With the product to market approach, think of yourself as a product and potential employers as consumers. You market your personal brand in a similar manner companies promote their brand: create brand awareness; find product differentiation; use all types of media; develop a marketing pitch; and understand your target market. I plan to use insights from an article “A Dozen Things You Must Know about Communicating Your Career Brand”, where Susan Whitcomb argues that a job search is really about marketing. Of the career planning approaches we discussed earlier, this is the first with a major external factor: a target market.
Here is discussion of some of the points made above.
- Understand you. Ms. Whitcomb says you should be about “who you are, what your work-life purpose is, and what you are committed to causing”. Perhaps use test results from the self-awareness approach to understand yourself better.
- Understand your target market. Do a quick supply and demand analysis for careers in the area you want to work, consider which careers you have the best opportunity to succeed.
- Create brand awareness. Advertise your brand in social media, job boards, and search engines. Join or follow organizations that represent your target market. Ms. Whitcomb says to “make the right people aware of your brand. Get on the radar screen.”
- Find product differentiation. As you develop your personal brand, you are going to have to find ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
- Use all types of media. Share visual media, video and images, to add dimensions to your presentation to potential employers.
- Develop a marketing pitch. Create a mission statement, where you clearly state your strengths, and place it prominently on the home page of your professional website. Ms. Whitcomb says “Hone your product benefits into a marketing message that conveys your unique strengths.”
So with the product to market approach, you essentially create a marketing plan to reach your career objectives. You consider the appropriate target market and develop a personal brand to give you the best opportunity of success. Career planning involves identifying what skills differentiate you from your competitors; so it does not necessarily mean developing skills related to core competencies or passions. The product to market approach is a practical way to plan a career, especially if you need to find employment and cannot afford to be particular.
A professional website is an ideal platform to build your personal brand for the following reasons:
- It is possible to reach target markets by linking back to your professional website in social media and professional organization website. You can also setup an SEO (“search engine optimization”) to reach your target market through search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
- You are accessible by your own domain name.
- There are many ways to differentiate yourself with a professional website: sharing personal messages in video or a blog, presenting certifications, awards, or licenses, and providing information about experiences outside employment.