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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Strategy, Brand, and Go-to-Market

Why treating a job search like a product launch makes sense.
by Steven Brown

You probably opened this blog entry thinking you'd find some discussion about business planning processes for launching a product. Well, I'm not here to trick you, but there is a growing need to approach job search like a product launch. In this tough economy more and more people in my professional and social network are searching. As a product launch person I see lessons in strategy, brand, and go-to-market planning that could help them be more efficient and successful.

There are lots of job search sites on the web with materials, guides, etc. Just a few are
Monster, About, and Jobstar. There are so many websites, so many books, so much data, so much advice. It's overload, and I can easily see how people spend time on less-productive activities.

I've invested time helping many people look for work. Here is an overview of the approach I use, which you can see comes from my approach to launching products.

Strategy

The most important thing to do when formulating a job search plan is to identify your goals, the strategy you're using, and the measures of success. I always begin every project with a single slide (I use PowerPoint for everything!) containing these dimensions of a plan. Without alignment on the goals, strategy, and measures, I can't hope to develop a successful project. The same applies for a job search. The candidate needs to have a clear understanding of what they're trying to accomplish, how they're going about it, and how to measure to see if they got there. This sounds so trite. But without this structure several problems arise. First, the candidate can't judge between options of how to spend their time. If you don't know what you're doing, how can you know how to go about doing it? Second, the candidate can't communicate clearly with others they meet when they ask for help. There is nothing more frustrating than a job search candidate who asks for help, but doesn't know what they want help accomplishing. This alone eliminates well over 90% of the job search candidates that approach me.

Brand

The next dimension of a successful search is the brand of the person. Given their goals and background, it is relatively simple to create a brand description of the person. This is important for those chance encounters, networking conversations, and application emails and resume's. The brand captures the essense of the person, and the right selection of words are critical. One rule to remember: hiring managers look at candidates with an eye towards eliminating them. Poor branding gives them a reason in the first 5 seconds.

Go-to-Market

I use this category title a bit tongue in cheek. Really this might be best titled Networking. More than 90% of the high paying jobs are found through people. Not applying online. A business Go-to-Market plan identifies the target customer, the value proposition, the media/communication mechanisms, etc. These same dimensions must be purposefully addressed when searching for a job. Most people that approach me for help are using the spray-and-pray technique. Yes, networking and even Go-to-Market is somewhat unpredictable because you must create and pursue opportunities that unexpectantly arise. However, you are still dealing with your scarce time and a limited number of people to network with. If you aren't thoughtful about that you will at best miss opportunities, and in the worst case create a negative impression that will inhibit success.

Conclusion

The Effetti website provides tools for you to self-evaluate your goals, strategy, and go-to-market. There are also tools for branding, developing messaging, and more. Job search, even in a tough economy, can be made easier with thoughtful planning. Hopefully this blog has provided some useful suggestions.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Steve - Great blog! Very timely and informative without being to To Do list. You provide a simple (trite you call it) high-level strategy/approach but leave the details to the individual. I like that. Everyone's situation is different but you provide a guiding light through the fog.

Thanks,

-Ed



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