5 job search tips from a marketing expert

At first glance, you might not see any connection between a marketing campaign and a job search. But in my private practice, I find myself increasingly turning to marketing concepts when helping my clients find the right job.

As I’ve learned more about marketing, I’ve noticed that my day-to-day language has become imbued with marketing lingo, including “value proposition”, “call to action”, and even “conversion rate”!

When it comes to taking a novel approach to thinking about how we look for work, I’ve noticed that young people often have a stronger understanding of how to distinguish themselves than their older counterparts. Olivier Lambert, a popular blogger and author of Double ta valeur is a good example.

I suggested to Olivier that we write this article as a team, in order to identify key marketing concepts that can be successfully applied to a job search. Read on!

1- Branding

Some people define branding as the identity one uses to communicate with their target market. Olivier prefers to define branding as: What people say about you when you’re not there.

Many job seekers present themselves to potential employers as being able to do anything and to adapt to any demand – a position that actually ends up hurting their chances of getting a job. They come off as not really having a unique expertise to offer. We’re all complex individuals, but from an employer’s perspective, it needs to be very simple and clear to them who you are and what you can bring to the table. As a job seeker, it will be very helpful for you to figure out how to explain the unique value you can bring to an organization in a few words. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re having a hard time identifying your “value proposition”!

2- Client persona

In marketing, one endeavors to imagine the “ideal client” in as few details as possible – their needs, fears, goals, etcetera – and to create what’s called a client persona from this information. These personas make it much easier to target marketing communications to the correct audience, and to have those audiences react positively.

Olivier was surprised to find out that some job seekers use the same CV template for every position they apply for, and that some go into job interviews without having any idea of the organization’s structure, its history, or the name of the CEO. This basic information is easy to discover; by not doing so, it seems to Olivier as if these job seekers aren’t doing all they can to increase the odds of getting the job.

By putting yourself in an employer’s shoes and trying to understand their perspective, you will naturally gain empathy for their position and understand how to meet them on their ground. I would encourage you to do your homework and take inspiration from real people to develop an “Employer persona” for each job that you’re applying for.

3- Storytelling

Storytelling is a communication strategy that is based on a narrative structure of beginning-middle-end. Stories tend to be more impactful for readers or listeners than straightforward diatribes, because stories activate unique areas in the brain of the listener. Storytelling is often used in advertising to elicit an emotional reaction from audiences.

Together, your CV and cover letter are, in essence, a story that you are telling. You also use storytelling during job interviews, when you recount your professional achievements to a prospective employer. Unfortunately, few job seekers take the time to polish the presentation of their story and as a result can miss out on an opportunity to evoke a genuine response from the employer. For example, telling a story about a personal achievement, while also sharing your feelings about the moment, describing the challenges you faced and touching on some key details will increase the attention and sympathy you receive from the recruiter.

4- Content marketing

Advertising is often perceived as nothing more than an unwelcome interruption in our lives, to be avoided at all costs. Conversely, content that is considered to be valuable is highly sought after. If a piece of content is appreciated by a reader, they will remember the writer’s name.

Job seekers sometimes have a habit of spamming employers with their candidature, using an approach that amounts to little more than “Pick me! Pick me!” Instead of doing this, take the time to develop interesting content that aligns with your areas of knowledge, with the goal of benefitting others (including potential employers.) Employers will not only appreciate your expertise, but also your discipline (reflected by how often you publish) and the influence you have in your chosen field.

This is the strategy that Olivier used to become known once he graduated from university. He wanted to work in an advertising agency, but was told that without experience, it would be impossible. Inspired by the words of Seth Godin – who said, If you want an extraordinary job, make yourself extraordinary – Olivier decided to start a personal blog that he used to build a portfolio and audience, which he then parlayed into his first job at an agency.

5- Community spirit

I was stunned to find out that entrepreneurs in the marketing industry tend to be very supportive of each other rather than viewing each other as competitors. They trade information and build partnerships. They don’t hesitate to offer opportunities for visibility to others.

Job seekers can sometimes isolate themselves, an approach that can result in them seeing only the “threats” around them, rather than the opportunities. A lack of self-confidence can sometimes be the cause.

Olivier suggests using this original method to break out of one’s isolation: Go on LinkedIn and identify a person who has the exact job that you would like to have. Write them, and ask for tips on how to get started working towards your goal. Two interesting possibilities can arise from this approach: the person may give you some invaluable advice; or they may refer you to someone who can provide more insight. Why does this approach often work? Because few people have the audacity to do it!


Olivier Lambert

In conclusion

Whether you’re searching for a job or launching a marketing campaign, your goal is to capture the attention of an audience and to make them act. Of course, the attitude people adopt when approaching these activities is often very different.

When you find yourself facing challenges, try to develop the reflexes of a marketing expert: analyze what’s stopping you from moving forward, don’t take setbacks personally and get creative to set yourself apart from the pack!


Olivier’s book Double ta valeur is a good accompaniment to this article. 

Thanks to Olivier Lambert for this interview.


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Mathieu Guénette

Mathieu Guénette is a self-employed Guidance Counsellor with over 20 years of experience, as well as an author and a lecturer. He has worked with a diverse clientele (teenagers, adults, managers, job hunters). In 2017, he has simultaneously obtained the Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d'orientation du Québec’s Professional Award and the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés’ HR Book of the Year Award for his work Le candidat visceral. He provides services in Montreal, Lanaudière and remotely. His website is full of handy resources for you: Les chercheurs de sens.

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