it therefore represents a stellar way to stir interest in your candidacy in your chosen sector of the economy.
Pull executive job search marketing…
1. Seeds social media with mentions of your brand.  Recruiting can sometimes resemble the search for that proverbial needle in a haystack. By spreading your brand through appropriate social media, you create brand “outposts” that can drive recruiters and companies to your brand “HQ” (your online resume, your Visual CV, your LinkedIn profile, or whatever you’re using as your brand hub).

2. Increases your Google search rank.  Recruiters search Google to source or research candidates much more frequently than most job seekers realize, so capturing a Top 10 ranking for your own name is a very, very good thing. This also helps if your online identity is clouded by negative links or confused with someone else’s. Although your LinkedIn profile can help place you in the Top 10, gaining additional high-scoring footholds can only improve your brand’s visibility.

3. Bypasses Applicant Tracking Systems used by recruiters and companies to screen incoming candidates.  Did you know that 50 percent of resumes submitted via job boards and company sites are screened out (according to "7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Job Search") and never viewed by a human? With odds like that stacked against you, it’s critical to work around such talent management systems when possible. Pull marketing strategies help you capture the attention of recruiters and hiring executives in value-added ways while simultaneously differentiating you from the hundreds of other candidates pushing materials at them.

4. Jumpstarts interviews and initiates job discussions at a higher level.  If you submit a resume for a job, you have automatically focused the discussion very early in your acquaintance, which is like proposing marriage before you’ve even had a date. You may not get an opportunity to discuss other roles in which you might contribute to that employer. Pull marketing broadens the conversation at its start and allows you to build connections with recruiters and hiring executives before focusing on specific titles or roles. This, in turn, can help open up discussions on the types of roles that would best leverage your gifts, experience, and capabilities.

5. Works in a down or up economy.  When the job market is depressed, competition for jobs increases exponentially. In this scenario pull marketing helps distinguish you in a crowded marketplace. When the job market is sizzling, employers have to work harder to attract great candidates. In this situation pull marketing helps catalyze unexpected opportunities by making you the candidate to beat.
Pull job search marketing may be unfamiliar to you, but it’s remarkably easy to learn; key activities can even be automated to help you achieve a wider reach in your campaign when you have limited time to look for a new role. The BlueSteps Executive Career Services team can help in a number of ways, from the creation of non-resume career communications tools such as bios and personal marketing briefs to social media profile development and analysis of your online identity.


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